The New Working Mother
Little D prompted this post.
A good friend of mine who has been a stay-at-home mom for six years or so since having her first baby is in talks to get back into the work force with an exciting opportunity in her field. She didn’t really seem to struggle with the decision to go back to work, but she did give it (and all the changes that will come along with it) a lot of thought and ultimately, it was something she needed to do not just financially, but creatively and on a personal level. She felt that she had invested six amazing years into her kids and her family but she was missing her days as a sought-after career gal and felt her creative drive drying up.
As my husband and I discussed her new opportunity at dinner the other night, talking about how cool it was for her, Little D chimed in:
“But if she goes back to work, how is she going to be a mom?”
Don’t you love it when a six-year-old can bring a conversation to a screeching halt with a seemingly innocent but brilliantly thoughtful comment?
My husband and I exchanged glances.
“She still needs to love J and B (her kids) and take care of them!” she exclaimed, a look of concern planted firmly on her little face.
Now, as a reminder, Little D has the benefits of having a skewed impression of working parents. My husband and I both work from home, so while she understands that we work full-time – there are offices set up and conference calls behind closed doors – we can also pick her up from school every day, take her to doctor’s appointments when needed, plan last-minute outings, etc. But we both thought she had a good sense of what it meant for me to work and balance motherhood.
“Well I work and I am a mom,” I replied to her. “Aren’t I?”
“She will do the same thing I do, she will just go and do it in an office. And she will still love J and B and she will still work very hard at being their mom. At being the best mom they could ever have. Just like I do.”
I went on to explain how my mom worked and was still the best mom I could ever have. And how my husband’s mom did the same.
She moved onto her dessert at that point, far more consumed with that than our conversation.
I wish I could have done the same.
It left me feeling like maybe she doesn’t really see the balance we are working so hard to maintain. She doesn’t sense the juggle and the planning and the worries about work and deadlines and generating income. When I drop her off at school in the morning and head back home to my computer and emails, she probably thinks I am sitting there waiting for her, ready to love her and take care of her once again at the end of the day. She doesn’t think about me working, because she is too busy thinking about me being her mom.
And then I realized that’s clearly the result of a job very well done.
*image above via Andry “Shango” Rajoelina*