Dear Working Mom,
I just want to tell you I admire you. I'm impressed by you. Proud, even.
I know it tears your heart out to be apart from your children for so many hours of the day. I know you want to be the one to witness all their firsts, answer all their questions, and kiss all their boo-boos. I know it sucks, and the demands of your life must feel impossible to balance.
You come home from work, and still have to do the household chores- the cooking, the cleaning, and still find time to just be with your children, never mind your spouse or yourself. I don't know how you do it all. You must feel stretched and pulled in a million different directions, kind of like being in that medieval torture device thingy.
I just want to tell you that I think you are doing a great job, and your kids think so too.
I want to share with you some of my truths as a stay-at-home mom. They might relieve your aching heart a bit.
- I struggle with giving my kids enough attention. There are only so many hours a day one can spend actively engaged with young children. You probably picture yourself as a stay-at-home mom, reading stories, building forts, playing hide-and-sneak, and having tickle sessions all day long. But the reality is that I am often multitasking and distracted with other tasks. You probably feel guilt for leaving your kids to go to work, and I feel guilt for ignoring them while I prepare yet another meal, clean yet another mess, try to make a phone call, or accomplishing anything adult-oriented. Mommy-guilt is boundless- staying home with them does not take it away.
- I get frustrated with my children. I get frustrated with my role. Sometimes I feel suffocated by not having a life of my own, and I struggle to do anything in peace. I can't hear myself think sometimes while I am grabbed at and demanded of. Some days all my kids want to do is scream and cry, and it makes me scream and cry too. You may feel guilty for being a working mom, but I feel guilty for being an irritable one.
- Being home has added a new obstacle to marriage. We've fallen into very traditional roles. My husband goes to work and provides financially for our family, and the home front is mostly my responsibility. Our roles and experiences are so different that it is hard to understand and properly support each other.
- I wonder if I am perpetuating sexist notions. My three-year-old told me that “Girls can't be doctors, they can only be mommies.” I corrected him of course, but today, a whole week after the fact, he said, “Are you sure girls can work?” I know being a stay-at-home mom is respectable, but sometimes I wonder if I am letting our gender down by giving up my personal goals, ambitions, and achievements. Not to mention, once leaving the workforce, it is harder to rejoin it.
- I struggle to feel fulfilled. I've lost some of my identity. Some of my fire. My passion. My confidence. I know you probably don't want to hear this, as you would do anything to give your children more of yourself and time, but if you can find fulfillment in being not only a mom, but a professional, and an individual, than you are giving your children way more than many stay-at-home moms are even able to. Our happiness is the biggest gift we can give.
Please don't be upset with me for writing this. I'm not discounting your reluctance to be away from your children or your struggle to balance it all. I just don't want you to be fooled into thinking you are not everything you should be as a mother.
You are the perfect mom. Every minute of the day.
I think you are a bad ass. And your kids do, too.