Letter to MY Single Parent Working Mom: A “Latchkey Kid” Looks Back

I grew up a typical 1980’s and 90’s latch key kid in a single parent working home. My mother worked (and still does) in a job that deeply impacts the every day lives of many people. It is a field she loves and to which she dedicated most of her adult life. As kids we got to watch this and it was amazing to see her help so many people. As we got older though, and her work became more demanding, we did see her less than we wanted to and sometimes we resented that.

Sounds like kind of a bummer doesn’t it?

Before you feel sorry for me, I think you’ll find that my interpretation of my childhood isn’t as dreary as this intro might suggest. As I have reflected in my adult life, I have realized just how much my mother’s hard work and long hours affected me…for GOOD.

Hey there, working mom. I see you; with all your fears, worries, and sometimes guilt. I was your kid once and your kid will one day be me.

So without further ado, this is my ode to MY single parent Mom who worked long hours…

Dear Mom,

If it weren’t for your struggle raising children on your own…

Mom, I know I was little, but I saw it. I saw you struggle. I saw your tears at the kitchen table when you were trying to put the money together.  I saw your sadness when you missed important things because you had to work. I saw you relish those times you were able to be there. When being the sole breadwinner involves travel and long hours, it’s tough. I saw how much you blamed yourself when it felt like you were missing whole chunks of our lives. As a parent now, I understand what that sorrow must have felt like. I saw the times we struggled financially during those foundational years while you worked to build the name that is now well known. Even when we struggled, you succeeded at giving us good memories and experiences. Thank you, Mom.

I saw also that you were very lonely sometimes, but that you kept trucking day after day because you believed in what you were doing, and we needed you. That taught me volumes about character and staying the course, even when it involved personal cost to you.

If it weren’t for the struggles we endured at times, I don’t think I would have learned what was really important in life; leaning on each other and supporting one another. As siblings and extended family, we learned to rely on each other in ways other families didn’t. The times we got to stay with close family and friends during your longer trips are sweet and adventurous memories for me. It taught me how to thrive in different atmospheres and with all kinds of people.  Thank you, Mom.

If it weren’t for the influence I watched you have and  the way I heard people speak about you…

Attending work functions with you became a special treat for me as I got older. When you walked into the room, peoples faces softened with admiration. I knew that you were doing something truly powerful. It made me want to do powerful things too. And I do, every day.  I internalized your sense of mission and I bring it to my motherhood and my personal endeavors every day. Thank you for that.

If it weren’t for the sometimes long hours…

If I hadn’t had a chance to miss you, I would never have known how much I WANTED you and how powerful and central a Mother’s love is to a child’s life. My memories of our times together, just me and you, are some of the most treasured of my childhood. I now parent with a conscious awareness of just how much my children need me and look to me for assurance and affirmation. I might not have known this if you had always been at my disposal for me to (likely) take for granted. I take nothing for granted now, because I know that time is precious. You taught me that by living your life with determination. Thank you, Mom. Thank you so much.

If it weren’t for your passion…

If it weren’t for your passion and hunger to change lives, I might not have discovered my own inner passion and hunger to make a difference. When I saw that the work you were doing was actually making people’s lives better, that lit a fire in me. It made me realize that nothing in my life would fulfill me if it didn’t involve my soul and the passions therein. I figured out early what my mission was because of the example that you set in following yours, so I thank you. 

If it weren’t for your support…

Every success I had in school and in college had your cheering behind it, caring about it, championing it, even when it wasn’t very big, and telling everyone you knew about it. Mom, that taught me how incredibly important encouragement is. The gift you have of encouraging people is something that I carry with me and continue nearly every day.

I am a mother now too, and our lives and paths have looked very different. I have never had a big and successful career like you, but my life is full and happy in different ways. I have internalized all of the things you have taught me and am now putting them to fruitful and good use in my own endeavors. And you are still there, cheering me on, celebrating my seemingly tiny successes and wins. Your big smile still shines bright on me every day and warms me like the sun. I love you and I thank you for everything you were and were not able to do and be, because it was perfect. I owe everything to YOU.


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3 Responses to Letter to MY Single Parent Working Mom: A “Latchkey Kid” Looks Back

  1. Avatar
    Lacey May 9, 2017 at 7:44 am #

    Awww goosebumps!

  2. Avatar
    Chanda May 9, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    This brought tears to my eyes. I can relate so much. Thank you for sharing this. I think I’ll share it with my mom. 😊

  3. Avatar
    Cynthia May 9, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

    Thank you for helping me shake off the guilt.

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