When’s the last time you felt guilty for working outside the home? If you’re anything like me, you’ve put on your big girl dress pants and have mostly overcome the working mama guilt. That is, until someone says something that reminds you that you should feel bad for not being your child’s sole caregiver.
And then it hits.
The doubt. The second guessing. The justifying in your mind why working makes sense for you and your family. Maybe you work because you carry the health insurance, even if your take home pay is pennies after paying for child care. Maybe you work because that pesky mortgage demands to be paid every month and the people in your house like being fed regularly. Or maybe you work because, gosh darn it, you just want to.
We have all arrived in this “working mama” club for different reasons. But there is one thing that binds us together: the extra scrutiny we experience as women who have both careers and families.
I like to think of myself as pretty thick skinned. I want to be that self-assured woman who shows my daughter AND my son that women have so much value – whether they stay at home or work full time. But man, when I hear or see comments that start to diminish my role as a mother…it really stings.
Because my very favorite job title is Mama. There is nothing I hold more precious or dear. I love my children and I love being their mama. I choose nothing over them – and that includes my career.
My husband would likely say the same thing. He relishes his role as “Daddy” to our kiddos. He’s awesome at it. And, since he’s a dad, he gets to just be dad. He doesn’t deal with labels – have you ever heard a man referred to as a working dad? He deals with none of the guilt or scrutiny that I do.
Let me say it again: he gets to just be dad.
My husband has never, not once, felt like he’s under a microscope for being a working father. He has never had to awkwardly tell a stranger that yes, he does work outside of the home and then watched as pity and/or judgment swept over their face. He is never told he’s chosen his career or a desire for material possessions over his family. He never feels the need to explain to someone why he works.
My husband has never been made to feel like less of a parent because of his employment status. So why am I allowing it?
Working mamas, we need to remember that we are enough. There is no justification required. You, there at your desk, you are enough – and your children think so, too.
We are raising our children, even if we aren’t the ones present for every boo-boo kiss, celebration, or time-out.
We are loving our children well, even when we’re letting them be loved on by others while we’re at the office.
We are full time parents. We’re all checking in with daycare, and doctors, and extracurricular activities in between conference calls and pumping sessions. We’re meal planning on our lunch breaks and working hard to squeeze in as much family time as possible in every day.
We will miss some things, but that just makes the things we are there for all the sweeter. We are caring for our families well by providing for them, and taking care of ourselves and our personal goals in the process.
So the next time someone implies that you are selfish, or materialistic, or simply less of a mother for working…please remember to channel your inner Taylor Swift and “Shake it Off”.
You’ve got this, mama. And you’re doing a great job.