Rather than feeling celebrated for their hard work, plenty of working moms feel guilty for juggling both a job and a family. They want to give 100 percent to their children by being there for every milestone in their lives. But when working moms have to miss recitals, soccer games, school events or even those first steps because of their jobs, that sense of not doing enough for their kids can start to overwhelm them.
I understand this tug-of-war between kids and career well because I am a working mom of three children. I’d be lying if I said it’s possible to give 100 percent to your children while holding down a job. But I don’t think working moms should be ashamed to admit that because there’s probably not any mom who can give it her all — all of the time.
So I say, let go of working mom remorse. Here’s why I don’t feel guilty about having a career and achieving success through hard work.
I Am Doing What I Love
I love my kids more than anything. However, I also love being able to have a career that I have spent decades building. I knew from the time I was a senior in high school that I wanted to be a journalist, so I majored in journalism in college. Then I went to work at a daily newspaper and other publications before getting a master’s degree in economic journalism – after which I landed a job as a financial journalist.
Have I loved every moment of my more than two decades as a journalist? No (just like stay-at-home moms would say that they don’t love every minute of their days). But I love being able to write articles that inform and hopefully help people improve their lives. I certainly don’t feel guilty about that. And it certainly doesn’t mean I love my kids any less because I also have a career I love.
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I Like Being Able to Give My Kids Opportunities
A big reason I don’t feel guilty about working is that my income allows our family to afford activities, opportunities and adventures that benefit our kids. Because we live in a small town where the cost of living is low, my husband’s income would be enough to pay the bills.
But my income lets us live comfortably without having to watch every penny. It allows us to travel throughout the U.S. and overseas so our kids are exposed to more than just our small town. My income is also helping our kids become well-rounded people because it pays for art and music classes, athletic activities and educational programs outside the classroom.
Working Gives Me Something of My Own
Several years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a stay-at-home mom. I was telling her that she was lucky that she had the opportunity to spend so much time with her children. She then told me something that has stuck with me. She said that because I had a career, I was lucky that I had something that was my own.
I am glad that I have something that can give me a sense of achievement. Yes, having kids certainly gives me a sense of purpose. It’s the greatest responsibility I’ve ever had. But my children aren’t mine alone in the same sense that my career is. They don’t belong to me the way my success as a journalist does. After all, they are their own people who hopefully will have their own achievements.
My Kids See the Value of My Work
It’s hard to feel guilty about working when your daughter tells you that she told her classmates that her mom is famous in the financial world. I am by no means famous, but my daughter said I must be because I’ve been on national TV.
At the least, I’m setting a good example for my daughters by showing them that women can have careers and families. I’m also showing them and my son that hard work does pay off.
Working Gives Me Independence
Not only does my career give me a sense of accomplishment, but also it allows me to be financially independent. Don’t get me wrong: My husband and I are a team, and we even have a joint bank account — unlike plenty of married couples who keep everything separate.
But I remember that my dad would write checks to my mom, who didn’t work, so she could deposit the money in her account and pay for groceries. I’m glad that I don’t have to ask my husband for money every time I want to buy something for myself or the kids — or to even buy necessities.
Things Happen – And I Want to Be Prepared
My mother worked before she had me and my sister, but she gave up her career once she became a mom. She then had to scramble to find a job when she and my dad divorced after 26 years of marriage. Fortunately, she had a friend who was the principal of a private Catholic school who was willing to hire her as an aide in the school’s preschool program.
I don’t ever want to be in a position where I can’t support myself or my kids. In fact, I would feel guilty if I gave up my career, gave up a steady paycheck and gave up the opportunity to save for my future.
I Don’t Have to Sacrifice Time With My Kids
I think one of the biggest reasons some moms feel guilty about working is that they can’t always be there for their kids — physically or mentally. Some jobs are better for work-life balance than others, but no matter what kind of gig you’ve got, work events and deadlines can take precedence over kids’ events. And even when working moms do spend time with their kids, they are not always “there” because work is on their minds.
I haven’t been able to attend every single classroom party my kids have had at school. It makes me sad to miss out, but I don’t feel guilty because I’m always there for the big events — like school concerts, awards ceremonies and graduations. We eat dinner together as a family most nights (when we don’t, it’s because of the kids’ activities, not my work). We hang out together on the weekends. And if I’m thinking about work sometimes while I’m spending time with my kids, I don’t feel too bad because I’m pretty sure all moms’ minds wander occasionally when they’re with their children.
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I Could Do More, But I’m Doing Enough
If I didn’t work, I would have more time prepare meals, keep the house clean and do awesome crafts with my kids. But that wouldn’t necessarily make me a better mom.
I’ve come to accept that I don’t have to be perfect — just like I don’t expect my kids to be perfect (granted, my life would be easier if they were). I just need to be a good mom, which means trying to do the best with the time I can devote to my kids rather than devoting all of my time to them.
So far, they seem to be doing OK. My children are kind, considerate people who are doing well in school and frequently talk about all of the things they want to achieve in life. In fact, my 6-year-old said he wants to do what Mommy does. I’m not sure if that’s a step down from his previous aspiration of becoming an Olympic luger/spy/doctor, but it’s certainly a little more realistic.
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