If I had a nickel for every mother that emailed me saying, “Hey, I get you! I’m like you! I’m a better mother because I’m a working mother!” I’d no longer need to be a working mother. It’s a phrase I’m all too familiar with, one that comes up in conversations in play groups and social circles and dinners with friends more often than I’d care to admit. And I often nod my head in agreement, because I get it. I truly do. We need creative outlets, and for a lot of us (the lucky ones), those creative outlets are wrapped up in our day jobs. We love what we do, and we’re blessed to have the opportunity to do it. But here’s the truth:
I am not a better mother because I’m a working mother. Yes, there are days where I feel lucky to be in the flow of work and life and parenting. Where I arrive home from writing at my local coffee shop at a decent hour and I manage to get a quick dinner prepped before it’s bath and story and bed time. And then there are the rest of the days.
The days where my phone won’t stop ringing and there are avocado stains on my blouse and I’m late for a meeting. The days where I’m unplugged and attempting to be present with my family and emails and conversations and pressures from a stressful work week are building up in my head, swirling around to create the perfect storm of distraction. The days where I long to sit down to a home cooked meal, but a late work night means take out… again.
That’s the reality. It’s messy and fast-paced and there are sacrifices. And although those are necessary in the season I’m in, those do not make me a better mother.
I suspect what many mothers are saying when they lament that work makes them a better parent is this: time away from their children makes them a better parent. A schedule and routine makes them a better parent. A creative outlet makes them a better parent.
And for some, this means work. But for many, this simply means hiring a sitter or nanny or childcare to give you a quick break in the day, or committing to get out of the house daily with your kids, or socializing with adults on the regular.
I’m one of those women. A break would make me a better parent, yes. But work, for me, is not a break. It’s work. It’s hard and stressful and exhausting and requires a lot of brainpower to manage details and timelines and unforeseen circumstances. And I’m often tired when I get home – too tired to cook or clean or exercise or do anything other than soak up time with my husband and baby before I blink and this sweet, short time is over.
And that is my reality as a working mother. So no, ladies, I am not a better parent when I’m a working one. I won’t pretend to be. But this is the season I’m in, and I feel lucky to be in it.
p.s. You know what does make me a better parent? My husband, my support system and my baby. (Honorable mentions to the following: Roomba, Chipotle, and Amazon.com. Thank you for keeping our house afloat, friends.)
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