On a recent girls night (wine and tacos!), two of my best friends and I were discussing child rearing. Like me, my one friend is also a working mother but, unlike me, she has been blessed with the opportunity to work from home with minimal hours in the office (although I wouldn’t dare say “minimal” to her, as those hours away from her infant are quite the opposite for her). My other friend is not a mother yet, but she enjoys talking about her future babies and is working on her plan for when they come.
Not surprisingly, the topic of leaving your child in someone else’s hands while you are at work came up. I told them that leaving my son at child care while I go to work was and still is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I feel pretty confident that he is safe and is in a loving and nurturing environment, so it’s isn’t worry or fear that I feel. I feel left out. I am missing out on time with my son and watching him experience new things. I also feel guilty, though I try really hard not to feel that way. It’s always really tough to comment on this issue, or answer the inevitable question, “Do you wish you could stay at home?”
My childless friend asked (from a super honest, non-judgmental place), “If you were rich, would you stay home?” I was surprised to find that I really didn’t know. There are parts of me that think I absolutely would, that there’s nothing I’d rather do then spend time with my son. But if I were being completely honest, I don’t think that’s true. I know that there are times I’d rather be working. I like what I do and most of the time I’m good at it. Making a living, helping to provide for my family and (at the risk of sounding trite) doing something that impacts the lives of lots of young children in addition to my own makes me feel really good.
I feel like many women who choose to work (or have to), whether they are working with young children or running a corporation, feel good about what they do. I know I am a better mother because of my job. That’s absolutely not to discredit all the mothers who stay at home with their children. I can only speak for me. And for me, I know I am at my best self working and then coming home to be with my adoring son.