My Working Mother Model.

I grew up with a working mother. When I was really little – before I can remember, even – she took some time off from being a English teacher to stay home with me, and then my brother. But somewhere in there she got bored, or needed the money, or both, and she took a part-time job for a while as a proofreader, and then as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company. Eventually, though, and while I was still in grade school, she went back to teaching, full time.

 

I don’t know when, exactly, I realized that my mom worked and a lot of other moms didn’t, but I do remember feeling proud of her from a very early age. When we would run into her teenaged students at the mall, or at a restaurant, they would always tell me how great she was, and how much they liked her class. And when I got to be in middle school, and she had moved on to become a reading specialist for remedial students, I used to help her grade papers, which made me feel grown up, and important, and which I used to brag about to all of my friends.

 

But of course, having a working mom also had its drawbacks. I was a latchkey kid, and for much of my childhood, my brother and I came home to an empty house after school. We’d watch tv and eat chocolate covered donuts, and on the many days that I forgot the key, we’d sit outside on the porch for a few hours, waiting for one of my parents to come home and finally let us in. (By the way, could you even imagine this scenario now????) And because my mom didn’t get home most nights until close to five, dinnertime in our house meant that we either threw a Hungryman or a can of Spaghetti-Os into the microwave, or we went out to Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, or the local Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood. I remember a friend telling me a few years ago that her mom used to have homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk waiting for them every single day after school, and I remember being shocked – shocked – by this. I didn’t know people really did that, I told her. I thought it was just something made up. Something that the writers for Leave It to Beaver had conjured from their imaginations.

 

In terms of juggling, my parents, I think, were way ahead of their time. My father was an accountant at a small, three person firm, and he more or less set his own schedule, which made it really easy for my mom to go to work every day. She had to be at school by 7 am, so my father drove morning carpool, and our neighbors brought us home in the afternoons. When there were school field trips that required a chaperone, my dad usually went, and instead of participating in Girl Scouts, I was part of a father/daughter group called Indian Princesses. And when it wasn’t tax season, a lot of nights, my dad would come home early and actually cook dinner for all of us.

 

Shazia
12.30.08

I'm glad to hear this as I am a mother of two and i work very hard and always feel that I don't give enough to my kids but you know we have to do what we have too...

akseymour
12.24.08

My mother worked from the time I was seven on and my Grandmother always worked, but I still feel guilty that I am not the SAHM type. Even being raised by a single mother, I still had the experience of having a SAHM, she was always home waiting for my brother and, she always baked cookies at the holidays and participated in most of my field trips. Now my 2 boys are being watched by my MIL, who has always been a SAHM, and they do so much with her. And that's what my husband was raised with. So yes I feel guilty.

moonmom
12.17.08

I am a working mom for financial and personal reasons... I make twice as much money as my husband, so it makes sense that work. Actually, I have to work so we can live to day to day and also plan for the future--college, retirement, etc. My mom worked when all of us were toddlers on--and I thank my lucky stars that she did, because my father died when I was 14 years old. She had an established, professional career, and her ability to raise three kids on her own was certainly different without him, but she was able to make ends meet and send us all to college. She happily retired two years ago, and I don't worry about her financial situation-- I'm proud she showed me what being "independent" really means, and I'm happy to pass that tradition along to my own daughter!

DawnH
12.17.08

Thanks for a great story! I am a working mom, my mom went back to work when I was 10, my grandmother always worked (divorced in the 50's),and my great-grandmother worked part time to help make ends meet. Us working class and wanna be middle class gals have always had to work to keep the family afloat, so I have had a lot of great examples. It doesn't always turn out perfect, but it turns out!

LuvBingMommy
12.17.08

This was great. I grew up with a stay at home mom who now gets to stay at home with my daughter while I work. I get insanely jealous at times and constantly question whether I'm doing the right thing. I make too much money to stay home (Poor me huh?). This article helped me feel better about my decision.

kellymiller500
12.17.08

i am always second guessing myself against other "perfect" mothers. this helps. thank you!

chamab
12.16.08

This is a great story. I grew up with a stay at home mom that had hired "help" (Latin America), and so my experience was that she was involved in the schools, extra curricular, etc. activities for all of her four kids. I am a working mom and struggle with wanting to be in all different places for my kids, while actually working a very demanding full time job. I want something different for my daughter and son, to have a realistic example of what the pros and cons are for a working mom.

alproosh
12.16.08

Thanks for the story. I am a working mother and absolutely try to make the best out if it! I chose to work because I want to the financial freedom, ability to contribute to the workforce and the stimuation/challenges. I realize there is an opportunity cost to it but everything in life does!

mvmom
12.16.08

This story brings tears to my eyes! I too grew up with a working mom and am a working mom myself. When we worry about our choices (if we have a choice) we have to look at ourselves and remember that we turned out ok.