Memories From the Kid of a Working Mom

by Ginger on November 8, 2011

in Mom Thoughts, Working Mom

Last week in the comments on my post about working mom decisions, a handful of you talked about your own memories of childhood and what your parents were (or weren’t) able to attend. And while I haven’t had a chance to respond to your comments (someday, I swear!), I did want to more globally address the topic.

I grew up with a working mom (hi mom!). She worked her tail off when I was a kid, and worked it off in a different way when I was an older kid, and then worked it off like a BOSS when I was a teenager. I have vague memories of being dropped off at daycare, of visiting my mom at work, of going to class with her, of babysitters.

What I don’t have memories of is the feeling that she missed anything. In fact, my overwhelming memories are of my mom pulling the superhuman feat of working crazy hours and also never missing anything that was important to me.  I’m sure she must have missed things here and there, but in my memory, her record is pretty damn spotless. In high school in particular, my mom was a badass, never missing a single colorguard, band, honor society, or winterguard event of mine…and also making it to almost all of the events of my boyfriend and best friend. While working 60-70 hour weeks. I still don’t know exactly how she did it, and it STILL (actually, even more now) fills me with awe.

But it also gives me a role model. When I start to get wrapped up in my head about how to pull off this working mom thing successfully, I think about my mom. I think about what she accomplished, and how hard it must have been. And how what I think about when I remember my childhood is how involved my mom was, not anything she missed.

This whole working mom thing isn’t easy, for any of us. I know it wasn’t easy for my mom, and it isn’t easy for me. But when I start to worry that I’m not THERE enough, or that I’m going to miss things, I try to think of my mom and remember this: you may not be able to HAVE it all, or DO it all–but you can make decisions so that your kid knows that you are giving THEM your all.

Tara November 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm

YES! A million times yes. When I was pregnant and planning to go back to work I was really conflicted because I WANTED to stay home with Eriana. Being a SAHM was what I’d always wanted to do. But I knew that I would be a good mom to her either way, and that she would be GREAT and well-adjusted either way. I knew that it would be a different kind of work to be a family if I was working outside the home or a WAHM or a SAHM, but I would still be a great mom. You ARE a great mom. 🙂

Ginger November 9, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Thanks! The way I figure it, working or staying at home isn’t THE factor on whether your kid will be happy and well-adjusted–the way you parent them is. So we all work to be the best parents we can, and then hope for the best!

Justine November 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Thanks for posting this … AMEN! I hope to be back at work soon, and I hope that I can make decisions that let my kids know that they matter … and that you do the best you can.

Ginger November 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

It’s something I have to remind myself of (clearly!), but I know that if we do the best we can, we’re doing right by our kids–even if we can’t make every party 🙂

Jennie November 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I love that last quote, so much.

My mom also worked (hard) and was also at everything I wanted her to be. The only thing I really remember (negatively) about my childhood with a working mom was that she was tired so often, so I try really hard to fight the “I’m so exhausted”s around Kyle. I want him to know that I can’t always be there, but when I am there, I’M THERE. He has my attention when he has me.

Ginger November 9, 2011 at 10:48 pm

That’s a really good point too Jennie. I try (try) to put aside my exhaustion when I walk in the door until he goes to bed. I’m not always successful, but I figure if I don’t have quantity time, it’s got to be (mostly) quality.

Plus, I don’t want him to grow up with an idea that work is always drudgery and exhaustion. I need him to grow up and make a decent living so he can take care of me in my old age 😉

Christa the BabbyMama January 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

A friend of mine was offered a job and wasn’t sure whether to take it… and I had this very same discussion with her. My mom was a working mom and a going to school mom, too, and looking back I can’t remember ever wishing she stayed at home. Then again, most of my friends’ moms worked – and we kind of ignored the ones that didn’t. Which is terrible and I don’t know what it means…

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I can’t remember super well prior to my junior high days, but I don’t know that I ever really had any idea that it was even a point of discussion. Some moms worked, some didn’t, mine was one of the ones that didn’t.

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