In today’s world, so many moms have no choice but to work outside the home. Trying to balance work, home, your children and your marriage is like a juggling act. There aren’t enough hours in the day, if you ask me. My days involve stress, a lack of sleep, and carrying an emotional weight of guilt. Other women, and sometimes, other mothers, look at me with admiration and ask me “how I manage to do it all” and they want to know “my secret.”
The only secret is that I manage not to break down into tears several times a day. Ah yes, I have those days where I just want to find a hole to crawl into, hide, and find someone else to take over, but I really don’t have a choice, do I? I work because I have to. I am not saying that I don’t enjoy my career. I do, but if I can trade it without a single regret for being a stay-at-home mom until my kids are older.
I am first generation American, and if anyone has received the most criticism for being a working mother, it would be me. In additional to cultural mind set, modern society still looks at working mothers as not taking good care of their children by leaving them in daycare for extended periods for strangers to care for, and there is an argument that children who spend less time with their mothers suffer emotionally and through learning development. While most working mothers and documented research tells us that this simply isn’t true, it does not mean that working mothers feel better or even less guilty.
So, where does this guilt come from?
If a mother works, first she needs childcare and second, childcare is not only expensive and finding the right childcare is a difficult and emotional process. Further, stress is the highest amongst working mothers, which affects their personal as well their professional relationships. Working mothers are stressed to reach work on time, send their children to daycare and school, reach children’s appointments and deadlines, and pressed for time caring for their homes and families.
Did I mention that working mothers have the responsibility of the work place as well as the domestic front? When their children get sick, the responsibility often affects a working mother’s professional life. A working mother’s relationship with her spouse/partner is strained due to fatigue and lack of time, especially if both partners have long working hours. Quite often, mothers neglect their health by not going to doctor visits and not eating healthy or exercising, in a so-called noble quest to somehow meet all the responsibilities of home life as well as their professional lives.
I am not saying that there are not benefits to being a working mother. One of most important is that a working mother is an excellent role model to her children. In addition to your children seeing that you take care of them and your home, you also go off to work everyday and have your own career. By doing this, you are showing them a good work ethic and that it is possible to have the best of both worlds.
In addition, there are personal benefits. First, fathers play more of a role in the day-to-day family living which always them to develop a better relationship with their children. This also helps children to understand that parenting is a joint effort and through this, children grow up to be more independent, responsible and goal-oriented. They take responsibility, not through expectation, but through necessity and they learn quickly that not everything is done for them or handed to them.
As a professional benefit, working mothers offer a great prospective in the workplace because the skills they use in parenting are necessary, such as patience and communication. Social benefits include the opportunity to develop social networks and to interact with adults. Any mother who spends her day with small children understands the appreciation in this.
I sometimes have to remind myself about the benefits when I am stressing myself about the difficulties. I am currently going through a job search, and I am facing the constant battle of whether I can simply do it all. Sometimes, it seems like the difficulties of being a working mom outweigh the benefits. If anything, I find to remind myself the guilt is the most difficult part and once I can overcome that challenge, I can overcome anything.