I have successfully survived my first week back at work after my one year maternity leave. It was bittersweet. I started a new job at a new company so I have the nervous excitement of walking into something new and fresh. Yet I was so very sad to leave my babies behind and by the end of the day I just want to hold my babies and shower them with love and attention.
On my, much shorter commute home I was listening to Dr. Laura on satellite radio. I don’t know why I was listening to be honest. That woman drives me nuts. She is so unbelievably rude to people sometimes and some of the advice she gives has me very curious as to her credentials. I guess it was entertainment and a distraction. Anyways, someone had called in with a question on how she should handle a situation with a daycare provider. Dr. Laura basically told her that she shouldn’t be working. That any problem she faced was her own fault for going to work and that she should be talking to her boss to arrange her schedule so that she would only work the hours her kids are in school. If she can’t do that she shouldn’t be working there. This wasn’t the first time I had heard her lay into some poor mother on the other end of the line for having the audacity to go to work. I come across this kind of attitude a lot and it is now really getting to me.
Many, not all, but many working mothers would much prefer to be able to stay home with their children. To not have to rely on babysitters, family or daycare to take care of their kids while they are at work. However most of us, can not afford to raise our families on one salary. Unfortunately our society is no longer set up like that. In recent times when I have made this point I have heard the argument “well you shouldn’t have kids then if you can’t afford to stay home with them” To these people I ask, what do you think our country would look like if everyone who couldn’t afford to live on one income just didn’t have kids???? Really??? What do you think would happen to our population??? That is honestly one of the most ridiculous arguments I have ever heard. Or even better, what do you think would happen to our economy if every household that had children suddenly had one parent drop out of the work force? Let’s be realistic people this is not 1952. We don’t work like that anymore. Most households in this country require 2 incomes to function. Could my family survive on one income if I stayed home? Not the way we live now. Could I change my lifestyle to accommodate 1 income? Maybe. If we sold our house and rented, and rented in a cheaper city. If we sold our car and took the bus. If we didn’t want to have any savings, including saving for our retirement and our children’s education. And yes, I could go back to work when my kids went to school full-time but with 5 years out of the workforce what do you think would happen to my career potential? And what job do you think I could find that would allow me to work between the hours of 9 and 3 when my kids are in school.?
Unfortunately I have to work. I have to work to be able to provide the kind of life that I want my kids to have. I want my kids to further their education. I want to be able to help them pay for their education. I want to do this because I want them to have a career that makes them happy. I want to own my home. I want to be able to get home in a decent amount of time and spend all my free time with my children so for that reason we need to own a car. To rely on public transportation would mean even less time home with my family. We don’t live an extravagant lifestyle because that is not the type of people we are. WE don’t need fancy cars or a big house. We are a 1 car family. Yet the kind of lifestyle we live requires two incomes.
If I won the lottery today and money wasn’t an issue then I would choose to stay home with my children. I would much prefer to spend my days with them then at an office.
Now on the other hand. What if I could live on one income but CHOSE to go to work because I enjoyed my job. Because i love what I do and WANT to do it. Would that make me a bad person? A bad mother? No!! Women fought for our rights to work. Generations of women before us endured terrible sexism and stood their ground for US to make sure that we had the CHOICE to work or stay home with our families.
Now there are these people out there, including you Dr. Laura, who think that they have the right to judge me for either my personal decision or for the sacrifice I have to make in order to be able to raise a family.
I will tell you this…I have enough guilt of my own about leaving my children in daycare and I don’t need anyone else, especially perfect strangers trying to make me feel like a bad parent for having to go to work. Not only for going to work so that I can provide for my children, but for doing my part in contributing to society.
Why don’t these people, again I’m including you Dr. Laura, just mind their own business and move into the year 2011. Stop trying to push women back 50 years and live with the fact that society has changed. Learn that those of us who go to work don’t do it because we want someone else raising our children. We do it because we have to. Wether we have to for financial reasons or for our own personal growth and mental well-being that is none of your business. We do it because we have to.
Today I am so very thankful that I have found a job in which it seems like I will be very happy. With a company that seems to respect the fact that I am a mother first and has already made it clear to me that my family comes first. I am also so incredibly grateful that my children have a wonderful daycare provider that truly loves them and has their best interest at heart.
To all mothers out there who are fortunate enough to be able to stay home with their children, keep doing a wonderful job. It truly is the hardest job you will ever do and I give you the utmost respect for being able to do it and still keep your sanity!
To all of you working mum’s out there who are suffering from working mum’s guilt. I feel your pain, I judge you not and let no one else make you feel guilty for the choice you have made. Afer all, as I’ve said before, if the choice we make is what we feel is best for our families, how can anyone judge that?