Friday, October 22, 2010

My Secret

I have a secret. Shh…it’s a big one.

If you are a working Mom and or know a working Mom; if you follow JD Moms or other working mother blogs, websites, or magazines you will hear one phrase over and over:

“Working Mom Guilt”.

Ahh, yes “Working Mom Guilt”. Our society mandates that every working Mom have it. We all must feel painfully guilty because we have to work. The second you have a baby and finish maternity leave you are handed the guilt. Have a good day at work…and here don’t forget your guilt!

Working Mom guilt is all around us. A Google search of “Working Mom Guilt” came up with 1,820,000 hits! There are countless websites and support groups which are designed solely to teach working Moms how to cope with the guilt that plagues them.

But I have a secret. Okay here it goes…

“My name is Mandi and I do NOT have working Mommy guilt”.

Yes it is true, I am an anomaly…a working Mom living without the Working Mom guilt society says I must have. This shocks a lot of people when I say this, because most people who know me know my kids are my entire world, they are everything to me. I am the kind of Mom that has no social life because I am always with my kids. So how is it possible that I feel this strong bond to my children but yet don’t feel guilty when I leave them and head to work?

Well the answer is quite simple: I am realistic and humble enough to realize my kids are actually thriving MORE because I work.

My children go to an excellent daycare center. Contrary to public opinion, daycare is not just a place where kids are forced to go, get every disease known to man, and miss their Mommies. Rather, it is truly a school environment. I am amazed how smart my children are because they go to daycare. J can read, write, and color in the lines at the age of 4. H can speak Spanish, count to 100, and knows every animal under the sun, even animals I had no clue even existed…I mean what is a Tapir?

But daycare goes far beyond the educational benefits. My kids do well in a social and group environment. They have learned to function without the protective barrier of Mommy and Daddy. They know how to play well with others and function in the world around them. They’re getting a head start learning to function in our society. And if you think about it… isn’t this what we are actually trying to raise them to do?

I’ve gotten to put the stay at home kids v. daycare kids theory to test three times in my life, during each of my three maternity leaves. Although I loved every minute of being home with my kids, I actually found we’re better off when I work. I think what surprised me the most is that I actually do more with my kids when I work than when I was home on leave. When I was home I would say “Should we go to the park today? No, there’s stuff to do around the house we have plenty of time to do that tomorrow”. So we’d wait and wait until we forgot we even wanted to go. But, when I work I treasure every minute with my kids…if we want to go to the park we’re going to go right now because I don’t know how insane the rest of the week is going to be.

And I’m actually better because I work. When I was home, I would “sweat the small stuff”: the house always had to be clean and organized, laundry had to be done right now etc. I found that I spent more time cleaning and organizing than I did playing with the kids! I was more stressed out about everything in my life. In my working life, I am so short on time that I don’t worry about if I have dusted every picture frame or steam cleaned my counters. Nope it’s a quick Clorox wipe of crumbs at the end of the day and a good dusting whenever company comes by! I simply don’t have the time to stress out about the little things.

I also appreciate the power of the lesson I am teaching my kids. My daughter will be raised to know that a woman can be just as successful as a man and still have an amazing family life. She CAN have it all. My sons are learning that a marriage and parenthood should be a team effort. They don’t have to shoulder the entire load of financially supporting a family and they shouldn’t expect their wives to shoulder the entire load of caring for the children and the house. It’s an equal partnership.

So society, I’m sorry but it is possible to be a working Mom and not feel guilty about it. I’m living proof of that. I don’t think my kids and I are missing out because I work. Sure I have to work harder and shoulder more responsibility. It’s not easy. But the smooth straight road and the bumpy windy road all lead to the same place…and sometimes the windy road can even be more fun!


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