Since it’s Labor Day, I thought I would share my work experience. This won’t be a chronological list of my employers, but it will be a glimpse into the heart of a woman working fulltime and raising children.
Here’s the deal, I have worked most of my adult life. The majority of my early mothering years were spent working fulltime. I had incredible babysitters that loved my children fiercely while I spent the day in a classroom of 22 children I loved as my own. While I knew the nuances of my students, I missed lunch time routine, nap routine, and library story time with my own.
I wrestled all manner of mom guilt because I worked. My fear hustled me into believing that I was harming my children by not being home with them for the aforementioned routines. I felt less than when compared to my friends who stayed at home with their children.
Sometimes–their pity was palpable. They framed their sympathy with the sentiment that their children were their first calling. I picked up the underlying message that I was missing my calling by being a working mom. While that is probably NOT what they were intending to imply, it is what I heard.
That is a heavy burden for a woman already inclined to living in fear.
To make matters worse, I loved my job. I was a pretty good classroom teacher, and I LOVED creating a safe community for the learners entrusted to me. Somewhere deep inside me I had to reconcile loving my job and sending my children to a sitter—because apparently that was supposed to be my primary calling.
That experience taught me that one size does not fit all. While it is far more comfortable if everyone conforms to what I believe, it is dangerous to paint the world with the broad strokes of personal opinion. Conviction is good when we use it to guide our own lives, but when we place our conviction on others, it becomes a heavy burden.
I wasn’t a terrible mom because I was a working one. I was working and a mom–both were worthy callings.
If you are a working parent, lean in because I want to tell you something. You are not less than because you work. Did you hear me? Your kids see your sacrifice even if they have yet to fully understand the complexity of it. You have chosen well.
Be intentional with the time you have. Be the best version of yourself at work and at home. Ignore the side-eye from others. The weight of their opinion is too heavy for you to carry and still be amazing.
If you are a stay-at-home parent, lean in because I want to tell you something. Your work is important. The daily sacrifice for your children may not get public recognition or extravagant promotions, but it is meaningful. You have chosen well.
If you know a working parent, offer to lend a hand with the school party they have to miss, take pictures of their kids in the parade, or send text updates from the spelling bee. We need this kind of connection, consideration, and community. Refrain from laying personal convictions about parenting on the shoulders of the working parent; an invisible burden is already there.
If you know a stay-at-home parent, remember to initiate conversations about hobbies and personal interests because there is a need to nurture the individual separate from the duties of parent. Encourage the continued growth of specific talents. Refrain from assuming work outside the home is harder than the daily grind of stay-at-home parenting; a question of purpose already occupies territory of the mind.
Did or do you work outside the home? What advice would you give us? What encouraged you in your work? Were or are you a stay-at-home parent? What advice would you give us? What encouraged you in your work? We are the best version of ourselves when we consider the experience of others and not just look through the filter of our own.
It is kind of us to be careful with the words that come out of our mouths. Measured words are priceless gifts we can give those around us. The work we choose matters. All of it.
Cheer someone on today. Acknowledge the effort. Celebrate the win. Choose connection and kindness.
Happy Labor Day!
#ittakesavillage #workingparents #laborday #lifelessons #sowkind