On Mother's Day, I look at my kids and think how blessed I am. Not just because I've had a chance to raise them, with all of the love, pride and fun that brings to my life. But because doing so has been a joyful experience. I've been able to nourish them, keep them warm, and send them off to school in the morning.
I don't want to read any more arguments about who has it harder, whose work is "real work," who is contributing more to society, or who is doing a better job ensuring her kids become stable, non-homicidal adults. I'm proposing a new form of Internet literature, where one group of moms singles out another group of moms for a job well done.
I don't judge my friends who work full-time (I'm completely proud and impressed by their success) and I don't judge my friends who don't work at all (I'm amazed by their patience and ability to put their careers on hold). The trouble is that moms feel the need to defend their position (myself included) whenever they feel it's being questioned, and sometimes it gets downright vicious. We've already established that there's no "perfect" solution that works for everyone, so it seems wrong that anyone has to compare themselves to anyone else (and feel guilty or insecure), but we're never going to get past it, it seems.
I'm writing this because I often complain about and worry about my new line of work / not work. I feel like I'm missing out on real life by not punching a clock. That I've perhaps sacrificed my career and will never get it back. I want to remind myself that even if I don't get it back, I haven't been wasting my time here. If anything, I've become a better worker, not a worse one.
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyways. Being a working mother is a never ending balancing act. My children have always had a politician for a mom; I was elected to Toronto's city council before they were born. My chosen career -- and my choice to run for Mayor -- means that my life is, to a certain degree, public.
Growing up in the 50's and 60's, my mother Lillian was primarily a "stay-at-home"mother. It's not that she didn't have high aspirations for her future, as she dreamed of being a dancer. However, times required she go to work directly after graduating high school as a bookkeeper for a dress manufacturer, her professional dancing dreams dashed.
When did the term "working mom" come into the popular vernacular? I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why any woman with a job and children would describe herself as a working mom. My husband is a wonderful father, and great business leader, however, he does not refer to himself as a working dad. In fact, I don't know one man who works while raising a family and calls himself a working dad. So why do we?
I know that you seldom have a hot cup of coffee or tea. I know that your attention is always divided, often diverted from a moment to moment basis, and you cannot ever count on completing a task in the one go. I know that you probably don't get any down time when you're on your own at home, unless you have a single child who still naps in the daytime. I know the challenges you deal with daily, usually with no peer support or backup. The toddler tantrums, the toilet training accidents, the food battles, the food on the floor, the crayons on the wall, the sibling rivalry, the baby that never seems to stop crying.
Women have been brought up to believe that they have the right to pursue their own goals and dreams without any consideration for those around them. As a result, we have women having babies who almost immediately hand the child off to a daycare worker or nanny so that they can return to the office in order to feel fulfilled.
My kids are the worst eaters. Really. Some people say this, and mean that their kids don't eat raw sushi, or whole wheat pasta, or offal. That's not what I mean. I mean that in my house, bacon is a food group. I mean that my kids don't eat pasta, period. I mean that they only accept pepperoni pizza from one delivery joint. It's serious.
I am unemployed again. I'm scared we won't be able to pay the bills. I'm scared that we have set up a life that there is no way we can afford without a second salary, and a decent one at that. I'm scared that I am doing my son a disservice by pulling him from daycare to stay home with me, a mom who loves him dearly but prefers to not be a stay-at-home mom...