Labelling is perfectly fine when it’s the first day of school. You’ve got to stick those labels on everything, or the kid’s outerwear will disappear into Lost and Found hell and you’ll never see it again. Same thing with summer camp, and the Outdoor Adventure three-day trips that fifth- and sixth-graders take.
But apart from that, working moms don’t appreciate labels. They are sick and tired of them – or at least, I am. I’m tired of the question “Can a working mom give her all to her job and her kids?” Let’s see – up until the 1950’s, when moms began to be pushed out of the workforce to make room for returning GIs, didn’t moms do perfectly well managing two roles? My grandmother was a Catholic-school principal and managed to raise her kids. My mom was a university Admissions Director and raised eight of us. Where’s the problem? Lots of moms want to stay home with their kids. God bless them. But can we finally put down the baggage that calls a working mom neglectful of her kids? How ridiculous can you get – and how transparent?
I began to babysit in the 1970’s, when the controversy raged over kids at home with their moms vs. kids in daycare. Now let’s review how my babysitting charges are doing now. Jenna is 35, and she’s got one Pulitzer prize under her belt. Karen is about the same age — she’s a university professor. Their moms worked. The kids survived. Can we put the tired notion to rest, that working moms give their kids short shrift?
Thank goodness I have the confidence in my kids to know that they’ll thrive whether or not I spend the day at home with them. Thank goodness I don’t have the ego that would lead me to feel that no one but me could give my kids the love and lessons they need.
I resent the idea that all working moms are conflicted about their choices. I’m not! I love working full-time. I wish more moms had more options about their work hours, no doubt about that. I wish all people had more support for their outside-of-work lives. Not just moms. Not just parents. Way too many companies make it hard to have a life beyond the job.
But that doesn’t mean that every working mom does her kids a disservice, or even most of ’em, or perhaps any of ’em. Our kids are fine. I want my kids to have the presence in their lives of a mom who’s successful in the world. They like it too. They are not delicate little flowers. They need lots of things from me, but they can handle care and guidance from other people too. Could I make room in my mind for the idea that another person’s nurturing and influence might even be better for my kids, than a non-stop ration of mine? I did that, of necessity, a long time ago. Now it’s my choice.