I see you sitting there. Patiently waiting. And parked on the floor, right next to my desk.
You have a professional mommy and tonight I am on deadline.
We didn’t have time to find your shoes and dinner was take out so we could get back to the office. The search for a cute dress was squashed by one look at my “to do” list and your hair bow is somewhere between the doors of our home and the doors of ABC News.
Yes, it’s summer and we should be outside playing.
After all, you are a child.
But one day you will be an adult. And when that happens, I won’t have to teach you that real life is a series of extremely fun times at home balanced with rough moments, laughing sessions balanced with intensely draining days, and wonderful quality family moments balanced with chores and work. You will already know. You will have watched me all these years.
When I look at your picture, all by yourself here, it’s easy to feel guilty.
I think all working moms feel stabs of guilt on a daily basis.
And that’s also why I think working mommies are the strongest and most understanding women I know.
We eat those doubts whole and still make our mark in the workplace and world.
On the way to our important meetings, we think, “Am I doing enough at home?” After a big conference call we think, “What am I missing?” While preparing for a lengthly presentation at the office, that guilt attacks our mind, “Is my child getting what they need from me?”
You see, we are still being a mom when we are gone. And while earning that paycheck, we are handed mouthfuls of life too … laundry, coordinating travel schedules, dishes, packing lunches, sports, doctor appointments, lining up sitters, planning birthday parties, errands, wrapping Christmas gifts, cleaning, grocery shopping, you name it. Moms still do it. This is why working moms always look tired. We are tired. And over scheduled many days. But we are also very strong. And bosses. And game changers.
And perhaps someday, you will be one too.
Here is what I hope you realize along the way, as to why I work hard and love you hard too …
1. I went to college with the intent of having a career. So my decision to keep it after giving birth, is no reflection on you. I was told I could be a great mom and a professional woman. I believed it. And still do.
2. As a little girl, it was my dream to be a journalist. The first amendment is important to the United States of America. And to me. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is crucial in a democracy. Just because you have your own children, doesn’t mean you need to give up your childhood dreams.
3. I help people everyday. People – Plural. Every. Single. Day. Just today while shooting a story a woman approached me and thanked me, saying I “got her through postpartum while on maternity leave.” I was her constant and her boost of cheer each morning.
4. My mother worked and I never doubted she loved me more than anything in the universe.
5. I work and there is no doubt in my mind you feel my intense and unwavering love down to your core.
6.I never wanted to need a man. I wanted to want a man.
7. I feel a strong desire to make a difference in this world, on a larger scale, beyond the walls of our home.
8. I’m tired. A job in television. A media consulting business. 3 kids. A husband. And 1 me. Beyond tired though, I am also confident God wants us to show up at the gates exhausted. He grants all of us talents for a reason. Don’t waste yours.
9. This life and this world is so much bigger than you and I. Stop and digest that for a moment. You can always come home. But you also have to leave it at some point to truly understand.
10. Working challenges my brain. People I meet help me grow, flourish and think. That makes me a better teacher to you. Your lesson tonight as I take this picture … we may not be at the park now, but tomorrow we will be. Life is about balance. And it’s not always picture perfect.
11. I like financially contributing to our family. It’s a lot for any one person to carry the burden alone.
12. I’m alive – mentally and physically able to serve … why wouldn’t I? Humans are wired to serve. This is not my opinion, it is fact. We are the happiest when we are doing something with a purpose. If you only serve yourself and spend your days doing only what you want to do, you will feel lonely and empty. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work “outside the home” … you may choose to be a stay-at home mom … it means you have to fill your days with something you are passionate about. Maybe that is centered around volunteer work, or ministry….or helping those less fortunate …. Passion and purpose live at the same address.
13. I want you to appreciate a strong work ethic from a mommy and a daddy’s point of view.
14. Working moms don’t have free time. Zero. Zip. Some days we just survive. So when you see one, give them a hug or ask them if there is anything you can do to lessen their load.
15. When you run across stay-at-home moms, give them a big hug too. When working moms miss the school play, need help wth carpool or even need a dragon costume at 10 p.m.,
stay-at-home moms are the first to help. They make our world go around. And they should be appreciated deeply for all the goodness they bring to the table.
16. I am fiercely independent and I love my job. Yet nothing is more important to me, than you and your brothers.
17. When I am home I know I suffocate you with kisses and hugs and stories. Keep letting me.
18. Think of life like a big school. If you keep learning everyday, you will always connect to your “more aware” self. That is your best self.
19. The easy route is not always the right one. Study it first. Then pray about it next.
20 . And finally, know that I work because a woman’s voice is worth something.
And having it in the workplace now, is paving the road for a better and more fair workplace when you get here. Just imagine if few to no women worked. Who would fight for equal rights and equal pay? Who would make sure a female’s perspective was recognized? Who would lobby for important female issues like healthcare and maternity leave, flexible work hours and gender representation. No one, right?! So how would we progress? You see baby girl, having women in the workplace, keeps men in the workplace more accountable. Our contribution matters. So I don’t just work for you and for me. I work for all your female friends and all of their female friends. The generations behind all of us working moms will feel the positive impact we make today. Remember, its not just about us and our needs as a family. We are a family of 5 in a country of millions. Be aware of the big picture.
I don’t know if I’m a better mom to you because I work, or a worse mom.
Perhaps I’ll never know.
Or perhaps the answer will come to me one day when I see you chase your dreams.
Maybe your dreams will be corporate America. Maybe you’ll be a musician. A writer. Maybe you will choose to be a stay-at-home mom. All of those choices are equally fantastic. No choice is better or worse than the other. Your goals are only yours. All I ask is that you do what you love and use the gifts God gave you. And somewhere in the back of your mind, you will already know the path – one that is paved with a series of extremely fun times at home balanced with rough moments, laughing sessions balanced with intensely draining days, and wonderful quality family moments balanced with chores and work.
P.S. After we left the office, we layed in bed and cuddled. We skipped bath and stayed up too late reading the Cookie Monster book. So that stab of guilt from spending our evening at the office did not get erased. I just loved you through it. You loved me back. And tomorrow we will do it again.