I am sure those of us who are moms constantly struggle with the question of whether she is a good mommy.
I think I am. I think my kids love me. I think they would say I was a good mommy. Maybe two out of the three. That’s not bad right?
Having said that, I would love to share a memory of mine that still warms my heart to this day.
It’s Mother’s Day; I am the first to wake up as always. I come downstairs to watch TV and a little later my middle son Jack comes down. I tell him it’s Mother’s Day and he says, “Mommy, what do you do?” Now he didn’t mean, what do you do on Mother’s Day, he meant Mommy, what the %%%!!!?? do YOU do?” I have to admit, I was shocked and did shed a tear. The truth is, I don’t think children of moms who don’t have traditional jobs think that we do anything.
For me, I am now at a stage where I am also asking, “Jen, what do you do?” More than that, I ask “What could you have done, what could you have been?” Sometimes I fantasize that I run a big Hollywood studio and all I wear are Kim Basinger’s suits from 9 1/2 weeks. I am powerful and sexy. Everyone in the industry fears me, but respects me.
I come to when one of my kids asks me to wipe their tush.
I decided when I had kids that I didn’t want to work. I wanted to be around and available at all times. It was a personal decision that I don’t regret.
You see, I never believed that a woman can “Have it all”. To me, I define that as a great career, happy marriage, great kids, and... no guilt. It’s just not possible. It is something people talk about, write about, but know that it can’t happen, like truly looking good in a one piece bathing suit.
If I want to have a job where I don’t miss taking my kids to school, volunteering to go on a field trip, being home in the afternoon by 2:00 to get them off the bus, my career opportunities are limited.
I know that if I had a full time job, the kind of job I dreamt of having when I was younger, I would never see my kids.
I guess my concern about working has always been that my kids would miss out on something if I wasn’t there all of the time. I couldn’t have playdates, I couldn’t volunteer at school. God forbid I couldn’t share in the joy of the moms who always felt it necessary to discuss in excruciating detail when their kids first sat up, crawled, or started eating the disgusting throw up looking rice cereal.
I also always feared my kids would love the nanny more than me.
Then I think about Prince William, as I am sure you all do. Really all British kids. Their parents send them off to Boarding School, they maybe see them a few times a year, and they don’t seem to get much love and affection. They have governesses and butlers who tend to their needs. The parents say stuff like “Blimey, you got a B in Science.” Yet, Prince William seems to have turned out a well-mannered kid who gets to run a country.
Me, I barely let my kids cry, I panic if I am two minutes late for their bus, I am with them all the time, and they can barely run a game of Monopoly.
My advice to any woman on this path is to do what feels comfortable for you. There should be no judgment from mother to mother as to what the correct answer is. We have to support every woman’s decision.
Some women love being a mom and can’t imagine doing anything else. I remember I was at a meeting at school and I saw a mom who is very involved in the school. She was listening to the speaker and at the same time using her very own paper-cutting machine to cut some flyers. First, I thought, how does one travel with a paper-cutting machine? Does she carry it in her car at all times? Does she have a duplicate machine at home? Then you know what I felt? Envy. I envied her because she was doing exactly what she wanted to do.
That is really the most important piece of advice I can give.
DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT. DON’T DO WHAT YOU THINK SOCIETY WILL APPROVE. IF YOU WANT TO BE A WORKING MOTHER, IF YOU HAVE TO BE A WORKING MOTHER, OR IF ALL YOU EVERY DREAMED OF WAS TO BE A STAY AT HOME MOM, THEN THAT IS WHAT YOU DO. OWN IT.
The working versus not working is a debate that will go on forever. It is a debate I have with myself constantly. I think it is okay for a woman to say that being a mother is not enough. Or it was enough at one point, and it isn’t enough now. Our needs throughout our lives change, just like our taste in clothes. What was once a gorgeous outfit from Jag or NAF NAF is now a bad memory. We evolve, hopefully as women. It is your job to constantly make sure that you are honest with yourself about what you want.
Talk with your partner before you have kids. Make a plan for each other, your future children, and yourself of what works for you. Children do great in stable environments with happy parents. Kids are resilient. They follow the schedule we set for them. If you are gratified in your life, your children sense that. A happy wife and mother make a happy life.
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