"I was home a great deal, (but) I was working sometimes, and I always had a lot of guilt about that. I gave myself an incredibly hard time about work. If there’s anything I wish I could look back on and change about my life, it’s that I wish I hadn’t given myself such a hard time.”
– Kyra Sedgwick
No good mom has it easy.
Motherhood is hard. It’s messy. Sometimes it’s gross. It requires an enormous amount of energy on a miniscule amount of sleep and endless reserves of patience, organization and creativity.
And it’s a fantastic job.
As we look ahead to Mother’s Day on Sunday, I want to give a heartfelt “thank you” to all of the mothers in our community. But in particular, I want to give a shout-out to my fellow working moms.
In a true “grass is always greener” scenario, a stay-at-home friend and I were once admiring each other’s lives.
She coveted the time I spend with grown ups and the opportunities I have to challenge my intellect.
I, obviously, longed for the time she spends with her kids.
A Pew study in 2009 found that two-thirds of American women with children 16 or younger work full time. But that seems to do little to assuage the cloud of guilt that surrounds them as they try to be good mothers and good employees – only 33 percent of those women rated themselves as a 9 or 10 as a mother.
While reading through that study, a question began to surface: What makes a “good mom”? Working moms don’t have the market cornered on guilt: only 43 percent of stay-at-home moms rated themselves at the top of the scale.
Is it about the quantity of time spent with children? Most of the mothers in this study who had full-time jobs said they would prefer to work part time. But fewer than half of stay-at-home moms thought they were doing a job worthy of a 9 or higher. So there must be more than that.
Is it about time spent focused on the kids? A 2007 study found that the average mother today, whether she works outside the home or not, spends about four more hours per week actively engaged with her children than mothers in the 1960s, when far fewer moms were in the work force. We always feel we should give more, but a generation of Baby Boomers came out OK without mom participating in every daily activity.
I think the answer is something too abstract, too hard to define to put a label on it. Perhaps that makes it seem unattainable; perhaps, as Kyra Sedgwick suggests, we just shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.
What makes the mothers in your life great? Tell me at email@example.com and I will post your answers on our website in time for Mother’s Day.
Enjoy your MidWeek.