Before I became a mother myself, I thought there were two types of moms: working moms and stay-at-home moms. Now, I know that every mom works herself to the bone whether she goes into an office, works from home, or is the go-to parent all day, every day. No matter what, if you are a mom, you are a working mom (because raising tiny humans is no cakewalk).
Every family has its unique setup for how they operate best. I am a mom of two daughters, a two-year-old and an almost-five-year-old, and my co-parent is my full-time working husband. I also work full-time, but I’m the one with the flexible schedule, so when a kid has to be picked up from daycare, taken to a doctor’s appointment, or stay at home because they’re sick, I’m usually the parent who takes care of it. I firmly believe that I am contributing to my family, whether I am at my laptop writing an article or snuggling my sick toddler while she watches Cocomelon.
For the most part, though, I consider myself to be in the “mom who works outside the home” category.
What It Means To Be A Working Mom
How it Benefits Me
From my perspective, being a working mom means that I am not only able to contribute to my family financially, but I’m also able to be an overall happier person. I have so much respect for parents who opt to stay home with their kids because I tried to do it for a couple of months, and it was, without a doubt, the most challenging job I’ve ever had. I am lucky enough to work in a field that I genuinely love, and the fulfillment I get from my job is something I hope I never have to compromise on someone else’s terms.
How it Benefits My Family
I was raised in a home where my dad worked full time and my mom stayed home. There are so many benefits to this, and I feel fortunate that I was brought up this way. However, I believe my family also benefits from having two parents who work full-time. The benefits just look a little different.
The most obvious perk to having two full-time working parents is the extra income. Unfortunately for my kids, their dad is in public education and I’m a writer, so it’s not like we’re rolling in money over here. But we have the means to give them some of the extras. We’ve signed them up for dance, music, swim lessons, soccer, and art camps, we have the privilege of being able to buy them the toys they have their hearts set on, and we’re busy saving away to take them on an epic family vacation to Disney World in a year and a half. We’re also able to put money away for their futures and afford life insurance to make sure they’re taken care of if something were to happen to us. Some of these things wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have my income. And, sure, they don’t need these extras, but it’s nice knowing that my work allows us to give them to them anyway.
Aside from the finances, my family gets a happier, healthier mom/wife out of this setup. While I genuinely admire the parents who believe parenting is their one calling in life, I’m not one of them. But, since I can get additional fulfillment outside of the family, I have more energy to give them when we’re together. Not to mention, by prioritizing my needs as much as I do my family’s, I am teaching my daughters that if they become parents someday, taking care of themselves is just as important as taking care of their family.
How it Benefits My Communities
Though the impacts may not be huge, my work does make a difference outside my home. The income I bring in allows me to support local businesses, schools, and organizations in my neighborhood. Since I write for a living, my work reaches many people (particularly moms). Whether it’s an article about back-to-school shopping sales, managing postpartum depression, or celebrating working moms (!!) someone out there is reading it and might find it helpful. It’s nice to know that, even if my contribution is small, the time I spend working and away from my family has meaning outside my home.
Advocating For & Supporting Working Moms
We’ve all been told, “it takes a village” to raise kids, and I believe that supporting fellow moms and women is essential to creating that village. The mom who stays home can help the mom with a late work meeting by offering to drive her kid to practice. The mom in an office can advocate for the mom volunteering as a soccer coach by supporting a team donation or sponsorship from her employer.
More than anything, women can support each other by reserving judgment for each other’s life choices and showing some compassion when things get tough. The last thing a working mom needs when her child is sick with the flu is judgment from a co-worker for missing another meeting or from a fellow mom because she sent her kid to school thinking they just had a cold.
Being a mom is hard. Being a professionalis hard. Being a woman is hard. We need to remember that no matter who we are, where we are in life, or what path we choose to take, we all add value in some way, and that should be celebrated.
Ashley Ziegler is a full-time writer with a passion for telling stories through the lens of motherhood to help fellow moms feel seen and understood (especially the ones who, like her, are totally winging it).