Dear Children: I Don't Regret Being A Working Mom, But I Do Worry

by Katie Markey McLaughlin
Originally Published: 
working mom
Dean Mitchell / iStock

Dear children,

I’m not sorry I work.

I know a lot of other moms are, but I’m not.

I’m not sorry that when I leave you in the morning, you don’t cry because you know how much fun you’re going to have while I’m working. I want you to have that fun, even if I’m not there to see it.

I’m not sorry that you count your Nana, your Gigi, and your Pops among your best friends because they help take care of you every week while I work. Many kids will never be as close with their grandparents as you are.

I’m not sorry that, because I’m a working mom, you get more quality time with your perfectly capable father.

I’m not sorry that you’ve bonded with your other caregivers, because the more people who love you—and the more people you love back—the better.

I’m not sorry that you get to see both your mommy and your daddy doing housework and changing diapers because, since we both work, we split the jobs at home as well.

I’m not sorry that you get to overhear your daddy and I working cooperatively as a team to keep our schedules running smoothly (or at least running—the smooth part is questionable).

I’m not sorry that I have less time with you, because I know that the quality of the time we have together is way more important than the quantity. I know there’s a difference between being present and being attentive.

I’m not sorry that—according to research—you, my daughter, are more likely to get an advanced education and earn a higher income because I’m a working mom.

I’m not sorry that—according to that same research—you, my son, are more likely to grow up to be actively engaged in the care of your own children because I work.

I’m not sorry that you’ll get to go to a good school district, and I’m not sorry that you have a big backyard to play in.

And perhaps most importantly, I’m not sorry that I enjoy something in life in addition to being a mom.

I’m not sorry that I find my career fulfilling, because a happy, fulfilled mom is a good mom.

No, I’m not sorry, but I do worry.

I worry that you’re jealous of the kids whose moms stay home with them.

I worry about how sad you’ll be when I inevitably miss a soccer game or band concert.

I worry that one day you’ll end up on a therapist’s couch, tracing any problem you have in life back to when I let you watch television all day because I had a deadline to meet.

I worry that, because so many of my friends are stay-at-home moms, you’ll think your mom is the only one who works—despite research showing that nearly 70 percent of moms with children under 18 participate in the labor force, meaning we’re in very good company.

Yes, I worry, but mostly I’m grateful.

I’m grateful that you see your parents defying the traditional gender roles, so you probably won’t grow up to feel bound by them.

I’m grateful that we have family nearby to help out in a pinch, because I know many parents don’t.

And most of all, I’m grateful that when I kiss you goodnight after a long day of working, you give me a big, sloppy kiss right back, and an “I love you, Mommy” for good measure.

Because my working will never mean that we love each other any less.

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