Early this past Saturday morning, I was busily typing, all too aware of a deadline looming overhead, while my nine-year-old twirled around me, talking nonstop, as he’s known to do. I was only half paying attention, nodding and smiling where it counts, until my world came to a screeching halt.
“I liked it better before you were a writer,” my son said. “You weren’t on the computer so much. You spent more time with me.”
My heart panged and mother’s guilt settled in my bones like a sickness. Doubt ran through my mind and I worried if I was somehow doing a disservice to my kids because of my work. Do they feel ignored? Are their memories of me going to be the back of my head, typing on a computer? What have I done?
And then a giant dose of clarity splashed me in the face and brought me to my senses.
I’m not going to shame myself for working my buns off as an author just because my office is in my home. My job is not only an additional source of income for our family, but it’s also an essential outlet for me as a creative. I try to get my writing done while the kids are at school, but that’s not always possible. I pull just as many twelve-hour shifts as my husband. Most days, I’m lucky if I get one solid hour of writing in because my other full-time job as a stay at home mom + house manager starts the second I wake up in the morning and doesn’t end until I lay my head down at night.
My husband and millions of other parents work outside the home and don’t feel guilty about it. They don’t feel ashamed for having careers. Why should I? And why aren’t my kids giving their dad grief for all the time he spends away at his job? I’ll tell you why. Because this arrangement is all they’ve ever known. They’ve had me front and center, attending to their every need for the first decade of their lives. That’s exactly what I wanted and a beautiful gift I’ll never stop being grateful for, but I have an additional job now that also requires a lot of my time and attention.
I hope my hard work teaches my children that success doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have to work diligently, with tenacity and resolve. You have to make sacrifices and compromises. I hope they learn to never allow themselves or others to devalue their worth or minimize their contribution. You have to believe in what you’re doing more than anyone else. I want them to see that their mom can also have a career, just like parents who work outside the home.
Fortunately, the writing was able to wait that day, so my son and I took the dog for a nice, long walk. Juggling more than one job is not for the faint of heart, especially when the lines between the two blur. I’m incredibly proud of how I’ve managed thus far.
Now scoot over kiddos, momma’s got books to write…