I recently had an almost identical conversation with two women in my life regarding motherhood and going back to work. One being a friend and the other being a client. It just so happened that these conversations also happened on the same exact day, which for me was like “ok I definitely need to write about this”.
Both of the women are stay at home moms with busy lives and families.
One woman had made the decision to go back to work after almost four years of being home with her children. We were talking about her career and things that she missed about it. She said to me ” I love my kids, but I miss my job”.
The other woman has been a stay at home mom for 18 years, with still some more children that need raising, and was discussing her longtime dream of working in the mental health field or going back to school. She prefaced the conversation with ” I love my kids and I am so thankful to have been able to have this time with them, but….”.
Noticing a trend?
I did. Both of these women, in my opinion, are caring and nurturing parents. They are intelligent, funny, and talented and would succeed (and have succeeded) in any areas in which they have focused their energy.
I have no doubt in my mind that they love their children and I know that they know that I know this. Ya know?
Yet they prefaced their statements about their careers and futures with “I love my kids, but”.
There is no but here. You love your kids AND you miss your job. You love your kids AND you want to go to college. You love your kids AND you really need to get to the gym.
See what I am doing here?
I hear guilt when I hear ” I love my kids, but” and there is no place for guilt here as these women are not doing anything wrong. They are making a choice for themselves and their families. It is not wrong to go to work, as it is not wrong to stay home with your children.
Being a working mother does not imply that you cannot fully love and care for your children, just as being a stay at home mother does not imply that you are not intelligent, driven, or independent.
I would love to hear more women using “and” instead of “but”. I know its simple but language is powerful and even this little shift can help reframe the way we look at working, or even staying home, and help to manage guilt about the things we are or are not doing.
As parents we have to make choices for our children but we also have to make choices for ourselves. More often than not, the choices that are good for us and our wellbeing end up being good for our children as we are happier parents.
What if in putting yourself first you are also putting your children first? Whatever that looks like or means to you. Staying home, going to work, working out, time spent with friends, time spent alone, and so on.
So say it loud and say it proud – I love my _________ AND I love my kids. And I love myself. 😉