A Letter to My Working Mom

I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for this before

05.19.17

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The other day, my mom forwarded me an amusing essay from one woman recounting the foibles of being a working mother. I laughed as I read it, thinking back on my perfectly imperfect childhood and realized I’ve never said thank you for everything she gave me.

Dear Mom,

I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for being a working mother. I know I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, but I want you to know that I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’m living in an era where your generation is churning out humorous and reflective essays on the difficulties of striving to “have it all,” and I want you to know that in my eyes, you did. We did.

Each time you brought me to work — between Styrofoam cups of Swiss Miss and trips to the supply closet — I watched you. I watched you be a leader and be part of a team. I watched how you spoke to others, how you made those around you feel and how you held your own.

I watched you listen and compromise. I watched you weigh hard choices, and learned that when I make a decision, I have to stand behind it.

You taught me that it’s about doing the work and not about the praise. That confidence is built from within. And as you juggled your work and all that came with raising my brother and me, you taught me that if I’m willing to be flexible and a little bit creative, I can solve almost anything.

I learned that life is far from perfect and that things won’t always go my way, no matter how well I plan. But when I’m faced with disappointment, you taught me that it’s just a moment and to take what I can from it and move forward.

I don’t remember the missed soccer games. I remember that you always came when you said you would and in doing so, I learned that no matter how much is going on in my life, to always show up for people who are counting on me.

Mom, you told me I could do anything I set my mind to and I believed you because I watched you do the same.

If I become a mother one day, I’ll be a working mother. I know it will be hard and I know I’ll have my own moments of guilt and heartache and wonder if I’m doing it right, but no part of me doubts if I’ll succeed because I watched you.

Photo by Edith Young.

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  • Hayley

    Beautiful piece!

  • Basil

    I’m going to cry! I have a toddler and am pregnant with my second and there are days when it is so hard, on so many levels to go into work. It’s like you’re fighting all the time – for recognition even though you can’t put in as much “face time” (but do the work anyway), against feeling guilty when collecting your child from nursery and seeing that they’re the last one left, watching colleagues progress ahead of you even though you know you’re just as able and dedicated, fighting the urge to punch someone in the face for suggesting that to get promoted you need to take on extra voluntary social committees (and then two seconds later wonder at the lack of women in the senior leadership team). I have to constantly remind myself that I’m setting an example to my children and hopefully making it easier in someway for future generations of parents by pointing out the bullshit and being an example. I was so lucky that in my first job I worked with a single mother (her child was a toddler at the time) who probably did three times as much work as anyone else in the team, in hours limited by nursery drop offs and collections, on about a quarter of the sleep that we were getting

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    • Kiks

      Just starting to try to get pregnant over here, and this made me cry as well. I worked so hard, for so many years, to get the career I have now. The question of how to balance that with motherhood has caused many sleepless nights and had me wondering if I would be able to handle it all. Posts like Rachel’s, and comments like yours, give me hope that it is possible and that it will actually be beneficial to my future child(ren).

      Ps. You sound like an amazing mom and career woman! Hope all goes smoothly with your new little one on the way.

      • Basil

        I was worried before my eldest arrived how I was going to cope with it all, but you just do. I have a super supportive husband who helps share the load (both childcare and sorting stuff out at home). You just focus on what’s important and has to be done ans try to get through every week

  • Anne Dyer

    This. Is. Everything.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    <3 <3

  • Chloe

    This is so so so nice! Wow, it was honestly really heartfelt and lovely to read. I can tell how much you appreciate and look up to your mom and I’m so glad that I’ve had the chance to read that. You write so beautifully as well 🙂

    Have a great weekend!!

    Chloe @ https://girllgonerogue.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Kristina Klaffenboeck

    YES. Also the daughter of a working mother and wouldn’t have had it any other way. As a kid I didn’t always understand the couple of missed recitals (I do remember a few…), but as an adult I know that she was/is a better mother because of it. Not all women need to have careers outside of the home to be complete people, but she did, and she new that about herself, and she was a better mother for it.