Working mothers' thanks go to their kids' teachers, the neighbors, the babysitter and the many other people who keep our lives manageable. But sometimes working mothers say thanks simply for being able to work outside the home while also raising children.
That's not to say that working mothers are better off than stay-at-home moms. Every parent has the prerogative to choose the path that's best for his or her family, and the right to make that decision without being judged. Stay-at-home moms deserve our respect and admiration for the difficult course they've chosen and sacrifices they make.
As for working mothers, we've made our own tradeoffs by accepting less time with our family in exchange for a career. But let's focus on the positive. Here are 6 good reasons to shrug off the guilt and be grateful you're a working mother.
Working Mothers Get Time Alone
Stay-at-home moms, especially of babies and toddlers, rarely enjoy a moment's peace. They may not even be able to go to the bathroom alone.
Working mothers get time away from their family, to think in quiet and to focus on something other than the relentless drumbeat of children's needs. Even working mothers in jobs that involve serving customers may find that their kids' demands are the most relentless.
Every working mother who has enjoyed a peaceful cup of coffee at work knows what I'm talking about. A lunch break spent running errands or getting a hair cut can still be a welcome break from children.
Working Mothers Enjoy Adult Interaction
We all love our kids. We enjoy talking with other moms about them and their foibles. But it's nice to have a built-in break from the world of children, even if it means talking about overdue reports, sales projections and upcoming presentations.
Even better is the opportunity to chat with co-workers about politics, sports, current events or the latest blockbuster movie. Potty training and camp schedules can drive you crazy if you don't have any other topics of conversation.
(This is not to say stay-at-home moms are incapable of discussing weighty topics - just that when you interact with other adults in a child-free zone, it's a natural outcome.)
Work Gives You an Identity Beyond "Mom"
Being a mother is our most important job. But it can be overwhelming if it's our only one. Working mothers get to have an identity separate from being "Mom".
After all, parenthood is filled with tasks that must be repeated multiple times a day. You dress the kid, her clothes get dirty, you have to wash them. You feed the kid, clean the dishes and then he's hungry again. It can feel endless.
At work there may be plenty of mundane chores. But you also have projects with a beginning and an end, something you can point to with pride and say, "I did that!" You use your brain for challenges beyond figuring out the carpool schedule.
Notice those accomplishments and document them to remind yourself (and your boss) that you are a talented contributor to your workplace.
Working Mothers Earn a Pay Check
It doesn't make you greedy to relish the weekly or monthly pay check you bring home. That money feeds and clothes your family, and helps provide for their financial security in the future.
Like it or not, our society runs on money and recognizes it as proof of accomplishment. If you make a choice to give up that pay check, you are opening your family to the risk of financial instability down the road.
Hopefully, we are all putting a little money into a college savings fund and a retirement fund. Both of those funds will help our children with the education they will receive and freedom from supporting elderly parents.
For many working mothers, the pay check provides some of the extras in life, whether a regular dinner out, nice vacations or extracurricular activities for the kids. And even those in the most loving marriage recognize that earning money puts them on equal footing with their husbands -- and protects them in case that marriage ends.
Working Mothers Set an Example
As a mother of daughters, I am keenly aware that my life choices will be their first model when they venture out into the world. They may choose differently, but their point of comparison will be the decisions I made about my career and family.
So while I hope they understand that family is my top priority, I also love that they see me having a professional life that is rewarding and important. It's healthy for children not to be the only focus of their mom's life -- that's way too much pressure. They need the room to make mistakes and learn from them without mom always hovering nearby.
The same holds true for moms of boys. If boys are going to grow up to respect women as equal contributors to the workplace, it helps for them to see their mom in that role.
Our Children Learn Independence
Someone recently asked me why daycare children are so confident and outgoing. While I don't feel that statement is universally true, I do believe that being in child care helps kids to develop independence and confidence. Every day they separate from their moms and dads, and things turn out okay.
It's wonderful to see children develop loving relationships with their caregivers, and learn different things from them than they would have learned from their parents. Exposure to multiple perspectives -- both caregivers and other kids -- makes children more resilient and able to interact with a range of people as they grow up. That's a recipe for success in life.
Why are you thankful you work? Please share in the forum.