Let Go Of The Working Mom Guilt
“Who has the kids when you’re here?”
“Are you really going back to work after you have your second child?”
“Are your kids in daycare?”
“Who makes them dinner?”
I could go on and on with the questions I get asked on a weekly, if not daily basis, as a working mom in a non-traditional setting. I could bore you with the stories of women standing around me talking about how the best days of their lives were when their kids were little and they got to stay home and enjoy every minute with them. They would trade it all to go back. They would tell their daughters the same thing, that it’s important to stay home with your kids. But that’s not what I’m here to do today.
Today I am here, as proud working mom of two boys, as woman that grew up with a working mom, to tell you that it’s okay to work outside the home. It is okay to be PROUD that you work outside the home. And it is certainly okay to NOT have GUILT about working outside the home, as so many women have been led to believe they must just because we are breaking gender norms.
As an athletic trainer in a high school, I work odd hours, essentially second shift many days. There are weeks I see my football team more than my own kids. There are certainly days that the only time I have with them is when I make them breakfast in the mornings. I’ve missed baseball games, school events, family parties, and I’m sure there will be more in the future. Do I feel bad when that happens? Of course. Should I feel worse than a man does when that happens? Absolutely not. I refuse to have guilt for the times I have put myself and my career first because of some archaic gender roles that tell girls from a young age that men are supposed to be the breadwinners and women are supposed to be care takers.
There are so many men that could tell you the exact same things as I did above. They leave when it’s dark and get home right before bedtime. They eat no meals with their kids. They are late to games or miss them entirely. They don’t go to school parties. They don’t make lunches. They don’t know what size clothes their kids are in. But they get a pass simply because that is how history has dictated things are supposed to be. Well I am here today to give working moms their pass. To tell them it’s okay to enjoy their job, their career, their promotion. Traditional or not. It’s okay to have your kid buy lunch, order pizza for dinner, buy store bought valentines or pre-packaged goodies for the bake sale. It is more than okay. It is what is right for you and yours.
And while there are many things I have missed out on from working, what I have gained certainly outnumber those. I have gained independence as a woman to stand on my own if something were to happen to my husband. I have earned the self-esteem that comes with being a woman in the world of athletics that is dominated by men. I have shown my boys what it means to have a mom that proudly goes to work doing what she loves. I have inspired other female Athletic Trainers who have seen me and know that you can have a family and be a high school athletic trainer or just a working mom in general. My family has become part of the extended family of my high school athletes and parents. These are all things I need in my life to make me a better, happier person.
Please don’t take this as a criticism of moms that work in the home. That isn’t what this is. I have the utmost respect for any mother that has made that their career choice. All I am asking is that society sees our choices just as that, our choice. A choice made by each individual woman about what best serves her and her family. All I want is respect for the decision we reached as a couple that we think is best for our family at this moment.
Whenever you make a decision about what is best for you and your family, you must always make sure the benefits outweigh the negatives. For my family right now that means me working outside the home and I will not feel guilty about that simply because I am a woman. Because being a woman will never factor into the negative column.
Kate Meyer has been a high school Athletic Trainer in Louisville since 2009. Previous to that she was a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer at Oklahoma State University with the Men's Track and Field team. Kate has two sons, Henry (6) and Scheffler (3) with her husband Nick.