In my previous post I’m Brooke: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Me, I mentioned that I had visited three continents. While that sounds pretty awe-inspiring, the truth was I jet-setted to these places as a working mom. While I should have loved exploring countries I had never been; instead, I was miserable because of the immense amount of guilt I felt being away from my kids.
We live in a pretty unique time to be a woman. There is a constant balancing act between having a career, being the perfect mom, and maintaining a spotless house (which is not even remotely possible). Then add in the judgment from the ‘perfect’ moms, snide remarks from family and friends, and the constant feeling of exhaustion, you have yourself the impeccable recipe for a nervous breakdown and feelings of inadequacy. Yay, go us!
News Flash for Working Moms!
If you haven’t already figured it out, the perfect mom doesn’t exist. And if someone tries to portray that image, they’re probably the most messed-up and hate their lives. Now I am not an expert, but I am pretty sure kids would enjoy a mom who laughs at her mistakes, isn’t afraid to dance in a dirty living room, and shows them love and compassion, over an emotionless PTA President. So for the love of tacos, stop being so hard on yourself! The dishes can wait if it means you get to read a bedtime story and sneak a kiss goodnight. Heating up a pizza is the perfect dinner if it means you get to hear more about their day and get the scoop on who got in trouble during recess. My point is unless you are a hoarder or the health department should be called about your house, these precious little humans aren’t going to care if the house was spotless or if you attended every school board meeting. They are going to remember their time with you.
The Hard Lesson
Now this concept has taken me years to beat inside my head as a working mom, so I know you are probably rolling your eyes and saying I don’t understand. I can appreciate your perspective, but I learned this lesson first hand.
I had just gotten back from my European trip and finally had a chance to sit down to enjoy my daughter. She was so excited to have Mommy home that the questions were coming a mile a minute. We have a globe, so it had become a tradition for me to show the kids where I was during my trip. She was so excited to hear I had been in three different countries and flew in airplanes almost every day. It wasn’t until she started to ask me what I did over there did it sink in that my feeling of guilt prohibited me from being the best mom while I was traveling.
Anytime I was away from home I felt that if I enjoyed myself, I would somehow break a level of trust or be a bad mom. I would rarely go out with colleagues, order in room service, and never visit tourist attractions. If I wasn’t on the job site or working, you could find me in my hotel room. The guilt of being away and enjoying myself prevented me from even entertaining the idea. But when my daughter looked at me and disappointedly asked: “So you were only away for work?” It starts to hit home.
The Revelation for the Working Mom
My daughter already knows that I work hard, she doesn’t need a self-imposed set of rules to prove that to her. Instead, she wants to hear the stories of her working mom rocking it, see pictures of the cool things I have done, and receive the cool presents from around the world. That is what makes her happy and sets the standard of who she wants to be when she grows up. When she is a little older, I plan to take her with me, but until then I am going to own that I am doing the best I can and I am a pretty great role model for my Paigey-Poo!