You hear it from both sides:
“She was doing so well at work. She was so close to a promotion. But then she had a baby… there goes her career.”
“She had a baby! But she’s leaving the baby at daycare so she can go back to work? Guess that shows where her priorities lie…”
The shame and shade is thrown from every angle, as women strive to navigate the fragile balance between work and motherhood. Arguments rage about which is “best.” Should a woman have to give up her career when she starts having kids? Should a woman be looked down upon for staying home to raise her children? Between work and motherhood, is it possible for a woman to do both well?
Maybe you’ve navigated these waters. Maybe you’ve received criticism for your choices when it comes to work and motherhood. Or maybe you’re torn between options, wondering what is right for you and if it’s possible to love both your children and your work.
Much of the tension we feel is self-imposed—or more aptly put—culturally-imposed. Throughout most of history (and in many cultures), women have both faithfully raised children and diligently prioritized work (whether by contributing to the family business, managing the family farm, or working outside the home). The cultural norm of having a choice not to work is a relatively recent reality, and one that is possible only for those who can afford it.
But historical implications aside, there are a few important realities to consider:
Work is a good thing. Your work (whatever it looks like) matters. And, I would venture to say, as a parent your work especially matters. This isn’t simply because it provides for your family, but because by engaging in work you are modeling to your watching children diligence, integrity, responsibility, discipline, and more.
Motherhood is hard and good work.
When I write about work, I include the work of motherhood, homemaking, and raising children in that category. Whether a mother works inside or outside the home, she works hard, and by doing so she is setting an example for her children.
A woman can express love for her children by working hard at her job.
There is no this or that when it comes to parenting and working. A woman can do both well. By loving her job she models passion and ambition to her children. By using her skills she sets an example of contributing to the betterment of society. By working hard she can reveal her depth of love for her family.
So at the end of the day, let’s lift up every woman’s choice. Let’s cheer on every mother, whether she chooses to work hard at her job or to give up her job to stay home. It is possible to both love your children well and work hard at your job. Even further, you can love your children well by modeling hard work.
Navigating both work and parenting is difficult, but let’s show our daughters and sons that when it comes to work and family, there is beauty in both.