Mothering & Other Work!
Each day I am introduced literally and virtually to so many Moms. Moms who have chosen to give up careers or stay at home longer then paid maternity leave allows. . Moms who are balancing motherhood with jobs or business building. My work also introduces me to thousands of lovingly curated posts by MOMS from around the world: mom-homeworkers, mom-preneurs, mom-retailers, mom-techs, mom-designers etc. Despite their difference in (career) choice, there is incredible commonality found in the photos, faces and hash-tags of our mothering community,
I am a mompreneur. I run a business started when my youngest was still at my breast. It is my 4th business venture. Family (never) aside, I mostly love my work. Some days I do loath it but that is usually due to mistakes, misunderstandings or money. I love business like chess, that is the way I play chess! My eldest memorizes chess moves, so I can only say it is like my chess game where I am always engaged, learning and most often moving forward!
To me, my career, is the antithesis of my day-to -day family-focused time where I am guided by my heart, mothering wisdoms, laundry and dishes! Being a ‘mompreneur’ is a retreat when it’s good and a storm when its bad but it always defining ‘Me’ and I have learned not to apologize for needing that distinction. In the past I felt much guilt in my work and I often looked to Moms working in the home as better others. My feelings, to this day, not rare as Moms often tell me that they feel guilty about their decisions. Interestingly, these reports come equally from mothers who stay and mothers who work! Why do women so often feel this way? I wonder if it is a pressure that we unknowingly put onto each other?
I have many friends and extended family who have made the choice to solely devote themselves to bringing up baby and family. My best friend has 7 children aged from 5 to 19 and she chose to leave an excellent job to raise her family. She wanted to be there for them when they were babies and when they began school she wanted to be there at the start and end of each school day. She is acutely aware that here’s is a place of privilege, that many parents who might wish to make this choice can not for financial reasons.
To this day my friend remains one of my biggest cheerleaders and I am hers. It is the mutual respect and basic hared experiences that binds us throughout (not our differences). While our day jobs might be very different we maintain a kinship built on values that are very much the same. My best friend and I are happy to let our children get dirty in the name of play, we both monitor screen time, we both encourage healthy eating and do not accept the ‘I don’t like’ mantra. We mutually encourage and expect good manners from our children and we both encourage our children to be kind to others and to stand up for their beliefs and values always. Our children are best friends despite age differences and they look after each other as family.
While it is true that my child rearing direction is often fulfilled by their nanny, it has come from me. When I hired their (amazing) nanny I made it clear to her what my values were and she looked relieved! ……………….
‘I want (you) to be respected as part of the family and I want the children to look up to you always. Do not pick up after them or wait on them hand and foot. Encourage them to take leadership and to have ownership over their actions. Manners are important and this includes saying sorry (and meaning it). Let them get stuck in and play- I don’t need them to look too clean! Give them a schedule and routine and let them be involved in making it. Encourage them towards creativity. Challenge them. Let them know they are loved always.”
Our personal choices are just that and we should all feel confident in them. A good friend once pointed out to me that, ‘Guilt is a useless emotion.’ Staying at home is the right choice for so many Moms and we should all appreciate this choice in its entirely. Moms who choose to stay at home often worry that they have missed out on career as much those who work outside of home fear they have missed out their children. We are adults, we make choices and we do not need to qualify them to others unless we choose.
Let us always celebrate our differences and let our shared experience bring us closer.
Claudia T Marion, President Stork and Dove.