A Letter to My Working Mom


The other day, my mom forwarded me an amusing essay from one woman recounting the foibles of being a working mother. I laughed as I read it, thinking back on my perfectly imperfect childhood and realized I’ve never said thank you for everything she gave me.

Dear Mom,

I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for being a working mother. I know I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, but I want you to know that I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’m living in an era where your generation is churning out humorous and reflective essays on the difficulties of striving to “have it all,” and I want you to know that in my eyes, you did. We did.

Each time you brought me to work — between Styrofoam cups of Swiss Miss and trips to the supply closet — I watched you. I watched you be a leader and be part of a team. I watched how you spoke to others, how you made those around you feel and how you held your own.

I watched you listen and compromise. I watched you weigh hard choices, and learned that when I make a decision, I have to stand behind it.

You taught me that it’s about doing the work and not about the praise. That confidence is built from within. And as you juggled your work and all that came with raising my brother and me, you taught me that if I’m willing to be flexible and a little bit creative, I can solve almost anything.

I learned that life is far from perfect and that things won’t always go my way, no matter how well I plan. But when I’m faced with disappointment, you taught me that it’s just a moment and to take what I can from it and move forward.

I don’t remember the missed soccer games. I remember that you always came when you said you would and in doing so, I learned that no matter how much is going on in my life, to always show up for people who are counting on me.

Mom, you told me I could do anything I set my mind to and I believed you because I watched you do the same.

If I become a mother one day, I’ll be a working mother. I know it will be hard and I know I’ll have my own moments of guilt and heartache and wonder if I’m doing it right, but no part of me doubts if I’ll succeed because I watched you.

Photo by Edith Young.

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