Three things you need to know about your mother’s career life

43The other night mom was trying to talk to you about why she’s not working and the decisions that went into it. You were interested for a bit and then we lost you.

You’re 8.  She didn’t take it personally.

But these are the moments this blog is made for. I wanted to be able to communicate to you all the meaning behind the interaction mom was having with you, from my own perspective, but you’re too young and who knows what will happen to this story after 10 years?

So as a person who is not your mom, these are the layers under that conversation that I would have wanted you to take away:

1. Your mother is ridiculously talented. There’s almost nothing she can’t take on and quickly become adept at. She’s a very gifted writer, a much better communicator than I am, a trained counselor, a successful actor (who was always much more skilled than I), a rock-star dancer and choreographer, a poet, a songwriter, playwright, teacher, editor, spiritual guide…and she was rocking this stuff long before she chose to dive into and blog about gardening; canning; bee keeping; perma-culture; whole food vegetarian and vegan cooking and baking; making home cleaners, shampoos, shaving and body soap, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash and face wash; and advocating for equality in Evanston.

What’s funny is that on most days she still feels like she didn’t get enough done; and she often feels like she hasn’t accomplished much. I hope you and I both agree how silly that is.

2. It’s not your fault your mom left her full-time job, nor is she less happy now that she did. Is it true that mom would be working a full time job if we didn’t have you in our lives? Probably. Is it true that mom feels like she’s gotten a bad deal? No. If you’re a parent you will make a career-related sacrifice. Period. A parent will need to choose to work while losing time with her kid or she’ll choose to spend more time with her kid while neglecting a career. This is important: mom never, ever really chose the former option. You were always her priority. Mom tried, like many women do, to see if she could make a career work without negatively impacting her kid’s life. When it was clear that she couldn’t, she pulled the plug on full time work and used the opportunity to figure out what a woman who can do so much…should do with the rest of her life. Whatever it is she does, she’ll be a genius at it.  Mom never once, even in her darkest, saddest, most self-pitying moments (and we all have those,)  expressed even an ounce of regret for “trading” a traditional career for time spent with you. Neither of us ever think of this decision that way. There is no alternate life that either of us ever wonder about that doesn’t include you.

3. Mom wanted you to see her as more than a stay-at-home mom the other night, not for the sake of her ego, but because she wants to make sure you have a career role model.  And no matter what happens with Mom’s career, you absolutely will. If I had to pick the number one reason I married your mom, it’s because of her strong character; her honesty and inclination, in the end, to always do what’s right. Your mother made a hard choice to do what she felt was best for all of us–which is just one of a hundred million choices she’ll make for our family that will impact you. I have no doubt that no matter what mom does with the rest of her career, it will be her character that will leave the biggest impact on you.

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