I'm writing this in response to the much-maligned article that appeared in the Huffington Post, "Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Don't Work" by Lydia Lovric. The author takes a lot of pride in her decision to stay at home while raising her kids. It's great that Lovric is happy with her choice, but she also made quite a few condescending and false assumptions about working mothers. I could break down and analyze all the rude things the author implied about working moms, but I decided to write a letter to my mother instead. Since I'm the grown daughter of a working mother, I'm living proof that a mom can work outside the home without harming her kids.
Dear Mom: Thank you for working. You had all four of your children during the difficult recession of the '70s. Interest rates were sky-high and the country was facing runaway inflation. When we were toddlers, you had no choice but to stay at home, as the cost of child care would have exceeded any wage you would have earned. Yet, as soon as we were in school, you tried desperately to get a full-time job. You didn't work because you wanted a fancy car, vacations, nicer clothes or a bigger house; in fact, you rarely spent money on yourself. Your income paid for things like food, clothing, the electric bill and our mortgage.
Thank you, Mom, for working and showing me that with enough effort, you can accomplish anything. You started out with a Bachelor's Degree in French, and eventually worked your way up to a Master's Degree in education. On your own time, you got a certification to teach Spanish and enough credits that you almost got a PhD. You did this all while working full-time as a foreign language teacher and raising four kids.
Thank you, Mom, for working as without your job we never could have dreamed of a higher education.
Thank you, Mom, for working to support us in case dad got sick or died prematurely.
Thank you, Mom, for working, as it made us self-sufficient and independent.
Thank you, Mom, for working, because we know it gave you a sense of self. You enjoyed your job even though it sometimes frustrated you.
Thank you, Mom, for working, as it helped you not obsess over us. Even though you shuttled us around and were active in many of our sporting, social and academic activities, you still had other things to worry about.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me that feminism isn't a bad word. You would never call yourself a feminist, but you believed your daughters should have the same opportunities as your sons.
Thank you, Mom, for working, but I would thank you even if you hadn't. I know you love and supported all four of your children, and you would have regardless of your work situation. No one would think to ask dad why he got up every day at 5 a.m. to work 8-12 hours a day fixing cars. His choices were always just accepted, while you and every other working mother face scrutiny for everything you do. Many moms don't have a spouse or partner. They must work and some even work more than one job to support their kids. Some moms choose to work because their spouse doesn't make enough to support a family. An increasing number of families must have dual incomes for basic survival.
Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, and it doesn't matter if a mom works one job, two jobs or stays at home while raising children; Every mother is trying to do the best for her kids and her family, including moms who work simply because they enjoy having a job. Life is one big crap shoot. What is best for one family might be awful for another, and all mothers have their own style of parenting. Instead of criticizing mothers for working, or not working, we should realize we're all in this together.
I want to thank my mom one more time. Her original plan was that she'd get married, have babies and stay at home to raise them. Her life didn't work out that way, but was she was the best mom she could be, and I wouldn't be the woman I am today without her.