For the last eight school years, I taught full time out of the home. When my first was born, I was able to manage it decently. But when my second came along, it was much harder. Just this school year I took on a part-time teaching position because I wanted to do what I love, my blog was turning into a part-time gig, and I wanted to be more present at home.
When I was working full time, I would always get questions about how I did it, or comments like, “I could never leave my baby.” (Side note: you can. It is physically possible.) I’m constantly seeing on social media that staying home or working at home is better because you can be more present. I felt I was shamed a lot for working out of the house. Part of me had to, but part of me also enjoyed it. I still do enjoy it.
I don’t get it. Why are we are guilting working parents? Sometimes she feels guilty about it, but the status of her physical absence never makes it okay to challenge a mother’s emotional presence to her children and spouse.
I’m also wondering… who actually can work from home and also be a present parent? For me, it’s like brushing my teeth while eating Oreos.
Any time I have to work on a blog deadline when I’ve got both of the kids home, I turn the TV on for them, send them upstairs, throw snacks at them, beg them to leave me alone, etc. so I can focus on my work without being interrupted. I work as quickly as I can, my work ends up being subpar, and I always end up feeling incredibly guilty afterward. More guilty than I’ve ever felt leaving the house to teach for a few hours.
Here’s the thing. If we’re going to talk about present parenting solely based on one’s employment status, we decide to make this a competition. When we make this about us being more present because of what we do for a living, we open up the possibility for judgement. We are guilting other moms who are different than us.
You’re not an absent mother if you bust your butt making a better life for your family. You’re not an absent mother if you’re home all day and had to throw the children in front of the TV to take a breather.
Bottom line, you’re doing what you think is best for your family.
Here’s the thing. No matter what, mothers have to split their time between their families and other responsibilities. How we manage our time with our children and for our children is what defines our presence.
Sometimes it’s hard to find that balance. Sometimes we make career changes in order to do so. Sometimes we make sacrifices. I know I did.
But moms, we’re doing special things. We cherish the moments we spend with our children. We hold love so big and so unimaginable in our hearts. We have the drive to provide and comfort them. We have a desire to make their lives better than we could ever imagine. That, my friends, is present parenting.