I have been reflecting on a conversation I had with two of my three daughters and my husband a few weeks ago. My daughters are twenty eight and twenty five years old. I do not remember how the conversation began, as these discussions often drift along from one topic to the next. Somehow we began discussing a male celebrity who is going become a single dad for the first time because his heart yearns to be a parent.
I said that I didn’t believe he should become a father. It was totally the opposite of what I usually say. I usually think that everyone is entitled to their happily ever after in whatever form that takes. From my point of view anything is possible. I genuinely believe that any capable person who wants to be a parent should be, regardless of their sexual orientation or marriage status. So I wondered where my harsh and even mean spirited judgement came from.
In response to my stating that “he shouldn’t do that”, my daughter said, “why not? He has tons of money, will be able to hire the best nannies and he doesn’t work many hours a day”. My other daughter said, “don’t you think that I will need to hire a live-in nanny because my work hours will be unpredictable?” I agreed that she would.
Later on I knew my opinion was unreasonable and very detrimental to all the babies that need good loving homes. More so, I know that every person is entitled to become a parent in any way they decide to and at their own time. I apologized to my daughters for my incorrect thoughts.
For days and weeks I have asked myself why the idea of this man becoming a parent bothered me. I have wondered if I’m not as open hearted as I like to think I am. Thankfully that is not what is at the root of this. The basis of my response had nothing to do with him being a working single dad. It completely had to do with me and my mommy guilt.
For years I struggled internally to find a way to balance work and family without guilt. I was very fortunate that when my children were young I was able to be home with them after school. I carpooled, helped with homework, made dinner. I did all the typical mommy things that moms of school age children do. Some days I fell into bed exhausted as soon as they went to bed because I was actually doing two complete jobs – that of a working mom and a stay at home mom. I would not have changed this for anything because I had the unique privilege of sharing in the experiences of my girls daily lives.
My inner turmoil was about the days when I couldn’t always make it to an elementary school event because someone else was not going to be at work and I needed to be in my office. It was about the random days off like Columbus Day. It was about Christmas break, February or the Passover/ Easter breaks when my stay at home mom friends took their children to a movie, to a museum, or on any other adventure. I just felt awful that I wasn’t with my children. Instead, my children were home with a baby sitter or playing with their friends. As my daughters grew older, on days like this they were often hanging out, watching TV, and inventing something to do as they kept each other company. There was nothing wrong with any of this, but simply put, I had a full blown case of mommy guilt.
Today when I look back, I recognize that the time children spend with a baby sitter
, while their parents are working does not harm them at all. In fact, the more adults that love these little people, the more enriched their lives become. This makes them much better off. The love doesn’t all have to come from mom or dad at every moment.
These realizations have made me hope that things will be different for the next generation of young moms and dads. What I hope is that no one will do what I did when talking about a celebrity or anyone else starting their family. Please do not scrutinize anyone else’s decisions about their version of a family or their parenting . I implore all of the next generation of moms not to judge the stay at home moms, the full time working moms, or the moms that do each in some sort of part time way. My most sincere hope would be that each parent that choses to work outside the home would be kinder and gentler to themselves then they would even be to others. As parents, and especially moms, we need to stop constantly evaluating ourselves against our individual unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a good mom. I believe that if we as a women were more united, this guilt would be eradicated. Then, without remorse and time wasted on such thoughts, we could really light the world on fire!