My Mom Went Back to Work... and it was Awesome.

5:33:00 PM

Today's post is something my mom and I have been talking about doing for a while. I'm really lucky to have a great and open relationship with my mom and we've thought for some time that it would be interesting to discuss a variety of topics together to see the differences in our viewpoints.

Kelsey (the daughter): 

When I think of my mom, I'm genuinely filled with pride. 

After I was born, she made the choice to stay home to take care of me and then also my sister after she came along. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that she decided to go back to work. It took a bit of getting used to, but I have such respect for my mom in making that decision. I'm sure it was difficult not only to leave my sister and I at home, but also challenging to try to pick up the career she left behind over a decade earlier. 

I still remember there was a dramatic shift in her overall happiness when she went back to work. She loved staying home with my sister and I and she was definitely one of the most creative and hands-on Moms I knew (she seriously sewed handmade costumes for all of my friends and I for my birthday parties.) But there was something that wasn't completely fulfilling her in that role. 

I'm here to tell you that from my perspective the decision she made to go back to work was perfectly alright!  I believe that one thing that will continue to make the biggest difference for future generations of girls is growing up with the right role models, like I did with my mom. I've learned so much from watching her work ethic and the way she’s been able to juggle everything. I think that’s part of being a modern woman - figuring out how to do it all.

My mom has been able to achieve some serious successes and has even mentored some women along the way (although I can pretty much guarantee she'll deny that! She just calls them her "cool, young friends.") 

That's why it shocked me so much when she told me once, in an uncharacteristically somber tone, that she spent a good portion of her life believing that she was “not as good as other people – she even felt stupid sometimes". 

I think whether we admit it or not, that's how a lot of us feel. I know I do, more than I'd like to admit. I'm incredibly hard on myself and find myself often thinking "Is my college major a joke?" "I could never handle working in politics because I'm not 'serious enough.'" "Am I working as hard as I should be to achieve my goals?"
It's a tough thing to feel like you're not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. 

The obvious answer that many would say is "find your self-confidence, and believe in yourself" but how do you do that on your worst days?  I think it's important to take a step back and try to see yourself as others see you. Sometimes it takes realizing that no one else notices your flaws as much as you do. 

I think this is one of the biggest crises facing women today. It's not a lack of ability, it's a lack of confidence in our ability. 

Julie (the mom):

Our family has been very fortunate that it was possible for me to stay home with our kids for so many years. Making the decision to go back to work was not an easy process for many reasons. How would I be able to manage the time I would still need for my family? Who would want to hire someone like me? What skills did I possess and what did I have to offer after being out of the work force for so long?  My self-doubt and fear of the unknown were off the charts, I can tell you that much.

One thing was certain: something had to change.  I’m not sure when the shift occurred, but I remember vividly reaching a point of realization where I was no longer happy or satisfied being at home as the primary caregiver for our household. I’m happy to say I can finally admit that without feeling guilty.  

I always believed staying at home was supposed to be the ideal, and for me it was while my kids were younger, but after a while it wasn’t enough. It felt like I had lost my personal identity and I wasn’t even sure who I was any longer. My life revolved around taking care of the “stuff of life” and the people in it and it left me feeling strangely dissatisfied.

When Kelsey sent this post to me, the first line that grabbed my attention was:  “…she’s been able to juggle everything. I think that’s part of being a modern woman - figuring out how to do it all.” 

Is it possible that she actually believes that’s true?  If so, I need to correct that assumption immediately. Even when I was at home full time I never felt like I was doing it all, and that’s certainly not the case now. Just thinking about the never-ending list of chores and things that aren’t getting done makes my head hurt and I claim victory on days when I get half the things on my do list checked off. One thing I’d like to say to my daughters is this: Do your best and work hard every day, get the important shit done and don’t forget to take time to enjoy your life!  

Pineapple margaritas, anyone?!

Which leads me to the other thing Kelsey wrote that surprised me: “[my mom] told me once…that she spent a good portion of her life believing that she was “not as good as other people – she even felt stupid sometimes". 

Oddly enough, I don’t recall the specific day we had this conversation, but she clearly remembers and it left an impression. Reflecting on this, I can tell you that at the time it was my perception, which in turn created my reality. Comparing yourself to others is inevitable, especially in today’s world with everyone’s life front and center on social media. I also know these comparisons played a large part in what made the idea of going back to work so terrifying.

What’s interesting to me is that I would never say those things about myself today. Some of this has to do with maturing as I age, but most of it has to do with recognizing and appreciating the things about myself that I’m proud of and think are awesome. I also make it a point to take notice and truly appreciate the people around me and what makes them special. 

I’ve been back in the work world now for the past 8 1/2 years and it’s been the best gift I could have given to myself and to my family and I sincerely hope the example I’ve set for my daughters continues to be a positive influence in their lives.

You Might Also Like


  1. Kelsey, I have known your mother for several years now. In all that time I can tell you she continually talks about the great relationship and the great two kids she has back at home. She epitomizes what a good mother should be. As you have grown older it has become obvious you two have become best friends. Rock on you two


Popular Posts