I’m going back to work and I’m worried people are going to think I’m a bad mom

I'm Going Back To Work Will People Think I'm A Bad Mom

An Open Letter From A Crosswinds Therapist

As a professional on maternity leave, family, friends, and complete strangers all asked me the question “are you going back to work?”  Then, when I answered “yes,” I evoked many reactions.  They ranged from surprised to sympathetic to incredulous to critical.

As a mom with four children under the age of five years old, I am being pulled in many different directions.  The needs of 5-year-old twin boys, a 19-month-old daughter, and a newborn baby girl can be intense and even overwhelming at times.  The juggling of pre-school, daycare, grandma help, and a work schedule can be tricky.  The ability to getting everyone dressed and fed before getting out the door and be on time to the office can seem like the biggest accomplishment of the day.

All parents have the burden of caring, teaching, and protecting their children.  It is a pressure-filled job with the responsibility of raising a child to love God, to love others, and to be a productive member of our society.  All parents have this burden, but how they answer the calling from God to fulfill this responsibility is an individual choice.  The only wrong answer is neglecting the responsibility.

With the burden and the pressure and the overwhelming needs, the most discouraging interaction for a mom is criticism, judgement, and disapproval.  Yet, so often these are the most common ways that we seem to communicate with one another.  Even in asking the question, “Are you going back to work?” has an underlying assumption that not working is an option.  Yet, to be able to “stay at home”, the woman has to either be on public assistance; or conversely, independently wealthy; or, have a husband who is willing and able to provide for the whole household with one income.   It is usually a privilege, not a right, to not work.  There is also the underlying assumption that a “good mom” stays at home.  A nurse actually said to me “I have thought about being a good mom and staying home”.  I quickly corrected her and said “A good mom is not synonymous with a stay at home mom.”  She was tearing herself down and me in the process with this errant thought process.

Not only do I have to work in order to provide and care for the four children we now have in our household, I enjoy being a professional and a working mom.  It is a privilege to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  It is a blessing to be employed by an organization that is working to reclaim, rebuild, and restore the family.  An organization that also supports me in being a fabulous mom and wife as a top priority and encourages that work-life balance.

Instead of asking questions that could be perceived as assumptive or critical, we could ask questions that are open and caring.  We can make offers to one another that have a supportive undertone, not a judgmental one. No matter what the age of children, there are stressors.  And, even co-workers without children have other demands in their life, whether it be aging parents or a sick sibling or a spouse that demands attention.  We all have relationships and commitments and responsibilities that tap into our mental and emotional tank.  We all could use managers, co-workers, friends, family members, and strangers that pour into our tank with encouragement as opposed to draining it more quickly with criticism.

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