Dear Dr. Laura -
I am a 25 year happily married mother of a 14-year-old girl. I am a working mom and I am ashamed to say that during the first 5 years of my daughter's life, I was not "my kid's mom" in the way that you advise we should be. I had a busy career and even though my gut told me not to go back to work after her birth, my husband convinced me we couldn't afford for me to quit. We decided a nanny at home would be a perfect option-after all I wasn't putting my child in day care, right?
I worked daily from 9-5, not including my commute time and traveled extensively. My husband was home while I traveled and my mother came to help out often. Every trip, I felt my heart was being ripped out as I left and I counted the minutes while I was away at trade shows and customers-miserable and anxious every time I had to leave. I had my "aha!" moment when it was time to register my daughter for kindergarten and she was 5 years old - WHERE DID THAT TIME GO?? How was it possible I was putting her into kindergarten already? I realized that my daughter was growing faster than I wanted and I immediately decided I wasn't going to miss another moment of her life. I convinced my husband it was what had to be done and he reluctantly went along.
I convinced my employer to let me work remotely and my husband found a job in a less expensive part of the state, which also happened to be closer to our immediate family. We sold our home and bought a more affordable one, yet quite comfortable for the three of us. Shortly thereafter, I was fired from my job, but frankly, that was the best thing to ever happen to me! I was able to take an administrative job at a local company only during the hours my daughter was in school and spent the next 3 years at this job, enjoying the low-stress, much lower pay position and more importantly, being able to be home when the school bus arrived, have time to make dinner and enjoy quality time with our family. Then, I got an amazing opportunity to work in the industry I exited 3 years earlier. I passed. They persisted. I then laid out my terms: flexible schedule - only working during the hours my daughter was in school or summer camp, 4 weeks paid vacation, minimal business travel and a higher salary. They agreed to my terms and I've been there for 6 years. I work primarily from home, but on days that I do need to go into the office, I don't do so until my daughter is on her school bus and leave in time to greet her after school. And now that my daughter is 14, my employers are aware I have no intention of working any more hours until she is away at college.
I want wives and moms out there to know that you are right. You reformed me. Where there is a will, there is a way and I am so much happier and fulfilled now.
Thank you for pounding that message into our heads daily!