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An open letter to a working mum

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An open letter to a working mum
By Nama Winston

Dear Working Mum,

From one working mother to another, I want you to know I see you, and I know exactly what you’re doing; because I do it, too.

I know, for example, that your week starts with a ‘prep day’ – usually a Sunday. Without this preparation, the week would be so much harder, because even though you may leave the house at 7:30am, and return after 6pm, it doesn’t mean you get out of doing things; you just have to do them at other times. 

On prep days, you brief yourself, and the family, on the week’s upcoming events; organise  and coordinate uniforms, early or late meetings, birthdays, music lessons, sports matches, costumes, tutors, muffins for the bake sale…and everything else.

Yes, this is family life, but for a Working Mum, it’s a little more complicated, because her time is so limited - and her conscience is often divided.

Which is why, usually on a prep day, Working Mums also ask themselves tough questions such as, shall I see if I can take two hours leave to make it to swimming carnival? Or to be at school pick up for once?

During the week, you give everything to your job, working as if you don’t have a family to consider – until 5pm, which is when you need to get to the more important job you have – being a mum. 

Once home, you hit the ground running. Who will have had a tough day at school? A fresh sporting injury? Maths homework no one understands?

Oh, fellow Working Mum, it’s a fine balance, and you, my friend, walk it with skill – much more than you give yourself credit for.

I know you do it because you love your family, and because, as a mother, it’s also your job to keep it all together. But I also know that sometimes, you wonder what you’re doing. 

I know that because I’ve felt it, too. We all do.

You think, would it be easier for everyone if I didn’t have that second job on top of being a parent?

Am I making the right choice for my family, for me, for everyone to whom I am everything?

Because that’s the thing about being a Working Mum; the doubt’s always there, as is the mother-guilt. 

But then I also know you need, or want, to work. 

It’s what you studied years for; or spent 10 years building before you had kids. Maybe you work because your family needs the income to have a better life. Or, you simply want to maintain your independence so you can always look after them.

I get that; all us Working Mums do. 
I want you to know you have that support from us, because Working Mums aren’t always celebrated as the hard-working, self-sacrificing women they are. Too often, we’re judged for our choices.

We’re told children need their mums, and that’s the way it’s always been, and is meant to be.

After years of hearing this argument, I asked the child of a Working Mum for their thoughts; my own son, who’s 11 years old.

His answer surprised me. I discovered I’m not only role modelling a career, and demonstrating how relationships can be equal in terms of contributions, I’m also making a difference to his life right now. 

“When you’re working, it’s okay because I know where you are,” he told me.

“I can call you, and sometimes you can still come to assembly or sports day.

“You work so I can have lots of great things like nice clothes and holidays and a safe place to live.

“I also like it sometimes when you’re not there, because it means I miss you and it makes it special when you are there.”

Like with so much of motherhood; I wasn’t expecting that. 

I love that being a Working Mum has given my son a different sort of respect for what I do for him – and mean to him. And I love that my working is making him resilient, and think about the world.

We don’t talk about Working Mum wins like this enough, and we should. 

So this Mother’s Day - which falls on a Sunday, the start of many working mums’ week - try to take a little time to acknowledge not only what you’ve given your family, but also what you’ve given yourself.

It’s well-earned, Working Mum.

Bio: Nama Winston has had a decade-long legal career (paid), and a decade-long parenting career (unpaid). Now a Mamamia Contributor, and freelance writer, Nama uses her past experience as a lawyer to discuss everything from politics, to parenting. 



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