Parenting is a fascinating topic for me. I’m intrigued by the kinds of problems and challenges that parents face. I’m in awe of the innovative solutions they come up with to handle everyday things. I’m humbled by the beautiful adults that they help to nurture — even when they think they’re messing up most of the time.
But just because it interests me and I enjoy reading about, learning it, writing and speaking about it, does not mean I want to parent 24/7.
I love my kids AND I love my work.
Each of us has a burning desire within to make a difference in the world, to follow our dreams, and to pursue the things that interest us most. For some of you, that may be parenting. You may have spent your youth just waiting for the day that you could have kids and play games with them and design nutritious meals for them to eat and serve on the parent-teacher committee.
But the vast majority of people want to have kids and pursue their own goals that have nothing to do with children. For me, it is a combination of the two and I have designed my life to accommodate both.
Between the happy-to-stay-at-home moms and the happy-to –go-to-work moms are an entire group of mothers feeling miserable because they’re at home and want to be at work, or feeling guilty because they’re at work but believe they should be with their kids.
This middle group is victim to a misunderstanding of the concept of mothering.
Somewhere along the lines, we’ve defined mothering as something that only one person does for their biological or adopted offspring. We assume that as their mom, we’re the person who should be doing all the caring for, feeding, teaching, loving, and raising of our children.
But this has never been the case — no one person can ever provide for all the needs of another person. That goes for all relationships, not just parent-child ones, but we tend to fall into this trap with our kids more than we do with other people.
Every one of us needs a variety of people in our lives that we can learn from and emulate and try out our life skills on. If all of your information and caring comes from one person, you set yourself up for disaster (people do die) and you end up with a very narrow view on life and how to cope with different situations.
Personally, I hope that my children will grow up with more skills than I have to offer, not less. And I hope they’ll acquire these additional ways of being, coping, and responding by spending time with a variety of people.
So let’s address the guilt that comes from handing your little treasures over to somebody else.
The first thing to be aware of is that nothing is ever missing in life. You may think your child is missing out on love, guidance, hugs, attention, or anything else because you are looking for it in one form (yourself) and not seeing that they have all those things in many different forms (all the other people, pets, and situations contributing to their life).
Make a list of all the traits or qualities you think they’re “missing” and find where they are getting these things when you are not around — perhaps from a grandparent or a nanny or a teacher or friends or pets. Then look at the positive side of them getting these traits in all these different ways rather than just from you.
Look at how much happier you are when you can focus on what makes you come alive, how much more energy you have for your kids when you are fulfilled yourself, and what a good role model you are for them in terms of following their own dreams one day.
Then look at what they are gaining from all those other people and what they have to offer that you never could.
From research done into working mothers who leave their careers when they have kids, only 20 percent of them had a burning desire to be a stay-at-home mom. If you are like me in the other 80 percent, own it.
Be an unapologetic working mom. Your children are not worse off for this. In fact, the joy and energy that you will feel from embracing your purpose will spill over into everyone in your family.
And know that mothering is everywhere in everyone and your children will receive all the mothering energy they need to grow into the people they were meant to be.
Mia Von Scha is a writer who focuses on parenting and family. She has been featured in Parenting Hub, Mail & Guardian, and more. Follow her on Twitter.
This article was originally published at Transformational Parenting. Reprinted with permission from the author.