My mother never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. She certainly thought about it once or twice during maternity leave, but in her words, she "never yearned for it." She loves her job and how her work have allowed her to travel fairly often.
Yes, my mom traveled a lot — even with four kids at home. And I turned out just fine.
When I first decided I wanted to be a journalist, I talked to my college advisor to get some help in creating a graduation plan that worked for me. He asked me what kind of journalism I was interested in — I told him it would be cool if I could be a traveling journalist. I wasn't sure I was interested in covering foreign affairs, but I loved getting to know different people of different cultures, and I wanted to share their stories.
He rummaged through some papers and said, with his eyes down, "Yeah you could do that, or you could, you know, be a wife and mom" before continuing on about how journalists have little to no work-life balance.
I know he didn't mean anything by it. Or maybe he did, but he didn't realize how offensive words like that could be. Maybe he thought I didn't want to be a wife or mother, and I was wrong for feeling that way.
He didn't know that I want to be a wife and mother more than anything but I also felt it was also my calling to be an awesome journalist. However, after leaving my advisor's office, I wondered if I had to give up my job to be a wife and a mom.
Immediately following this meeting, I called my mom. "How do you do it?" I asked.
Growing up, she always made it look so easy. My mom is Wonder Woman — along with a busy job and crazy kids, she was also heavily involved in church responsibilities. But somehow, she always made our family her priority. I never felt second best to her job or all the people she served with her church duties.
But when I asked my mom this question, she confessed that it wasn't easy — a lot of people judged her for working so much as a mother of four. Even she doubted her life plan, questioning whether or not she was making the best choices for her family.
And yes, she admitted that being a working mom is hard. But it's worth it to her.
My mom and my dad share an equal partnership when it comes to parenting —maybe a little more equal than many people approve. My dad is a high school teacher, so his schedule has always been similar to that of his childrens'. He was the one who drove us to our soccer practices, made sure we did our homework and completed our chores.
Sure, I would have turned out differently if I were raised by a stay-at-home mom. My dad would probably have chosen a job that could support a family better than a teacher's salary could. It wouldn't have been better or worse, but different enough that I'm grateful my parents raised me the way they did. I'm happy with who I am and how I've turned out.
I know stay-at-home moms work so hard. I don't want to belittle what they do at all. I admire women who decide they want to devote their whole lives to raising a family. It requires so much love, patience, dedication and a ton of other skills that no one can fully understand unless they're a stay-at-home mom themselves.
But my mom, and women like her, should not be judged or shamed for choosing to work outside the home. It doesn't make them a worse mother.
My mom taught me to be tough and independent. I learned to make my own money and work at a young age. She taught me how to work hard and contribute. When she traveled, my sister and I took turns cooking. Because of these skills, when it was time to cross the country to go to college, that transition was easy for me.
I could go on and on listing everything I learned being raised by a working mother. The point is, my mom is no less of a woman because she chose to work. She is an incredible wife and mother, and she is my best friend.
She taught me that dreams are worth chasing — because of her, I plan on being a working mother someday, and I can only hope to be as incredible of a mom as she is.