1929969_13442109012_6590_n

I’m writing this in response to the much maligned article that appeared in the Huffington Post “Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Don’t Work” by Lydia Lovric. The author takes a lot of pride in her decision to stay at home while raising her kids.  It’s great that Lovric is happy with her choice, but she also made quite a few condescending and false assumptions about working mothers.  I could break down and analyze all the rude things the author implied about working moms, but I decided to write a letter to my mother instead. Since I’m the grown daughter of a working mother.  I’m living proof that a mom can work outside the home without harming her kids.

Dear Mom, thank you for working.  You had all four of your children during the difficult recession of the seventies.  Interest rates were sky-high and the country was facing runaway inflation.  When we were toddlers, you had no choice but to stay at home, as the cost of child care would have exceeded any wage you would have earned.  Yet, as soon as we were in school you tried desperately to get a full-time job.  You didn’t work because you wanted a fancy car, vacations, nicer clothes or a bigger house, in fact you rarely spent money on yourself.  Your income paid for things like food, clothing, the electric bill and our mortgage.

Thank you Mom for working and showing me that with enough effort you can accomplish anything.  You started out with a bachelors in French, and eventually worked your way up to a Master’s Degree in education.  On your own time you got a certification to teach Spanish and enough credits that you almost got a PhD.  You did this all while working full-time as a foreign language teacher and raising four kids.

Thank you Mom for working as without your job we never could have dreamed of a higher education.

Thank you Mom for working to support us in case Dad got sick or died prematurely.

Thank you Mom for working as it made us self-sufficient and independent.

Thank you Mom for working because we know it gave you a sense of self.  You enjoyed your job even though it sometimes frustrated you.

Thank you Mom for working, as it helped you not obsess over us.  Even though you shuttled us around and were active in many of our sporting, social and academic activities, you still had other things to worry about.

Thank you Mom for teaching me that feminism isn’t a bad word.  You would never call yourself a feminist, but you believed your daughters should have the same opportunities as your sons.

Thank you Mom for working, but I would thank you if you hadn’t.  I know you love and supported all four of your children, and you would have regardless of your work situation.   No one would think to ask dad why he got up every day at 5 am to work 8-12 hours a day fixing cars.  His choices were always just accepted, while you and every other working mother face scrutiny for everything you do.  Many moms don’t have a spouse or partner.  They must work and some even work more than one job to support their kids.   Some moms choose to work because their spouse doesn’t make enough to support a family.  An increasing number of families must have dual incomes for basic survival.

Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, and it doesn’t matter if a mom works one job, two jobs, or stays at home while raising children.  Every mother is trying to do the best for her kids and her family, including moms who work simply because they enjoy having a job.  Life is one big crap shoot.  What is best for one family might be awful for another, and all mothers have their own style of parenting.  Instead of criticizing mothers for working, or not working, we should realize we’re all in this together.

I want to thank my mom one more time.  Her original plan was that she’d get married, have babies and stay at home to raise them. Her life didn’t work out that way, but was she was the best mom she could be, and I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without her.

Related Articles

My website www.julietjeske.com

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JulietJeske

Add me on Facebook Juliet Jeske Facebook Fan Page

25 comments on “Dear Mom: Thank You for Working

  1. Lydia Lovric

    Thank you, Juliet, for supporting my position so eloquently.
    Your mom stayed home with you and your siblings when you were little, during the all-important formative years. No doubt this is why you share such a close bond even now.

    I have no issue with mothers who return to the workforce when their kids are older and in school all day.

    However, I do hope such mothers still make their kids feel like they are their number one priority.Volunteer for school trips, attend games and concerts, etc.

    If your child asks if you love work more than being a mom, perhaps you need to reexamine your priorities.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      I don’t support your position and you completely missed my point. When my mother didn’t work we were on WiC which in this country is a form of welfare. So we had to eat government food. It wasn’t cutting back on take out, vacations, or fancy cars. We were barely surviving. I would bet you are probably younger than me. My mother had four kids in the span of five years. From 1970-1974. We barely made it. She couldn’t afford a babysitter if she could have worked she would have. My mother had a really hard time getting back into the workforce after being out of it for the years she had to watch us. You have no idea. I am so proud of my mother for WORKING because my family desperately needed her income. What my family went through is a reality for so many. Your article was extremely insulting and out of touch with how so many families live. My sister is a single mother and not by choice. So many women have men who let them down. She’s been working full-time since my niece was about a year. I guess she’s a terrible mother for being so selfish as to being the only breadwinner for her daughter. Honestly if you don’t know why your article has gotten so much venom you might want to actually sit down and talk with single moms, or mother who desperately need their income to buy such luxuries as groceries, electricity and rent.

  2. Lydia Lovric

    If I could not provide enough food for my family, I would open a home daycare.
    Then I could be with my kids – not have to pay for daycare – and earn extra money.

    In Toronto, the average cost of daycare is approximately $1600 per child per month.
    If you take in five children, a mother (single or otherwise) would be making pretty good money. (Not to mention the savings she would enjoy since she would not have to pay someone else to watch her children).

    It is simply not natural to separate a mother from a baby for nine or ten hours per day.

    And while so many feminists want to dwell on the right of women to pursue their own dreams and ambitions, they seem to spend very little time considering the desires and needs of babies.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      Actually my mother did babysit quite a few kids along with the four of us to make ends meet. I don’t know if you realize to open an actual daycare center, you are required by law to have so many adults per children. So you would need to hire people to work for you and invest in capital improvements to your home to get it up to code. It depends on the age of the children but there are strict standards. You can’t legally take in five children, along with your three and legally be the only caregiver, at least not in the United States. Of course you can have 8 of your own biological children and raise them, but the laws are different when you take in other people’s children. Also parents aren’t going to pay a babysitter, the same as what they would pay for professional daycare, so the number you came up with is most likely from a professional daycare center, which would have overhead such as rent, insurance, food, staff, CPR training, diapers, toys, etc. And honestly what if your husband dies? Are widows supposed to move back in with their parents and search for a replacement husband?

      1. Lydia Lovric

        Actually, Juliet, in the province of Ontario women CAN watch up to five children in addition to their own…without hiring any help. Personally, I think that’s too many and it logically follows that the quality of care will be questionable (even if the daycare provider has the best of intentions.)

        Aside from the income, there are tax write-offs (and no shortage of demand in our area, sadly).

        I am also not going to abandon my young children in the unlikely event that my husband might die (extremely) early. (And if he did, I would open that home daycare because I can’t imagine my children having to lose a father and then a mother. It becomes even more important for the mother to be with them after such a tragedy).

        Sorry if my answers disappoint you. But I am guided by the notion that children should come first.

        1. julietjeske Post author

          I think you need to go to a lower income part of town, say these things to the women who are forced to work for basic survival. Or maybe you want poor women to all go on public assistance when they have children? In the US taking in five additional non-related children wouldn’t be legal without all sorts of regulation. My mother was investigated numerous times by Child Protective Services because our neighbors saw her tending to six kids. Since four of us were her own, and she was only babysitting two, they only warned her not to take in any more.

          Your answers don’t disappoint me, I think you live in a bubble of upper middle class privilege. What you deem “cutting back” is what some would consider luxury. We never had new model cars, we never went on vacations, we never went out to eat, we had hand-me-down clothing and furniture, and we lived in a lower income blue collar area. I think you lack the exposure to people who aren’t as well off as yourself to fully understand how difficult it is to just survive. You see women in your socioeconomic strata and you assume they are working for things like nice cars, vacations, bigger homes. You never thought for a moment that for so many women they work to simply provide the basics for their families. By implying that they are letting their kids down, or doing something “unnatural” you are insulting people who already have it much harder than you do. That’s why your article has so many nasty comments on it, and why my blog is currently exploding with comments from other angry working mothers. In cases like my sister, if SHE didn’t put her daughter first by going to work and providing for her, no one else would. So I guess in your eyes she’s a bad mother, because her relationship with my niece’s dad didn’t work out. Good mothers are only moms who have husbands who can provide enough so that they can stay at home. That is literally what your saying. Honestly go to a poor neighborhood, sit down with some moms who work full or part-time and talk to them. They might enlighten you on marriages that don’t work out, and luxuries such as electricity, shelter and basic groceries their job provides.

        2. julietjeske Post author

          It would be great too if every marriage worked out, and every man made enough income to allow all mothers of young children to stay at home and help raise them, but that’s just not reality for so many. The nuclear family that’s isolated and alone is also a fairly recent development in Western culture. Most children were raised by large extended families along with their cousins and other relatives. So what if my mother sometimes watched my niece when my sister was trying to rebuild her life after her breakup. Just because my niece was partially raised by my mother doesn’t mean my sister was a bad mother. My sister had no choice, it was either go back to work full-time or live with my parents until my niece was older. My sister lives a mile away from my parents and both of my parents are extremely active in my niece’s life. So for a kid with a single mother she has in some ways three adults looking after her. My sister’s example is just one of many. My niece also has a great role model to draw from if she ever finds herself with a child and no partner. Marriage is so precarious and so many don’t work out. I’m divorced myself, and I worked tirelessly to try to keep that marriage together. I sacrificed for years to no avail. You could find yourself in the same situation so easily. You are extremely fortunate that your husband supports you and your children, but that could change on a dime. I hope it doesn’t for you and your kids sake. I just know so many women who have been to hell and back when their spouse just decides to leave, and it’s happened to women who were completely dedicated to their marriages.

        3. julietjeske Post author

          I also implore you to read the other comments on this thread. They are just friends of mine from Facebook. I told them you had commented because so many of them had heated opinions about your piece on HuffPo. You really should read them, they aren’t making personal attacks against you, they are just trying to share their stories. Most of these women were let down in the marriages for various reasons, and work because they have to support their kids. These are real women who probably also drive old cars, don’t eat takeout often or go on vacations…so they aren’t working for the luxuries they assume they’re working for.

    2. julietjeske Post author

      You also seem to dwell on the feminist bent of all of this. For so many women, working it’s simply survival. If they don’t work and take care of their children, no one will. Would you prefer a woman go on government aide to take care of their kids, when their husbands or partners abandon men. Surely men abandoned women before feminism. Men also died due to wars, illness, accidents, etc. Single mothers are nothing new, we’ve had them as long as we’ve had humanity.

      1. julietjeske Post author

        I’d also love to point out all the variations of mothers who have to work

        Widows who might not have family members to help out.
        Women who have been abandoned by the father of their children
        Women who have married men who became sick and couldn’t work
        Women who married men who have substance abuse problems, mental illness, gambling addictions, or emotional problems that cause them to become unemployable
        Women who are married to men who simply don’t make enough income – With stagnant wages this is a growing problem.
        Women who are married to men who for whatever reason lose their job and can’t find another one.
        Women who are in abusive marriages and decide to get divorced
        Women who are married to men who abuse their children and decide to get a divorce
        Women who are married to men who spend most of their income on themselves and not their families.
        Women who are married to men who spend money on other women – serial cheaters who neglect their families
        Women who run a business with their husband – A classic “Mom & Pop”

        So those are just a few…..I’m sure I could come up with more. I guess they are all supposed to have a large enough home and enough capital to run home-based daycare centers. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were raised by single-mothers who worked and they both became presidents….so I think they did OK. Even if you don’t agree with their politics, getting all the way to the top elected official is kinda a big accomplishment.

    3. Chrissy

      Lydia…do you know how difficult it is to run a daycare and what is needed to do so? I looked into it when my husband decided that he wanted to live a totally different lifestyle and left me with a newborn, and two little boys. I had stayed home with my boys for 5 years. I had to stay home another 3 years because my daughter had delays and issues. I was on government assistance and had state healthcare for my kids because, like what happens a lot, my ex husband dropped my kids from health insurance and stopped paying alimony and child support. Of course I then had to pay for a lawyer…so that meant going back to work. I DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE! Does that make me a bad mother? Because I could have chosen to stay home but that would mean no food, no shelter, no electric. Please think before you write these things. I feel guilty every day for not being able to be here when my kids get home after school or because I can’t be at school every week volunteering. I don’t need some pretentious, uptight, stranger telling me that I’m doing the wrong thing by providing for my family.

  3. Heather

    Lydia.- you completely missed the point. There is no right way to parent. Every single one of us wants the best for our children. Sometimes putting them first means giving them the nudge they need to learn independence. Sometimes it means taking time for mom so that Ilmom can take care of everyone else. Our children need to know that everything does not always revolve around them.

    Mothers do what they do to take care of their children. Working mothers do too!

  4. Hannah

    I WENT BACK TO WORK WHEN MY KIDS WERE LITTLE. I COULDNT AFFORD TO STAY HOME. THEN I BECAME A SINGLE MUM. THANKFULLY MY FEMINIST MOTHER MADE SURE I COULD LOOK AFTER MYSELF AND MY KIDS. I DID PUT CAREER PROGRESSION ON HOLD UNTIL NOW WHEN MY KIDS ARE OLDER AND I HAVE A HUSBAND AGAIN. FEMINISM US ABOUT CHOICE. BE THAT CHOICE TO STAY HOME OR WORK. WOMEN NEED TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF THE SISTERHOOD NOT TEARING EACH OTHER DOWN. OUR CHOICES ARE MADE WITH OUR SITUATIONS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. I AM LUCKY MY JOB AS A TEACHER ALLOWED ME A GOOD WORK BALANCE. NOT EVERYONE IS THAT LUCKY.

    1. sabrina harris

      I am one of those kids that Juliet’s mother watched in her home when I was growing up. When I was in high school I also remember her as my French teacher. I can still, 30 years later, speak a sentence or two of French. Thank you Mrs S.

      I am also a single mom in middle Anerica and there is not a single person who would pay $1600 a month for in home child care. Not even half that.

      But more important, I am a single mom who has not one day of my motherhood ever felt an ounce of guilt for working. I love my son completely……but I am happy and fulfilled being a career woman. It’s what works for me and my son. And Juliet’s mother is one of the amazing women role models from my childhood who helped shape who I am today.

      Great post Juliet. Thank you!!!

      #leanin

  5. LeeAnn T

    I was raised by a single working Mom when my father decided, when I was one month old, that he didn’t want to be a father and kicked my mother out of the house. What did she do? She worked. She provided. She nurtured. She was amazing. And did I turn out to be horribly disadvantaged because my Mother worked and might have missed a school field trip periodically? Most definitely not! Because of her I saw that women are just as capable as men of becoming the breadwinner and having a fulfilling life that includes a successful career and a flourishing family.

    After many years of marriage, and one inadvertent year as a stay at home Mom because I had difficulty finding a job in a new town, I can say without regret that while being a stay at home mother was rewarding in its own way being able to pursue my lifelong dream of being a Research Scientist is equally as important to me as being the best SINGLE Mom I can be. And I am so glad I have that choice instead of being locked into a path simply because people like you, Lydia, feel they know what’s best for others even though they clearly do not.

    Lydia, you are clearly exploiting your myopic view of motherhood for your own gain which is truly sad because all mothers have the right to choose their own path that is right for them without ridicule. I praise stay at home mothers for their tireless dedication to their children! I praise working mothers for their tireless dedication to their careers and their children! I praise all women for putting up with judge mental attitudes of men as well as other women who clearly know very little of what they speak.

  6. kristine4president

    I am staying at home because I too feel that it’s unnatural to leave an infant away from its mother for 8-10 hours a day. No other animals do that and we are advanced beyond any other living mammal on earth. Previous civilizations as well as other cultures have a “village” that’s also missing from our American lifestyle. I parent based on what I refer to as “informed instinct” so I can’t say what is better or worse because other women’s instincts might be different. I do know what findings decades of science and research can lend to the betterment of children and that is helpful when I worry about “losing my identity” (I don’t worry about that so much anymore). I am staying at home because paying for childcare would only make sense if my income was well over $100,000 per year and, to me, my career was something important like a pediatric neurosurgeon — I just wouldn’t want to leave my baby to “scratch an itch”. I am lucky I have a partner who supports me in these choices. I am staying home because I see my friends who have to work and they feel terrible about leaving their children with someone else five days a week. Pumping in the office. Not directly connected to their young and experiencing all of the important chemical reactions in the body to stave depression and anxiety. Luckily I am able to do some work from home to help our family but raising a baby is absolutely a full time, 24/7 job. No exaggeration. Twenty four hours a day. The author Miss Lovric has three children. That’s like having ten children, trust me. I understand why she wrote this open letter. Especially when common thoughts on stay at home moms consist of the fantasy that they are drinking wine and getting pedicures and watching daytime TV. It’s bullshit.

    I guess considering that our modern world puts a high price on earned income, social networking, material objects, reinforcing “women’s lib”, etc it seems to me the fundamentals of humanness seem to get lost. This is why Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, homeschooling, unschooling, peaceful parenting, attachment parenting, and movements in general back toward a more natural existence, away from screens and hours of homework after school, are becoming increasingly more mainstream.

    I am confident that with the exception of extreme cases all moms are trying to do the best for their children. We can all say what is healthy or unhealthy for any kid in the world. As a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, babysitter, educator, even a step-mom it seems easy to imagine what it’s like to be a mother, form opinions based on your experiences this far in life, imagine the decisions you might make,or the positions you might take. But until you are actually a mother yourself it’s all extremely hypothetical because of the absence of the intense biochemical, physical, and psychological changes and instinct that takes over.

    Shaming or judging any mother for her choices is wrong, especially if you’re not a mother yourself. You just have no idea. Logically certain things may or may not make sense to you but this is not a subject on which one can wax too philosophically about because like being a POW, walking on the moon, being elected President of a country, winning the lottery, losing your home and everything you own to a disaster — it’s an experience you must know firsthand to truly comprehend on a cellular level.

    1. julietjeske Post author

      I’m not a mother, but I’m also not shaming or judging other mothers. I would have loved to be a mother, but I think you know enough about how my marriage ended to know why it didn’t work out. But pointing out that I’m not a mom is an easy shot, and kinda pointless as I never say that I’m a mom, and I never claim that I’m an expert on parenting. I only speak of my experience of being a child of a working mother. I think that voice should be heard, since Lydia implies that working mothers do indeed harm their kids. Well my mom worked and I turned out just fine, as did my siblings, and two US presidents – Clinton and Obama. Both Clinton and Obama were raised by single working mothers. I could probably compile a fairly long list of incredibly successful adults who were raised by working mothers.

      But if you read her original piece, she does in fact shame other mothers. She assumes they are all doing it for reasons such as material wealth, status, or as you put it – “women’s lib”. That wasn’t the case for my own mom, and for my sister. It isn’t the case for so many of my friends who are working mothers. If a woman can afford to stay at home and take care of her children then good for her. It’s all about making the best choice for your family. My sister left a lot of childcare to my mother because my mother was available and offered to help out. Jill had to work, or both her and her daughter would have been destitute otherwise.

      Lydia could have written a piece explaining her struggles, obstacles and sacrifices she’s made as a stay-at-home mother WITHOUT implying that working mothers are selfish, materialistic, or hell bent on some political movement – feminism, or that they love their jobs more than their children. She did in fact directly imply that in her piece.

      Using her logic, she also implied that her husband must love his job more than his children. Why is it just accepted that her husband should work so many hours away from his children without there being a negative effect on his kids? Every mother makes their own choices, and sometimes women have a lot of tough choices to make. There is more than one way to raise healthy well-adjusted kids. The model of a working husband with a wife at home to take care of young children is one model. But it’s not the only one. And actually in primate groups most young are raised by the entire group of primates. It’s not one mother raising her kids by herself, while her mate runs around gathering food, it’s all of the primates working together in a given group. Daycare in many ways is form of this model in humans.

      There is no one way to raise a child, and any woman who chooses to stay at home to raise a child puts herself at risk, at least in the short-term. Marriages don’t always work out, and men get sick and die sometimes. As I said in my original piece life is one big crap shoot, and we’re all doing our best. My mother worked and I’m proud of her for working. She was an amazing role model for me, she went from being completely dependent on my father to making more than him. It was never her plan but life threw her some curve balls and she improvised.

    2. julietjeske Post author

      Also speaking of me not being a parent, which this piece was NEVER about. I just wanted to give my perspective as a child of a working mother. Who better to speak of the so called negative effects of a working mother, than the product of a working mother? I thought that would be a good enough perspective without bringing my lack of children into the mix. But since you went there….a very emotional trigger for me actually and something that gives me a great deal of grief and anguish.

      Here you go, I’ll spell it out.

      I can’t afford to raise a kid on my own.
      My family doesn’t live here.
      I don’t have a partner.
      I’m 42 years old, so I’m not sure if I could get pregnant.

      To have a kid, I would have to completely start over, probably move back to Missouri and I still wouldn’t have a partner. Personally I don’t think that’s the best plan. I think my actions in that scenario would be actually quite reckless. I have no idea what kind of employment I could get in Missouri, and I don’t think it would be healthy for me to regress back to living with my parents even temporarily. Now if someone else chooses that path for herself, then it’s her decision and her life. I do not judge. But I don’t think it would be the best situation for me, so I’ve chosen to accept the fact that I’m not going to have kids.

      Life will throw things at you that you don’t anticipate. The biggest one for me was that my marriage was a fraud. It’s taken a Herculean effort to rebuild my life.

      But again, my perspective as this piece was that I am the daughter of a working mother, and since both these open letters were written to daughters….one from a working mother, and the other from a non-working mother….then why not hear a perspective of a grown daughter? Making a potshot at the fact that I don’t have kids is a low blow and completely irrelevant. I never claim to be a parent, I only wanted to speak on behalf of my working mother who did one hell of a job raising four kids.

    3. TheIndra

      Uhmn last time I checked, Seals, a mammal, leave their pups alone for hours at a time while they search for food. I read Juliet’s commentary as not shaming the mother but shaming her inability to see how her privilege allows for her to be a stay at home mother. It simply is not an option for most women. You sound like a tired misogynist trying to shame Juliet for daring to point out the obvious while being childless.

      1. kristine4president

        No one is shaming Juliet. I just gave my opinion based on the article and shared my own feelings on the matter. I adore Juliet and appreciate that she shared about her mother and upbringing. I too had a working mother and am grateful for her and the person I became because of it. I think my response is personal, intelligent, and thoughtful. If you read shaming from it then perhaps you’re hanging onto your own baggage that needs to be let go?

        1. julietjeske Post author

          I don’t think it was shaming but the fact that I don’t have kids really doesn’t have to do with anything in my article. I was sharing my experience as the daughter of a working mom. Since both pieces were about Dear daughter…..this is why I work or don’t work, I thought I’d answer it with Dear Mom….because I’m the daughter that grew up. That was my logic with it. The fact that I’m childless really has no baring on it.

  7. Hannah

    Didn’t thos argument die in the ass in the 1990s?? Seriously if you need or want to work do it. If you can stay home, do it.

    I hope this woman never opens a dsy care cuz she’d be judging thr very hand that feeds her!

    1. julietjeske Post author

      Well that is a good point. If you look down on women who go back to work it is a bit hypocritical to then take their money for childcare.

  8. Rita Vreeland

    I haven’t read this woman’s original article, but I did read her comments above and they are infuriating. I have started writing out my angry response to her about a dozen times and I keep deleting what I write because women like her will. never. get. it. Never. No matter how eloquently I say it, she’ll never get it. I’m proud to be a working mom (and the child of a working mom who I was very proud of).

    1. TheIndra

      Seriously. She’s so narcissistic and stuck in her own bubble of privilege that it would be like talking to a cat.

Leave a Reply