As far back as I can remember, I knew I wanted a career. Not just a job, but I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, make good money, have a nice office, and even better job titles. I went to college, graduated, moved to Washington, DC on an internship on Capitol Hill, and then took my first (very low) paying job in an office environment. Like most every other entry level co-worker I knew, were all scraping by, working a second job on the weekends to help cover the cost of outrageous parking in the District, a professional wardrobe, pricey rent, and happy hour expenses. Still, it was an amazingly fun, growing experience. I met a ton of friends and did some cool things, like go to an official Inaugural Ball, attended many hearings in Congress, and even a reception on the South lawn of the White House.
Still, it was an amazingly fun, growing experience. I met a ton of friends and did some cool things, like go to an official Inaugural Ball, attended many hearings in Congress, and even a reception on the South lawn of the White House.
A year later, I got a better job offer that actually included a livable wage. I had finally gotten on that corporate ladder and I started climbing it. I wore fun business suits every day, started traveling in my spare time, and then got married. Next stop was children.
With both of my daughters, I never stopped working. No gaps in employment, I was so happy about that. My resume was “perfect.” First, I didn’t feel I could afford to quit. Second, I got a lot of personal kudos from a job well done that I never got at home, and lastly, my identity was so tied to my ability to work and bring home an income, that I couldn’t fathom walking away from it.
…But the GUILT. My children, some told me, would be messed up in the head because I was too selfish by insisting I continue working full time. My priority was not motherhood, clearly, or I would make “better” choices. Truth was; my children both loved preschool and they were fine. I was the one who wasn’t doing so great. The balancing act is hard. I was exhausted, annoyed and pushed well beyond my breaking point. If I had help, like perhaps a sober husband who would pitch in (just a little), it would have made a huge difference. But in addition to taking care of my job, the kids, house, vacation house, all the bills, and much more, I had to care of my husband, too. Because caring for an alcoholic, is almost a full-time job in and of itself. Nonetheless, my children seemed ok. Should I have felt guiltier than I did?
Apparently, the answer is a Big Fat No. According a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School, daughters of working moms grow up to be more successful than their peers in the workforce. They are also more likely to be bosses, supervising other employees. This is actually fantastic news. How many additional studies point out that women who are divorced and have children are exponentially more likely to live beneath the poverty line? Yes, having earning power is critically important, especially if we have children. After all, it is our moral, ethical and legal responsibility to provide for them. With this in mind, consider this statistic: daughters of working moms earn 23 percent more than daughters of stay-at-home moms. That’s significant.
All over the world, children of working mothers are less likely to stick to traditional roles of male breadwinners and female homemakers. Personally, I’m all for breaking down artificial gender barriers. They don’t often work out as great as one might think.
Sons of working moms also benefit. The study says that they are more likely to grow up contributing to the childcare and household chores. As adults, they spend 7.5 hours more on childcare per week than sons of stay-at-home moms. They also spent longer doing households chores. By splitting household responsibilities in a more balanced way, it likely gives more time and space for women to pursue their careers. Partnership in a marriage is a fantastic thing if you ask me.
I don’t think anyone is saying that being a stay-at-home (if you even have that option) isn’t a fabulous choice, or that working moms are better moms. No, not at all. However, if you are paralyzed by guilt that you are working while your children are still young, you can let some of that go right now. As the study shows, chances are your children will turn out just fine, maybe better than fine.