Mom has been teasing me lately that my blog is called This Mom Loves, and there has been little mention of her yet – therefore I must not love her very much! How far from the truth. As my mother prepares to retire from a career in teaching, I’ve been reflecting on what she has taught me about work, parenting and doing both at the same time.

When I was two months old, Mom returned to the classroom. That was a normal length of mat leave back then (can you believe that? I cannot imagine leaving my child at that age…for her sake or mine…thank God I live in a country that now values parental leave), and I’m sure money was a factor. I also know that my mom loved her job. Not so much that she would just leave me with anyone, though – I was looked after by her Aunt Diann, and although I have no memories of my first daycare days, I still think very fondly of Aunt Dee-Dee.

When my brother was born twenty months after me, Mom again took a short mat leave, and returned to work, this time bringing a terrific babysitter in to our home. Mrs. Clysdale even snuck us Honeycomb cereal…much tastier than our usual Cheerios! Although I was young, I do remember a few things from these years (like the time she brought me a new bubblegum pink plastic hairband, and I promptly sat on it and broke it, or the times she used to bathe Ed in the bathroom sink) and I still make sure to update Mrs. Clysdale on milestones in my life.

When we were four and two, Mom decided to stay at home for good. She quit her job and cashed out her pension, ready for a permanent at-home lifestyle. I have many memories of these days: the homemade cinammon pinwheels, riding to the corner in the wagon to catch the kindergarten bus. The funny thing is, I have never really asked her what made her decide to stay at home: whether it was pressure, (because I know my Grandma’s a big stay-home-with-your-kids proponent), or if it was truly her heart’s desire. I was reading a post the other day where a writer wondered what it would be like to have a first date with your mother, in order to really get to know her. Although I’m sure it would be very eye-opening, I’m quite comfortable with our friendly mother-daughter relationship. I think would be very bizarre and disconcerting to get to know her as an actual woman!

I do know that once Ed and I were both in school full time, she started to go nuts being at home all day. Although she’s an avid reader, she has a hard time staying in one spot for very long. Plus, let’s be honest, one income only provides you with a certain lifestyle. Many of you can relate to being home all day making no money, and therefore not being able to go out at night or on the weekends because there’s no money to spend. She decided to reapply to the school board, and one fateful August day, got the call that there was a full-time position waiting for her. It’s funny that the way she remembers the story, my seven year old brother cried and asked who would be waiting with cookies after school. In reality, the tears and question actually came from nine year old me, sitting at the dining room table believing that my world was falling apart.

In retrospect, I am unable to name any negative consequences of her decision to return to work. We only needed before and after care, which was provided by a neighbour who popped over to get us on and off the bus. Other than that, what difference did it make once we were at school? It was certainly fun to push her guilt button at times (hey, I learned the guilt-trick from her!), but we had grandparents to pick us up when we were sick, and we really didn’t feel like they missed any of our events. Most of our classmates had parents who worked outside the home, so we certainly weren’t the only ones. And Mom took personal leave days for important occasions, such as the day I made my confirmation stole.

I have learned so much about teaching from my parents, (the “Leahy look” has quieted many a student), although ironically they discouraged us from following in their footsteps, as we graduated during a time of labour unrest and low public opinion of teachers. Of course we didn’t listen. My mother has also taught me, through example, about how to be a (good) teacher and a (good) mom at the same time. She often had marking or planning to do at night, and required us to pitch in on household tasks, but that taught me the effort necessary to make a family run (and perhaps contributed to a little bit to my neatfreakishness). She was always there when we needed her, but didn’t suffocate or smother us in the meantime. (Honestly, had she not returned to work, I think the potential for smothering would have been way higher.)

Mom taught me that it’s okay to want a family, and a career, and that it’s possible to do both well. My job means so much to me, and I have never felt any guilt from my parents whatsoever about leaving my children at daycare in order to return to work. I mean, my brother and I turned out just fine. At least I did anyway. (Just kidding, Ed. You know, ’cause I’m sure you read this blog all the time; don’t want you to be offended.)

So, thank you, mom, for inspiring me to ‘have it all’…which I always have, thanks to you. See…I do love you!

How about my readers? Do you think your mother’s work history has impacted on any choices you have made as a parent? Does she voice her opinions about your work situation, or stay out of your way? Do you try to follow her lead, or avoid her path? Does your mother-in-law play any role? (Mine was a farmer’s wife who stayed home to raise NINE kids. I can learn a lot from her example as well, though I have no desire to keep up to her!) I’d love to hear what the rest of you have to say.

14 comments on “Having It All: Lessons From Mom”

  1. Hi there, I'm a new follower just stopping by on Blog Hop Friday! In answer to your question, my mother went back to work when I was eight years old and I felt that the world as I knew it had ended. As I look back I realize that at that time I became ultrasensitive to any kind of changeS in my life and started to feel so very lonely all the time. I know now that she did what she had to do but this may be behind my dedication to make my children's lives stable and very predictable.

    I'm not sure if her returning to the work force was handled poorly or what but something happened that had a very definite effect on my security that I had to work very hard to overcome.

    When you get a minute would you PLEASE enter my 1st Vera Bradley Giveaway that I have going on right now!

    And follow me back on my blogs?


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  2. This is a very nice posting. You are lucky that your Mom is such a great role mode. My Mom is also such an inspiration to me. As a child, she worked full time (and ran a farm), but she always seemed to be home for me. Now, my Mom continues to work full time (and run the farm)and provide endless childcare for my sisters and I. Thanks Mom!!

    I recently attended a retirement party of a woman who was retiring after 25 years at her position teaching at a College. What amazed me, though, was that she had stayed home with her 5 kids for 17 years before starting her successful career!!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm following you back!

    My mom was a teacher so her "work situation" allowed her to be home with us most of the time when we weren't in school. I look back now and wonder how she did it all!

    My husband and I work full time, and our kids are in daycare, and honestly I wouldn't have it any other way. I think the social interaction that daycare provides for them is great! My mom would love to be our full time babysitter, but since she can't get my dad to move here, that isn't going to happen. She definitely supports our choices.

    My mother in law doesn't speak to me, so I have no clue what she thinks. 😉

  4. Great post Kate. Your mommy would be proud 🙂

    My mom went back to work part time when I was in grade one, and full time shortly after. Seeing her successfully work at her career and with her family, I knew that it could be done.

    I too work full time as a teacher and my children are in daycare full time. Life is crazy, busy and hectic everyday, but I don't regret going back to work. I love my job, I love students and most importantly I love my children. Somehow, I just make it all work. Yes, my house is a mess, yes I am behind in laundry and yes we do eat pizza for supper the odd night, but I'm happy, which means they're happy.
    I think that women who work full time shouldn't feel guilty about it, if it makes them happy then it's best for the entire family.

  5. Sandra – while my house is rarely messy (you know, because of my issues) we eat pizza for supper more than "the odd night"! It's actually an odd school night when our meal doesn't come out of a box in the freezer! Although I suppose grilled cheese, Kraft Dinner and cereal aren't frozen foods…

  6. What a wonderful post! And one that I think really speaks to so many of us. My mom stayed at home with my brother and me; and I can't imagine it having been any other way.

    That said, I plan to go back to work, and can't picture doing it differently. I have found a homecare provider who I think is great. My mom is supportive. We are different people, and her reality was different than mine (among other things, I'm the primary breadwinner). I'd love to be able to have one parent stay home with our kids – but it's not currently in the cards.

    That said, I'm confident that with the right balance between work and home, and the right caregiver, we'll all be happy.

    I'll know in a few years if this is accurate 🙂

    So – did she influence me? Not in that I follow her decisions. But she certainly raised me to have confidence in my abilities to choose what is right for me. And currently – though I'm not really looking forward to it at the moment – that will be choosing to go back to work.

  7. I am now following you via Blog Hop Friday thank you for following me. I want to invite you and any other bloggers that love new followers and finding new blogs to follow to join my sister and I on Thursday for Keepin' Company Thursday this is a follow me type meme. Come link up at htp:// or at my sister's

  8. My mom was a "stay at home mom" and my siblings and I were really fortunate that she decided to do so. We learned so many things from her, especially the importance of school work and responsibilities in the home and at school. I could never do "stay at home!" I love my kids, but I need a job that keeps me motivated, energized and plus the extra money comes in handy! Way to go for all you brave moms who stay at home! It's the hardest job in the world. You truly do not get enough thanks!:)

  9. My mom was a stay-at-home mom while my sisters and I were growing up. She put us on the bus every day, looked after neighbourhood kids all day and had our after school snack waiting for us each day. It was all I knew and I took it for granted having her there for us everyday. Until, it seemed, I had aced a math test, or won an award. It was those days, I burst off the bus, ran up the driveway, only to find her car wasn't there. My heart would sink. It was those times I realized how important it was to have my mom home for me! As much as I would like to think I could be a stay-at-home mom, I am different from my mom. l loved both of my maternity leaves however could often be found walking the mall, sitting in Starbucks or at the Early Years Centre. I wasn't often at home! Owning this helps to diminish the guilt I feel over not being home with my two little ones. However, we have ensured they have a wonderful home daycare and grandparents who help out too. Most importantly, I am blessed to be a teacher so will have the opportunity to share two months with my children, camping, daytripping and going to the cottage. We can't wait!

  10. Wow…that baby picture of you looks just like your oldest(sorry I can only remember their real names so…)! I'm sure you've heard that a million times by now.

    I'd continue on to comment about the blog, my own mother, having a career and a family, etc….but I'm too tired! AND my house is a disaster zone! Oh well…..

  11. I loved this post. So beautiful the love you feel for your mom. This is what is important to me. Me and My mommy are the best of friends and you know what that feels like. Thanks for sharing about your Mom reading this made me want to jump in my car and go hug mine. :0)

  12. Wow Kate, What an honest perspective and beautiful tribute to your Mom. I am very impressed that you are able to manage a full-time job, full-time family and this incredible site. Keep up all your wonderful work!

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