From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

What’s in It for Us Is Good

I am a classroom teacher, and the majority of my students’ mothers work outside the home, which is quite different from when I started teaching twenty years ago. Then, most of my students’ mothers were stay-at-home moms.

After school, the children are enrolled in child-care programs, go to a friend’s house, or stay home with an older brother or sister, a grandparent, or a hired babysitter. I often wondered how the children felt about this, so one day I asked a combined fourth- and fifth-grade group. Here is a representative sampling of their responses:

Kevin: My mom is a lab technician. I feel it’s a good opportunity for her. Even though I don’t see her as much as I’d like to, I know it’s the right decision for her, and if she likes it, she should keep doing it. If she doesn’t like it, she should go out and find another job she’s capable of.

Antonio: My mom runs a beauty shop, and I think it’s fine for mothers to work. It should be their decision. It’s their life.

Jenna: Women have just as much right to work as men because there really isn’t that much difference between a boy and girl except for their body parts. It’s what’s inside their bodies that counts.

Ezra: Well, I think moms should stay home with their kids; otherwise, the kids might think the mom loves her job more than she loves her kids.

Dori: Kids might think they’re loved a little more if their moms don’t work, but if they do work, I know I understand, and a lot of kids understand. My parents love me as much as they would if they weren’t both working.

Ricky: My mom doesn’t work, but I wish she did. Then I could see my dad more. I see my mom too much, and I’m getting a little tired of seeing her so much. I don’t see enough of my dad.

Andrew: I think it’s good if mothers work. My mom works and there’s no problem with it. Anyone can work, even kids. If you’re a kid, you can have a paper route or shovel snow. And if you’re a mom, you can work, too. It’s not just dads who can work. And when I have to stay home, it’s okay. I take care of my sister, and I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. I feel it’s good for moms to work so they can get more money for the family.

Ned: I don’t mind my mom working at all ’cause I can do whatever I want to when she’s not home.

Annie: Well, I do mind ’cause every day after school, my brother beats me up!

Cindy: I don’t really care that my mom works, but I like it when she’s home, because I like to be home with my mom.

Lenny: My mom is a policewoman. She has always worked, so I don’t know what it would be like if she didn’t.

Terry: Mine didn’t start working until I was in second grade. At first, it felt kind of strange coming home and not having her there waiting for me. So that’s another point. It’s kind of a change for kids when the mom didn’t work and then she goes into working. You’re not used to her not being there when you come home. You’re used to seeing her standing at the door saying, “How was your day?”

Paul: Well, I think mothers should work, because if they don’t, we’re going right back into, like, two hundred years ago, when only the men worked. In some places, even now, only the men work, but I think women have every right to work if they want to.

Annie: I don’t mind my mom working, but I just hardly ever see her. She works from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM at my dad’s restaurant and on weekends, too. I stay with my grandma. I just wish my mom could arrange something so she didn’t have to work so much. It’s okay for moms to work, but they should have some time to spend with their children—and the dads should, too.

Susie: It also depends on what the parents’ choice is, because sometimes they don’t go to bed until twelve or one, and then they both have to get up real early to go to work, and then they’re too tired and cranky to spend time with their kids when they do get home from work. And on weekends, they just lie around and take naps—dads, too.

Jeremy: My parents might not be able to spend as much time with my brother and me as we’d like them to ’cause they both have to work. But if they didn’t work, we wouldn’t have a house—we’d be on the streets. If they didn’t work, we wouldn’t have good food or be able to take family vacations. So what’s in it for us is good.

I realized from our discussion that the most important thing in children’s minds today, or at least at my school, doesn’t seem to be how much time mothers spend at home with their children, but rather, how mothers feel about working, and also, the financial benefits to the whole family from mothers working. What really seems to matter to children today is that Mom and Dad are there for them emotionally and that they show that they love and care about them.

Arlene Uslander

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