One sentence, delivered innocently by a small child can have such power. It can bring a grown woman to her knees, to make tears start streaming down her face and for the mummy guilt to force itself upon her shoulders.
But how you answer that question really shapes your child’s view of your ambition, your passion, your strength and your ability.
So the following letter is just as much to you, other business women struggling with the self doubt, just as much as this letter is to my children, explaining that mummy loves to work and it is not something that is forced upon me.
Dear William & James
Mummy is so lucky that she can choose where she works and who she works for. It just so happens that I choose to work for myself and I choose to work mainly from home.
You see, many years ago when mummy finished school, and then went on to university, I learned all about numbers. I used to work in the big city and work long hours and it was fun. I actually really loved it. This was before I met your Daddy. Before we had a house.
And then you boys came along and things started to get hectic. I wanted to see you more, I wanted to walk you to school, I wanted to take you to swim lessons and Auskick and I wanted to stop being the tired, angry mummy that I always was. When you work in the city, sometimes it is really hard to fit everything into your day. So there were times I missed out on things at your day care or school.
Not because I didn’t want to be there or because I didn’t love you, but we just had to juggle things the best we could. One day it will make more sense.
Now that I work for myself (yes, I am a boss, sounds important doesn’t it?) I know you struggle to understand how I could work from home when other people “go to work”. But I promise I am not sure playing on the computer all day watching cartoons.
You see I help people every day. You know how a nurse or a doctor helps people who feel sick? Well mummy helps people who have a business and their business feels sick. I help people who run a business understand how much money they have and how they shouldn’t spend it all at once. Kind of like when we count your piggy bank and you are only allowed to spend some of that money and then save the rest.
Everyday brings new opportunities, and one day, when you finish school (or if you finish school – as trust me there is no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do), you can make a decision about what you would like to do. Would you like to be a chef, a doctor, a teacher, a fireman – or an accountant like mummy. The list is huge and you don’t have to make one decision and stick with it forever. Hopefully you will choose something that makes you happy, that you enjoy and that you wake up each day thinking, I can’t wait to go to work today. Today I am going to help someone.
Mummy loves her work (and I think my boss is pretty cool too), but what mummy loves most about her work, is that I get to spend time with you every single day. So I don’t “have” to go to work today, but I actually really want to. I love my work and it makes me the best mummy I can be to you both.
So despite being tired and exhausted as you had nightmares last night and crept into my bed at 3am, I know that what I am doing is making a difference, not only in the lives of the people I help, but in our lives as a family.
Now go and get dressed, we have to walk to school.
Love Mum X