September 10, 2011

My Sister

I was having a conversation recently with one of my sisters (I'll call her Pippa).  In passing, she said something that really made me think.  

First a little background.  I grew up in the 70s.  Both my parents worked outside the home.  My father worked for a Fortune 500 company for years and my mother was a successful real estate agent.   We grew up in an affluent area, went to church every Sunday and basically had all our general needs met.  I'm not going to lie, neither one of my parents were nurturing in any way (definitely not "lovey dovey" people).   In fact, neither one of my parents ever encouraged us to follow our dreams (or better yet have dreams).  They never showed us any affection whatsoever.   I never was told I was loved or felt loved (that's for another post).  They went to work early in the morning (never saying goodbye that I recall) and would come home after dark exhausted.  I do remember sitting down for dinner as a family most nights but don't really have fond memories of these meals. 

My sisters and brother (there were 5 of us) became self sufficient at a very young age (we really had no choice).  We came home from school to an empty home and frankly were responsible for ourselves.  There was no one there to kiss us hello, kiss us good bye, help us with our homework, or tuck us in at night.  I guess I always looked at my upbringing as my parents did what they had to do and this was the life I was dealt.  Did I miss out?  I’m sure to some extent.

So back to Pippa's comment (who by the way is a successful stay home mom of 4 boys).  In passing she said “I always resented mom for being a working mom and leaving us alone as children all those years.  I think she worked outside the home to get away from us.” 

HUH?  I never thought that way.  Is that true?  Does she think I'm a bad mom for working outside the home?  Do my kids resent me?  Do my kids think I’m escaping?  Will my children have no fond memories of me and/or their childhood?  Am I doing the right thing? 

First, I looked at the similarities.  As with my parents, we are raising our children in an affluent area (actually it's the same affluent area I was raised - this apple didn't fall too far from the tree), we go to church every Sunday (you guessed it, it’s the same church I attended as a child) and basically all my children’s general needs are met.  That’s where the similarities end (at least in my eyes).  Even though I work outside the home, my commitment to my family is my number one priority.  I have never missed a special event in any of my children’s lives (school, sports, religious, etc.) and I am very proud of that accomplishment.  Prince William and I are always juggling our schedules so that one of us (or both whenever possible) is there to put them on the bus and get them off the bus.  We know all our children's friends, the friend’s parents, the teachers, and of course their comings and goings.    We eat dinner as a family every night and we talk and we laugh.  A LOT.  Unlike my parents, I (and Prince William too) encourage our children to have hopes, dreams and goals.  I tell them how proud we are of them every chance I get.  I always kiss and hug them hello and good bye (and tons of hugs and kisses in between), I tuck them in every night and above all else, I tell them how much we care and love them.

I have always respected Pippa's decision to stay home once she started having children.  I admire the way she is part of her children's lives.  She cooks, cleans, carpools and is always there for them.  I think she has done a wonderful job raising her 4 boys. 

So I hope Pippa understands my decision (and the decision of tons of other great working moms).  I'm not escaping from my children.  The times that we are together as a family are the most important moments of my life (and taken very seriously).  I am always on the sidelines of every soccer, basketball, baseball, dance recital, etc., I have kissed every boo-boo they have ever had, encouraged every dream, and above all else, I am without a doubt their biggest fan (and they know that).

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