This weekend my son and I went to visit my grandparents – Richard and Liz (aka Paw Paw Richard and Maw Maw Bebo) – in Lake Charles, Louisiana. They had celebrated their 85th (Richard) and 82nd (Liz) birthdays earlier in the week and it was wonderful to spend some quality time with them.
I had some good chats with my grandmother and I shared about the blog and how I’m hoping to support moms who are struggling with the juggle of work and home. I can’t ever remember my grandmother not working. As a matter of fact she takes pride in the fact that she still maintains a separate “business account” for the sewing she does for family and friends. I asked her about her experiences as a working mother and here’s how the general conversation went.
Me: So Maw Maw, was it hard for you to work and also have four kids at home?
Liz: It was a lot to manage but back then we had help at home and we had wonderful women who would come to the house to be with the kids and keep the house in order.
Me: Did you ever get any grief from family or friends for not staying home?
Liz: No, it was just what I had decided to do. The extra income helped and I had always known I wanted to work. Growing up my mom was always at home and her work was so hard since we lived on a small farm. She’d spend days canning food, taking care of animals, sewing, cooking, cleaning… It was never a life that I wanted for me or my children.
Me: Was it difficult for you to manage work and home activities? Did your managers allow you flexibility?
Liz: I had great bosses. They always let me take time to go to school functions or sporting events for the kids. I don’t ever think it was a problem.
Me: Did you ever feel guilty about being away from the kids?
Liz: Of course I did sometimes. But when I look back on it now, my kids and my grandchildren are some of the most successful, well-rounded and good people I know.
Here’s what’s funny about the whole conversation… that was it. Today if I had this conversation with a working mom we’d lament for hours on the glass ceiling, salary issues, scorn from stay at home moms, how “the man” is keeping us down, etc. It was so refreshing to have a conversation about being a working mom and for the outcome to be “that’s just the way it is”.
I left my grandparent’s house encouraged, loved, and pleased with the path I’ve chosen. I encourage all of us working moms (actually all moms) to talk with someone who’s been there. It might give us an interesting perspective into the lives that we’re leading and what it all looks like from the other side.
I love you Maw Maw.