Letter to My Daughter: On Being a Workaholic

Letter on being a workaholic Pura Vida Sometimes

To my beautiful Warrior Princess:

One of my greatest fears is that you will look back on your childhood and think that your mom cared more about work than about you. I would understand if my actions gave you that impression, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’d like to explain a few things with hopes you will view our life together with love and compassion and make good choices on how you want to live yours.

Since I was 17, I’ve only ever not worked during three four-month spurts in my life. The first two were between school and jobs, and the third time I was blessed to stay home with you. It was heart-wrenching to take my tiny, beautiful little creature to school at such a tender age, but also necessary that I work full time to make sure we all had everything we needed.

Letter to my Daughter: On Being a WorkaholicAt that time, I’d wake up through the night to check your breathing or to feed you, wake up with you in the morning and take you to school, work 8-10 hours, pick you up, and try to rally until you drifted off to sleep. But you were never a sleeper and often outlasted me. When I gently placed you in your crib and tiptoed out, I’d clean, make lunches, or catch up on work projects. When business travel picked back up, I continued breastfeeding and pumped in between meetings, in airports, conferences centers, and hotel bathrooms, and it was devastating when supply didn’t meet demand. I hope you never know what it feels like not to be able to feed your child. But you’re adaptable and strong, and you’ve been patient with me.

Letter to My Daughter: On Being a WorkaholicThere reaches a point when the women that were told we can have it all feel like we’re too tired or spread thin to be good at anything. We’re not the kind of managers, employees, mothers, friends or spouses that we want to be. But in the morning, we get up, give ourselves (or each other) a pep talk, and try it all over again. You’re also forgiving and give your love unconditionally, and my employers have been tolerant.

I want to be the vibrant, engaged, loving mother you deserve, and I ask your forgiveness if I have not always been that person. Please understand that life is a series of choices and I chose and will always choose you, above everything else. You are everything.

I chose a career I love, where I can grow and contribute, and that has allowed me send you to a great school, feed you healthy food, and be sure you get the medical care you need. I chose to be a career woman and power my way toward my dreams. I chose a nice house in a good neighborhood because I want you to be happy and safe. Yes, sometimes I’m direct and sometimes “aggressive” (mens’ code word for girls who are strong), but I’m always trying to be the best person and professional I can be.

It isn’t necessarily by choice that I sometimes spend weeks on the road or that I always work long hours, and accordingly that you have to spend all day at school. It isn’t by choice that when I get home, I plop you in front of cartoons to cook, organize, and administer, or that all weekend long I clean and fix. I didn’t choose be a workaholic, but I do have a strong sense of responsibility and an idea of how to create the life we all deserve, and I’m giving it a go. But I’d rather dance in my PJs, color, bake cookies, or go to the park with you.

For these things and more, I pray that, rather than remembering me as someone who was always busy and exhausted, you choose to see that I loved and was great at my job and worked hard to provide, that I wanted to set a strong example for you, that I did everything at work and at home to the best of my ability, that I refused to quit and always worked toward a vision of our shared future, that I didn’t let others’ harsh words or thoughts shape my own, and that, more than anything, that when I was with you, I was mindful and attentive, that I listened and laughed, and that I too love you unconditionally.

This is the way I was built and the path I chose, but I want to set you up to be able to live your life in the way that makes you happiest and most fulfilled. You can be anything you want to be. A cellist, a martial artist, an architect, an engineer, a teacher, a mother, or none of the above. A job does not define you, but is a way to reach your dream. The future is yours to decide.

Your fan,
Mama

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