If you could describe your role in this life as one thing, the core of who you are, what would you say?
Would it be a daughter, a wife, an employee, a mother?
I’m willing to bet that most of us with children would answer that question with “mother”.
Last week at the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama again proclaimed herself as “mom-in-chief”. She reminded the audience that “at the end of the day, my most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief’”.
Normally, I wouldn’t have given much thought to this. She’s helping her husband run for re-election, and she wants to be relatable to voters. No big deal. But as I thought more about her declaration, I realized that it almost sounded apologetic.
As a working mother, I have felt the need to explain that while I love my career, my children are my No. 1 priority. On the occasion that my daughter has complained about a late meeting, or a work trip, I have told her that it is my career that pays for our nice house, cars, art school and soccer teams. I apologize that I have to leave or will miss an event. Then, I reassure her that I love her and will miss her, and that nothing is more important to me than she and her brother.
No more apologies.
I can’t make the decision to have a career (one I love), and tout that I am showing my daughter she can be both a mother and a career woman, and then in the next breath apologize for that very same career.
I love what I do. I love the mission of my company and the work we do. My coworkers are like family, and I can’t imagine not being a part of it. What is there to apologize for? Loving your career and loving your children are not mutually exclusive.
Why do we feel the need to put an asterisk explaining our love of mothering next to our job titles? How many men are proclaiming in board rooms that at the end of the day, their most important job is being a dad?
It has nothing to do with women’s rights, or breaking any glass ceiling. It has everything to do with just accepting ourselves as a complete person, and not ranking the importance of each piece of us.
I am not first and foremost a mother. At the end of the day, I am not a writer. When you boil it all down, I am more than just a mom, just a writer, just a anything.
Mother, writer, wife, daughter, sister, friend, granddaughter, and then some, they all add up to me.
The sum is me. There is no need to explain it, and there certainly is no need to apologize for it.
Cat Koehler is married with two children. She works full time. Read her Mondays on momaha.com