The quality of parenting you’re delivering has nothing to do with how many hours you spend one on one with your child.
You are a mother. Regardless of the time you spend at home one on one with your child you are their mother. Whether you work out of the house or stay at home every day all day with your children, you are a mom. You, mom, among a million other things in day to day life:
Love your child unconditionally.
Support and nurture your child as the unique individual they are.
Show them how to love and be loved.
Teach them about where they come from, your cultures, your traditions, their history.
Teach them to respect others. You don’t have to love everyone but respect them.
Teach them to respect themselves, and show them how by respecting yourself.
Show them how to be healthy and well by being their example of a healthy lifestyle.
Teach them to live a balanced life through setting the example.
Are their advocate in all areas of their life, from the doctor’s office to the school system.
Share your values and what you’re passionate about with them. They will be your living legacy.
A sum of hours spent with your children does not make you a superior, more caring, more dedicated mother, and fewer hours in order to dedicate time to your professional life doesn’t make you a selfish, less caring one. Vice versa, you’re not undoing Betty Friedan and her counterparts’ life work by staying home with your kids and not “leaning in”. Whether you have every waking minute to be with your kids or a few precious hours in the evening, it’s how you spend them that counts.
The real question becomes not what category we fit into, stay at home or working mother, but what are we doing with the time we have with our children. Let’s change the conversation.