Why Does She Even Have Kids? Insider’s Take on the Backlash Against Working Moms


mom and babyAs a nanny of 25 years, I’ve had an inside view of the mommy wars.  I’ve worked mostly for working moms and I’ve seen the emotional angst they go through around their choice to work.  And yes, for most nanny employers it’s a choice but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one or that they don’t struggle with it when their child is sick, when they have to miss a school play, or when they just have to leave a snuggling baby in the morning to make a breakfast meeting.

I’ve run into countless people, most complete strangers, who feel they have the right judge my employer’s love, dedication, and role in her child’s life simply because she’s has a job.  (And I say she here because I’ve never heard comments about dads working.)  The phrases “Why did she even have kids if she was going to let a complete stranger raise them?” or “A real mother couldn’t be away from her kids all day!” or “It’s easy to be a mother when you have someone else doing all the work.” just show a lack of understanding of the experience of a working mom.

As a nanny I’ve found that the working moms I know fall into 3 categories.

One, women who love, love, love their jobs and can’t imagine not working.  Usually they’ve spent years and a ton of money getting advanced degrees and working their way up the infamous ladder.  They are personally fulfilled by the work they do and often feel they’re making a meaningful contribution to those they work with and for.  And they’re great moms.

Two, women who like and enjoy their jobs but could also be happy at home.  However they choose to work because they enjoy the things their income buys like quality child care, top schools, family vacations, and solid retirement accounts.  And yes, they’re great moms too.

Three, women who would rather stay home but need to work to adequately provide for their families.  And remember, “adequately” is defined differently by everyone.  Some are the primary bread winner in a working couple, some are supporting a student spouse, some are single parents, and some are just starting out in their careers and aren’t making the big bucks quite yet.  And you guessed it, they’re also great moms.

The point is that a parent’s working status doesn’t determine if they’re a good parent or not.  it’s determined by the type of person they are and the priorities they hold.  The problem is that most outsiders don’t get to see these working moms at home, being moms.  They make unfair judgments and assumptions based on stereotypes of working, professional women.

But nannies get the insider’s view and see first-hand how amazing our employers are.  So I’m here to tell you that working moms put their whole heart and soul into their kids.  They rearrange complicated schedules and stand up to male dominated workplace norms to attend doctor appointments, field trips, and afternoon games.  They call, text, and FaceTime their nanny throughout the day to stay connected to their kids, even if it’s from a distance.  They get up before dawn and go to bed late into the night so they can spend awake hours with their kids and do other things – like exercise, laundry, and shower – in their “down time”.  They are loving, devoted, involved and present.  And my experience with working moms isn’t unique.  Ask any nanny and she can tell you stories of her working mom boss’s dedication.  Here are just a few of those.

I’ve never met anyone like my mom boss.  I’m in awe of her as a person.  She has many talents and capabilities and utilizes them all to the fullest extent.  She works in a male dominated field, she’s one of their most indispensable employees.  My nanny kids, 18-month-old twin girls, are so fortunate to have such a strong female role model, a mother who teaches them ambition, perseveration, innovation and unrelenting love through not only her words but her actions.  I’ve seen this woman fix dry wall, re-route electrical cable, sew the girls a dress, paint an original piece of beautiful artwork and make the healthiest pasta in the world all in one day.  Even when all her energy is zapped, she still manages to fully devote her love and attention to each of her children.   She pours her entire self into everything she does and her passion is inspiring.  To me it seems the raw love she has for her family is the driving force behind it all.
Wendy, nanny from Plano, TX

All of my mom bosses have been working moms. I admire their ability to go to work for 9 plus hours, come home and still have energy to run and play while maintaining their sanity. My current mom boss is essentially a single mom as dad boss travels a lot. Now that is a difficult job! My former mom boss traveled a lot and she would FedEx her breast milk so that her baby wouldn’t miss a beat. I appreciate that they trust me to step in and help be a strong part of the family unit.
Sarah from Portland, OR

I have the most incredible mom boss. She is the Vice President of the company she works for so she works a lot. She works incredibly hard at her job but works even harder to be an amazing mom. I nanny 2 of the sweetest, smartest, most well behaved girls I know and I am a very small part in that.

First of all my MB is very generous. She is always doing charitable things for people and including her girls in the work. Recently she took them to put together meal boxes for people in third world countries.

She also loves helping the girls learn. To help S develop her reading and writing skills she started a journal with her. At night mom boss writes a page to S and after school S reads it and writes a page back to her. They even made up their own secret language by assigning each letter a number and writing only in numbers.
Heidee, nanny from Overland Park, KS

My mom boss is the mother to an almost 5 year old and spontaneous 3 year old triplets. The triplets were born at 27 weeks, the smallest weighing less than a pound. My mom boss was on bed rest before the triplets were born and then stayed home with the trio for almost 18 months until she absolutely had to return to work. She didn’t return willing, she returned because as a teacher she has a wonderful insurance package. Insurance that helps provide for the specialists her children see yearly. The eye doctors, cardiologist, pulmonologist, feeding clinics, and all the other appointments that fill our schedules.

Every day she comes home after work and plays with her kids, reads books with them, chases them around the house that’s always filled with giggles. She rushes home to meet with nurses, and to take L to her feeding clinic appointments to work towards the goal of removing her g-tube. She uses her vacation days on eye appointments, check-ups, and visits with specialists.  She reads every note I leave for her, she appreciates pictures I send, and loves hearing about the trio’s day.  But I know she wishes she was the one seeing L eat a few bites of yogurt or walk for the first time. Or the one to see M go on the potty for the first time, or R singing his ABC’s. I know that she wishes she wasn’t working and that’s why I strive to be the best nanny I can. I want her to worry less and to spend her time playing with the kids, not put away laundry.
Abbey, nanny from Mechanicsburg, PA

I work for a mother-of-three who is a successful businesswoman in the corporate world. Even though her job demands a lot of her time and energy, not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the way this woman has the ability to juggle her job, marriage, home, religion, and most importantly her children. Melany is a phenomenal mother, and one that believes her children deserve the very best. After a long day at work, she will come home, throw on some comfortable clothes, and have a dance party with the kids. She’ll put away the huge amounts of laundry that comes from having a brood as large as theirs, put away three meals worth of dishes from the dishwasher, make sure the oldest has everything in order for school the next day, and straighten toys that have been played with lovingly (and I want to be sure to mention that I notice when she sets up the Barbie Dream House with everything in just the right place). She and her husband will settle the kids down by reading books, saying prayers, brushing three sets of teeth, making sure everyone has everything they need for bed (including the nightly glass of water, or the bear that has been loved by his owner for 5 years, or the blanket that was passed down from one brother to the next). After what one can only imagine as being an exhausting day, Melany then pulls her little ones close so they feel her protective love as she shares her bed with whoever needs her comfort. Melany has said that I offer her family so much, but to me mine seems like a much easier job than the one she comes home to after her 8-5 job. She sets her family and myself up for success by making sure everything is in place before walking out the door a little after 7 in the morning, every day. Not once have I ever questioned the love she has for her children. I really admire her.
Sarah, nanny from Lake Orion, MI

My mom boss works long, hard days at her father’s marketing firm, yet the moment she walks in the door at night she runs straight to 14mo L 🙂 He is her true priority, no matter what is going on at work. She truly enjoys reading to him each night before bed, and rocking him to sleep. I have never seen a mom’s eyes light up as much as hers do when she sees her little man! I can’t imagine a more loving and caring mom than my MB!
Laura, nanny from Evanston, IL

My mom boss was recently separated with three children (7, 5, 3) when I started working for her.  She was going through absolute emotional hell and returning to the work force full time after working a very part-time schedule for the last 5 years.

She is way more than just a mom boss to me, she is the absolute definition of a role model. She spends all weekend meal prepping and making sure that the fridge and the pantry were stocked for the week ahead. She leaves the house at 6 AM every morning to make it to the gym before going to work, so that when she got home she was 100% hands on with her kids.

Every morning when I come into work I pick up the couple of spare popcorn kernels off the floor and fold up the blankets on the couches because I knew they ended their night all together watching something before bed time.

She is the kind of mother that I aspire to be someday and she’s the mom boss that I wish every mom boss was like.
Samantha, nanny from Pittsburgh, PA