Submitted by The Mama Politic
Both of my parents worked when I was growing up. My husband's parents did too. So I guess it's not surprising that my husband and I went back to work after our baby was born. (And soon. I was back part-time after five weeks and full-time when she was nine weeks old.) I need my work to feel happy and connected to the world. My husband understands and is very supportive. We are far from perfect, but he definitely has my back professionally. This may be difficult for some couples to understand. I get that and wonder if maybe it's because they didn't have role models like ours.
While people don't always encourage working moms, I do think we've come a long way. Things are getting better. Back when I was in 3rd grade, my teacher once commented that she was sad for me. Her comment was prompted by the fact that my dad volunteered to attend a class field trip. Dads didn't do that very often back then. My mom had been very busy with job deadlines, and so my dad, who we didn't see as much during the workweek, was thankful to be able to attend. And even at that young age, I remember thinking the teacher's comment was odd because it didn't make me feel sad. I was glad he could come! When I told my mom how my teacher felt, she told me that people said weird things to her too. She also told me that it was "none of their business". I grew up in Chicagoland, where plenty of moms worked, so it's a little surprising that people weren't more supportive.
My husband also endured some negativity because his mom worked. He grew up in a small farming community in rural Missouri with a population of ~1,000. His mom was very ambitious and ran her own tax business. She was almost 41 years old when he was born, and, get this, he was born in April! That meant she was back at work (finishing tax returns) just days after he was born. He was her fourth kid, so by the time he arrived she knew the routine and just did what needed to be done. Her husband, my husband's dad, always supported her work, but apparently it bothered some other people. While she is considered a pillar of the community, she's also been considered "peculiar" by at least a few. My husband told me that once, when he was in school, he got into a fight with someone who made fun of him because his mom worked. And when he misbehaved at school, teachers told him it was because his mother "neglected him".
Hopefully our kids won't have any stories like these. Lots of parents I know, including my husband and me, work very hard to prove the remaining doubters wrong. And we'd like to think that our parents already have.