“But Mom, I don’t wanna eat breakfast at school! Why can’t I stay home and eat?” wailed Kirsten, nine-years-old. She looked plaintively at her mom and waited for her to answer.
Connie was miffed. I don’t need this, she thought.
An engineer and mother of two, she had scaled back to part-time work when Kirsten was born. It was ideal---professional continuity, business networks, and limited hours so she could stay involved in her children’s busy lives.
At her most recent performance review, Connie’s boss stressed that career advancement required full-time work. If she’d bump back up to full-time, he’d give her the most demanding projects so she’d get ahead faster. Of course the time commitment would be demanding too.
It looked good to Connie. She thrived on positive feedback at work—but received almost none in motherhood. She loved diving into a project, focusing without interruption—a rare experience with kids around. Her job made her feel needed and valued. Mothering garnered no such praise from her friends and co-workers.
So Connie said yes. An extra 15 or 20 work hours every week shouldn’t matter too much to her husband and kids.
They’d adjust, right?
But Kirsten didn’t – and Connie failed to look beyond the “breakfast” complaint and see the heartache of her daughter again that morning.
How to Save Your Family By Embracing Motherhood
Connie missed the point—Kirsten’s reluctance was not about breakfast, but about time, family, and relationships.
Kids need their moms—at every stage. A mother’s gift of time lays a strong foundation for healthy adulthood, built on love, security, affirmation and significance.
And in a child’s first year, mom’s full-time presence is crucial.
A new international study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development sounds the alarm over mothers, like those in the U.S. and the U.K., who rush back to work—even part-time-- before their children are a year old. Compared to children of stay-at-home moms, kids of working moms had more limited vocabularies by age five and showed significant deficits in reading and math by age seven. Earlier research links a child’s time in day care with heightened aggressiveness and behavioral problems. Surprisingly, the children of better-educated moms are “even more affected,” in both achievement and behavior. Children whose mothers return to work within six months suffered the most.