As a working mom who had a working mom herself, I have been asked whether or not I ever resented my mom’s career. The answer is: yes. There are two moments that illustrate this that come to memory.
First, shortly after my mom returned to work my second grade class took a field trip to the Philadelphia zoo. I was sad that my mom could not come along as a room mom and that instead I had to join a group with a friend’s mom. Mine had packed my lunch and given me a small stipend to spend on a treat. Like any seven-year-old girl with cash in her pocket, I swiftly spent my money in the gift shop on a bouquet of peacock feathers and a plastic white tiger figurine. Then, our group took a break from ogling the animals to enjoy our brown bag lunches, but when I opened mine I found a peanut butter sandwich and a V8 drink. It was at least 90 degrees outside, my mouth was plastered shut with peanut butter, and the last thing I wanted was a thick and savory V8. I hated V8 and wondered why my mom would pack this. Was she trying to show the other room moms that although absent she cared enough about me to pack a healthy lunch? Was she so busy working that she forgot to buy me a juice box and grabbed whatever was left in the refrigerator? Or did she forget what I like to drink and just took a guess? My mouth watered as I watched my friends buy lemonade and ice-cold water with their moms from the refrigerated umbrella stands. I glared at my peacock feathers and white tiger that left me without enough cash to join them, but more so I sat there furrowing my brows at my working mom who not only packed the wrong drink, but wasn’t there to come to my rescue.
The second episode occurred years later as I played varsity tennis. Our team would stop at the Garden State Parkway rest stop and call our parents to meet us at the school in twenty minutes. The coaches planned this to minimize the amount of time they had to wait around for our parents to reclaim us before heading home to their own families. My mom was often running late, but on one night I sat unclaimed on the curb long after the others with my increasingly anxious and annoyed coach. While attempting to make small talk to pacify him, I internally cursed my mom’s job for embarrassing me.
Now years later as I answer the question about whether or not I resented my mom’s career I laugh as I think of these two examples. The fact that I can only think of two examples over the course of nearly 23 years is remarkable in itself. In the first memory, I am a spoiled child with no cares beyond how to spend pocket change on a field trip. I learned about budgeting my money and being independent. In the second memory, I am a privileged athlete sharing conversation with my coach on a warm Fall evening. I learned that my mom’s attentiveness and punctuality were not measures of her love and that she had a life outside of being my chauffeur. My coach and I connected on a personal level, which we wouldn’t have had time for during a typical game night. So did I resent my mom’s career? Yes, twice. And if these were the injustices I survived as the daughter of a working mom, then I am happy to pass these on to my children.