Written by Michelle A. Travis
At the end of my two maternity leaves, I found myself dealing with very conflicting emotions. On one hand, I felt scared and guilty about leaving my two young daughters with someone else. On the other hand, I was looking forward to getting back to teaching future attorneys in my wonderful job as a law professor. Of course, that excitement itself induced another wave of guilt as I wondered how I could help my kids understand what it means to be a working mom.
Both of my daughters adored books. Books were how I launched conversations, shared new ideas, and inspired them to ask questions. So at the end of each maternity leave, I searched for children’s books that could enable us to talk about my return to the office. I was looking for books that would encourage my daughters to be proud of the work that I do outside our home and that would help them connect my mommy identity with my professional identity.
My search was both frustrating and illuminating. Most of the children’s picture books that I found about working moms were based on the assumption that kids are sad and lonely while their moms are at work. So the book narratives focused on various ways for kids to cope until their moms returned home each day. Needless to say, that wasn’t the message I was seeking (and it didn’t do much to allay my feelings of guilt).
So I vowed to write my own children’s book to fill the void. I wanted my book to help young children understand how their moms can do important jobs to make the world better, while still being the most loving and special caregivers in their lives. I wanted my book to show how the work that women do as moms is connected to the work that we do outside the home. I wanted my book to reveal that women care for our children and our communities with the same passion, dedication, and commitment.
I knew what the title of my book would be on the day that I packed by briefcase at the end of my first maternity leave. The title would be: My Mom Has Two Jobs. Although I knew that some might question calling motherhood a “job,” it’s important to recognize parenting as work. Motherhood is a labor of love, of course, but it’s still work. And we should value it as such.
Despite my grand plans, my own two jobs took over and the idea of writing a children’s book got pushed to the back burner. Somehow, a decade passed. But the idea kept nagging at the back of my brain. It took until my daughters turned twelve and ten for me to finally make good on my vow and publish a children’s book that celebrates working moms for all that we do both inside and outside of our homes.
On each page of My Mom Has Two Jobs, children proudly describe how their moms care for them in a special way, while also improving the world through their careers. The book includes diverse moms in many different roles, including a teacher, engineer, police officer, doctor, secretary, dentist, firefighter, nurse, lawyer, waitress, military sergeant, veterinarian, and pilot. I hope that the book will fuel children’s curiosity about their own moms’ careers and give moms a much-needed platform to talk with their kids about whatever jobs they do.
In selecting the careers that were highlighted in the book, I made sure to showcase the important work that women do at all ends of the economic spectrum—from waitresses to lawyers—because we all experience the joys and challenges of being working moms. I also included jobs that we traditionally associate with women, as well as jobs in which women are still breaking ground. In this way, My Mom Has Two jobs will disrupt gender role stereotypes and reinforce the idea that women can do anything. It may also inspire young girls to imagine themselves in exciting new roles and empower them to follow their own career goals.
Although my daughters are well beyond their picture book years, they have enthusiastically supported this project. One of my favorite moments of this journey was when they proudly posted pictures of My Mom Has Two Jobs on their Instagram accounts. For all the working moms who still have little ones at home and who are searching for a children’s book to help their kids celebrate all of our many important jobs, this book is for you.
Michelle Travis is an author and a law professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. For more information about her work: https://michelletravis.net/.
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