(Adobe Stock photo)

There’s this massively frustrating stereotype about CEOs and business owners. It’s that we were handed everything on a silver platter and that we have the freedom and flexibility to take our “billions” of dollars and do whatever we want.

Sadly, those who run their mouths with those assumptions are often massively out of touch with reality and don’t understand the struggles that business leaders face.

Alison Podworski is the founder of Alison May Public Relations. She and her firm handle my publicity along with the public relations of countless other businesses. She’s not just my publicist – she’s become a good friend.

I want to share with you a little that I’ve learned about Alison … and then the letter she wrote to her daughters that, as a fellow business leader and a parent, brought tears to my eyes.

Alison recently shared with me that when she was pregnant with her first daughter, she did everything to stay home with her. She wanted to be there for her first steps, first words, and first day of school. She managed to work part-time, which was the perfect balance.

Fast-forward to 2016 and two more children. She now owns a business and is at work more than at home. She loves living the life of an entrepreneur, but with this business comes a whole new set of problems.

Her daughter recently asked if she loves work more than she loves her. She shared with me that it was perhaps the most painful question she’s ever been asked.

And so her response wasn’t necessarily one that her daughters would understand NOW … but will hopefully understand as they get older. Here’s the letter she wrote to them:

Dear McKenna, Addison and Hannah,

You are sometimes asleep as I go to work. Other times, you are in bed before I get home. I know that you want me there all of the time. For the next 10 years, you will probably ask me the same thing, “why do I work so much?” This is extremely hard to understand. I know. But, someday, you will.

Some of your friends have moms who are always there. And some of your friends have moms who work, but are still at home more than I am. They probably have better meals and aren’t late to science fairs. Their birthday parties may have cool themes and homemade cupcakes, while I pay someone to make yours. And I bet that they aren’t checking their phone every hour while on vacation or working (like I am now.)

I am sorry that I am not home with you as much as you would like, but that does not mean that I don’t love you more than anything in this world.

As a mother, it is extremely difficult to see you cry. To hear you beg me not to go to work. To hear you ask me if I love work more than you. This breaks my heart.

My sweet girls, I need you to understand that I will NEVER love anything in this world more than you. But, I also want you to know that I do love my job. I need you to understand why I work.

I work because it is my passion. Do you know when you go on the soccer field or dance on stage and have the time of your lives? I want you to think about how you feel when you work so hard at something and you succeed. Either you score a goal or you have a flawless performance. That is how I feel about my job. I truly love it. I am challenged. I am valued. And I am really good at it. Just like you are in sports, dance and in school.

I work to inspire you. When I started my own business, I had one client and we could barely pay our bills. But, I NEVER gave up. I stayed up late, got up early and worked my butt off.  I still do, now more than ever. Nothing comes easy. You need to know that in life, if you want something, you must work for it. Don’t ever make excuses, blame others or expect a handout. You are not entitled. You get what you put into things. There are many times that I would rather be doing something fun with you instead of sending invoices or doing my taxes. But I have to and you will understand … someday.

I work because I have to. Many moms do not have the option to stay home and raise you. You live in a nice house, you take vacations, you go to fun places and you do many after school activities that you enjoy … all because I work.

I work to make a difference. I don’t save lives or help the less fortunate, but I do help businesses succeed.

I work because many women do. It’s not just dads who are successful. I want you to understand that your mom is just as valuable in the workforce as your father.

I work because I am really good at it. I am a great publicist. And, it’s not bragging. It is something that I am proud of. If you are good at something, don’t ever deny it. Confidence is beautiful.

I work because I love you. Everything I do is for you. I may not be there all of the time and I will have to work a little while on vacation. But, I will ALWAYS love you more and nothing will ever change that.

For the moms out there reading this, whether you stay at home, work part-time or barely make it home for bedtime, please don’t beat yourself up. Please know that you are amazing and your children love you more than anything. You are doing a great job. We really need to remind ourselves of that fact.

Love,

Mom

Alison Podworski is the owner of Alison May Public Relations. She is also a keynote speaker on public relations, crisis communications and reputation management. You can find Alison on Facebook and LinkedIn.