Right after I became a mom, I was lucky enough to be able to spend the first seven months at home getting to know my baby, bonding with him, and adapting to motherhood. After those first precious months went by, I found a job and started pursuing higher education by taking some college classes. I knew I would become a working mother.

I’ve earned my degree since then, but I’ve never stopped working. Sometimes I held two jobs while other times I worked one main job to bring in enough income to support us. I’d be lying if I said that I enjoy working all the time and don’t think about spending time with my son instead.

But if the tables were ever to turn and I’d be able to stop working and stay home with him all day, I don’t think either he or I would ultimately be happy deep down.

When I look back, some mornings were hard as I pleaded with him to get out of bed and then dropped him off at daycare when he didn’t want to go. As a single mom at the time, I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

Even if I wanted to stay home and parent him full-time, I couldn’t.

Now, I’m not quite a single mom anymore, as I am a newlywed, but I am still a primary earner in our household, and my income makes a big difference and contributes to our overall lifestyle.

These days, my son still has a hard time waking up in a pleasant mood on weekday mornings. But when he does wake up in a good mood and walks past me getting ready for work in the bathroom, he always says the same thing: “I like what you’re wearing, Mommy.”

This is followed by my favorite daily affirmation from him, “I love you. You’re the best mommy ever.”

I thank him graciously because he can never say those phrases too many times — they will always warm my heart. When he goes off to school and I go to work, I no longer feel guilty for being a working mom.

My son still adores me and thinks I’m the best mom ever, even though I work more than 40 hours per week. Why can’t I cut myself a break and adopt that same mindset?

As moms, we’re often too hard on ourselves and try to be everything to our kids.

We want to wipe every tear, correct every mistake, and console them for every moment they experience any sadness. In reality, that just isn’t possible.

According to a study from the University of Maryland, it was discovered that the pressure to spend so much quality time with children can stress moms out so much that it can actually make them worse parents.

The study actually suggests that moms can focus on other responsibilities — like earning more money and managing the household — and do so guilt-free because the amount of time they spend with their children actually has little to no impact on their academic or psychological success.

In my personal opinion, based on past experience, it’s always been more about the quality of time versus the quantity of time that you spend with your child. Because I work both outside and in my home, I cherish the free time I get to spend with my child that much more. I focus on productive and meaningful things that we can do together to make the most of our time.

Not only do my work responsibilities allow me to cherish the free time I have, but they also contribute to my overall happiness and to the quality of my family dynamic. Being a parent is no doubt the best and most rewarding job ever, but I also love that I’m able to hold a valuable role outside of that and pursue other aspirations and passions through my work.

I am very transparent with my son when it comes to explaining why I work and how we all benefit from it.

Contributing to my family’s lifestyle by bringing in an income also helps put food on the table and clothes on our backs. It also creates more options and possibilities for our finances. My goal is to be able to provide experiences and opportunities for my children that I didn’t have myself due to a lack of money.

On mornings when I’m tired and just want to go back to bed and abandon working for the day, I know my son is watching me and learning from my work ethic, which motivates me to be a good example and keep pushing forward toward success.

Money definitely isn’t everything, but if I can help my son to attend college without taking out any student loans, and if I can cover unexpected expenses on his behalf without compromising my strong bond and good relationship with him, that makes this mom delighted.