Four Generations of Working Mothers

Jan 25, 2009

It hit me the other day that I am the fourth generation of working moms in my family, on both sides. While many young families are learning the ropes of having two working parents for the first time without a reference in their own lives, I have the luxury of knowing it’s been done since my Great Grandmother Kingery. I don’t know how she did it, but I know she worked hard her whole life, lived independently for years, and the legend lives on that she walked the hills in Colorado until she died at 103.

I have a lot to live up to.

My Grandmother Betty, on my Dad’s side, was a teacher with a Masters Degree. Advanced degrees in those days were rare and impressive. I never fail to see the magnitude of this accomplishment. My other Grandmother Betty, on my Mom’s side, worked hard in nursing homes and other jobs until she retired. My own mother started working again when I was 2 and worked while going back to school full time. It’s a pattern you can see repeated over and over in my family history.

The women in our family are strong, classy, and determined. They tend to work hard and stay married. They set standards and live up to them and believe, no, demand that their children do the same. It’s not an easy life, not unlike raising cattle or monkeys while simultaneously applying makeup and keeping the grey out of your hair and receiving awards for your hard work.

I seriously have a lot to live up to.

I’m certain they struggled with balance. I’m sure they had guilt for balls dropped. I know they were tired even if they never admitted it. I believe they cried in their bathrooms some days because the pressure was too much. I hope so, at least, because I know they were human, women, and my family. And I have to believe they struggled so I can remember that struggle is ok. The crying is ok. The pressure is real but we will all be ok.

I work hard to find the balance. I work hard to meet expectations, both internal and external. I work to remember it’s been done in my family for a century. That, maybe, it’s my destiny to use my graduate degree and pursue a career while having a family.

And I work to remember I will fail some days but it does not make me a failure.

It makes me human.


*Grandma Betty with Oma: 1949.


  1. It makes me human.


    and loveable

    and perfect.

    By Allison Worthington ( @fussypants ) on 2009 01 25

  2. It makes me appreciate my family more.  It makes me proud to know that my son is proud of me. 

    I’ve cried.  I’ve dropped balls all over the place. 

    And yet - he’s a great kid and I’m a better person for all I’ve learned - from my bosses, my coworkers, and my family.  How do you subtract one from that and still end up you?

    Thanks Mrs. Flinger!

    By Ree on 2009 01 25

  3. I was destined to be a fourth generation divorcee but so far I have avoided that exit on this subway ride of marriage. My great grandmother was married twice though I’m not sure she ever worked. My grandmother was married 4 times. The first time she was divorced with one son. The second marriage she lost her husband in a car accident when her first son was 7 years old and my mother was 3 months old. I know she started working then and never really stopped. She was married once in between then and her current husband. They have been unhappily married for nearly 50 years. But she worked and worked. She still has trouble sitting still. My mother had me when she was 19 and divorced my dad not long after so has been working for a long time. She’s on her 3rd marriage and finally found one to stick I think (20 years in). I also work, but I’m trying stay married. I’ve made it 10 years so far. Feels like a record. I hope to “do it all!”

    By fruitlady on 2009 01 26

  4. Love it. Awesome. Great pov girl. I can’t wait to see you!

    By Michelle Lamar on 2009 02 02