I get it all the time. The look. The look from other parents, the look from my kids’ teachers at school, the look from my coworkers; I even get the look from some of my own family members. You know, the look that says, “How can you possibly choose to be a flight attendant mother, and still look at yourself in the mirror every day?”I am a flight attendant. My career choice often takes me away from my family for days, sometimes even weeks at a time. And it can be devastating. I have struggled for years over feeling immense guilt each time I walk out the door and onto a plane.I have spent too many hours being angry at myself for not being able to adequately express the necessity of working and angry at anyone who suggested that I simply didn't want to be home badly enough.

I can hear it in their voices:”I just don’t know how you do it! I can barely stand to be away from junior for a few hours, much less days.””Wow, so you fly to Hawaii?? That’s a rough life.” (Insert sarcasm here).”When I decided to have children, I knew it was my responsibility to stop working and stay home with them.””I can’t imagine letting everyone else raise my kids.”And on and on…

The judgement from others doesn’t even begin to compare to the crushing guilt I have brought upon myself. I have been hard on myself. There have been plenty of times when I have thought I must be a terrible mother for working. I have spent countless nights crying myself to sleep in lonely hotel rooms. I have missed birthday parties and holidays so the flying public could make it to theirs. I have missed school presentations and soccer games and a few first moments too…and I have tried to gracefully disregard the looks that say, “If you’d only make a few sacrifices and stop being so selfish, you could be at home too.”

Fact: I am jealous of moms that can stay at home every day with their kids. And I admire them.

You may ask me then, “Why do you keep flying?” Flying is my career, not my job. It provides half of our family’s household income as well as insurance benefits for my family. It is financially and medically beneficial for me to work. Cutting the cable is not enough to afford to keep me home (we don’t watch cable, anyway). My husband and I are preparing for our children’s futures: investing in their future education, and our retirement.My flight attendant career allows me to be home all day, every day for several days in a row. My time with my children is qualitative if not quantitative. My time and my energy is on them while I am home. We wake up together, we plan our day together, we do homework together, we read together, we play together and I tuck them into bed at night. I have the experience of a stay-at-home mom as well as the pride of being a professional in the workplace.I have the opportunity to teach my daughter’s what it means to have an independent, professional career, and to show them the importance of find a loving man that will support them in the pursuit of their dreams; whatever they may be.

For anyone that have met my children, you can not deny the fact that they are happy children. Some of the happiest I have ever known, in fact. I am immensely proud of them. They go to an amazing school, where their father and I take an active role in their education. This includes teaching them that the world extends beyond the state they live in; and even their country.

I have recently reached an epiphany: that by loving my job and the company I work for, and by pursuing my personal ambitions, I am fulfilling myself. I am creating within myself a better culture and in doing so, I am teaching my children to follow their dreams, even if it means doing something that isn’t necessarily socially accepted, understood or the norm. I have the opportunity to teach them to constantly better themselves, to consistently chase their dreams and to see those pursuits come into fruition.

There is so much pressure on moms today to get it right; to get it all right, all of the time. To read to their children 20 minutes a day and make sure they pass that math test, and to be sure they always eat their fruits and vegetables; to have a clean house and have the taxes done too. Moms, please do not succumb to the pressure but simply remember to love your children. Do the best you can. Do this, and you will succeed.

At the end of the day, I am just a mom, doing the very best I can, trying my hardest to raise my children to become respectable people, trying to create a wonderful life for them, and to support them the best I know how. So the next time you see me pick my kids up from school in my flight attendant uniform, remember to keep your judgement in check and know that I love them more than life and rest assured, they know it too.