I was a full-time working mom for years before I became the stay-at-home mom I am currently. I can say with 100 percent certainty that both are incredibly difficult and fulfilling in different ways. There are different demands within each role, different joys, and different struggles. No matter what role we choose though, we can easily feel as if we aren’t doing enough.

I would like to think that I have some decent insights from having been on both sides of the fence. One thing I have definitely learned? Every one of us—working or not—is doing what we do out of love. So in that spirit of love, I wrote you all a love letter as a little show of gratitude.

To the Working Moms,
You put in long days, and you never “clock out”. You give to your job endlessly, then you come home and care for your little ones endlessly, knowing other demands wait for you tomorrow as you head back to work. You provide for your family and put food on the table and a roof over everyone’s head. You are proud of the work you do; you should be. You are teaching your children the value of hard work and sacrifice.

But you also feel pulled in endless directions.

Sometimes, when someone asks you what you do for a living, you tell them, only to follow it with “why” you choose to work outside the home. You explain yourself in some way or another, as if you need to justify your choice to be a working mom. I’m here to tell you that you don’t. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You are working and caring for your family. But you aren’t only a mom. You are many things, and you don’t have to do anything but celebrate the many hats you wear (and also grab some coffee, because I know you’re tired.)

I also want to thank you.

Thank you for being an example I can point to when I tell my daughters they can be whatever they want to be.

Thank you for being in the working world as a mother—because the working world will only get more mom-friendly when there are more moms in it.

Thank you for being in the working world as a woman, too—because we bring insight and brilliance and wisdom that needs to be heard. We need all of you out there sharing ideas, quieting the “mansplainers” and running the world.

And thank you for giving so much to your family, and finding every single moment available to be with them while you juggle it all. You are doing what you do out of love and devotion, and you should be proud.

A former working mom

To the Stay-at-Home Moms,
You have long days and short nights, and you live where you work. So you never really “clock out” either. You love your days with your children, and are incredibly grateful for the role you play.

But it’s hard. Sometimes you feel like the only thing you have time for is caring for other people and things, and never yourself. Adult conversation is a precious commodity. While you also help put food on the table, it may be cold by the time you get around to enjoying it (just like your coffee.)

You manage finances and play the role of chauffeur, chef, personal shopper and washer of never-ending mountains of laundry. You volunteer at school, or go to school yourself. It can be a thankless job on many days.

Sometimes you also feel the need to justify your choice to be a stay-at-home mom. The conversation never seems to be as riveting when someone asks you what you do. Maybe you find yourself explaining that you actually have no down time either, despite not working in an office.

You pay the bills and bargain shop and wonder if you are doing the right thing for your family. You wonder if you could be doing more. Maybe you even miss being the woman who brought in a paycheck and got raises and promotions.

I want to thank you, too.

Thank you for showing your children that hard work takes on many forms, and that value doesn’t just come from a paycheck and a promotion. You work hard to find identities that add layers to your life above and beyond “Mommy.” You may even pursue your passions and interests if you can manage a spare minute to do so.

Thank you for speaking honestly about the challenges of staying at home, and the joys of it, too. You remind us that it is OK to have hard days, and that every single one of those is worth the reward.

Thank you for making the sacrifice that staying home requires. Because it may be wonderful, but it is a sacrifice nonetheless.

And thank you, most of all, for doing everything you do out of love and devotion to your family. You are raising the next generation of humans, and you should be proud.

A fellow stay-at-home mom

Hannah Angstadt-Gunning

Hannah is a former full-time working turned stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. She is a contributing writer and co-editor for Columbia SC Mom’s Blog. You can also find her at her blog, Palindromic Musings, where she writes about living with and navigating through grief, and on Twitter.  She is passionate about writing, painting, social justice, wine, and raising strong women. Hannah lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and two young daughters, and is an alumni of the University of South Carolina and devoted Gamecock fan.