Over the last eight years since my fantastic son, Shane, came into my life, there have been a fair amount of occasions when I have been made to feel like less of a parent because I work for a living and "abandon" my child each day.

It comes from moms who are (presumably) lucky enough to have plenty of income rolling into their households thanks to their spouse, those who can have the luxury of spending nearly every waking moment with their son or daughter.

Occasionally, though, that criticism has come from women who do little to further their own financial situation and instead rely on the state and federal government to provide them with all they and their children need (i.e., my food stamps, my housing assistance, my MaineCare, etc.). You get the idea.

In the first scenario, my thought has always been hey, good for you and your children. I do not doubt there is a good deal of benefit to being home with your child rather than working homework, laundry and bath time around a 40-plus-hour schedule. I certainly wish I could give more of myself to my son than I have been financially able to over the last several years. In fact, I would give anything to have some of that time I missed with him back, believe me.

In the latter scenario, I will only say, "must be nice."

To those who believe I am doing my child a disservice by working for a living, I would ask them to consider a couple of things about what I may be teaching my son through my everyday actions.

For starters, I get up at the same time each day, get my son ready for school and prepare for my own workday simultaneously. There's a constant lesson about multi-tasking, the importance of responsibility and — yup, I'm going to say it — work ethic.

I may not be right there every time he falls and scrapes his knee or when he jumps off the bus with his latest reading award, but rest assured that I make sure he is always in good hands when I am away at work. My parents have been there for him since the day he was born, and they love and care for him just as I would. I see every minute he spends with his grandparents — or uncles, aunts and other adult relatives, for that matter — as gifts to my child, because he is fostering relationships that are independent of me and have developed in their own way.

Someone once said it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe that wholeheartedly. I have found it helpful for Shane to get to know the people in his family and within my circle of lifelong friends, because we all see the world in a different way and all of us have important life experiences to share with him. I can tell Shane what it was like for me to grow up in the Belfast area, for example, but my brother or father could give him very different perspectives on that, and I feel those are equally useful.

Because I spend much of my week at work, I go out of my way to do special things with him when I am off. We hike, we watch movies together, he tells me all about his favorite airplanes from the World War II era and I tell him about what I was like when I was his age. I teach him how to play Frisbee and hit a baseball (he's getting pretty good at both activities), and he is trying very hard to show me how to be a good hacky sack player (my progress has not been so great, but it's still fun trying).

I may not physically there for him all the time, but I know the time I do spend with him makes all the difference in the world.

One Saturday morning not long ago, he told me he was going to be a doctor when he grew up so he could take care of me. That tells me that I am raising a child who not only knows his role as an adult will be to take care of himself and his own family one day, but one who is thoughtful beyond his years.

That's something I can be proud of any day of the week, whether I am busy at work or enjoying a day off with my wonderful little man.

And that works for me.