Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stay at home vs. Working mothers

I received a message from a friend yesterday that really got me thinking.  This has been a very heated debate in the mommy-sphere for quite some time.  After asking for permission to copy the conversation, with some editing of course, I decided this was a topic worth some thought and investigating.  The following is the message from a friend that prompted the conversation:
 
 
 
 I was thinking today how annoying it is to see posts from stay at home moms that say things like "I am so glad that my husband loves me enough to let me stay home with the kids" or "I am so glad my husband works so hard so that I can stay home". Uhm hello... are they implying that working moms' hubbies don't love us, or that our hubbies are a bunch of bums? What's wrong with a relationship of sharing the responsibilities of the family (I know both of our husbands are fantastic cooks)-financials, kids, chores, etc. And why does everyone assume that working moms work because they 'have' to. I think there is something satisfying about having a job you enjoy and can make a difference in some way. I would argue, our husbands respect our independence- knowing we don't 'need' them for anything. But, instead, that we are in this relationship because we want to be. No obligations, just love.

More food for thought and I need a sounding board   For me personally, that's not to say I don't wish that I could only worry about what time I need to be at the library's circle time or what snacks to make for the play date. Because you know I wish I could be (my town's) very own June Cleaver. But it just won't work for us, but I don't believe its because my husband doesn't love me enough. Do you? And he works very hard. And so do I (no body knows the daily b.s. I put up with (at work)!! But I do it because I like contributing to something valuable,and I'll be able to provide a better future for these monkeys and us. Anyway, that whole thing has been on my mind today. Thanks Dear Abbey for listening
 

So, in my attempt to be completely unbiased, I have done a little research on the topic and found out that there is a lot of mud slinging on both sides of the debate.  It seems to be a fight over who is better: working moms or stay at home moms?  While, I'm sure that we can all agree that our first and foremost priority is our children, providing them love, attention and affection.  It seems that there is a
"I'm better than you because...." on both sides of the debate.  While working moms state that it is much harder to work outside the home and stay at home moms state that working moms don't provide the love and attention that their children need, it seems that we have lost site of the fact that we, as empowered women, now have a choice in the matter.  Just a short while ago, maybe 50 years ago, it was just assumed that women would marry, have children and stay at home.  This shouldn't be a matter of who loves their kids more.  It should be an argument over, are you happy with your choice? And if the answer is no, what can you do to change your circumstances?

I have personally known working moms that chose to work outside the home, worked because they had to financially, and worked because they genuinely love what they do.  All have been undoubtedly devoted to their children. Whether they work because they want to or have to, at the end of the day, they love their children.  I have also known working moms that hated working and suffered an immeasurable "mommy guilt" for leaving their children at daycare, with sitters or family members. 

I am a working mother by choice.  I tried the stay at home mom gig twice and it's just not for me.  I love my children with all my being but I am not a happy camper at home all day with two children.  I am too social, I thrive on adult interaction and conversation.  When I had Ivan, I stayed at home for the first four months and while it had it's good times, for the most part, I was miserable.  In fact, I attacked my husband on a daily basis with a barrage of questions when he came home.  "How was your day? What did you have for lunch?  Tell me about your day.  How did the such and such deal go?  Who did you work with today? Tell me about your meeting.  Anything, anything, anything!"  It was so overwhelming to him that he would have to tell me to slow down.  I really missed adult interaction.  I loved being there for my son's first smile, rolling over and first giggle but I REALLY missed the camaraderie of having co-workers.

When Luci came to town, my business had just closed and I was in a real dilemma about what to do with myself.  I had no educational degree and the only skills I had involved doing the thing that I had to walk away from in my own business.  I was really stuck.  I was 28 years old with no direction.  I was terrified that my loss of income would negatively affect our family, but somehow we managed.  We made lifestyle adjustments and I became more frugal in meal planning, grocery shopping and household shopping.  I stayed at home with the kids for eight months and it was actually better the second time around.  I made more of a daily schedule, talked to friends on the phone, and took the kids everywhere.  I also made plans to go back to school full time. 

I still stand by the fact that I am not stay at home mom material.  I love what I do, really like my co-workers and miss my kids when I 'm at work.  The old saying that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" applies here.  The more I am away from them, the more quality time I think we spend together.  Since we are not together 24/7, I try to make the time we are together really count. 

So back to the argument as stated above, is there a right or wrong in this debate?  My answer is no.  I think it relies mainly on the person.  I think that if you don't want to be a working mom and you have to be, you have to make the best of it or construct a plan to change your situation. I think if you are a stay at home mom and you don't want to be, then you should also construct a plan to change your situation.  But, please, if you make the choice to be a working mom or stay at home mom, please don't constantly complain that you hate what you are doing. 

I think the bottom line is that we need to stop pointing fingers to make ourselves look better.  We need to stop judging other women because of their situations.  (I am guilty of this and I am working on it.)  We need to quit making assumptions about others. Instead of tearing each other down, we need to provide love, support and understanding to one another.  We need to be a foundation of support for our fellow sisters and remember that above all, we all love our children.
 
 

6 comments:

  1. I believe our children benefit most from the people we are ~ not how we spend our time.

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    1. I completely agree, Bonnie. I think there is too much emphasis on the amount of time spent with our children and less about the people we are or the quality of the time spent.

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  2. As the old saying goes, the grass is always greener......

    I personally would've liked it if I could've afforded to work part time when my kids were young.
    As it happened life dealt me a different hand with a very sick husband and barely scraping by, there was no choice.

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    1. Exactly, Lorie! I always thought being a stay at home mom would be awesome. I even had all these lofty, rainbows and butterflies dreams of how I would be as a stay at home mom. Then reality hit and I realized that being a SAHM was definitely NOT for me. The grass is always greener!

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  3. I see this " mommy competition" all the time and I hate it. I mean, really?!?! We are all in this together....doing our best to figure all this parenting out, and non of us have perfected it. I have also been on both sides. I worked until my first was 18 months old and am now home with both my kiddos. I personally love it, even when I don't ;-) Either way, I am always making an effort to look at that other mom and not judge. I don't know her fully story, I'd be crazy to think that I know what her kids need, and actually I can probably learn a thing or two from her.

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    1. It's crazy isn't it? I agree that we need to stop being a Judgy McJudgerson and help support one another! Thanks for reading and relating.

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