Yesterday, I read a post on what not to say to working moms. As a working mom myself, I nodded right along and reflected on those moments in the past 19 months since I've been back to work that people, even well-meaning people, have said things that have made my toes curl with the effort to not retort back or cry. It was nice to know that other working moms have heard these things too.
Then, I read the comments. Lots of nodding along like me, but also lots of stay-at-home moms who took great exception to what was said--and proceeded to SAY to the author many of the things the article addressed. My blood boiled, toes curled, as per usual.
I started thinking about WHY, whenever anyone says something about whether they work or stay at home, the "opposite" type immediately attacks.
And my conclusion: Fear. Guilt. Defense Mechanism.
We are all trying to do this parenthood thing "right," as if there even is such a thing. We all want to believe that the choices we make are the ones that will set our kids up for success, for happiness, for a fulfilling life. The decision to stay home or to work is a huge one, and these options appear to be diametrically opposed. One scenario has your kid with you most waking moments; the other has your kid placed in the care of another trusted individual for a large part of the day. It may be a daycare teacher, or it may be a grandmother or aunt, or it may be a nanny--but it's "not you."
How can both of these routes be "right"?
Underlying many of the comments I read from stay-at-home moms yesterday was judgment. "You had kids only to have someone else raise them." At the same time, an article about the challenges stay-at-home moms face would surely have the same types of comments from working moms: "Quit whining about how overwhelmed by your kids you are, at least you get to see them all day."
In my experience, if you judge someone, there's some part of you that feels insecure. Admittedly, underlying some of my thoughts about stay-at-home moms is jealousy. Though I find fulfillment at work, I wish I could be home with my kid during these early years. But our financial choices have led us to a place where that's not possible. So, I work. Others, I know, could stay home but choose to work. Others make incredible sacrifices in order not to work. Others have to stay home and desperately want to work.
Regardless of why we do what we do, we need to keep this in mind: We are all mothers.
I have grown to detest labels. Working Mom. Daycare Kid.
I am more than a "working mom." I reject that label and all of the stigmas and assumptions that come along with it.
I am a mother. I am a mother who works outside the home. I am a mother who makes up songs. I am a mother who lives for snuggle time. I am a mother who breastfed for 19 months. I am a mother who runs her hand over a hot forehead to gauge temperature. I am a mother who gives raspberries on a belly. I am a mother who often dresses her son in socks that don't match. I am a mother who cherishes her son.
I am a mother who trusts that the sum of all of our parenting choices is what counts. I guarantee: Among the ranks of the most successful people, and the least, are people whose mothers worked. And whose mothers stayed home. And whose mothers breastfed. And whose mothers gave exclusively formula. And whose mothers loved them and whose mothers maybe didn't.
Mothers who work and mothers who stay at home--we all do the best we can. Let's stop labeling each other, pointing at each other in judgment, and allowing niggling doubts about ourselves hold us back.