I just recently read a comment on a friend's blog about her decision to stay home for her next baby girl.. while I don't want to be part of the already ridiculous fervor of the so-called "mommy wars", the comment struck a nerve with me. Especially because, the comment's last sentence meant that (although I know the comment has nothing to do with me and I could just be projecting here) the choice of going to work means that one's priorities aren't straight. In any case, stay at home, work at home, work outside of home, no one should frown upon a mother's decision to go back to work or not go back to work. Period. Couldn't it be, Good for you. Do what is right for your family. No judgement. No backlash for the other choices that one doesn't make. And what about the fathers? No one frowns upon them for taking only 2 days off, or 2 weeks off from work to be around when the baby is born. But when men are the ones that stay home, everyone is quick to applaud, to pat them on their backs and recognize how supposedly outstanding that act is. As if to say, we know you have much more important things to do, yet the sacrifice you've made to stay home - good for you. Yes, true good for you - but fathers are parents too. Another stay at home dad who wrote an article said that he gets these looks all the time. Charlie has said he's gotten the look too, whenever he is with our kids, like at the park. He's been told -"Aww good for you for giving mama a break" - Because our society believes that the whole job of raising a kid is only up to the mom, and the mom alone.
During Jax's first year, Charlie stayed home because it was the most economically way our family could live. It was a hard decision. Of course, I wanted to stay home. Of course, I didn't want to stop Charlie's career growth (in becoming a credentialed teacher) but it's what made sense to our family at that time. After a year of living on one income - it became clear that we couldn't survive this way any longer, especially if we wanted more kids. We also realized, what was best for our family's future was to have Charlie pursue his dream of becoming a credentialed teacher. Since 3 years from now, he will have been (we hope) working for a school he believes in, and one that believes in him (they have a credential program, that in the end - we will only pay about $1000 out of pocket. One that allows him to work while he earns his credential). A school that is also open to K-12 and where we hope to have our kids enrolled in. A school that will retain him and pay him a good salary (fingers crossed). He is surely making a mark there now and has become indispensable (good job honey! ew, I don't call him honey..blehck).
I feel that it's comments like the one that was left on my friend's blog that help to perpetuate the divide among us parents. When really, as parents, we need to support each other and not pass judgement. Sure, I'm only human and on some occasion have fallen prey to the tug of war. All the talk of "mommy wars", "mommy guilt" - it's propaganda and we all buy into it..but you are mom enough. We are here to just do the best we possibly can to provide as much as we can to raise loving, caring and well-rounded funny little humans.
Often I have this conflict about wearing my choices and or decisions on my sleeve (or my car's bumper) because I don't want the message to be - that my belief is above yours. You shouldn't have to diminish other people's feelings and or their choices in order to have your own decision be what is right for you. I realize that since I have a blog, that yes, most of my choices and decisions are out there on display, and I struggle from time to time thinking I might be offending someone. And surely, this isn't my intention.
I realize we live in a competitive world, and this conflict of mine may be just a symptom of that world.. But as a parent I try to teach my kids to be compassionate of others, to not hit, or bite, or push and to share. So it should be standard that I practice what I'm preaching...