A few weeks ago I wrote a post where the goal was to debunk the myths of the stay at home mom. You know, that we sit in the couch and eat bon bon's all day! While most of the feedback was pretty positive it bothered me that moms who work outside of the home were upset that stay at home moms complain that they have it so hard. While I never said I had it any harder than anyone else, their comments got me thinking. Especially after a Facebook thread where moms of all kinds went after each other on the merits of the working mom and the stay at home mom.
Since the post I have given the name "Mom" a lot of thought. And since I have been a working out of the home mom, a stay at home mom and a working in the home mom, I thought I would get a few things straight, from my perspective, of course.
My oldest daughter was in childcare until she was 13 months old. I dropped her off at 3 months old, cried all the way to work and back for months and struggled to find a way to make it all work. Emotionally, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Handing my crying baby, my happy baby, my poopy baby... MY baby off to someone else to take care of from 7am to 6pm was excruciating. But in no way, ever, did I feel like I was dropping off my beautiful baby daughter whom I had carried for 9 months, stayed up nights with, nursed and loved to the depth of my soul, for someone else to raise!
As a working mom, it drove me absolutely mad when people said that. "Someone else raises your child."
No. They don't. Does someone else spend the bulk of the 5 day week with her, yes. Do they cloth her, feed her, change her, love her, rock her, console her and teach her right from wrong? Yes. But they were also following the parameters I had set in the beginning and modified as she grew. She cared for my child. She loved my child. But she was MY CHILD and it was solely up to me to make the decisions that affected her life. So, no... no one else raised my child just because she was in child care.
Nor did my responsibilities at home stop just because I worked out of the home. I still had to make dinner, do the dishes, do the laundry, be up nights with my child and tend to everything else to help the household run smoothly. I did have help from my husband and that was nice. But it all still had to be done! So my job did not stop when I got home as many would have had me think at the time.
When I started staying home, a blessing that fell from the sky, to be honest, I did think I was on easy street. I'll admit it. I no longer had to get up and get dressed and get my kids to child care and sit in traffic. I did not have to deal with the people I did not like at work and I did not have to count the days until the next holiday just so I could have that extra time with my child.
And it was nice.
For a few months.
And then I was home with a 14 month old and a newborn. My husband was working 12 hour days for the luxury of my staying home, my mother lived hours away and my mother in law liked to travel. I was alone with two kids, two dogs, little money to do things since we lost an income and... honestly, lonely. I was busy and the days went fast but the conversation consisted of goo goo ga ga and 'do you have poop again?'
I missed the lunches with my work friends, the afternoon trip to the snack shop, the ability to pick up the phone and chat with someone uninterrupted. I had new friends, and I cherished them and still have them today, but they were busy raising their young families as well. I missed make up, ironed clothes and my husband's help. Because he was on the side of thinking that I did not need help with anything because I was home all day and had time to get things done.
As I got used to the routine, made more friends who stayed at home and had another daughter, the challenges changed. I found myself suddenly defending staying home, telling people more and more that I was a stockbroker in my former life so that I, personally, had some validity to them. Because being a stay at home mom, as wonderful as it was, had stolen my identity, my pride in my intelligence and my ego.
I felt that if I told people being home with three young children was hard, their eye rolls and smirks showed that I was selfish, ungrateful and unimportant.
On the last few years, I have become a work from home mom. This blog is time consuming, demanding and important to me. But now, I am getting comments that I spend too much time on it, have traded it for my children's childhood and that if I have time to post something, I have time to clean a toilet, do some laundry or some other task that stay at home moms are universally responsible for.
Any way you slice it, motherhood itself, in its demands and responsibilities, is just hard. And we all deal with the comments. And, sadly, I find the harshest critics and most outspoken about how a mom lives to be other moms. It makes me sad.
We need to form a united front and make motherhood a bonding experience and not a reason to tear one another apart. The issue of who has it harder should be obsolete. Working, non working, married, single, rich, poor, one child, ten kids, birth children or adopted. The stories can change but the support needs to remain the same. The ultimate respect of being a mother trumping all myths and unintelligible comments. Especially between one another.
We are mothers. And no matter how you categorize us, we will always be mothers. And we should form a united front. No matter what anyone else says.
Find more Motherhood Posts at My Recent Writings