AddThis script

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

There are no winners

There is no winner when moms who work argue with moms who don't work. Aren't all moms, or at-home parents for that matter, on the same side of the fence? Everyone gets to make choices, for better and for worse.

In my previous post where I feel like I'm falling into some sort of lose-lose parenting trap, I said something that just can't be left without further lamenting: "Maybe working moms spend more quality time with their kids because they long to be with their kids all day?"

I definitely don't know the answer to that question, but it got me thinking. Since most of my chums are at-home moms, I really don't have a ton of perspective on the working-mom experience. So thankfully there have been some very informative pieces out there recently on what it's like to work, out of financial, emotional, or intellectual necessity.

Working mom fesses up

Bethany over at Writing Mommy had a great post called, "Confessions of a Working Mother" on Monday about her transition from working-at-home mom to working-at-an-office mom and how it comes together for her.

For those that have never done the work-at-home WITH children thing, it is EXHAUSTING. Totally, exhausting. If you think parenting is exhausting, combine that with deadlines, cold calls, constant firefighting, and early morning and late day calls at home...Unfortunately, I have found, in today's society, if you are a work-at-home mom with children. This is the reality. You live, breathe, eat, sleep mommyhood and workerhood simultaneously. A lot to juggle for anyone. Including the proverbial (and I believe mythical) super moms.


Sometimes there is no choice

Tertia is heading back to work in a couple of weeks and she's struggling with it. She is not trying to point fingers at moms who work or moms who stay home. She's just venting a bit and I think it's a really intersecting perspective. For her, going back to work in South Africa is simply a vehicle to provide her kids with a safe place to live and a shot at a better education. It's not about a meaningful career. It's about money. (Thanks to Half Changed World for pointing me to it)
If I want to live in a relatively safe suburb, if I want my kids to have access to a decent education, I have to work...Career? Who cares. It's all about earning money to live...I must say that I find that there is a slight, um, how can I put it, 'holier than thou' attitude that comes from *some* (not all!) SAHM's, a martyred air of having sacrificed all for their kids. Implicit implication that by not staying at home you are less of a mother, that you clearly love your kids less. I think that's unfair. I would if I could, I can't. I don't think SAHM's are better moms. I really don't, I just think they are luckier moms....Yes money doesn't buy you love, but I don't think being poorer means you love them more. Money doesn't buy you happiness but being poor certainly doesn't give it to you either.
At-home mom or bust

The topic of being able to stay home when you have kids versus having to go back to work and put the kids in daycare is a hefty one that plagues some of my friends who don't even have kids yet. In a recent email, Paralegal Friend said personal finances would probably send her kids to daycare. That likelihood could be a deterrent from having kids in the first place.
In my position both (Mr. Paralegal) and I need to work and if we have a child in a few years, I think I will be forced to go back to work financially and I really would love to be a stay at home mom and DO NOT want to send my child to day care - so sad to say we may not have kids for that reason alone. You really are lucky (Father in Chief) makes enough money to support you and (Toddler in Chief) - I am sure it is easy for me to say that cause child or no child if I quit work and was home I may flip out and not like it or get really bored.
Would love more perspectives. If you're feeling bold, type it up and hit publish.

3 comments:

  1. What bothers me most about this whole discussion regarding working vs. staying at home is how judgmental women tend to be. Neither working nor staying home are easy -- they both have their advantages and disadvantages, and everyone has to make the decision that works best or is most financially feasible for them. However, the judgments continue. I am in the middle of trying to make that decision myself. I have a son who is nearly three, and my husband and I would like to have another soon. At lunch today I walked to a bookstore and happened to flip through a new magazine called "tango" that looks terrible, but one of the cover stories concerned this topic, so I picked it up to read quickly. The woman who wrote it had some very nasty things to say about women who stay home, including questioning how smart they could be to make such a decision. She premised this by saying that when these marriages end (as some are going to do) the women who stayed at home are going to be unemployable. She then interviewed a several women who found themselves in this situation and can't find jobs. The writer ended by glowingly speaking of her choice to continue working and how well adjusted her children were, and what a smart thing to do it was. Perhaps for her it was. But I don't see why her choice has to be the "right" choice for every other woman as well. Why can't women acknowledge that what works for one may not work for another? If you work, terrific. If you stay home, well, thats terrific too. Why isn't it this way? The writer in this article also stated, extremely patronizingly, that today's "younger wives" are looking for an "easier, more comfortable" life by staying home with children. Seriously? Staying home with kids just is not easy nor particularly comfortable, particularly for someone used to the working world. And working when you have very young children isn't easy either -- juggling day care, illness, jobs, stress -- ugh. It can be a nightmare. But both sides also have their rewards. And whether one stays home or goes to work is a personal decision that the rest of us shouldn't be so quick to judge. What happened to women supporting one another? Is that just a myth?
    Whatever I choose to do, it will be the decision that I feel is best for me, and for my family. I would hope that other women would understand that, and not jump so quickly to judge.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, there are some of us that are right smack in the middle!

    I work part-time for an incredibly flexible company. Three days a week, I'm at the office being a WOHM. Four days a week, I'm home playing with the children being a SAHM.

    Oh, there are downsides, sure. I don't get much downtime. On my "home days," I don't do much laundry or dishes or cleaning while the kids are awake. (guilt from being away?) So that all waits until after they go to sleep. I don't get to watch much TV or read as much as I'd like. When I'm not with kids, I'm pretty much either working or cleaning.

    But I kinda like being in the middle. For me, it works. I was never much into "black or white." I've always been more a "many shades of gray" kind of gal...

    But one day a few weeks ago, I had these two things said to me on the very same day:

    1) "I don't know how you can let other people raise your kids."

    2) "How could you waste your career potential by staying at your part time job so long? Don't you want promotions and advancement?"

    So, you really can't win! ( :

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous1:23 PM

    I'm a WOHM. My DS was born the same year I got my MS degree in engineering. I knew I would go back to work right away. I am the youngest of two and knew 0 about babies and small children.

    We are blessed to have a wonderful daycare where the staff are very loving, educated in early childhood education, and the program is excellent with enriching daily activities. Stuff that I could never have come up with on my own (had I stayed home).

    I was raised by a SAHM who taught me that I could do it all. Of course, reality kicked in after DS was born...

    The first couple of years were HARD. I continued to nurse my DS and pumped 3x a day at work. That was exausting. When DS turned two, life became much easier.

    I try not to judge other women's decisions to stay home or continue working. In the DC area, there is a "DC Urban Moms" list. There was a "mommy war" debate about a month or so ago. It became very ugly and personal. I think each side is very defensive and insecure about their choices that they feel the need to validate their choices by criticizing the other side. We should "celebrate" the fact that we have a choice.

    I suppose, we should focus our attention to the bigger issues like having a national maternity leave program and quality childcare.

    ReplyDelete