Now that I’m a working mom, I’ve been paying more attention to the war.
Not the war in the Middle East. The war between working moms and stay at home moms (SAHMs). You won’t find coverage on CNN, but read any mommy blog or listen in at playgroup and you’re sure to get the latest.
On one side, working moms feel empowered. They don’t consider wiping butts and folding laundry a real job. They pride themselves on having it all.
The other side feels sorry for the poor working mom’s family. She may question their financial decisions that force the mom to work. She can’t imagine how someone could possibly be a good mother while working outside the home.
Neither side will state their views outright. Instead, they come in the form of muttered comments and snide remarks.
Can we say ENOUGH ALREADY??!!
I’ll tell you where I stand. I do think it is hard, if not impossible, to have it all at the same time. If you’re working 80-hour-weeks in order to climb the ladder, it’s going to be difficult to be there for the moments that make a family a family. There is a time for working long hours and achieving career goals, but when you have a young family probably isn’t that time.
80-hour-weeks aside, different things work for different families. Personally, I would have a hard time staying home full time with a baby. I treasured my maternity leave with the little one, but towards the end I wasn’t myself. I became needy for attention and resentful of the husband’s life outside the home. Taking care of the baby started becoming a chore and the cries weren’t so cute. Those feelings disappeared on my very first day back to work. I know myself well enough to know that I am happiest when I have a full plate. When I know my time with the baby is limited, I cherish every moment with him. I focus fully on him, with limited Facebook or TV distractions. The time I do have with him is quality. I have a flexible job that allows me to work from home two days a week (he still goes to daycare) and work flex time, so I’m trying to work very early hours so I can get off early and enjoy evenings with my boy. If I really wanted to, I could stay home full time. But I don’t really want to. I don’t even kinda want to. That might change as he grows up, or if we have multiple young children, or if our adopted kid(s) are having a tough adjustment. That’s what works for me, for now. And that doesn’t make me any less of a mother. If anything, I am a better mother when I have that balance outside the home.
But not everyone is that way. And you know what? That’s okay too. Someday, I hope we can withdraw the troops and accept that a good mother in one family may be a miserable mother in another. I think it’s time we start applauding our fellow women for doing the best they can instead of judging a family that doesn’t look like ours. What works for you?