Working Mom/Stay-at-Home Mom
A few months ago I was at the laundromat talking with a woman, a stranger. There wasn’t anything notable about the conversation until she asked what I did for work. I told her I was a stay-at-home mom. To which she replied, “I could never stay home all day. I like to work too much.” I smiled and our conversation moved on.
The laundromat conversation was not the first time something like that had been said to me. I remember the first time it happened. A year after I had my first baby my husband and I went to a dinner event. We started talking with the couple that shared our table. The woman told us about her work and then she asked what I did. I told her I stayed home with our baby. She said, oh, turned her back to me, spoke to her husband and mine, but didn’t talk to me for the rest of the evening. It was the first time I had experienced that reaction to my stay-at-home status. It hurt to be dismissed. I suppose she assumed I had nothing interesting to say. Maybe I didn’t, I mean, I did spend all day with someone who drooled and messed their own pants.
There is no doubt in my mind that working moms have experienced snubs at their choice too, but of a different nature. I’ve heard comments like, “I could never work and let someone else raise my child.” As the daughter of a working mom, those words make me cringe. I watched my mom leave for work at 7:30 in the morning come home at 6:30 at night for years. You can’t tell me it’s not hard to work outside the home and still manage to get the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and care giving done. Not once did I ever feel like someone else was raising me.
Being a mom is hard work. Being a working mom is hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. (I now find myself in the work-from-home mom category which is, you guessed it, hard.) Let’s face it, the underhanded comments about mothering choices aren’t going to stop. No matter what choice you make, you will find someone who will criticize you for it. Guaranteed.
What we can do is be supportive of other moms, whatever their working status. We can compare notes on kids or talk about topics that have nothing to do with kids. We need not criticize or dismiss someone because they have made a different choice.
We certainly don’t need to focus on whose job is more difficult.
We are all moms. We all experience the difficulty of being a mom. But we all get to experience the joys and triumphs of motherhood too, like when a 4 year old puts his twiggy arms around your neck and whispers, you’re pretty. We’ve all laughed so hard we’ve cried because of our child’s latest fascination, like the 6 months my daughter spent obsessed with plungers. (So glad she outgrew that.)
We all try to do what’s best for our families. Let’s spend a little less time criticizing and judging, instead let’s support one another in our mom choices.