Sigh. I really didn’t want to go here but I’m feeling a little sad today. I know we all think the grass is a little greener on the other side and that the other woman is a little luckier…sometimes we even judge a little bit (ok maybe a lot). I’m talking about the never-ending battle between the stay-at-home-mom and the working mom. And I’m sad today because I just overheard a mom at the grocery store complaining to the cashier that, “It must be nice to be at home with your kids and not have to rush around like a mad woman after work everyday”. Hmmm. I dash around like a mad woman all the time and I don’t work…outside my home. And no lady, it isn’t always “nice” to be a SAHM. I’m sad that this specific conversation continues.
I consider myself very lucky to be able to stay home. But it isn’t like I didn’t realize what it would really mean to 1) depend on Jose’s salary for everything that I consider a “need”, 2) put my career on hold and 3) give up a lot of personal creativity and growth that came with my career.
I have to admit that I have been jealous at some moms who can admit that for them it is easier to go to work than to stay at home. It takes a lot of guts to admit that! But secretly I feel proud that they recognize that my job is hard. I feel jealous because I think it takes a lot of confidence to say, “I rather go to work”, as if I haven’t achieved that sense of confidence to say to a working mom, “I rather stay home with my kids because it’s easier”. I have the confidence to speak up but it’s not like I go around saying in public, “how nice to sit on a train for an hour after work and unwind…without kids.” It’s just something I have to admit, we must all think these things but should we express them? Furthermore, is either option really easier?
Women can make their own decisions now and that is why comments overheard like that don’t sit well with me. When will we stop judging each other? Forget about women who can choose to work or not, what about women who really need to work? I’m talking about real middle class women who need the two incomes to make ends meet, the single moms, the divorced, or the widowed…the rest of us owe it to them to respect each other’s choices.
There is a great book out there that I have, The Mommy Wars, a compilations of short-essays written mostly by professional writers who defend their choice, that I recommend every mommy should read (edited by Leslie Morgan Steiner). It gave me a great perspective on the need or choice for a woman to leave her children under someone’s care and continue her career path. Once I read the perspectives of the women who chose like me, it empowered me and validated my decision to stay at home. Judging aside, why are we still unhappy with our choices?
The cartoon above caught my eye because it expresses exactly how a lot of us feel. As I listened to that mother complain to the cashier, I understood she felt down, defeated, that life was unfair…the way I feel many, many days. I’m learning every day that it isn’t easy either way. The more I surround myself with both SAHMs and working moms, I understand both perspectives. Sure, some days I feel blessed (especially on Monday mornings) that I don’t have lesson plans to turn in or chapters to read before class, but some days I miss that mental stimulation that only your chosen career, your passion, can offer you. And some days I’m just counting my blessings and promise myself to see the bigger picture.
What do you think about the mommy working conflict? Almost a world war or just a small battle for you? Love to know what you think!
Update: Interesting how last night’s comments in the political world are making huge headlines this morning! About this!!!!! I can’t believe this conversation is taking place!!!