Working mom vs. stay at home mom

The eternal debate, or so it seems.

Ever since women joined the work force en masse, there has been some sort of mom identity crisis. At first, women in the workplace was awesome, liberating, and created all sorts of wonderful opportunities that I now have. I am eternally grateful to these women. Now, nearly a half century later, women working outside the home earning an income isn’t a novelty. It’s not new. It’s not glamorous.

We as mothers are able to generally make our own choices about whether we want to stay home or continue working. From the little bit I’ve asked and read, finances seem to be the major determinant of whether a mom can stay home or needs to continue working. Most mothers realize that the few years their kids are around fly by so quickly and if possible, they want to be around for those years because pretty soon Timmy and Jenny are all grown up and going to college or getting married or starting careers or whatever it is that adults do and now it’s Tim and Jen and they don’t sit in your lap and read stories or throw up ALL. OVER. or whatever it is that kids do.

I’m working on a piece about this debate and have asked my facebook friends to chime in and did a short google search which resulted in more articles than I have time to read in one day, even during an uninterrupted nap time (which today isn’t).

The thing I have found most surprising about the start of this search is the feelings it brings up in me. That somehow I am now less than because I stay at home and watch other people’s kid. As though it isn’t a noble calling. As though it’s somehow less than going out somewhere and working for someone else. I know in my head that there is nothing more important that I could be doing than raising my child (multiple children someday), but there are those days where I feel like I am no longer enough.

I read this article yesterday that gave me an entirely new perspective on this debate. There are a few things that really stuck out to me.

1. There is SO MUCH hostility between working and nonworking moms.

2. There is SO MUCH misunderstanding between these two groups.

3. There are SO MANY insecure individuals in each camp.

Really, that’s why these mommy wars exist in the first place. Everyone is insecure and in order to feel better about themselves and their choices, they choose to tear down the opposing side. They ferociously guard the banner of their side to the point of extreme ridiculousness. Some comments made in the article include “the pressure for stay at home moms to be fit” and “stay at home moms in committees for their kid’s schools where they spend hours poring over trinket catalogs for booth prizes during late morning brunches or early afternoon coffee dates, which basically preclude working moms from joining”. The pressure to be fit? The pressure to raise money for their already wealthy schools? It amazes me that these women either don’t see or don’t acknowledge the REAL issues here!

Insecurity. Loneliness. Lack of fulfillment. Fear of not being recognized as a capable, creative person.

As a stay at home mom, I can understand why gatherings for meaningless things take hours. It’s socialization! It’s a chance to get out there and see other people. As a working mom, I can see the frustration on the part of those who work. It doesn’t matter and I’m not going to spend precious time away from my family to decide on garbage trinkets that don’t matter and realistically are just going to get thrown away anyway.

Either way, it’s hard doing this business of raising kids. It’s hard living in a society whose wage increases don’t match up with inflation. It’s hard figuring out what it best for your unique family with its unique situation and challenges. It’s even harder when people who make opposite choices can’t agree to respect those in the opposite camp and come to the mutual understanding that it’s hard no matter what.

I know I am doing the right thing. I know that moms who work outside the home are doing the right thing.

That’s what I have for now. There will be more on this subject in the coming days.

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