I apologize in advance that this will not be a nice, well-planned post with structure and all that good-writing-skills stuff. It’s a rant. And I need to get it out. I hope it makes sense.
When I came across this article (from Working Mother Magazine of COURSE – see here for my feelings on the site to begin with), I was seething… it’s been hours now, and of course, it’s still on my mind. Can we PLEASE just stop comparing who has it worse, or whose kids have it better/worse, or dividing mothers into categories??
I have been on both sides of this imaginary fence: I worked full-time (45+ hrs/week with 2 hrs/day of commute time) for the first 3 1/2 years of my parenting career. I have now been a SAHM for 10 months. Guess what? THEY ARE BOTH HARD! Being a parent is hard, no matter what the circumstance. And it is not made any easier by having your need/choice to work or not work questioned and criticized at every turn.
I understand the guilt of being a working mom – you constantly question how much time you’re spending with your kids, you push to make every moment of that time be “quality time”, no matter how much you love your caregiver (ours was family), you worry that it’s not “as good” as having you around more… your exhaustion, especially in the first few years, leaves you feeling like you aren’t doing anything to the best of your ability – at work or at home… I get it, I really do.
It’s great to have reassurance that your kids will be ok, but, as these “studies” and “articles” do far too much of the time, that reassurance should not be gained by disparaging those who are living a different life. Would it not be sufficient to say that working moms’ adult kids “thrive” or “succeed”? Why the comparison? Why say they do “better” than those who had a parent stay home.
And exactly who did they study, anyway? There are MANY factors that go into a family’s decision about who works, who stays home, and how the children will be cared for… some women work because they want to, some because they need to for sanity, some because they need to financially… some women stay home because they want to, some because they need to. There are many working moms who would love to stay home, and many SAHMs who would love to go back to work, but in each case, their current circumstances don’t give them the choice.
There are also many different definitions of a “working” parent – some work from home, some work part time, some work on a freelance basis so that they can schedule their work around their children.
Please, can we just stop with all this bullshit? Being a parent is hard. Period. And because people come in all varieties, what is hardest for one is not necessarily at all challenging for another. So let’s support each other instead of tearing each other down.
Yes, the children of working mothers can be very successful and well-adjusted adults. But screw you, Working Mother Magazine, for not just implying, but outright saying that they are better off than the children who have a parent stay home.
Ok, I think I’ve made at least most of my point. Now I need to get YC, who just woke from her nap, so we can pick up EC at preschool and come home and make dinner for when Mr I gets home.
Sorry my first real blog post in weeks was a downer. Have a happy Wednesday, Imperfect friends!