Mommy Wars – Working vs. Stay at Home Moms– How is this an issue?

I made the mistake recently of looking at parenting.com. Not for fun, mind you, as I try to avoid anything that is aimed at making me feel like a crappy mom or person in general, but some of my ads run on there and I wanted to see what the space looks like. So I came across a bunch of articles on the so-called Mommy wars, or the debate about being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. You may, particularly if you are a man, be thinking, Why is there a debate about that? It’s not like there’s a vote and it’s going to be one or the other for all women.

For some reason, be it societal norms or just the way that we females are wired, women worry way too much about what other women are doing and love to look down on those that aren’t meeting their expectation of correctness. The hardcore breastfeeders act as though a woman who gives her baby formula is a criminal, prompting all women who didn’t breast feed to explain themselves, “I didn’t have enough milk”, “He wouldn’t take it”, etc. Seriously, have you ever once heard a woman say “I just didn’t want to”? No, because they’re scared to. TV Nazis looove to go around explaining the evils of TV to the less-informed/intelligent of us. Don’t even get me started on organic food superiority. Where I’m going with this is that you might think that it would take a very insecure woman to listen to, or even care about, what other women think about their choice to work or not work, but it has become so commonplace to make and to accept judgments that we do.

It is my opinion that there is no right answer here.  What is right is what works for you and your situation, though I will say that it has been my observation that my friends who work part-time seem to be the happiest overall. In my five years as a mom I have covered the spectrum. I had always just assumed that I would work, and I went right back to teaching when my daughter was four months old. The thing that I could not have predicted was that I couldn’t handle childcare. In fact, in the course of a ten-month school year, I went through three day care situations. Every day of that year was absolute torture for me, imagining my little girl lying unattended with a dirty diaper on the floor, crying in a crib, being tolerated but not loved. I was also pregnant with my son that year, and the hormones no doubt fueled my paranoia. Needless to say, that was my last year teaching. My son was born and I was officially a stay-at-home mom. This was a necessity for me;  I literally could not deal with daycare (and god do I envy those who can). About a year into my stay-at-home stint, I realized a definite loss of identity. Just about any stay-at-home mom will tell you that they experience this; there is pretty much no societal value put on staying home with your kids. It’s mentally draining and there’s no transition-it’s the same job all day, until the kids go to bed, including weekends. That said, it’s not the worst situation in the world-if you use your time wisely, you can keep the house clean, keep up with laundry and go to the grocery (albeit, with kids) during the day, which leaves your nights and weekends much more open to enjoying family time and time with your husband. About a year and a half ago, I started my business and work part-time from home. This would be ideal except that I haven’t yet contributed to our family’s income because I have this thing about paying off my business before I take a paycheck. So I basically work for free, but it has done wonders for restoring my identity.

I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to judge me for my choices, to have said, “She’s neglecting her child” when I worked, to have said, “She’s wasting her career potential”  when I wasn’t working. But I’m sure that they did, and I’m sure that they still do. Whatever. They aren’t me and they aren’t in my situation, and they aren’t in your situation either. I’ll do what’s right for my family and sanity and you should do what’s right for your family and your sanity. And for god’s sake, we’re not in the 8th grade, let’s all stop worrying about what other women are doing.

Bookmark and Share

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Tags: , , , ,

5 Responses to “Mommy Wars – Working vs. Stay at Home Moms– How is this an issue?”

  1. Laura says:

    Thought provoking and well written, thank you! P.S. Love the bumper stickers. I’m still trying to work out if I can put the “I will *never* drive a minivan” sticker on my minivan!

  2. Tara says:

    Funny that this is a debate at all, but it has gotten national attention ever since Sarah Palin accepted the accepted the VP nomination. I about dropped off the couch when I heard women from the “general public” being interviewed on national TV saying that Sarah should have run for public office because she has a baby with Down’s syndrome and a teeneage daughter who was pregnant. My first reply is “why can”t dad look after the domestic affairs while mom is working?” I have to wonder, would this have even been a debate or news-worthy if Mr Palin, rather than Mrs Palin, was the nominee? My personal experiences have been pretty much the same as others have posted. Now my biggest concern is not whether I work or not but whether my kids know how much I love and support them by my actions. I wonder through my actions what I teach them that I value. I pray that they hear the message loud and clear that they are my first priority.

  3. Kelly says:

    First, I must say that I really don’t understand how anyone could be for or against working vs. staying–at-home, some folks don’t have a choice. However, I had this discussion with some girlfriends awhile back and someone provided a quote that stuck with me, “Choose your Choice” and we all decided that if we had a choice that we were thankful for that.

    Personally, I am a physical therapist and am a part-timer and work 1/2 days 3 times per week, but also work many week-ends and Saturdays to compensate for lost income. It works, but has good and bad sides. Good side, I am home alot and able to spend every afternoon with my children and engage them at home or in extra-curricular activities. I help with the bills and get to be with adults using a different side of my brain. Bad side, I miss alot of weekends with my family and esp. time with my hubby. Also, I don’t “really” have a career, but am a hired gun to do patient care at a PRN rate (a fixed rate that is higher due to no benefits or guaranteed hours) i.e. I have no benefits, don’t get a raise, and don’t really get to serve on commitees or have very much input on how things run. But, I am keeping my hand in the working world and if I decide to refocus my energy on my career, it will probably be easier for me than those who have been completely out for a period of time. I have friends that stay-at-home, work full-time, and some that work part-time and I agree with Shannon, it seems like we part-timers have some sort of balance. I personally greatly admire the other 2 groups and am thankful for my situation.

    I think the focus of this topic for groups of women should be how we can lift eachother up in our chosen path or help those who want to work part-time or flex-time. I think some companies recognize the need for women to balance home and work, but for many of my friends who are lawyers, teachers, or coporate execs., it seems to be a choice between working full-time or staying home. Lastly, as for the daycare situation, I too struggled with daycare and it took some time to find a loving place that I felt good about. Having moved 2 times in the past 7 years to new cities, I have had to network and visit many different facilities and have had the best luck with church and/or temple daycare/preschools. The 2nd day that I sent my oldest to daycare, I picked him up, and he was burning up. They had the cameras that you could look in and see them during the day and my mother-in-law called me on the way to pick him up and informed me that he had been laying on the floor for a long time and it looked like he was crying. Nobody even mentioned that he had been crying or upset and the women even called him the wrong name. When we got home, he had a fever and was very thirsty and the next day the Dr. found double ear infections. Needless to say, we did not go back. So, we must choose our choice and do the best we can and keep a sense of humor with our kids. My husband and I laugh alot when talking about the kids and will say, “well I guess mother(or father) of the year is out, AGAIN

  4. Jessica O'Daniel says:

    Isn’t this just the silliest debate? And what is even more humorous to me is the fact that if you are a “part timer” that you are not 100% accepted by the working moms OR the stay-at-home moms. You don’t get the “respect” or “acceptance” into that little club. Dumb, i know. As an agent, i pick and choose my work load. I don’t do a lot of direct mail, i don”t go into the office for 40 hours a week. i work my 6-8 active clients and that is my focus. I have very non-traditional hours but it provides me the flexibility to work my business and manage my family. I am a room parent for both my son’s first grade class and my daughter’s preschool class. I am chairing an event for our school fall festival. I am the captain of my tennis league and am on the board of our church moms group. Sometimes i feel like BECAUSE I don’t fall into a “category” i end up doing much more than i should and i spread myself WAY TO THIN. I take my kids to dance class; make the football games (even though they are on Sundays and i often miss a few minutes because of open houses). I may not be here every night for dinner as i might be showing property or on a listing appointment. It is a crazy schedule and every day is different. I love it. I really do. So why does it bother me that working moms view me as “not as serious” and stay-at-home moms don”t value the fact that i do sacrifice my career to be around for my kids more???? Who knows… but it is the continued, drawn out debate. I wish everyone would recognize that the common bond for us all is that we are MOTHERS. Mothers who would do anything for our precious children and that should be enough of a bond for all of us :)

  5. My sympathy on the blog disaster! Have you installed a WordPress Database Backup plugin yet? I have one and love it. It emails my backup to me once a week with the way I have it set up.

    As for Mommy Wars, I’m with you. We all have reasons for the choices we make, and no one solution is exactly right for all families.

Leave a Reply