Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Let's talk about the so-called 'mommy wars'. It seems that is all everyone is talking about lately.
What is this all about? Seriously? Are moms - grown-up, mature woman of worthy value - good moms - getting into heated debate over what is better? Staying at home with the kids, or going to work?
Go listen to this song. It will put you in a good mood. Then come back, refreshed, and let's talk.
Back? Okay, good.
It is sad that a woman, from the moment she gives birth, feels the need to have to prove herself to society and to other moms about her decision to either stay at home to raise her children, or to go back to work when her children are still young. We always say "I'm not one to judge" when discussions about certain parenting topics come up, but we have no problem mouthing off about this issue and making moms feels bad about their decision.
In my perfect world, I would work only 3 days a week, and I'd have extra help around me all the time. As much as I love being with my boys, it is hard work. Which is why I like going to work. That does not make me a bad mom.
It also does not make you a better mom if you stay home with your kids, although I give you a lot of credit for doing that. I will say this - I think moms who stay home with their children, as blessed as they are to be able to do so, have it harder. It is non-stop work. From keeping the children busy and entertained, to arranging playdates and activities, to cooking meals and cleaning the house - it's a lot harder than sitting in a office. (Sure, a mom who works in an office has the stress of getting the kids out the door in the morning, picked up after work, and has limited time to cook dinner for her family - I get it - being a mom is tough, no matter what!) Of course, if you're the mom who sleeps in, allowing the nanny to wake and feed the kids everyday, while you go play tennis and then go for lunch and then come home in time to kiss your kids goodnight - everyday - then I see this as a problem. But that's just my opinion!
Why is it so hard for us to be kind to eachother, to support the choices we make as woman? As mothers? Whether you stay home with your children, or whether you leave the house to go to work, you are providing for your family in the way that is best for you. Everyone has a unique situation. No one should be judged. Saying things like "I feel sorry for you" to a mother who goes to work is just ignorant. Or feeling sorry for a mom who is 'stuck' at home with her children all day when it is her choice - stupid. Who are you to judge this mom?
I'm a working mom. And by working mom, I mean I work in a nice building, downtown. I have an office. I write, I edit, I chair meetings. I go for lunch dates with friends, I get my hair done, I go shopping. (At lunch, people!) My boys are looked after by my mom or mother-in-law or grandmother while I am at work. I do miss them during the day. But I love working. I need to be working. I also consider motherhood the ultimate rewarding job. There is nothing I enjoy more than eating dinner with my boys, going to the park, giving them a bath, reading to them, and bedtime routines.
Being a mom is my number one job - the one that really matters. But job number two - the one I get dressed up for in the mornings - is the one that affords me the lifestyle I want to have. I'm not giving up my salary. Even with a combined income, I will continue to go to work. Even if I won 30 million dollars, I'd go to work. Okay, if I won 30 million dollars, I'd start my own business, but I'd still want a job outside the home.
That's just me. I admire moms who can do the stay-at-home thing. I think they are great mothers. Probaby a lot more patient than me. I think no one works harder then these moms! They deserve a lot of credit. However, just because they are at home with their children doesn't make them better moms.
Some days, it is not easy leaving my boys. But I know they're in good hands. I know they have a wonderful time without me. If my children had to go to daycare, I might have hesitated at returning to work while they were so young, but I know many moms have done this, and it has worked out fine. The thought of having a live-in nanny is not really for me, either. Every parent has to make this tough decision for themselves. It's never really an easy decision.
When I had my first baby, I stayed home with him for only 6 months before I returned to work. It was hard going back to work, initially. With my second baby, I stayed home for the full one year maternity leave. I loved it - I was with both my boys for one entire year. I had a great support system of family around me, helping with the children, so I never felt too lonely. But it was difficult. Taking care of two little boys is hard work! When my one year of maternity leave was coming to an end, a huge part of me was ecstatic to be returning to work. I know sitting at a desk is easier than staying home with the kids. I know this because I have done both.
A lot of moms go to work because they have no choice. They need the income to take care of their family. How can you think this mother is making the wrong decision? In fact, she is doing the right thing. She is putting food on the table for her family, saving for her children's future, for their University expenses, vacations, clothes.
Sure, ideally, a mom looking after her children - or a dad - is probably better than a nannny doing it. Or a daycare teacher. But there are many positive outcomes to a child being in daycare, like the social interaction they get with other children. My boys haven't had this exposure in a full way yet, and with Christos starting kindergarten soon, I'm worried about how he'll adjust to the school system.
Every situation in parenting has pros and cons. We just try to do what is best for us, and for our situation.
The fact that there is a 'mommy war' going on out there makes me cringe. I think the people who are fighting about this need to get out, have a drink, read a book. Live in the moment, and enjoy life. Play with your kids. Do what is best for you, and stop the bitching!