Ah, The Mommy Wars. They are alive and well, aren’t they? And while there are no direct casualties, I think we can all agree that the collateral damage is pretty substantial.
I’ve been reading a couple of chapters of Leaning In every time I jog on a treadmill, and I think Sheryl Sandberg does a good job of highlighting some of the prominent issues that women in the workplace face. (I figure it’s a good read for any woman, working or not.) As much good as I think she does in there, I have to think.. Isn’t some of this just common sense?
First and foremost: I think each woman is wired differently, and trying to lump any and all women together is almost certain doom. And while I’ll be the first to say that I’d have difficulty being a Stay at Home Mom, I don’t think that I’m entirely incapable of it. Much like a Stay at Home Mom could eventually find herself at ease in the workforce. No matter how different women may be, I think we’re all adaptive.
Before I had the baby, I was approached by a lady who was asking me about my due date, gender, blah blah blah. Then she asked me what I was going to do with the baby after he was born. I didn’t think I understood her question, so I asked her to clarify, and indeed, she was wondering about my child care plans. I told her that Vinnie would be attending the same (loving) daycare that Tony had been in since he was three months old.
She stared at me in shock. “I don’t think I could do that,” she said. “I just love my baby too much to leave him in daycare.”
I was so taken aback by the comment that I stared at her. But here’s what I was thinking:
“Oh, you do? Lucky kid. I only marginally like my kids.”
“We’ve got a labrador retriever, and they’re pretty smart. I guess we could teach her to dial 9-1-1 and have her keep the baby.”
“Funny thing: we like to pay our bills. And our mortgage company wouldn’t really understand if I said we couldn’t pay our mortgage anymore because I love my kid too much for daycare.”
Since I’ve been on the receiving end of this love before, I’m rarely shocked by the sentiment anymore. But I’m constantly disappointed that it’s still out there. Because honestly, even if we could survive off of one income – and stomach the sacrifices it would take to do that – I don’t think that I would stop working. I love having an identity outside of Mommy, and I don’t think that makes me less of a Mom. If anything, I’m able to really, seriously, have focused and undivided time with my kids.
Because these things tend to go both ways, I’ve tried to watch my judgement of SAHMs. There are days, days where the office is a tough environment, days where I don’t get to see my kids during their waking hours, and those days make me wish I was a SAHM. Jealousy breeds contempt, and I’d see posts in my Facebook feed of moms rejoicing that the kids were back in school, leaving them alone and unoccupied for hours at a time. I’d give anything to have that life, I’d think. They don’t even know how easy they have it.
But I know! I know it’s not easy! Dude, me being at home random days this summer with a newborn and a five year old had me PULLING MY HAIR OUT. It’s not easy! It’s downright difficult!
Moments like those make me think of how relative it all is. Look at like this: How many of you spent your 20s feeling like you were overweight and not good enough? The majority of us, right? And how often do you wistfully look back on those days and think Man, I didn’t spend NEARLY enough time naked? Cause I do. Often. Sarah-in-her-20s was a hottie who spent 10 years despising her body. YEAH, SPOILER ALERT, IT GETS WAY WORSE, SARAH-IN-HER-20S.
“Busy” is also relative, right? In my 20s, unmarried and childless, I thought I was Busy. All the time, busy. No one understood just how busy I truly was. Now I’m married with three kids and a more-than-full-time job PLUS a course load PLUS two (sometimes three) freelance gigs. I’m busier now in theory, but it still feels busy.
SAHM and WOHM are the same. They are both jobs that require copious hours, thankless days, and often very little immediate reward. A glass ceiling exists over both areas. We should be working together to break that glass.
I’m waving a white flag on the Mommy Wars, and sending over a dove carrying an olive branch. Because, man, I think the one thing we all can agree on is that we’re busy .. and we’re also tired.