When I started blogging about motherhood, I promised myself that there were several areas on which I would not tread..the loaded guns. You know the ones, breast feeding vs bottle, the great immunization debate and the granddaddy of them all…working mom vs. stay at home mom.
My opinion has always been that you need to do what’s best for your family and what’s best for you. I hate when moms start bashing each other; stay at home moms are not better because they are home with their kids and working moms are not better because they are out in society either. Both sides have valid arguments.
As much as there are times when I wished I could be at home for the kids when they were little, there has been other times where I’m glad I am able to get out of the house and feel productive in more than just grilled cheese sandwich making. Hubby was home most of the time and when he wasn’t, I knew they were in Grandma’s capable hands and that made me feel better.
I am extremely fortunate to work in a school system, so now when my school aged kids are off, so am I (for the most part). I am there for homework, baseball games, school conferences and bedtimes. There is not too much I feel that I am missing by working outside the home and it makes me feel that I have been successful in BOTH my job as a mom and school nurse.
That was until this weekend when a stay at home mom made a Facebook comment that made my blood boil and my eye twitch uncontrollably.
Now let me preface this…I harbor no ill will towards stay at home moms in general. In fact, I think stay at home moms with toddlers and infants probably need to be inducted into sainthood or something because 24/7 with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, sticky fingers and snotty noses would drive me to a steady diet of liquids. And by liquids, I mean alcohol.
You have to have patience and resolve that I’m not quite sure I had to stay at home 365 days a year with a child under the age of 4. And more than one? Oh dear Lord. I don’t think there is enough wine in the world to deal with all day sibling rivalry.
But this particular mother has one child. Which is also a personal choice but I’m sorry, the more kids you have, the more difficult parenting is. There is no one on the planet who can produce one valid argument to the contrary. This mother’s child can tie his own shoes, butter his own bread and (hopefully) wipe his own butt. And he goes to middle school.
So for 6 1/2 hours a day, Monday through Friday, this mom does her laundry and her cooking and her shopping in virtual peace and quiet. I bet she even has time to squeeze in a half hour nap. Then when her little darling demon spawn arrives home from school at 3:45, she’s fresh as a daisy and is able to help him with his homework and they can do craft projects together by candlelight to simulate life in the old west.
Ugh…okay, maybe not that last part.
Now, I do all that, too. I clean, I make sure there’s food in the fridge and I even sometimes get through a meal without burning it. I help with homework, I wash dishes and I decorate for the holidays.
But my time frame for doing that is shorter. And it’s constantly interrupted with “mommy can you?”, “mommy can I?” And “mommy the chicken is on fire!”
As a result, I’m lousy at a lot of things stay at home moms excel at. We’ve already discussed my cooking skills, so that one is a given. I forget to mail birthday cards and sometimes forget people’s birthdays.
I haven’t printed picture of my kids in over a year. In fact, even when I pay for school or sports pictures, I admire them, stick them in the basket reserved for mail and forget to give them to people.
I forget to sign planners and send in milk money. I don’t know what fundraiser is going on at school right now…(honestly can anyone keep track of those things???) and I filled out the latest form for Market Day and forgot to order anything until it was too late. I am met by sobs of “mommy you forgot…” at least once a week.
And I admit it. I forgot. I forget a lot of things because I have way too much on my never ending to do list in my brain. I have a work to do list AND a home to do list and I am expected to perform at 100% all the time at both. There’s no excuses for me. I’ve got to get it all done or I feel like, and my kids remind me, I’m failing as a mother. If I don’t get something done at work or forget to call a parent or just miss something, my boss will remind me I’m failing in that department, too.
I realize something’s got to give and for the most part, I’ve been okay with it. I let the dishes pile up in the sink and it doesn’t kill anyone. I sometimes let the laundry go and just sit on the couch and watch a movie. It’s taken me almost 13 years, but I’m finally starting to get some home/ work/ motherhood balance going.
Until that other mother had the nerve to piss me off. What this mother had the audacity to say was “I hate it when the kids are off from school for break. It’s not like the faculty doesn’t get enough days off with weekends and summers. It really ruins my schedule.”
Oh so sorry, Princess! Didn’t mean to mess with your schedule of getting things done in an organized fashion without having to entertain or keep track of a child (multiple children) like the rest of us do!
I, for one, need that break from work. I can get caught up on what I’ve been slacking off of in the motherhood department. I can spend time with my own kids without having to worry about having to go to work. I can get laundry done AND play Chutes and Ladders with my child and not have chose. I can pick up on a Tuesday at noon and have lunch with my husband, alone without kids. All things I can’t do when I am playing the balancing game.
Motherhood IS the most difficult job on this planet. Mothers should support each other and not point out each other’s flaws. We should support each other’s choices.
But it’s really difficult when people can’t understand how the other half lives. I get a glimpse of stay at home motherhood in the summer and I gotta admit, it’s exhausting. Taking the kids to the beach, running to baseball practice, entertaining them when it’s raining for the fourth day in a row…it’s all part of my job as a mother.
And I can appreciate that mother who does that 365 year. WITH A TODDLER.
When your kid is at school, yes, you’re a mother, but you’re not on the clock. I am on the clock almost 24/ 7, 365 days a year with the rare exception of a babysitter or my kids going to a sleepover. Or my three minute drive to work when there are no kids hitting each other in the head with empty water bottles.
But on the other hand, in the summer it’s really nice to have the entire week to get cleaning done, rather than trying to squeeze into a five hour time frame on a Sunday. It’s nice to go out to the grocery store without fighting off the weekend crowds and the cheerleaders shaking a can in your face for money. It’s nice to have 24 hours to do one job instead of two.
So don’t get on your high horse and imply I don’t deserve a break from my one job when you get one almost every day. I am in fact, envious of women who can have that opportunity to be at home. It’s not a possibility for me financially as nice as it would be. I think it would be fantastic to be able to be more organized and not feel like my head is going to explode any minute. But it’s not. I have to go to work and I have to be a mom, too.
Okay, rant over…going to go push my blood vessel back in my eye now.