Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mommy wars...seriously?



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?

Come on.

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!

Sheesh.

33 comments:

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

So true...there is always something about the other arrangement that one finds easier and harder. I'm at home and wish I could eat a meal that doesn't end with food being thrown on the floor, but then I didn't have to deal with the chaos of getting the family, plus myself ready and out the door to deal with another boss and another set of responsibilities. The grass is truly greener on the other side.
the only mom I envy is the one who thinks her job (whatever it may be) is, without question, the right one for her and her family, and always enjoyable and easy!

Nap Warden said...

Wait...what did I miss? Where is the Mommy War?

I know many mommies work becuase they can't afford not to. I'm cool with that. I also know I stay at home because in the big city, I can't afford not to:O

Now I work from home, but that's because I love design and I choose to.

Whatever keeps you sane is the way to go;)

No war...peace man:P

Elisa, The Unlikely Housewife said...

Amen, babe.

For some reason, people always feel the need to put someone else down, to feel better about themselves. Well, sure there is a better way to work on your self-esteem than criticizing and judging others?

And if you are so uncertain about your choices that you have to criticize someone else to feel more on the right side... well, girl, you have a lot of stuff to work through, the last thing you should be worrying about is OTHER PEOPLE'S CHOICES.

Sheesh (I know you said it already, but it fit :-))

The Preppy Princess said...

Good for you Miss Loulou, this is a fabulous post, from the heart and for the heart as well. Love-love-love it! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Oddly, The Consort & I were discussing the Mommy Wars only last night.

May you have a wonderful Wednesday!
tp

Christy said...

Right on sister! Well said!

I miss lunches with friends and hair appts at lunch. I miss having the commute to myself to do the crossword...but I wouldn't trade the current SAHM-me for anything. It works for me and for my family! :-)

HaB said...

I was going to comment - and then my comment started to look like a blog post - so, I am off to do a blog post.

Thanks for the inspiration.

ModernMom said...

We are truly our own worst enemies!

Jen said...

I wrote a similar post about a week ago called 30 Million Strong?. I totally agree with your post. Woman should never judge eachother! We're on the same team for crying out loud! I don't care if you work or stay home, it's your choice. Let's all move onto something more positive :)

Mama Karebare said...

I love this post!!!!! It was very heartfelt! You go girl!

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

I just do not get this debate at all. What works for you is always going to be different than what works for me.

I have seen SAHM's who just...stay at home...and hire sitters and nannys and housekeepers to delegate things to.

I have seen working moms who work crazy hours just so they can be home for their child at key points in the day.

What I say is...people should mind their OWN business and worry about their OWN lives.

Grrr..can you tell this topic infuriates me?

Mommy Lisa said...

Who I get mad at? The United States Government that only gives us a certain amount of time for Family & Medical Leave and does NOT require employers to pay us for that entire time, and certainly not at full salary!

I got 6 weeks paid at 60% by my employer because I had a typical birth, would have gotten 8 if I had a c-section.

anya said...

I agree with you! Women can be so judgemental. There isn't a magic formula to be the perfect mom because she doesn't exist. We all try hard, we all make mistakes and we all love our kids. Isn't that good enough?

Amy said...

Most of the really inflammatory posts I read were written by women who were clearly unhappy with their present situation. Clearly. They chose to lash out at those they consider to have it better. To have what they want.

And then got defensive when people got upset with them.

It really is sad.

Chantal said...

Yup, whatever works for you right. Don't judge others for their decisions. I totally agree.

Mom2Miles said...

Hear, hear! Thanks for giving us at-home moms props. I think it's hard, too. But my working mom friends say they feel like they have TWO f.t. jobs.

Like you, in my ideal world I'd work 3 days a week & have family care for my kids. But in the real world, we don't live near family & there's no such thing as affordable p.t. childcare. It's worth noting that I only know 2 moms who are entirely one or the other -- SAHM or working f.t. outside the home. Most do some combo of freelance, p.t., flextime, etc.

And it's also worth noting that I have NEVER gotten into an argument over this or even overheard an argument between moms face to face in the real world, only in the media & online. In my life, most people are understanding & supportive. There's no black & white with this issue, just a ton of gray areas & as you said, every individual situation is different. I thought I would never stay home with my kids. Now I have kids and I am, but who knows if I will until they're 18? To each her own. The bottom line is: a happy mom's a good mom.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Hmm. I am out of the loop because I knew nothing of this but, seriously? It is your family's decision. Period.
Well said Loukia!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

All well said. I only just stopped working and I can honestly say that both situations are hard on the mom and great for the kids for different reasons.

One thing that I did notice when I was a working mom though is that women who work have very few opinions about women who stay home. They tend to range from, "I wish I could do that" to "oh - that's nice." And if anyone was going to be snide, it was most likely to be the ones who would rather stay home. The women who stay home on the other hand always seemed somewhat smug about their "decision" OR they would talk about how lucky they were to be able to do that. And the ones who were derisive about working mothers also seemed to be the most insecure about their identity.

SO - my opinion is that most of this debate is founded on insecurity. Therefore it's not one on which I choose to waste my time. Different families have different options and different things work for different families. End of story.

Chandra said...

I work because I have to, not for money sake but for insurance purposes and you know what? My kids are just fine. One is in school fulltime and my little guy is in daycare/preschool and yes he gets sick alot due to all communicalbe bacteria they all seem to share but he is so well adjusted and twice as social as my oldest.

There are pros and cons to both sides...sometimes the 'preachey' moms need to just stop preaching and just enjoy their kids!

:)

Happy Working Mom said...

Great post!

People criticize when they are insecure. This is why you will never find me criticizing a SAHM. I'm very happy with my decision to work and it's best for our family. Enough said!

sharon said...

I'm in agreement with not judging - there's more than one way to raise a child and just because another mother is doing something differently than you, doesn't make it wrong - just different.

Although I find it ironic that in a post being written about judging mothers, you chose to write "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"

Which comes across as being a jugdemental statement. I'm not saying whether I agree with it or disagree with it - because who are we to judge?

Loukia said...

Sharon - I see your point. But I just think a mom who is not actively involved in her child's life - like I'm talking only there to say good morning and good night - and for no good reason like being at work in between - on a regular basis - then I see this as a bit of a problem with her mothering skills. Just my opinion. :)

Crystall said...

I have been both a stay-at-home mom (now) and a "working in an office" mother and both situations have advantages and disadvantages in the "mothering" and the "sense of self". Now, this is just my opinion here...no one jump on my ass... But, having done both, I have found that working outside of the home was more fulfilling to my own self worth than SAH mothering. It is not that I do not love my children, it is not that I do not feel so very very lucky to be able to be there for them. Just sometimes, I think you need something in your life that is only yours. It can be small like a hobby...or it can be large like a career. And, really, I don't mean that selfishly. I mean that eventually when every waking breath is dedicated to your children or your husband for years and years, sometimes you begin to feel unimportant, looked-over, and invisible.
That's just MY opinion and MY issues... It surely doesn't have to be agreed upon by every one.

CaraBee said...

Whatever works for each family is the way it should be.

Elaine A. said...

I've never understood this either. I have done both - worked with a child in daycare and been home with my children and of course both come with their challenges!!

I agree that every family has to do what is best for them and their situation.

I will say however, that you are in a unique situation to have your mother and MIL be able to help you with childcare. Not everyone has that benefit. : )

sharon said...

We'll have to agree to disagree - I just see it as we have to stop judging - period - before there is any hope of leaving the mom wars behind us. Not an - I don't judge, except.... - disclaimer. Behind every mother is a story - one that led them to where we they are now, and to judge without ever learning that story is a disservice to mothers (and people in general) everywhere. Whenever we make a generalization, it tends to lead to problems (but that's a generalization, isn't it) :)

Tiffany said...

I agree that we should not judge. Every family is different and needs to do things accordingly.
This world is crazy. Everything is so competitive. {UG}

Jessica said...

I'm not familiar with the "mommy wars" that you speak of, but I totally understand how they are out there. Moms are SO judgmental of other moms, it's totally ridiculous. Being a mother isn't easy!
Great post- I loved the many perspectives you talked about. You are so lucky to have your family to watch the boys!
I will admit that I actually miss working... especially when you remind me how glamorous it can be ;)

Great job!

Tyne said...

Great post! Amen and Amen. Thanks for bringing this up and thanks for the compliment to us SAHMs who may only get acknowledged through this sweet little post. (Not necessarily me, my husband is very encouraging to me and thankful, but he is exceptional).

I wish I could stay at home full time and have some luxuries that we sacrifice to make it happen. If you win the lottery, could you hook a sista up?

You are racking up the comments on this one!

~Sandy~ said...

I am in the same boat....have a full time career that i love, stayed home with first son for 6 months and my daughter for a year. family takes care of the kids. i think perfection would be working 2-3 days a week (and making the same money i make working 5 days!)

great post! whatever works for you go with it ;)

Kelly said...

That was well-written. I've been a stay at home mom for 3 years but always worked part-time at nights and gone to school. That gave me lots of interaction and stimulatio. Now that I'm done school I want to be a working mom at least part-time. I want to start my career and be more financially secure. My kids will be fine, they like playing with other kids and I appreciate the time I have with them more

Lady Mama said...

Crikey. I think I've missed all this mommy war stuff going on. Although a while ago I did write a post in response to a blogger who claimed work at home moms have it easy. For the same reason you wrote this really - just that it's sad that some women feel the need to be harsh towards other women for making a different choice.

I'm with you on the whole work thing. There are days where I long to be back at work. Being at home with little ones is tough. My husband outright admitted he couldn't do it.

And you know what, Loukia? This is why I love reading your blog: you give such an honest perspective on these things. While everyone else is busy beating each other over the head with their show-offy judgements, you're reminding us to be kind to each other.

Jessica said...

About 3 months ago I witnessed some very high profile bloggers (all mothers, feminists, highly intelligent and well-read) GO AT IT on their blogs AND Twitter. I mean, no holds barred, gloves off kind of shit.

I started following all of out of curiosity only to end up depressed and sad because I'd just realized I'd witnessed a "Mommy War Battle."

And the thing of it was was that no one was actually arguing against the 1st blogger's point, but how she'd chosen to make it! OMG! They were ALL IN AGREEMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE ABOUT HER POINT!! They just hated the way she'd chosen to get her point across. I mean, really???

Then there was character assassination, finger pointing, blah blah blah... *sigh*

Since then, and since BlogHer (oh man, what a fiasco that was!), I pretty much avoid those battle trails and choose instead to focus on the writers who are writing about things they can actually control as opposed to things they can't, ie OTHER bloggers and how they choose to express themselves.

Having said that, however, I'm brewing a post about a word I hate and wish everyone would stop using. haha

Kami's Khlopchyk said...

Yeah, I think we should all just support each other's decisions. Each of us makes different decisions for very good reasons and we are the ones who have to live with them. And if we, as mothers, are happy with our decisions, then we are doing the right thing.

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