Why does everyone feel this constant need to compare "Stay at Home Moms" with the so-called "Working Mom?" First, I take offence to the term, ‘working mom.' All Moms work and the work involved with raising a child is hard and often more difficult than working outside the home.
Now, before all the moms who work away from the home jump on me, let me tell you that, in my books, I am both a SAHM and a WM. I found a job that let's me work away from home when my kids are at school. I stayed at home with them when they were young. I ‘volunteered' for jobs at their preschool, and then at their elementary until they were both there full time. I worked with kids whose own mothers didn't have the time, or the inclination. Were they ‘working moms' or not? I don't know, nor do I care. What I saw was a child who needed my help.
Now, some people see this type of involvement as very unfulfilling. I didn't. When a child who was unable to read suddenly began to see the logic in words, I was thrilled. I didn't need a pay cheque to prove my worth. It was also not my ‘career' field. It was just something I could do for a child.
For a time, I put my own life on hold. This was incredibly difficult to do, as I had a promising career ahead of me. I was lost for awhile because my role in life had changed. At first, I felt the need to justify my existence to every working mom I met. Then, I read an article in a women's magazine that described a "Super Mom." She was out of the house by 600 a.m. for her morning commute, worked all day until 600 p.m. then came home at around 700 p.m. Her children were preschoolers who were with a nanny all day. She came home in time to read them a story and tuck them into bed. I couldn't figure out where the Mom part came in. Her life was hectic, her children being raised by hired help. But, they praised her because she read to her children every night and made a play date with them on the weekend.
So, what did that make me? I just stayed at home, playing with my child, cooking with my child, reading to him all day long, bathing him, helping him get dressed, teaching him how to use the potty. Guess I wasn't much of a mom, according to the magazine.
Women are being forced to choose. One or the other. Is either group more worthy than the other? Is either group better mothers? It depends on what you do with your children. I think, that if you love them unconditionally, are there to listen to them, keep informed about what is happening in their lives, and respect them, then, you are a great mother. And, that is no matter whether you stay at home, or go to a job elsewhere. If you are willing to do whatever is necessary for your child, that is all that matters.
So, which group is more emancipated? The SAHM's or the WM's? Who cares! Are you happy with your choice in life? Are your kids thriving? Then, you, my friend, have the best of both worlds.
My outside job is not the ‘career' I had envisioned many years ago, before children. However, staying at home has allowed me to renew my creative side by being a kid again. So, now I have another career which is just beginning to take shape Writing. But, that is not the job I go to 5 days per week either.
Life is about choices. Make yours and believe it is right for you. But, remember, you can always choose to change it. The choice is yours. Don't let one writer or another make your choices for you. Be proud of who you are, and show your kids that you take that pride in yourself.
But, whatever your choice, please, don't put down the choices of others. We are all in this world for a reason, but for a very short time. Make your time count!
1998(c) Joanne Keating, all rights reserved