I Can’t See The Harm

“I guess I can’t see the harm in working and being a Momma” – Britney Spears

Do you know what I love most about this space here? This Liberating Working Moms space? That on a grand majority of our posts, the comments are a mixture of stay-at-homers and work-outside-the-homers. That there is a sense of “me-too!” that transcends the Mommy Wars and inspires me to think that all this hype over this vs that and who is more right is just precisely that: hype.

Because, crazy as she is (um seriously, who shaves their head and forgets panties on the regular?), Ms. Spears has a point here- I really can’t see the harm in working and being a mother. I don’t feel the friction in my life between my choice to work and my choice to have kids. They are both so naturally occurring to me that I couldn’t imagine another way making more sense. This must be the way SAHMs feel about their ultimate choice to stay home and spend the day with their children. It is what makes sense to them. So why the fight?

Why do we have to be right all the time? Why are so many moms stomping around, shouting from their rooftop or their sky scraper office, saying WE ARE DOING THIS BETTER THAN YOU! No you are not. You couldn’t possibly.

My sister in law has five kids. Yes, on purpose. FIVE KIDS! And she has stayed at home to raise them for going on 10 years now. For a while I thought I should do that too. And then I tried it. And I sucked at it. Hard. So I got a job. And I was a much better mother. Stephanie has never once looked down her nose at me for strapping on my heels, kissing my kids goodbye and seeing them 8 hours later. We have had many a conversation over the years, some arguments, some disagreements, some laughs- and never once has this been brought up.

I can’t see myself doing her job, she can’t see herself doing mine. End of discussion. And yet, I see some things she does better than me, and after I curse her out loud in my head, I try to incorporate them into my own life. Maybe I don’t do tomato canning with my kids (seriously, five kids and she cans her own vegetables. I die.) but I garden with mine instead. No, I don’t pick up my kids from school in my van, but I take the occasional day off and surprise them at their school assembly. Maybe there are some things about her life that I envy, maybe there’s some things about mine she wishes she could have. But it’s a non-issue, the fact that I work at an office 5 days a week.

We can all learn from each other. I think this community shows that. Instead of rolling your eyes at that Mom in sweatpants AGAIN at the park, stop for a minute and think to yourself: she’s a Mom. I’m a Mom. She has kids. I have kids. We’re not all that different. How I contribute to my family’s bottom line makes no difference to my daughters as they play next to her sons.

I fail to see why the Mommy Wars even matter. I don’t know if Bill Gates’ mom stayed home with him, I don’t know if Russell Brand’s mom worked 60 hours a week. (I’m making the comparison there…I think Russell Brand is way sketchy and constantly teetering on a colossal breakdown, while Bill Gates may be an uber geek but he seems to have his act mostly together. Carry on.) What I do know is that if you are reading this blog? Thank you. If you’re commenting, sharing your insight, giving a high five, respectfully contributing a dissenting opinion? Thank you. You are making me a better mother. I chose my own working mom path, I’m confident in it. Maybe you came here looking for help, and I hope I can help. Maybe you came here looking for a fight, move along. I want to hear your story, whatever it is because I’m willing to bet I learn something from it.

So Britney, I’m with you. I mean…not that whole chewing-gum-conservatorship-belly-bearing stuff…the part about the working momma. Fistbumps to all moms, I’m in awe of each of you.

 

Photo Credit: http://www.newparent.com/baby/time-saving-tips-for-working-moms/

About the author

Alicia is a veteran mom of three girls. She spends her days as an Office Administrator, being selfishly ambitious from 9-5 and swoops in to home base for tea parties, mending broken hearts and breaking up cat fights. She blogs at Life With Ladies and tweets as @mrshiggison.

13 Comments

  1. Amber says:

    Thank you for being one of the sane moms that doesn’t feel like she has to judge someone who made a different choice (or who assumes that someone else’s choice is a judgment).

    I am a SAHM. I wasn’t when the kid was born. I was let go when he was five months old. Since then, we’ve made simplifications in our lives because I’ve found that I really like being home with the kid. Part of that has to do with the time it gives me for other things I’ve always wanted to pursue. Part of it has to do with the crappy job market, and the fact that the cost of daycare and gas would just about break even with the money made from a job.

    I don’t feel superior to any mom who works. I watch in wonder at how they manage it all. I love my choice. But I admire the choices other moms make, too.

    Fistbumps (or as the kid calls them, “fish pumps”), indeed.
    Amber recently posted..Friday Inspiration – Making It WorkMy Profile

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  2. Kim Z says:

    Agreed.
    Twitter: observacious

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  3. Jamie says:

    I’m a working mom, and was a SAHM for 22 months before making the leap. Honestly, since I’ve gone back, I’ve been so happy with my “life change” that I haven’t even wanted to hear about the Mommy Wars BS. I’m doing what works for me. It’s hard, but I know from experience the other option is HARD too.

    Maybe just being a parent is HARD. I like this sentiment so much, let’s make it easier and not be jerks to each other.
    Twitter: jamiemcq15

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    • mrshiggison says:

      I’m with you. I’m SO with you, Jamie.
      I wanted to love being a SAHM, and I can’t quite figure out why now. Maybe society pressure? Maybe my own judgement of myself?
      Either way, I’m glad I let it go because I could not be happier where I’m at right now. This just fits me:)
      If you can find what fits you? Amazeballs. Do YOU! But stay outta my kitchen & I’ll stay outta yours:) Mine is dirty anyway, you don’t want to be in there…hahahaha
      mrshiggison recently posted..Thrifty Thursday: Patio Set ReduxMy Profile
      Twitter: mrshiggison

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      • Jamie says:

        Crazy, I think I’ve read some of your other posts & thought we had similar stories. I’m very happy now, and I knew that working & parenting would have bumps and some times where i’d think “oh shit, why did I trade in on staying at home.” There’ve been bumps, but shockingly, no regrets about the choice. Which makes me happy! And validated!

        But I can also see how if you’re miserable in your job, SAHM would be a better option. It’s not black & white, and it’s a personal decision some ppl are lucky enough to have a choice in.

        Well, you’re more than welcome in MY kitchen if you wanna make me some food. I suck at that too.
        Jamie recently posted..Makin’ Cakes! (Yogurt Cake Recipe Time)My Profile
        Twitter: jamiemcq15

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  4. Stephanie says:

    So this is where I vent a little. Not at one particular just out loud. Why? Because I woke up at 4AM this morning and decided I didn’t like the titles SAHM vs Working Mom. Yes, I stay at home. But it is job that I do 24/7. No vacation time. No calling in sick. Some days I don’t get a lunch break. No pay check. I just do it. Yes it may be different for me due to I have 5 kids (yeppers! That’s me Alicia mentioned:) But in general SAHM are on duty ALWAYS.

    Now don’t get me wrong. In NO way do I think one choice is better than the other. It is absolutely a choice. Not everyone enjoys staying home and they are genuinely a better parent if they work outside of the home. It was my choice to stay at home and raise my kids. It is something that I always wanted to do but never thought it actually possible. It is also that choice that leaves me feeling guilty that I do it. My husband works his ass off and I feel like I don’t contribute enough some days because I don’t bring in a pay check. At the same point it would cost a bloody fortune to put the kids in child care. Which leaves me working to pay someone else.

    I love staying home with my kids. I’m glad that I am here for their every first. But I also admire all of you ladies who work outside of the home. I tip my hat to you for making it work for you AND your family:)

    The title SAHM just sounds like I don’t work. But that’s just today in my early morning ramblings. It didn’t bother me yesterday and I will likely be over it tomorrow. Maybe it is just the lack of sleep talking:)

    Reply
    • All moms work. My title is Office Administrator. And Mom. I’m one and then the other. Momming, Dadding, Grandparenting, Aunting, Uncling…those are all titles which imply that we, to some varying degree, work at a constant pace. That job? Is never done. My momming doesn’t end when I go to my office, I just take care of someone else’s shit for 7.5hrs:)
      It’s not about working vs not working. It’s office vs house. Kids vs …well…adults that mostly act like kids. It’s about owning up to what we are mentally, physically and emotionally equipped to handle. And not being afraid to say: I stay at home and I love it. OR I work out of the house and I love it.
      No comparisons about the struggles can possibly be made. They are wholly different jobs.
      mrshiggison (@mrshiggison) recently posted..Thrifty Thursday: Patio Set ReduxMy Profile
      Twitter: mrshiggison

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    • LK says:

      I think SAHM is just meant to be descriptive, so as to distinguish between moms who stay at home to take care of their kids (and don’t get a paycheck), moms work outside the home for a paycheck, and moms who work at home for a paycheck. Anyone who is a mom knows that SAHMs do a TON of work despite their lack of a paycheck. There just has to be ways of describing the different lifestyle choices.
      As a work outside the home mom (WOHM?), I have my own gripes in the way language is used. For instance, SAHMs say “I chose to stay home to raise my kids.” This implies that those of us who work outside the home aren’t raising our kids, and I just object to that notion completely. Yes, it’s true that my husband and I rely on other people to take care of our children while we’re at work, be they family members or other caregivers, but I still view us as the ones who are “raising” our kids.
      So, I guess we all have our sensitivities about how language is used to describe us as mothers. Overall, I think this post was great in trying to get us to move past judging or taking offense based on different parenting “lifestyles,” and recognize that we are all doing our best in our particular situations and all of us are working hard.

      Reply
      • mrshiggison says:

        Ack! I didn’t see this til now- sorry! Because I couldn’t agree with you more.
        You heard what I meant to say: the language itself is the problem- not our choices. I can’t see myself as anything more or less that I’m doing right now. THIS is what makes sense to me. I spent a lot of time thinking that I should have been a SAHM because it seemed right…where did I even get that idea? Not in my own head.
        I raise my daughters. They know that. That’s why they refer to our nanny by her name and me as Mom:)
        mrshiggison recently posted..A [long winded] Love LetterMy Profile
        Twitter: mrshiggison

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    • But as a working mom who works freelance on top of a mostly full time office job without perks, my job is 24/7, too. I don’t get a vacation from being a mom. Heck, as a freelancer, I don’t get vacations from work, either. I think working moms get a little sad when they hear it implied (and I’m not saying you meant to do this) that they get all these amazing breaks or vacations or perks or whatever. I still have to educated and nurture my child, do the laundry, cook, clean, etc. All the same stuff I had to do as a SAHM – now I just have to squeeze it into fewer hours. Everything you do, us working moms do, too. (Unless we have nannies and housekeepers, etc., but most don’t.) And it’s not my choice – it’s essentially a choice the recession made for us :(
      Christa the BabbyMama recently posted..Me, Imperfect, at 29 Weeks of PregnancyMy Profile
      Twitter: mommeetmom

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  5. I think part of the friction stems from the folks like me who don’t have a CHOICE. I would rather be a SAHM or part-time WAHM (like I used to be) but our financial circumstances changed dramatically and rapidly with the downturn so I’m back at work. And I know SAHMs who feel just as stuck because they’re only home because they couldn’t find a job after a year of trying or they have a special needs little one, etc. I’m not saying I engage in this, but I can understand a tendency to defend yourself when you’re stuck in a non-choice or you feel unconsciously that your choice is somehow less valuable (or less valued). So much of the nonsense in the mommy wars stems from internal stuff, IMO.
    Christa the BabbyMama recently posted..Me, Imperfect, at 29 Weeks of PregnancyMy Profile
    Twitter: mommeetmom

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