An article is going around Facebook on the perils of being a working mom. My mom friends, who work outside of the home, appreciate “someone who gets it.” I also read the piece more out of curiosity and wanting to “get it” better myself as a stay-at-home/work-part-time-at-home (SAH/WAH) mom. I wanted to know how I could be a better friend to my working outside of the home (WOH) mom friends.
Afterwards, I perused the comments (oops) and multiple moms stated, “This is true for ALL moms.” Really? Because I don’t think my life is the same as a 60 hour-a-week working mom. Do we have feelings in common? Of course, we are both human parents. Do we have very different challenges some days? Yes, we haven’t structured our lives the same. Is one life easier than the other? It depends whether our lives are a choice we made rather than having to work or stay at home.
Obviously, every choice has its give and take whether we are choosing to stay at home or choosing to work. Even those, in the best careers for them, can’t have everything at every moment, but they are happy most of the time. The same is true for my friends who opt to stay at home. It’s not perfect or easy, but it’s good because it was their choice.
However, a growing group of women don’t chose whether to stay at home or work. Some women must at stay home due to their job prospects, which don’t allow them to afford daycare or don’t offer enough flexibility to be a parent. There are also women who must work because of the cost of living in the area, school loans, or medical expenses. There are women who can’t work because of the medical needs to their child and women who must work because their spouse can’t or won’t or don’t exist and someone has to provide the basic needs for the family.
Now we can argue people’s choices — choosing to send a child to an expensive private school or choosing to have multiple children — as bad or good or ones which the take away the right to complain, but the idea that women, who work or stay at home by choice, are somehow at odds with each other is a reflection of not feeling comfortable or valued within the choice. But if we listed out details from each life, they would look merely different — some things are easier for working moms and some things are easier for stay-at-home moms. In the end, it’s not an either/or proposition.
Those of us who pay attention to what we can control and what brings out the best in us an individuals and in our family and can make decisions accordingly, should honor the differences and support each other whether it’s through offering to drive the WOH mom’s child to a school activity or offering to watch the SAH mom’s kids so she can get to the doctor’s office. And those of us who have little to no choice in whether we work or stay at home need all of the parents to come together to offer better policies in daycare, healthcare and education. We shouldn’t be worrying about whether we are getting noticed for our hard work, we should be making sure everyone can make good choices and have a community to count on.