there is a stigma about stay at home moms.
there is a stigma about working moms.
seriously... what are mom's supposed to do? we're damned if we do, damned if we don't.
our harshest critics are nearly always other moms, other soon to be moms, other wish i were moms, other i could make a better moms. i guess it's true what they say, "it's a dog eat dog world." i am sick of seeing the judgements on both sides. we should be each others most diligent supporters, no matter the difference in opinion about how we raise our children.
i am a working mother. i am a working mother who wishes so badly that i could be a stay at home mom. i am stuck in the middle. i hate hearing the misconceptions from both sides about the other... today i am going to tackle some misconceptions about working mothers.
well meaning women are constantly giving me, what they think is encouragement or advice, about becoming a stay at home mother. things like studies they have read about how much it really costs for you to work, about how children of stay at home moms are more likely to succeed at school, about how it didn't make sense for them to return work assuming it wouldn't make sense for us either. i know they are trying to be an encouragement, a source of knowledge, they are not meaning to be hurtful.
please, please, please keep your comments and opinions to yourself. please don't tell working mothers that all their hard work is futile. do not say anything even close it. these women are sacrificing a lot, to do what they believe is the best for their family. and they probably already beat themselves up for it on a daily basis. your well meaning comments, are hurting them more than you believe. most of them are wracked with guilt over leaving their children to go to a job (that they love or hate) everyday. do not assume they haven't worked over the numbers. do not assume you know what they should do, or what they are doing. every family is different, and every family is trying to do what is best. it may be a sacrifice for you to stay at home, and it most definitely is a sacrifice for her to go to work.
i have ran into many, many, many, people who believe that the cost of a working mother (childcare, transportation, eating out, tax benefits vs increased tax brackets) proves that it makes no sense for a mother to work. this in some cases may be true. this more often than not is false. it might be true if you have a job in retail or make minimum wage, it is definitely not true for us.
people really believe that by making "small cuts in your budget" you can afford to have a stay at home parent. people tell me that all the time. "it's hard, we make sacrifices, but we do it so i can stay home" guess what? it's hard for us, we make sacrifices, and i still have to work. we clip coupons. we have super cheap pre-paid cell phone plans. we do not have cable. we have the same old, on the last leg, cars that we have driven for years. we do not get new clothes until our old ones are worn with holes and faded, and when we do we don't get name brands. all of ashers toys and clothes have been gifted to us or consignment and garage sale finds. we don't get to eat steak. we rarely go out to eat (papa murphy's and dollar menu mcdonald's do sneak their way into our house sometimes). we have had 4 date nights since asher was born. i do not work so we can live a lavish life. i work so we can survive. we scrimp and scrape and sacrifice just so we can survive.
the average income of a person age 25 and above in the united states is $32140 (in 2005). even if the cost of working nears $15000 a year, to make up for it you would have to cut $17140 from your annual budget to break out even. that is almost $1450 a month. i don't know anyone who can cut $1450 a month from their budget. make the cost of working jump to $20000 a year (or almost $1675 a month), and that would still make you have to cut over $1000 a month to break back to the same even amount of 2 incomes. not doable for most people.
i often hear stay at home mom's griping about all the work they have to do, and how nice it would be to be able to afford the extra help, assuming working mothers can. it is true that some working mothers can afford a nanny, a cook, or someone to clean their house. sure wish i was one of them, that would be a great help! but i do not know many of these working moms. a working mom has all the same jobs a stay at home mom does. we still have to cook, and clean, and do laundry. we do yard work, and care for pets. we have to pay bills, and budget, and grocery shop. we have to drag the kids around, and schedule their activities. we have to discipline our kids, and wish we had more time to play with them. we have to do it all too. we have to do it all, before and after working 8 hours, being out of the house for 10 hours a day. really... it's a wonder working mothers have time to sleep.
some people assume that working mothers must be status driven, power hungry, workaholics; they are people who spend all their time working. some might be. but some are working jobs they marginally like, or even hate, just so they can afford the gift of having a family. to assume that they are all hungry for work, rather than their family is a doing a disservice to mothers everywhere. and working mothers may spend all their time working; working, or taking care of their family. but that is not because it all they want to do. most working mothers have dreams and aspirations outside of work and family. most working mothers have hobbies and things they like to do. they would love to have the time to be crafty, or write a novel, or go garage saleing. working moms want to learn cook gourmet meals, and do things homemade and organic. they want to go to the movies, and read books, and have date nights, and girls nights and days at the zoo. the thing is... after working 8 hours a day, doing the daily chores, and taking care of their children; there is little time left to do things they want to do. dreams and hobbies and plans out have to be pushed aside, for the greater good of their family. it is not that they only love work, it is that work is the only thing they have time for. and since when is wanting to be good at something, wanting to do your best at something, a bad thing? a working mom may want to succeed at her job, she may work hard at their job everyday. and she should. her children should see that she is working hard, and that she is doing the best she can. then they will learn to do the same. the majority of her day is spent at work, and she should want to succeed at it, she should want to better her work life. in doing so, she may better her life enough that eventually she can stay home. doing the best you are able is not a bad thing.
others think that working mothers must not care about the well being of their families. why else would they desert their jobs as a wife and mother to go do another job? i assure you, there is not a working mother in existence who doesn't love their family, who doesn't believe they are doing what is the best for their family. whatever the reason is, even if the reason is so their children can wear brand name clothes and have more opportunities (whether you feel that is right or not); that is what they believe is the best thing for their family. parents do not willingly enter into the world, or into the workforce trying to do their family harm. they do whatever it is they think will give their family the best outcome. and sometimes that outcome is having 2 working parents. i have met plenty of children and adults who have come from both situations. guess what? there are messed up people in both categories. 2 working parent families, stay at home parent families, they both raise great outstanding children who can succeed in the world. they also both produce children who fail miserably and struggle for a lifetime. do not make people think they are doing their children a disservice. they are doing the best they can, same as you, and both of you may produce successes or failures.
which leads to me another point. people think that someday, your children will grow older and resent you for leaving them in the care for someone else. that working will eventually ruin your parent-child bond. you know what i think after working with children, adolescents, and adults at various stages in my own life?... i think that no matter what you do, your children will find some reason at sometime in their life to resent you. the stay at home moms will be resented just as much as the working moms, but for different reasons.
i know that being a stay at home mom is a fulltime job. i understand that completely, and i wish it could be my fulltime job. being a mom is work, hard work, it is draining. you are on the job 24 hours a day for the rest of your life, no matter what you do. i truly believe that being a working mom is the hardest job in the world. they are essentially working 2 fulltime jobs, and are being ridiculed for it along the way. they feel guilty, and sad that they can't be with their children, but the belief that they are doing the best thing keeps them going. please be careful with your interactions with working moms. they are just as fragile as you are, maybe even more so, about the delicate tissue that is their family.
and sometime soon i'll share what i think about stay at home moms and all the misconceptions they are faced with as well... i am an advocate for both. do me a favor this week... support one another, love one another, whether you agree or not. we should be each others greatest support, not the harshest critic.