Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mommy Wars: Working Mama vs. SAHM

If you are ever bored and feel like entertaining yourself by pushing someone's crazy button, go up to a mom and you can count on certain issues to put them on the nutty train. Not all moms of course, some of us are more concerned with out own lives than those of others, but some moms are very opinionated on what lifestyle all families should leave.

I am a working mom. For some people this idea is just awful. I am a bad parent. I didn't make all the sacrifices necessary to be able to stay with them. Currently they are with the next best thing, Grandma, and in a few months they will be headed to daycare. To a daycare that was previewed by our foster kiddos and they loved it. Based on some opinions that I have recently received, I may as well drop them off at an orphanage because I must not love my children very much if I am considering daycare.

I do not have a fancy shmancy career and I am not at work so that I can afford my BMW, my manicures, and a pricey wardrobe from Nordstrom's, such as some mom feel must be the only reason a parent would work. The last time I went to the nail salon was in October and it was a treat from my mommy. I drive a Corolla which does not have a car payment and gets amazing gas mileage. I continue to drive it even though it looks like a clown car when my over six foot hubby steps out of the driver seat and then twins pop out the back. Don't get me wrong, I think there is nothing wrong with hard working moms spending their money on BMW's and Nordstrom's at all, in fact, I admire those Mama's. But for some judgemental beyotch to try to tell me if I just gave up a Starbuck's run and an SUV and then my children would forever be grateful and I would be a "real" mom just makes me angry!

What I do have, which in my opinion should be a basic human right, as a result of my job is benefits. I can take the sicko monkeys to the doctor anytime because I work. We can go do fun things on the weekends because I work. We can take trips to see Grandma and Grampa because I work. We can wear clothes and eat food because I work. If I did not work we could still eat and have a house, but that's about it. I have never judged a parent for staying home. To me, that is a luxury, so I can't fathom why some women are so judgemental towards working mother's. There are very few long term differences between children who stayed with their moms and those that went to daycare. Around 5 children who were in daycare instead of at home are both more likely to have aggressive behavior (not good) and also more likely to have better vocabularies (good).

I work with children and was watching at a field trip we were on. I have guilt and I of course get jealous when I see moms at the park with their kids. The thing that made me feel more contented that day was watching three moms with their children. They sat and chatted while their children played (which I have no problem with whatsoever). They had 5 children between the three of them. Then I watched what was going with us. We had 27 children between the 3 of us and to be completely honest, our poor, sad, unloved daycare kids were getting as much, if not more attention as the kids there with their moms. I know that the daycare that the babies will be attending is awesome. I love the teachers and the environment. Do I wish that I could be happy and we could do all those things together if I was at home with the babies? Of course! But for today, it's not possible. If I had the luxury of staying at home, I think I would still choose to work one or two days a week and I don't feel bad about that. To say that I absolutely couldn't stay at home without lots of sacrifices is a lie, but I don't want to make those kinds of sacrifices because I don't think they would be very beneficial to Ocean and Peanut.

I remember when I was a nanny in college and we would hang out with the stay at home moms and their kids. One of them pulled me aside and asked me if the parents loved the children that I watched. I was completely astonished. The kids I watched are their parents pride and joy. The time they spent together was the highest quality of any family I'd ever seen. Their parent's played video games with them, cooked with them, they went skateboarding together. I just thought it was unbelievable that anyone would even ask that question. That was my first taste of the judgemental world of mommyhood.

I've received my own comments from strangers, friends and family. I had a coworker who is unmarried and also not a mom herself tell me all about how she would never work after having kids and if she couldn't afford to stay home she just wouldn't have kids. She was saying this to me as I was sitting at my desk, working. With kids. Many things ran through my head but I stopped myself from giving her a lecture because it would be lost on her. So I changed the subject.

Aside from wanting to slap sense into her, I felt a pang of guilt. Should I have waited until it was an option? But I know firsthand that dreams of what life should be like and what reality has in store for you is very different. It took all the money we had just to get the babies, so time that we could have been paying things off and saving was spent at the RE's office on tests and procedures. If my eggs were rotten losers at 23, what would they be at 35 when our student loans are paid off and we had years of careers under our belt? It probably wouldn't have been good.

The other thing that makes me so angry is when stay at home moms tell me that they have to clean all day and it's very hard, much harder than having to go to work. Listen lady, I have to clean too. Just because I work doesn't mean that the laundry fairy and the toilet cleaning bunny stop by as a gift to me.

The moral of the story: I don't need anyone telling me that I should stay home. I have happy, loved, extra adorable babies even though I have a job (unbelievable, right?). I like having money in my bank account even though I'm a mom. I don't understand the judgement as I don't think mothers who stay at home are lazy and rich or aren't as smart as I am (I hear some people say that being at home is not intellectually stimulating enough for them, which I also consider rude because you are basically saying you are smarter than a stay at home mom, so that's not cool either). I don't need any help feeling guilt for not spending all my time with my children, but thank you anyway for trying to do that for me. I love my kids as much as anyone although I shouldn't have to explain that to you.

The monkeys might be more likely to punch your kids in the face when they go to Kindergarten, but they are also more likely to be smarter than those kids because I am "dumping them off" at a good daycare and heading into work to bring home some bacon and healthcare. So there.




  1. Here is some food for thought too. I am a SAHM and yet, from what I've observed, working moms tend to appreciate their kids a little more than those of us who SAH. I'm not saying working moms LOVE their kids more, just they appreciate them more. Again, let me say I AM A STAY AT HOME MOM. I have lots and lots of friends (in fact MOST of my friends) work outside the home. Their kids are in daycare or have nannies. Many many times, I am envious of how appreciative they are of their children. They get excited about the little things more, brag on their kids more (in a good way, not an annoying way), they WANT to be with their kids more than I do. I often think I should go back to work because it just seems that although they may be more stressed in the day to day routine than I am, the working moms I know just seem happier to be around their own kids! There are a host of reasons I'm not back at work and I won't go into them on your blog, but I'm not so bold as to think I have it better or my kid has it better because I stay home with her. I think the grass is always greener, whichever side of the fence you mommy on. But from what I witness, the grass may be just a 'tad' more emerald-like when you're a working mom. And that's a good thing.

  2. Very Well said Ashley.I sometimes felt guilty about working when i first went back to work after maternity leave. I know my daughter is well taken care of by her dad and grandma while im at work. My husband have chossen to work opposite shifts so that our child can have plenty mommy and daddy time and not have to attend daycare if possible. We plan on putting her in to a preschool program when she is 3-4 years old so she can learn social skills, and such things as colors,numbers,letters and things we have already been teaching her.Working i think has its advantages and makes us better parnets when we are home with our children.

  3. Thank you for this post!! I am going to be a working mom and I'm already getting the comments. Especially from people that know a little about our life now and think we could certainly afford for me to stay at home. How about just wanting to work too? Why does that have to mean I love working/my job more than my child?? I hate the judgements!

  4. Well put mama! I agree totally. I have one two year old and one on the way. I work full time and so does my husband and would not have it any other way. I love that my husband and I do it together and we still love our kids and in our free time spend as much time with Wyatt right now as we can. Thanks for this post. At least I am not the only one who thinks like this.

  5. For close to 15 years, I was the lady that working moms dropped their most precious possessions off with. If there were not working moms, I wouldn't have had a job. I worked in early childhood settings for years, caring for infants and toddlers and running programs for those ages. (a word of caution... 12 months is a very hard age to transition a baby from the all day care of a grandparent to full time group care. Be prepared for a potentially rough couple weeks. The first few days will be new and fun, but when reality hits, they may rebel a bit on you) I do believe I am lucky to have the priviledge of staying hoem with my twins. they go to kindergarten in the fall and I am happy I was able to stay home with them. I may return to work, but it will be hard to work around the school day schedule and calendar. I am looking forward to being able to volunteer at their school a lot as well. So, my SAHM status will most likely continue.

    I will say that there are amazing settings for children to thrive and grow in while having the safety and love of educated teachers. Then, there are also places so horrible you wouldn't feel good leaving an aminal there. Those daycares tarnish the industry. One time, I literally left during an interview... no way could I spend one more minute in that daycare facility. I can't believe parents could drop their kids off there!

    It is sad that mothers everywhere are not a supportive network for each other. People are just judgemental by nature I guess. As a mother of a special needs child, I've definitely been on the receiving end. Then, I'll admit, I have been on the eye-rolling end too. I honestly do not think there is any reason a 2 year old needs a Slurpie drink. Sorry. My opinion, LOL

  6. I can not believe that people are doling out judgment to you!!!!!!! Shame on them. There is no one "right" way to parent. As for that idiot girl at your job who said she would not have kids unless she could stay at home -- forgive me for snorting. She sounds really incredibly young and naiive. I hope she is so lucky and that she also matures and wisens up a bit. I admire you for not trying to lay down some wisdom on her! It would be so hard for me not to say something!!!

  7. It is so easy to fall into mommy guilt!

    I now find myself on the other side from where I was. When I was working I was so excited to go home to my baby. She was with her grandma too which is so nice and I never ever had to worry about her. But at times I felt guilty. I hated getting home at 6:30 when her bedtime is often 7 or 7:30. That left me precious little time with her in the evenings.

    Now I am a SAHM, not by choice obviously but here I am. I love being home with her but it is also exhausting!

    I have to work to afford any life. My husband is a teacher and can't afford any more than our insurance and mortgage (don't get me started on teacher pay). Sad, but true. But the truth is that I want to work. I love my career and I get a lot out of it and need to be around other adults. I think the perfect balance is a great part time job! But where would I find that and it wouldn't pay enough anyway!

    If you need to or want to work, do it! If you want to stay at home and can, do it. I don't have any judgment on this topic. I totally agree there are pros and cons for each situation.

    I know you'd like to stay home, at least more, so good luck with those lottery tickets!

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  9. Ugh...just lost my long reply! I'll try again...Great post, Ashley! Hate that it has to be so judgemental "out there". When I was a school teacher (in OH) I was in awe of my co-workers who were raising children of all ages. How did they balance it all?! I had many of their children in my class over the years. All I could think was that they were doing something right! They also gave me hope that I could do it too! But...sometimes things do not work out the way you we are finally "having" children in our 40's, on the other side of the country, away from friends nd family, and I am an at-home mom! Not quite the way we planned. It is funny though as I seem to be on the other end of the comments/judging you mention. I recently had another mom in DD's gymnastics class say to me, "R is not much of a risk-taker, is she?" I smiled and said she suddenly seems to be going through a shy phase. Her next comment was, "Is she in daycare, pre-school or does she stay home with you all day." I said I was an at-home mom. She then said, "I see..." and was nodding her head. Boy, did I feel judged:(...yes, I am at home all day with my almost 3 year old who politely says please, thank you and you're welcome, waits her turn, doesn't push kids aside or yell and scream when they take a toy from her, is patient, can spell her name, knows her ABC's, numbers to 30 and colors etc...yes, I guess felt a little defensive too. Of course, I said nothing and just stood there uncomfortably like I was failing my DD in some way:(...It's hard either way sometimes. As always, your pics are darling. You are doing a wonderful job, Mommy Ashley! :-) Lori

  10. I've done both, for ME being a SAHM is much better for our family...I'm way less stressed/anxious.
    Working was harder for me, cleaning my house clean, working and being a mum was too much. People kept saying it would get easier and for 3 years it never did...I woke up miserable for 3 years and had serious anxiety on Monday mornings.
    Different things work for different families and nothing makes me more annoyed when people think one is better than the other!

  11. *keeping my house clean

    -Should not watch Big Bang Theory and blog :P

  12. Hi Again! I was doing my usual check on blogs and sites I like to peek at and came across this entry...
    Not sure if you have followed this site at all...some funny stuff...the one that caught my attention and is related to your blog post today is the second one...scroll down to the white baby shoes...oh, about passing judgement!!! Wow...people have no clue..."filters needed"! Hope it's okay to share this here... Lori :-)

  13. Ashley, I remeber the day that SAHM asked you that question and how shocked u were.
    I don't have kids but i've been a nanny for quiet a while and all I can say is, that there is a difference between a mom who works and comes home and cares for her child and a mom who works and works and works and the kid goes from daycare to daycare.
    and again I don't have any children, but I think whatever works best for your situation is the best for you, no matter if others see it the same way.
    Be proud of your decision!!!

  14. Sorry to post a second comment, but I forgot....
    i'm born and raised in Germany. There we have 1 year paid maternity leave and that 1 year everyone goes to daycare.... and even worse to public daycare.....
    imagine the horror all the neglected children fighting over toys and beating each other.....
    We r a small country but we're still right up there with the big ones even though our kids r in public daycare

  15. You're right, Ashey. Each family does what WORKS for them. We should not judge anyone for doing what they do. Hope the kiddos LOVE their new school! They certainly are dolls, and I can't believe they are going to be ONE!!!

  16. "it looks like a clown car when my over six foot hubby steps out of the driver seat and then twins pop out the back" - just cracked me up! :)
    It breaks my heart to think of taking my baby to work, but it is my reality. But I would be deeply happy to leave her with my mom! We're all praying that it works out for my mom to do that. If I could choose my ideal, I would stay home 'til she went to kindergarden, but having mom keep her is a close second. But NOT going back to work is not an option for us!

  17. To Ashley and everyone who commented here, it really helped me to read everyone's comments and thoughts. I'm really struggling with going back to work. It doesn't really ease the guilt, but it's good to know babies of working moms still turn out ok!

  18. lol I just re-read my first post, and I meant to say, "breaks my heart to think of taking my baby to daycare when I go back to work"
    * should not watch Bones and blog ;)

  19. Great post, Ashley! I actually read it a couple of days ago and have been thinking about it since then. But last night I was talking with my mom (who also is watching our twins for the first year) and I mentioned how maybe I could stay home if we cut out this, that, and the other thing. And like you, I'm talking about basics like food. :) She said, "You could stay here, I guess, but who would want to at that point?" I really appreciate your perspective, and your pictures! What cute little faces!


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