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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

...we are all working parents...


So I have really been thinking a lot about the whole working mother/stay at home mother "feud."
Just lately I have taken a part time job as an administrative assistant. It is a two days a week job that is supposed to last through the summer. My mother babysits half the time and the teenage sister of my boss babysits the other. What has gotten me aggravated though, are all the well-intentioned people that are saying "oh, it is so good for you to get away from your children." I probably wouldn't get quite as annoyed if they were saying that it is good for me to get out into adult interaction...
this is very true...
....but they always, without fail, say: "away from my children." I know I am a bit biased, but my kids are really great and I don't have any desire to get away from them. Whenever I need a break, my husband will stay with them or even takes them out so I can have the house to myself (where I usually indulge in wild house cleaning sessions...what can I say...I'm an animal) or they go with Grandma, or my closest friend, Susie. They are not lacking for time away from me---nor I from them. I have also heard that they need to learn their independence. True. Don't worry, though, I have thought of that, as well. The transition to having a babysitter thrust into their lives while I work was so smooth they didn't even miss me.
I have been getting the impression, as I have always, that people really do not believe that to stay home with my kids was a choice for me. A choice that I am well aware that I am lucky to have. I wasn't forced into it by my macho Mexican husband. Yes....I was asked that as well. This was my choice, supported by my husband, and a lot of thought went into it. I thought about the social aspect, the independence and every other thing that I could think of that would affect the kids, as well as my relationship with my husband.
I also know that there are plenty of mothers who are working and wish they could stay home...and many more who are working and wouldn't want it any other way. My own mother worked while I was growing up. I just wish we could all see, and accept that we have made choices which are relevant to ourselves and our own situations and stop downgrading these choices in others.
Another friend of mine, who works outside the home full time, is very happy with her decision and I am definitely in awe over that---so many things to juggle. I respect her choice to do this---it isn't the choice for me but nevertheless I respect it. But not too far back she asked me "so what do you do all day?" I found myself being taken aback because it was the first time I had actually been asked this oft-clich├ęd question. I remember trying to mumble out a list of everything that I did in a day...a sort of schedule...but who can honestly do that? Every single day presents different challenges...something new. The next day, when I thought about it...I wished I would have said "everything that you pay your daycare provider to do, plus anything you do when you get home, as well as all the mother guilt and worry." But what can I say, being a stay at home mom has melted my brain from lack of use. Honestly, though, I do wish we could all just respect everyone's choices and try our hardest not to say anything stupid.
So what about you? Are you a working mom, a stay at mom (or dad) who has had to field thoughtless, insensitive, ignorant questions or statements about your chosen way to parent? How did you respond...or wish you had responded?

7 comments:

  1. oooo.. this subject is one that is controversial for sure. I have chosen to stay home with my child (soon to be children)because I felt very strongly that bringing and raising a child in this world was my choice and MY responsibility. I do not fault those moms who choose to work; there are definitely those days I wish I could be in a pantsuit, at a sales presentation, or lunch meetings. But,I always think how fleeting these moments are and how grateful I am that I am here with my precious boy. What could be more important?
    I have an ultra-feminist sister who cannot get her brain around the fact that so many of her sisters have opted to be SAHMs. This is why I feel so strongly about the subject, she thinks I am wasting my brain, life, and time. To her and those who think I should send my child to daycare I say... "how sad."

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  2. Well likeAstar, you say you don't fault moms that choose to work, but your "How sad," comment certainly seems to belittle their choice.

    I am not a mom. And like you already know Rachel, I don't have a burning desire to have children. My husband wants a family much more than I do. We've talked about this many a time and our conclusion is that if we have a. enough money saved, or b. I'm making enough money on my own, he will stay home when we have a baby. The other best case scenario would be that he is running he own business and that I'm a famous writer with the leisure to write when and where I want to, so we could both be there to bring up our child and support each other's careers on a day to day basis.

    Rach, it really does amaze me the preconceived notions that people can't seem to get out of their heads. You MUST stay home because your machista Mexican husband forced you, you MUST be going crazy, your brain MUST be rotting away...because you know, being a mom is super easy and educating your children to be good people is not a challenge at all. yeaaaaaaah.

    And I'm on the other end of the spectrum. Just because I've been married for two years now I MUST be ready for children.

    Society has boxes that people seem to think we should all fit in. But life just isn't that neat and tidy.

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  3. mamacita: the "how sad" comment has to do with people who JUDGE ME for my decision.

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  4. Hmm, so one of the hottest debates out there! I like the "neat and tidy" life comment. Yes, if we had it "neat and tidy" Zach would have been making plenty of money by the time the oops, I mean "surpise/blessing", of our first came along. I cannot let someone else see the firsts of my baby, feel like someone else raises my kids, OR leave them for a full day of work full time. So could we have desperately needed the money of a working mom--YES. Have we learned to live simply, and without--YES. And is it just a very short time to sacrifice to have a full time mommy--YES! BUT, if I had my own mother or family member to babysit, I might choose differently, if I had a great and passionate career, I may have chosen differently also. So I do my best not to judge those who have chosen differently. I have worked part time on design projects thru the years, and have fortunately worked out the sitting with friends, hubby and relatives. Part time seems to be a great idea for you Rach, your kids are old enough now to have fun without you, and still miss you a little bit at least!! I think its an exciting way to "feed your soul" a bit, and make you a better mom and wife when you get home, thankful to have missed your family for a day! I once saw a study saying that working moms actually had more quality time with their kids since they were gone so much they savored the time together more. I dunno, I could debate that one, but I see the point.
    (whew, you got us talking didn't you!)

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  5. Your blog stated this (sensitive)subject very well. I was a stay-at-home mom for thirty-five years and loved it. I now work full- time--and love it! To each his/her own.

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  6. I guess I think that comment is better than what I received when I was working very part time when my kids were little. I worked for 9 months a few hours a day and my kids were in my home with a friend of mine who watched them. I got comments like, "You should be home with your children" etc.

    I have opinions on this subject but often they are case by case and situation by situation. I can't say all moms should stay home or just work part time when single moms have to work full time just to pay the bills, but I do tend to lean towards thinking that if you have children you should do everything you can to be their primary childcare provider. I personally have been home for 7 years (outside of that short stint years ago). This was a choice on my part to stay home. We sacrificed and made it work because I wanted to be with my kids. I do get peeved when people say they don't make enough to stay home when literally we made it work on nearly NOTHING for the first 3 years I was home!

    My kids are both in all day school this year and I will be working when they are in school. My first time in 7 years having a real career type job! I'm SOOOO excited!!

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  7. I'm a childless full-time working hag that has to respond to "When are you having kids?" Tomorrow!

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