There are exactly two things most moms can agree on: We love our kids like crazy. This sh*t ain’t easy. It takes superhuman amounts of guts, energy, love, empathy, and so many other important qualities to raise kids. And in our ever-public world of social media where every single thing we do is documented, shared, agreed upon (or not!), it’s easy to compare. But here’s the thing: Lately I can’t seem to get through a conversation or an article without hearing (or reading) about moms who have it “easier.” And it’s really starting to bug me.
I read a really cute blog post recently about what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom. The writer’s depiction of a day-in-the-life was so spot-on, I was laughing out loud as I read it. But I couldn’t share the post. Because right in the opening paragraph, she claimed that working moms have it easy, and that didn’t sit well with me.
My mind went immediately to my friends with kids who work. The way they describe the feeling they sometimes get when leaving their homes in the morning, like they’re leaving a limb behind. Some love their jobs and some just stay for the health benefits. None of them got enough maternity leave and I’m betting most of them don’t get enough sleep, either.
For working moms, life is a juggling act. Their days start early and end late. If they’re breastfeeding, many of them are pumping in supply closets or office bathrooms. Sometimes they miss bedtime. Working mommies feel the pressure of making the most of every evening and weekend; they might not be there for every meltdown, but they’re also not there for all the good stuff, either. There are plenty of pros to be a working mom, too, of course. But let’s not start an article about the trials of stay-at-home mom life by pretending our sisters who are working have it “easy.” Because they don’t. None of us do.
Then you have the stay-at-home moms, like me. I am a very calm person with an enormous heart, but every time someone asks me what I do all day, I want to punch them. Being a stay-at-home mom does not mean hitting up the Starbucks drive-through with hubby’s credit card or hanging out watching Disney movies all day. Stay-at-home moms do drink a fair amount of coffee, but it’s almost always cold. With only one income, a lot of us are on tight budgets. And even if there’s room on the credit card for a splurge, alone time is not a thing.
And we aren’t watching movies all day. To get ahead in today’s crazy-competitive school system, stay-at-home moms spend the early years teaching ABCs and creating meaningful, exciting, sensory learning opportunities despite many of us not being trained to do so. And a lot of us do the bulk of the housework and errands for our families, meaning no breaks and no end to the to-do lists, plus no extra income to pay for help. Some SAHM’ers (like yours truly) get really shy and awkward in social situations because we’re so used to being home with the kids — the natural camaraderie of office banter is a thing of the past.
I’ve been told that I’m lucky that I get to stay home with my daughter, and that we must be “rich.” I know the first part is true, because staying home is something I enjoy. But the assumption about money is a real joke. For many moms, getting a job in our field would mean breaking even on commuting and childcare. Trust me, I’ve tried. The best offer I got would have left me about $60 a week to play with. This is not the case for everyone, but it is for us. That’s the main reason I’m home.
Here’s the thing, though: Even if you are a “rich” stay-at-home mom, so what? Maybe that means you’re hitting up the Starbucks drive-through more than I am, in a fancier car than I drive, and wearing more expensive yoga pants than I am. But I know you don’t have it easy. You’re still a mom. Your lifestyle might afford certain luxuries someone else’s doesn’t, but who the hell am I to judge?
And as for the working moms, I bow down to you. Because you might have the opportunity to drink your coffee hot during the week and scroll the Internet shopping in peace on your lunch hour, but I know your hustle is real. Sure, it’s nice to contribute to the family income and/or shoulder part or all of the healthcare burden, and I bet that boosts your self esteem in ways that my own has not been boosted in a long time. But I know there are times when you feel ridiculously overwhelmed, just like I do, so I’ll say it again — we’re both amazing, and neither of us gets a lower score at parenting to account for an “easier” life.
And when did we all start competing with each other anyway, and why? My mom-friends do all different things — stay home, work in corporate jobs, do hair for a living. Some work part-time, others full-time, and the ones who truly get my crazy do what I do — they work from home when their kids are sleeping or otherwise engaged. And even though our finances, parenting styles, and so much more about us is totally different, we aren’t looking around wondering who’s better off. We have empathy. We listen. We share.
I try really hard to get out of my bubble of home and close friends, but the rhetoric in the mommy community these days makes me want to just go hide sometimes. I don’t understand why any mom assumes the right to question how much another mom is doing, or claim she has it easy. Can’t we just ditch that tired, judgmental thinking and pat each other on the backs? We might be doing it differently, but we’re all doing it. Isn’t that enough?
More Mom Confessions:
- How I Dealt with the Teacher Who Judged My Parenting
- I’m So Over the Elitism of the Crunchy Mama Movement
- Being a Single Mom Doesn’t Make Me a Tragic Hero