Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Mommyhood: Working mom, stay-at-home mom...which is better? And why are we still talking about this?
Many people ask me "So what's it like being a mom now?". I don't quite know how to answer. What do you mean now? The one thing I discovered upon the birth of my baby angel is that I have been a mom the past three years. No doubt about it now, hands down, totally have been a full-fledged mom. The fact that nothing seems to have changed (besides having an extra bundle of joy to kiss upon at any moment) verified that for me. Unlike new mothers, I didn't have the dream stage of what it would be like to be a mom. People assured me it would be vastly different and also assured me that I WASN'T a mom until I had my own biological child. I still have to run kids to school, take them to practices and games, make their lunches, do their homework, pull loose teeth, and clean up war wounds from playing. But now I get to change diapers as well, which, honestly, is so much less stressful than parenting older children.
I don't get to love on my baby like I would if she was my true firstborn (i.e. the only child at home). I don't rock her to sleep, I don't lullaby her, I don't even get to just sit and soak her in during the day because I still have three other people to clean up after and do laundry for (though I'm teaching the boys to do their own laundry now...). If she was my only child, a firstborn, I'd probably let the house go a bit more and just soak her in. I'd probably still have her sleeping in our room, despite not being able to sleep through her grunting noises. Why? Because I'd only have her to take care of (aside from my husband). I could take a nap when she takes a nap! I could live on HER schedule. But, she's technically not a firstborn, and she's definitely not the "oldest child".
The joy she brings me is much different than the boys, I will admit. I mean, she's MINE, no one can make me feel bad for loving on her. No one can say she can't call me mom. She's a result of a loving marriage. And she looks like me. So there is something special about that. But the responsibility I feel is the same, and responsibility is the strongest feeling I have in this situation.
While we work through a blended family situation (sadly, with much trial and error), I am so thankful to be able to stay at home with and raise my little angel. I can't imagine the feelings I would have being a blended family and then not even being able to raise my own daughter. I treasure the time I have with her, even the middle of the night times. It makes up a bit for me not getting the "firstborn" experience. Being a stay-at-home mom has really opened my eyes. I've been a working mother, working 32 hours a week last school year while still taking care of the house and family. IT... IS... ROUGH. You feel like there's no time for extra activities with the kids and just want to relax when the day is done.
Being a stay-at-home mom is just as tough, in a totally different way. Stay-at-home moms feel pressure, a LOT of pressure, to perform, especially if they dont have an at-home source of income. Whether or not they clean the house or just sit around with the baby all day, I can tell you it is exhausting in its own form. Why? Because you have someone you are tied to. You have someone who can interrupt your bathroom time. You have someone who doesn't go to bed when you expected and ruins your piano lesson or workout time. This doesn't seem grueling, but it can exhaust your mind. You can lose yourself. So while people may look at SAHM's with disgust and say "You have no excuse to be tired" or "You have no excuse to need 'me' time", be more thoughtful. Some SAHM would rather work, simply because being away from a human being tied to you is a little bit like "me" time. But being able to raise your baby is a blessing and such a bonding time. If you have other kids, it makes it possible to get them involved in sports or other activities. There is NO WAY I could've done that last year. It's amazing how juggling schedules can take so much mental and physical effort (**Side note, as an example, my baby woke up from what should be her 2 hour nap just after 45 minutes. So I'm trying to nurse and type. Another side note: I am not losing myself and am feeling amazing, but I can see how it can happen and totally understand).
And then for working mothers, they have all the pressure of not being able to be at home for their kids or to raise their babies. The pressure of SAHMs judging them. The guilt of not being able to do what they always imagined they'd be able to do when they become a mom.
So why cant we just stop? In what world is "making someone feel bad" a helpful solution? If a mom is stressed, and you secretly feel she has no reason to be, wouldn't listening and be encouraging be more productive? Give encouragement, ideas to ease stress, ways to maximize time, or parenting advice. DON'T give your story on how much harder your life is, how much better of a mom you are because you stay at home, etc.
I hope women can stop feeling the need to defend their decisions and situations and instead find peace through it.
P.S., having been both a working and stay-at-home mom, I know the struggles of both. Don't be shy to ask for ideas about how to fit in "me" time or workout time! Or anything else for that matter!