Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sometimes, I respond to random internet comments with blog posts.

Last summer one of the girls from Church asked me what I do all day. It was a sincere question, without any hint of judgement. She truly wanted to know what my kids and I do to pass the time each day. I told her we go to parks and museums; I probably mentioned I'd just started doing the preschool co-op. My answer was essentially a list of all the most exciting parts of my day.

I've thought a lot about that question since then, and I think I've found the perfect, much less glorious, answer. I wish I had responded with a question, "What do you imagine your little brother's caretaker does with him all day?"

See, she has a brother just a few months older than Reid, but her mom works outside the home, so her little brother goes to an in-home daycare. I think my answer sufficed, but I know she and I were both thinking "even with that list of fun stuff, there are still a lot of hours to fill."

A couple weeks ago I read a fabulous article about how hard it is to comprehend being a stay at home mom until you become one. The author admitted to previous judgement about stay at home moms, but she also admitted giving up her career in journalism was worth it, even if being a stay at home mom was harder. Naturally, the highlighted comment came from a working mom who was bothered by the article. She insisted that everything this mom had written about being a stay at home mom applied to working moms as well. And while I agreed that the overall point of the article easily could have been summed up as "parenting," I was bothered by this commenters claim that working moms did all the same work as stay at home moms plus more.

I usually try to stay out of the mommy wars. But I'm going to jump right into this one. First, I'd like to say I do think working moms do more work than stay at home moms (yup, I'm going to offend both sides with this post). It is true, working moms have laundry to do, dishes to wash, and meals to prep -- just like stay at home moms. On top of that, they have their career. Total up all the hours of career work, child care taking, and house work and I'm certain working moms do more work than I do.

BUT, yes, big bold but. They do not do all the same things stay at home moms do, and more. To be frank, working moms don't do as much care taking as stay at home moms. A stay at home mom does all the work a day care provider does plus all the laundry, dishes, and meals a working mom does. I'd even argue a stay at home mom does slightly more laundry, dishes, and meal prep. Why? Because my kids eat all three of their meals at home. That's three times a day that I (should) sweep up my kitchen floor. That's three meals worth of dishes. I'm also willing to bet my kids change their outfits more often than daycare kids. Summer is here and my kiddos rarely make it a whole day without getting mud, dirt, or water all over their morning outfit. Sometimes, because I hate the thought of creating more laundry, I just make them spend the evening in their underwear/diaper, but most days we go through two or three changes of clothes.

It is outrageous to me that someone would claim working moms do all the same things as stay at home moms plus more, but sometimes I feel like that is the consensus out there in mommy world. It is as if the child ceases to exist while mom is at work. Whether another parent, grandparent, neighbor, nanny or daycare facility watches the child during the day is beside the point, there are hours each day that working moms aren't doing the care taking that stay at home moms do.

Now, because I am no fool and I am willing to make exceptions. Big shout out to moms who work from home and don't hire out any help. They actually do manage to pull the load of both a working mom and a stay at home mom. Just the thought makes my head spin.

Also, since I'm trying to be sensitive about my dive into the mommy wars -- I understand life doesn't fit into stereotyped gender roles and some dad's stay at home while mom's work . But I'm not going to get into all that. Those awesome stay at home dad's seem to have kept themselves out of the mommy wars and I say bravo to you for that.

And finally, so no one reads into this more than is intended, I am 100% in support of moms doing what is best for them and their family. If you want to stay at home, do it! And love it. If you want to work, do it! And love it. If you want to stay at home but you have to work, I applaud you for putting your family needs ahead of your own desires. By definition that is wonderful parenting, and your children notice your sacrifice. To me the most frustrating part of the mommy wars is people disrespecting the choices and the sacrifices women have to make when they become mothers. I'd never want to come off as participating in that side of the mommy wars.

However, I am willing to participate in the work load comparisons. Stay at home moms work during the hours of 8-5, just like career moms do. We do the work of the day care providers, hired out by working moms. Being a stay at home mom is different than being a working mom, and it is okay for stay at home moms to point that out. Staying at home and parenting are two separate topics, just like being an accountant and parenting are two separate topics. We don't constantly mention staying at home to offend working moms, we aren't implying that our choice was better. But there is a difference, and we need to acknowledge that. 

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