Friday, January 17, 2014

Let's put this Mom War to bed.

More than any other mom war out there (breastfeeding or bottle feeding?  Attachment or traditional parenting? and so on), the one that bothers me most is the "Stay at home mom" versus "working mom" war.

There are so very many reasons why people make the choice to work or to stay home. Let's look at a few of those reasons.

Staying at home:

  •  For some people, it doesn't make financial sense to work due to childcare expenses. This can be true for one child, but often comes in play for those with two or more children of day care age.
  • Others feel more fulfilled spending their time with their children and are fortunate to be able to afford it (with lifestyle sacrifices for some).
  • Various therapies for special needs children require a parent to be available for multiple appointments weekly.
  • Some have a spouse who strongly values a stay at home parent.
Working parent:
  • Some folks feel more fulfilled by remaining in the workforce.
  • Others need to work to pay the bills.
  • Many choose to work to provide a more financially affluent lifestyle for their children. For instance, to be able to afford two vehicles instead of one or to pay for extra-curriculars.
  • Some remain in the workforce because their spouse may not be fully supportive of having a one income family.
Other variables include:
  • Availability of work for each person's chosen profession in their geographical area (for instance, a military family may be posted to a base where work is difficult to find).
  • Availability of suitable childcare that can accommodate shift demands (nurses, emergency services providers, etc).
  • A feeling of being torn between staying home and working - unfortunately we may have to choose one way or the other while strongly identifying with both sides. This is a reality I face each day, and I'm certainly not the only one who feels that way. 
Why, then, do so many mothers spend so much time having to defend their choice or their requirement to stay at home or to work? Neither choice is easy. 

We are equally MOTHERS at the end of each day, and all day long. Being a mother doesn't get put on pause when you go to work, just as staying home qualifies as work many days.

I bet that when you are home, you give your child your attention and your love. I give MY child my attention and my love, too. I bet you make them meals and do their laundry just as I do. I bet you help them learn and grow every day in unique ways just as I do. 

Can we please take the working parent versus stay at home parent battle off the table? Let's forge a universal understanding that there are so many complexities in why people make one choice versus the other, and that we each do what we feel is in the best interest of ourselves and our children. End of story.

It's time to put this rivalry to bed, and it starts with us.