Maybe I should have titled this post “You’re not a bad mother because you work.”
Let me preface this post by saying that I’m pretty peeved that this topic (and the Mommy Wars in general) is becoming so “sided,” and that I’m caving in to commenting on the madness. But recently I’ve seen so many other blog posts showing up like this gem defending (rightly) Stay At Home Moms (SAHM’s) and haven’t seen as many good defenses of working moms, none that are being shared like hot cakes, anyway. And here’s the gist:
SAHM’s, you shouldn’t have to defend yourselves. And neither should working moms.
But let me tell you why I work, why I went back to work when my one and only son was six weeks old. First of all, and most importantly, I had to pay my bills. My husband works, and we are fortunate to have a fairly reliable income thanks to the US government. But, having traded in two two-door small cars for two four-door cars when he was born, buying a house so that he could grow up having a yard to run around in, and paying off both of our student loan debts, my income ensures that we can afford the luxuries we’ve been blessed with and still save some each month, as well as establishing savings for Kaleb (you can never start early enough for college these days, but I digress). Could I forgo some of these things and eat ramen every night and get to be a SAHM? Probably, but it wouldn’t be comfortable, and we like the elimination of a lot of financial stress that my job provides. It ensures that Kaleb will never be told “no” about something he needs (notice I didn’t say “wants”).
Secondly, I love my job. I went through college and got my nursing degree before a child was on my radar; I paid handsomely for that education and I intended to use it. I feel a huge amount of pride and accomplishment and happiness being a mommy, but I also feel an intense desire to teach and heal other people. I want to be the one person who sat down and explained something to them, possibly for the first time. I want to be the one fighting for their best interests and needs. I want to be the one ensuring that their care is done right, that they are able to go home and get more time, more years, with THEIR families because of something I’ve done. I’ve been the one holding someone’s hand before when they have no family and were given days or weeks to live alone in a hospital room. When I was gone after having Kaleb, I missed that. I missed my job. Because I chose what I wanted to do, and I love it.
I love being mentally stimulated. Kaleb definitely keeps me on my toes when I’m home with him, but my work does it too, in a different way. I have to constantly read new best practice studies, learn new procedures and equipment and diagnoses and drugs. I’m on my toes every second when I’m there, and that keeps me learning. And everyone should strive to never stop learning. It’s a beautiful gift we’ve all been given that we should be taking complete advantage of, no matter the subject. Not to mention, going to work a few days a week keeps me from going “stir crazy” in the house. It lets Kaleb go play with a friend (since we are so incredibly fortunate to have one of the best women I know keeping him – I truly wish everyone was lucky enough to have a friend nanny their child. It’s like he has a second family and the love and safety they give to him can’t be compared to anything. Anything.) and lets me get out of the house and switch it up for a bit. Personally, I think it makes me appreciate my days at home with him even more.
I also feel like through working, I’m teaching Kaleb some important things. I’m teaching him time management, organization, responsibility, work ethic, financial independence and budgeting, compassion for others, a sense of duty to the greater good and people in need, and gender equality in the workplace, which is something women fought for diligently in our country’s history. When I’m at home with him I’m teaching him about sharing, table manners and politeness, respect for authority, trying new foods, counting and letters, a love of reading, kindness toward animals, and family love.
Here’s the deal, friends. I’m tired of hearing people say that SAHM’s “don’t do anything all day” because anyone who knows a SAHM knows how entirely far-fetched that is. In fact, it’s pretty much downright laughable (and I hope you SAHM’s DO laugh at it, and then go back to your full-time job of taking care of your babies knowing that they’re just ignorant and they know not what they do). I’m home more days than I work, and I’m just as exhausted when I go to bed on those days as the ones I’m in the hospital. I’m tired of hearing people say that working moms “don’t love their children” because they don’t stay at home with them, because that’s also as far from the truth as it could be. We each do what we have chosen. I have moms I know who stay at home who envy me my job. I have moms I know who work who envy friends their ability to stay home. But we do what we need to, or what we’ve chosen to. And that’s that. Critics are going to surface no matter what life path you choose – YOU HAVE TO LOOK PAST IT. I used to get so mad when people would ask me “wouldn’t you rather be home with your son every day? It’s terrible you have to work and leave him”. I chose to have my job. I feel like I’ve chosen a job that balances well with my home life. And I also love my son, more than anything else on this earth.
SAHM’s, you’re good moms. You love your children unconditionally and do everything in your power to give them the lives you want for them.
Working moms, you’re good moms. You love your children unconditionally and do everything in your power to give them the lives you want for them.
So, MOMS EVERYWHERE, keep on doing what you do. You’ll certainly never have to explain yourself to me. 🙂
Allison and Kaleb