I recently read the book “Big Little Lies” by Lin Moriarty. It really struck accord on the issue of motherhood and working. In the book the author depicts two types of moms, the ones who work and the ones who don’t. Moriarty shines light on not only the mother’s opinions of themselves, but also how others view them in those roles. In other words, the moms that don’t work feel a certain way about the moms who work and vice versus. In real life, this happens every day.
Very soon after having my first son, I knew it wasn’t in my makeup to be a stay-at-home mom. I felt guilty about it; something in me said I “should” want to have that role, but I returned to work. When I barely cried dropping him off on his first day at daycare, I felt even guiltier. I worried about how I would be perceived by those working moms who, unlike me, appeared utterly torn to shreds as they drove away.
What was wrong with me?
Now, years later and another son added to the mix…I have accepted the type of mother I am, is just as important as the type of parent that stays at home is. Also that the stay-at-home parents contribute just as much, if not more, as working parents. They both should be praised and honored for their dedication to their families and their children.
I often find myself in awe of stay-at-home parents. How do they do it? I have found myself thinking about this a lot lately, especially how there sometimes is a stigma about how parents who stay home provide less for the family than working parents. But I couldn’t disagree more. I honestly think if anything, they contribute more..
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is right around the corner. So I would like to take this blog to publically praise the unsung heroes that stay at home!
Here is my ode to you…
You are truly warriors in today’s age. Each day, you must wake up (usually at an ungodly hour) put on a suit of armor made up of thick emotion-retardant materials that can withstand anything that will be thrown your way…including everything that is unexpected. You must not cry when your house turns into a war zone or scream when your clothes become soiled in spit up, throw up, food, and anything else that comes out of an orifice, right after becoming presentable for your daily target run. Which may be the only chance at adult interaction you have all day (hence the reason you always NEED to go to Target).
Your day is not the traditional “work day” where you get time off, are awarded sick days, a lunch break, or even a 10-minute potty break. It starts way before 8 a.m. and ends way after 5 p.m. so really it might be better to refer to as slave labor at the mercy of your littles. Frankly, this job is way harder than any job I have ever had and probably why I wasn’t cut out for it. Even when you kid is up puking all night, you don’t get to take a personal day to recoup. In fact, that same puking kids ends up being your boss that next day.
Most office jobs are almost entirely intellectual, where working, as a parent day in and day out, requires much, much more. You have to fire on all cylinders at all times… mentally, physically, emotionally. Not to mention, bring your top-notch imagination and silliness game, or you just can’t make it out alive!
One way I have heard stay-at-home parents develop guilt is they feel like don’t contribute to the family in the same way as a working parent does. That is so false! Raising your child to be a decent human being who has a positive impact on society cannot be compared to any salary. Isn’t this one reason why we become parents, to raise good humans?!? Spending 24 hours a day making sure that happens is worth more to me than a paycheck. So next time you hear someone talking about how much they “get paid”…you can respond with “I get paid in kisses, hugs, and knowing I have contributed to the greater good of humanity”. Top that!
The resume of a stay-at-home parent would probably include such strengths as: ability to multi-task, work as a team, adjust to changing situations, have a positive attitude, and works well under pressure.
That doesn’t sounds much different from a person I would hire to be on my team, so why are they viewed differently? Maybe it is jealousy. I’ll admit it, staying at home sounds appealing in theory; however, spend a few hours in the shoes of a parent who cares for children every day and you will see this volunteered position is much more specialized and definitely under appreciated.
This blog is not trying to negate my role as a working mom. For our family, I truly believe me working each day has taught me, and my children, valuable life and social skills. It has given me independence and allowed me to be less overbearing. Every family’s situation is different and there is no perfect scenario. There is something so beautiful about our country, where we have a choice of how to parent and without judgment can also respect other’s alternative ways of doing so. Let’s all agree to try our best to live by this, as it builds confident parents who love what they do (even when the going gets tough, and it gets REALLY tough).
Cheers to all the moms and dads out there who dedicate every waking hour to parenting, your daily strength to keep keepin’ on is inspiring and truly incredible.
Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day to you!