Saturday, October 15, 2011
The Dichotomy of the Working Mom vs. the Stay-at-home Mom
Now, I have a confession to make. I am a working mom masquerading as a stay-at-home mom or quite possibly vice versa. It is kind of hard to tell. My entire life as a mother has been spent crossing the boundaries of those two worlds.
Something recently came to my attention. There are people in my life who only see me as one sided. But I see myself as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and a working mom.
I do the things that my SAHM friends do. Like my SAHM friends, I bake, clean, decorate, cook, can, craft, etc. and most importantly feel like I am actively involved in my children’s lives. I also do the things working/moms-getting-degrees do too, such as attend school, hold a part-time job and complete externships.
But the kicker is I do not plan on working full time and I don’t plan on staying at home full time. Therefore, I do not fit squarely into either camp of mothers. However, this does make me perfectly positioned to feel the tension coming from both sides of the working vs. staying at home dichotomy.
It has often struck me that mothers tend to take a rigid view of the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves and their families (fathers do this too). Maybe it has struck me because I know I struggle with it all the time! It is easy to critique someone’s life choices if they are different from your own.
Please note: I am not saying there are not absolutes. Obviously there are many things that fall under the category of “poor or bad or horrible parenting” and those things are valid concerns whether you work or stay at home. The cause for concern I am discussing here is that there are mothers tearing down mothers over life choices that we have Biblical freedom to make.
Mothering is a difficult calling and it should not be made more difficult by those who share that same calling.
The important thing is to respect mothers from both sides of the fence and mothers who straddle those fences. Mothers who love their children share a common denominator. They want what is best for their children. Although we may not always see eye to eye on parenting techniques or what to feed our children or whether or not to work, we share a huge equalizing factor. We love our kids. Christian mothers share even a larger denominator. We are sisters in Christ as well as mothers who love their children.
This is an important thing to consider: “Is this mother nurturing her children and is she caring for her family in the best way she can taking into account all her circumstances?” If you can honestly say yes, can you say she is a bad mother? You can say the choices she made for her family may not be the same ones that you would make for your family, but you should not say she is not mothering her children.
The key to breaking this cycle is to start befriending mothers who have made different choices about working than you and to recognize that their choice has validity too.
Take the time to encourage a mother who is not inside your fence. She might really need it.