I’ll admit that I love being told I’m a good mom or doing a good job raising Bella. Who doesn’t like to hear that? But what I don’t love is when someone tries to congratulate me with a backwards compliment or insult to a working mom. Because that, my friends, really torks my monkey.
Like the PA in our old doctors office who wondered why Bella had croup so often last year. She asked if I had Bella in daycare, and I replied I stayed at home with her.
“Good for you,” she replied nodding. “Best thing you can do when you have children, what a great choice.”
I remember sitting there dumbfounded, wondering what she would have said to a mom who answered, “Yep, because I work full time to help pay our bills.” Bad choice? Horrible mother? This is why your kid is sick?
Or the time someone asked me if I planned on going back to work, and I said we were really trying to make sure I didn’t have to because I loved being home. Their response, “You’ll never regret staying home and raising your own children.”
Agreed, I’ll never regret staying home. But so much else is implied in that comment – as if my working mom friends are going to regret having the daycare provider raise their kids. Does the daycare provider grocery shop on the weekends with that child? Get up in the middle of the night to soothe them? Host Christmas in her classroom? Drive over to put them in time out?
What I do is tough – because being at home (for me) requires so much self discipline, motivation, and a self starter attitude – all of which I struggle with. So sure, it’s nice to be told what I do matters and I’m doing a good job. I don’t get that a lot from my 2 year old. But it’s not something I take a bit of pride in hearing when it comes at the expense of another mom’s choice.
I think what we tend to forget as a society that leans so heavily to one side or the other in parenting is that no choice is the right one all the way around. I’ve known a lot of unhappy SAHM’s that went back to work and became amazing working moms. Happy, balanced, and attentive with their kids when they got home. I’ve known a lot of working moms that got to stay at home and found the same happiness.
What makes me the angriest about these comments is the fact that should I ever have to go back to work, they would all be there. Guilt tripping me at every turn, reminding me of how so many consider working to be the “lesser choice”. Why would we do this to moms who are just trying to make ends meet? Who are happy and fulfilled in their work, and have spent a lot of time choosing a place for their child to be cared for, not raised?
Would we rather that children grow up with parents who struggle to make ends meet and in turn it causes massive amounts of stress, fighting, less time with the other parent and a higher divorce rate?
Or a miserable mom who loved her job yet stays at home because it seems like it’s the right thing to do – and hates being there?
How are either of those scenarios a better choice for a family?
I firmly believe that quality, not quantity, makes a child and parent relationship. My husband works long hours, but the time he spends with Bella really matters to him. He makes it count. I know I’m a better, more patient mom after I get a break.
If you don’t like or agree with another parent’s choice to work or stay home, ask them why they made it. You might be surprised to hear the valid reasons, struggle, or passion behind it. Then move on and focus on the right choices for what life has handed you.
For those of you dealing with people who judge your choice, hold your head high and remember that what you are doing is right as long as it works for your family.
There isn’t a “right” parenting choice for everyone. That’s why it’s called a choice.