I have heard that so many times when talking to other moms about how I don’t feel like I am living up to my motherly duties. There is a divide between the working moms and the stay-at-home moms; who has it harder? Hands down, the stay-at-home mom. Not to sound like I hate being a mom, but you couldn’t pay me enough to stay at home with my kids. Everyone expects so much of the SAHM. I was talking with a mom one time apologizing for not being able to volunteer, and her response was, “That’s what the moms who don’t work do. Don’t worry about it.” That was food for thought. The SAHM should be able to volunteer in the classroom, bake the cookies, be on the PTO, coach the sports, give the rides, clean the house, wash the dishes, cook the dinner. In my head, I’m singing Cinderelli, Cinderelli, Night and day it’s Cinderelli. That is exactly who I felt like when I was home during my maternity leave. My own kids would ask me for things, and if I said no, the response was, “but you don’t even work.”
For the most part, the SAHM’s in my neighborhood rise to the societal expectations and beyond. They seem to be everywhere doing everything, while I can barely keep the train on the tracks. Some people would argue that parenting isn’t a sacrifice, but many mothers sacrifice part of their identities to raise their children. I am grateful that my career allows me to still keep parts of the person I was before I became a mom.
Sometimes, I am envious of the SAHM, and not because they get to stay home with their children, but because they WANT to stay home with their children. I stayed home with each of my kids for 6 months after giving birth. For me, that was the perfect amount of time. By the end of the 6 months, I was waiting for my alarm clock to buzz on that first morning back at work. “Please let me enter the world of people!”
I also feel admiration for the SAHM because they are the mentors for our community. I’m not saying that working moms aren’t mentors too, but I’ll never know where a working mom finds the time, energy or sanity to do it all! I admire the women who can! Either way, our kids spend a lot of time with the SAHM while we are at work. They are the first ones signed up on the volunteer list to host the class party or go on the school field trip. Personally, I prefer to send a case of water and some Oreos for the class party. I am almost relieved that I have work as an excuse from sitting on the bus and spending the day at the local museum with a group of 8 year olds. And that’s ok, or at least it should be.
Instead of beating myself up for sending my child in with the prepackaged snacks, I should be grateful that I can even send a snack. I shouldn’t look down on myself because I didn’t spend all night making a personalized cookie for each kid in the class. And I shouldn’t be jealous of the mom who took the time to make the personalized cookies. I am just now realizing that it isn’t a competition of which moms are doing more or who has it the hardest.
Finally, sometimes I feel sorry for the SAHM. I know when I was home, I didn’t get the time to eat a lunch in peace or have an hour break to run some errands. I’m not going to lie; I love that my working mom schedule allows for that mid-day free time. I can sit in the book store for 30 minutes and flip through a magazine without a toddler pulling at my leg. It is a small indulgence that is good for my soul. I feel that the SAHM’s work is largely underappreciated; it is just expected. At least I always felt that everything that I did when I was at home was taken for granted or overlooked. I didn’t get an e-mail saying, “Good job at loving and nurturing your kids this week! Go ahead and take the night off!” I didn’t get a bonus. Hell, I didn’t even get a paycheck! I didn’t get a gain in seniority. Although, how cool would that be if we got to move up the mom ladder with a rewards system. I know. I know. It should be rewarding enough just to watch our children smile, but seriously, I wouldn’t hate a free coffee if I did a good job at being a mom for a whole week!
Working mom or SAHM, we all need time for selfish desires that fuel personal happiness and fulfillment. I’ve come to accept what some might consider defeat… I know that I can’t do it all, at least not all the time. Maybe I’m just a little selfish, and if I have a free minute, I want to catch up on the latest episode of Grey’s or have a cocktail with my husband while we make dinner together.
The point is we are all doing our best. I don’t go home at night wondering if the other moms did as much as I did that day. I am just grateful that I have the opportunity to be a mom in the best way that I know how to be one. Own what you do. If you are doing your best…that’s enough. The general message that I get from women is that they aren’t doing enough. It blows my mind because I am surrounded by phenomenal women.