I Have Been a Stay at Home Mom and a Working Mom, and Here is Why There is No Equating Them
by: Hannah Dearth
When we realize we are going to become parents, whether it is a biological child or through adoption, we immediately realize the weight of decisions before we even begin our lives as a family. We read books and have lists of what the child needs, we have to create a space and assemble and organize. We have to prepare, prepare, prepare. You begin to ask yourself, who can possibly know all of this and who can be ready for all of this?
You likely continue to feel the pressure and weight of others opinions from this very point in time. “Well, our pediatrician says not to use this rock-n-play, but my best friend swears by it....” and it goes on, and on, and on. How can I feel so guilty for just trying to do what is best for my child, and why do you feel you know best anyway? ...just me?
This divides us, when what we really need is to be united. Parenting is hard, and like adults, all children are unique humans, thus meeting their needs will likely look different...and that’s okay. In fact, it’s necessary. Thankfully, it seems we are trying to work through this barrier with trends like “fed is best”. However, a huge debate that still remains segregating mothers is the challenge- to work or not to work, and why? And which is harder, anyway?
I’ve seen articles about the challenges of working moms, stay at home moms, stay at home working moms, and more. I would argue that there’s no argument at all. In reality, there’s no equating any one parenting situation to another regardless of their official working status or other specific characteristics.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not dismissing the hardships that come with each situation. How can I possibly know what life in your shoes feels like? That’s my entire point.
Maybe you are a single parent, have multiple children, and/or a child with special needs. Likely, we have varying economic statuses and even culturally, differences in priorities and the way we manage our homes and our time. We probably have different extended family relationships and outside support. All of these things create the beauty that is diversity in our lives and in our world, and all of these things take a different cultivation. For all of us, we feel a weight that others can’t exactly understand.
Why? Well, because my children and my life and experiences are mine. They are what I know. And just like with joy or suffering or any other feeling, just because this doesn’t feel hard to you or look hard to you...or maybe you are also a stay at home parent and that’s easy for you...this isn’t your life, and you don’t get to decide that.
Unfortunately, as women, history isn’t exactly on our side either. We are often made to feel like we have one foot in the past and one in the present. Maybe if you want to be a stay at home mom you feel like you can’t afford it or you feel like you need to prove you are “more”. Or, maybe you feel like as a working mom that others make you feel guilty and apologize for wanting a career.
All of these things and more are wrapped together and swirling around you and in you throughout your parenting journey. I began as the working parent passionate about my career and feeling guilty. Then, after a second child, all of the sudden I felt the pull more toward being home than the career, but still I feel sometimes like I need to prove who I am...and who knows, maybe circumstances will change at any moment and it will be best for me to go back to work no matter how I think or feel.
What I am trying to say is...I see you. I see you working mom. Whether you work in the home, or outside of it, or both...I see you. Your work... this work as a parent, isn’t equatable to anyone else’s. I know it’s hard, I know you are doing your best, and I know you love your child. Others opinions can feel heavy... they say more of this, less of that... but it’s not a math problem. No one can possibly sum this role up neatly into a one size fits all. Your version of your best is enough. You are enough. Your child is enough.