Let’s face it. We live in a world where reality TV is anything but real, social media is an excuse to give inappropriate opinions because we can hide behind a keyboard and we spend half of our day trying to outdo our “friends” selfies or vacation photos. Instead of using our energy to encourage and uplift one another we pour that energy into trying to show how much better we are than the other person. You made eggs and bacon for breakfast….well then I better post a picture of eggs, bacon, biscuits and since I’m such a better mom they will be in the shape of a bear face. You take a selfie of your new haircut…..oh well I better post a pic of my highly glammed self, bask in the best lighting and highly photo filtered just so I can look better. You show a picture of how you took your kids to the park…..well then let me enlighten you on our day at the amusement park. This sounds ridiculous but sadly it’s our reality. We are envious of other Moms who appear to “have it all together” because it makes us feel inadequate and like our kids are suffering. We see a handful of pictures that portray cute meals, perfect birthdays, skinny bods 1 week after baby, and we start to feel depressed. The bottom line is that we are being lied to. No one has that perfect life. That mom who looks super skinny is probably wearing spanx and is a pro at a good camera angle. That kid who has the big pancake bear for breakfast is probably only getting it once a year. That picture of the smiling happy baby was likely taken after hours and hours of screaming and crying took place. My point in all of this is to say that this attitude and tendencies to constantly keep up with the other Mom is bleeding over into our opinions of working vs staying at home.
I feel like I can write about this because I have done every possible working combination. I have worked outside the home full time, been a full time stay at home mom and am currently working full time from home. I wish I could say that there was a perfect scenario and that one is better than the other but the truth is…the grass is not always greener on the other side. Working moms boil over in jealousy for those who get to stay at home (Yes, I can say that cause I was there) stay at home moms boil over in jealousy for those moms who work and get out of the house and EVERYONE is completely deceived about what the other is going through. However, instead of looking at the pros and cons of each and having positive conversations about how we are all doing the best we can…we decide it is more productive to cut each other down and allow our own insecurities and jealousies to make false assumptions.
Being a stay at home mom sounds ideal. It sounds like it’s full of sleeping in, naps, leisure lunch times, daytime television, manis/pedis, champagne filled play dates and cherry sundaes at the end of the day. What people don’t see are the sleepless nights, the breakfast’s and lunches that are thrown all over the floor, the meltdowns, the endless housework, and the attempt to breastfeed a baby, entertain a toddler and talk on the phone all at the same time. They don’t see the temper tantrums that are being thrown in the middle of the grocery store, the nails that are chipped and half done because you had a crazy idea to do your nails yourself, and the constant work to make sure everyone is everywhere at the right time. There are many days that a stay at home mom would give her left arm to be able to be out of the house and away from screaming children for even just 5 minutes. Yes, there are good things too. You don’t have to answer to a boss’ schedule….only a toddlers. You don’t have to dress up for work…..yes yoga pants are perfectly suitable mommy attire. You have a little more freedom to go about your day the way you need it to be scheduled. However, all of these things don’t warrant you a paycheck every 2 weeks.
Being a working mom is equally difficult. There is constant worry about your kids at daycare, there is always a concern that your kid will get the latest bug going around and you’ll have difficulty taking off work, you’re not sure if you could live with yourself if you missed their first steps or first words, and you have nightmares that their first word will be the name of your babysitter as opposed to mama or dada. The pressure to get the kids dropped off and you to work on time makes mornings hectic and chaotic. Trying to get home and get dinner on the table looks like a food network episode gone terribly wrong. Most days you feel like you’ve been put through a pasta cutter and little pieces of you are being spread out way too thin. The upside is you get a paycheck. You get to have money to ensure the bills are paid and most likely a little left over for a nice vacation. No matter how much you miss your kids….you get a break from the crying and the messes for a few hours and get to have some adult conversations. You likely have work friends that you can spend time with as a family which is always a positive thing.
Working from home and staying home presents it’s own set of unique challenges. Yes, currently I get to see my kids faces throughout the day but there is a difference between “seeing” my kids and “spending time” with them. I work more hours now than I did at my full time job, because when you own your own business…you have to. I don’t get “days off” like I did at my working job and I certainly don’t get vacation. We still have to budget like a one income household since money is never guaranteed month to month and while it is freeing to “be your own boss,” there is a lot of stress to make sure it will last for the long haul. If I was completely honest I feel like I see my children less now than I did when I was working. Yes, I get to eat lunch with them every day (in the summer) and I get to see them off to school in the mornings but there are a lot of sacrifices too. We have to tell our kids “no” all the time. No we can’t play the family game because we have to work, no we can’t go to chuck e cheese because it isn’t in the budget right now, no I can’t do a craft with you or go outside with you because it’s still the work day (Even at 7:00 at night). So we try to fit in family time when we can….even if it’s 5 minutes here or there. Having a baby in the house has also added a whole new dynamic. Instead of being able to work pretty steadily throughout the day I am now lucky if I get 10 minutes of work done without an interruption. This literally has me working 24 hours a day. Whenever I get a chance I run downstairs and do as much as I can. My mind is constantly on the next task I have to complete so it’s difficult to stay in the moment. The perks are I have never had to put any of my kids in daycare. They have never spent a single day outside the home and we have never had to be out that expense. We have always made it work somehow because that was extremely important to us. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with daycare and I certainly respect those who must put their children in daycare. For me and Jared it has always just been personal goal since the day we decided to start a family. So far …..so good.
My whole point in this whole article is to just caution every woman out there who would pass judgment. Truly think before you say things like, “Well, you get to stay at home so you couldn’t possibly understand,” or “You get a break from your kids all day at work so you don’t get how stressful it can be,” or “You may ‘work’ from home but you still get to stay there and see your kids….it’s not the same as working outside the home.” These comments do nothing but tear each other down and make us all defensive and angry. No matter what position you are in, being a mother is EXTREMELY hard. Being a mother period is HARD WORK and even more so when you throw in working and daily life responsibilities.
In my lifetime I hope to see women support one another and stop tearing each other down. I hope as mothers we can come together to realize that we are all the same. We are all exhausted and stressed and struggle every day to do the best for our families. When we close our eyes at night….every mom (working or staying at home) has the same guilt and the same doubt. We question “did we do enough,” “did we handle that correctly,” “did we give enough attention,” “did we nurture enough” and the list goes on and on. When we stop to think about all the moms in the world, we realize that we aren’t very different. Our Facebook feeds and our instragram accounts may look like we are basking in the “Mommy of the Year” award….but we aren’t. We are all struggling to keep it together but at the end of the day we all want the very best for our children; for them to be happy and well adjusted.
So, Ladies (Moms or otherwise) let’s try harder. Let’s try to be more supportive of each other. Let’s try to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. As a matter of fact the grass isn’t green anywhere. All of our grass is burnt and tan from all the negativity. However, think about how green the grass could be if we all supported one another. If a working mom could call a stay at home mom and talk about their doubts, fears and struggles and be validated and supported by that other mom without jealousy (and visa versa)…..think of how much better we would be as mothers and women. If we all came together, without prejudice, and realized that EVERYONE is doing the best we can the world would be a better place. Children deserve to thrive and have the best possible life….if their mother’s felt more supported and confident than they would thrive beyond anything we have ever seen. They would reap the rewards of a support system that encourages and is understanding of every mother in every situation. To me this is the greatest gift we could ever give our kids.
So next time you want to post or make a comment about how “easy” some other mom has it, really think about what you are doing. Think about the negative cycle you are contributing to and choose to stop it. Now, go hug and kiss those kiddos and then pat yourself on the back because Momma….whether you stay at home, work from home, or go to work….you are doing an AMAZING job and you are the love of your kid(s) life no matter how much you may think you fail. You go girl!!!