|Card from Orange Twist|
Two work colleagues and I had our babies months apart from one another. They both decided to return to work; I did not. The prevailing media narrative would have you believe that we were critical of each other's decisions.
Supposedly, we are in two opposing camps: the SAHM's believe that WM's aren't providing their children the care they deserve, and that nannies are no substitute for the love of a mother. It's more likely that working mothers know they need to nurture many sides of their identity, in order to be better parents. Or, maybe, they need the money.
WM's supposedly believe that SAHM's are denying the side of themselves that needs fulfillment outside of the home, as well as conforming to traditional gender roles that are designed to diminish women. Maybe, they just aren't so concerned about "having it all".
In both camps, a million other things, which are entirely personal and individual, surely go into the decision-making process too.
Thankfully, these divisive narratives (dubbed the "Mommy Wars" by journalists looking to fan the flames between mothers) did not play out in my relationships with my two colleagues In reality, I found great support from these two women. I supported their decisions as well.
I remember a particular conversation that occurred between me and one of my colleagues:
"I don't know how you have the energy to work and care for kids, " I say, "I wouldn't be able to do it. My hat's off to you."
"No, really, it's the other way around. I don't know how you stay at home all day with kids," my colleague says. "I need to get out of the house or I would go insane."
Not opposing perspectives; different ones. As it should be.
I started thinking about this conversation again, because of three posts that I read recently. Meredith at Mom of the Year writes a beautifully honest piece about being home with children. Jen at Life on the Sonny Side writes a heartfelt and funny post about balancing work and home life. Annie at The Rational Mind of a Crazy Woman writes a funny post about transitioning to the home after leaving her job.
Three very different realities of life with kids that share a common denominator. Each mom talks about how hard it is to be a parent.
That's the reality that joins us all. That's the reality that connects my colleague and me, even though we are perched on opposite sides of the fence.
At the end of the day, we all have way too much on our plates to get bogged down in judging one another. I feel so much more buoyed to face the challenges of being a parent by seeking the things that moms have in common rather than what makes us different. I am less alone when I am able to recognize myself in other people.
"It take a village" means more than the practical reality of taking care of children, it means uniting with one another to do so.
Let's start by respecting everyone's decisions.
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