Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mamas Unite!

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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  1. This is very timely! Many know that I am a SAHM not by choice-I originally went to work part-time because I could split the childcare with my husband, but then got laid off. Working part-time was perfect for me-I brought some income in while getting to be there for my kids. Recently I took on a sub job to help catch up on some long overdue bills to creditors. I loved being a preschool teacher-I did it for many years. All of the things that were so positive about it came rushing back. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experiences, the lesson planning, finding creative art ideas. However, it was very long hours, and once the childcare was taken out I was working a lot of hours making very little. Now that I am almost done subbing, I think I will appreciate that time at home much more, but I know that I still need to find some part-time work to keep us going financially.

    What works well for one person may be completely different from someone else. I need some things away from the home, but others may be totally content to stay home all the time, and others still need to be a full time working mom. That's just how it is-to each her own! I don't judge, I figure we all have our own reasons for what we do. :-)

    Great post!

  2. Hi Rachel, I see the same issues being played out in the press in the UK too, only now it would seem the UK Government has backed the WM's and has removed childcare benefits to all SAHM whose partners are in a certain tax bracket but have introduced a new scheme for WM's... I don't pretend to understand the full complexities of the subject matter (more research needed) but I agree 100% with your sentiment that regardless of which side of the fence one sits we mum's should support each other. Thank you for reminding me of this x

    Emma from

  3. Rachel, I loved this post and you truly said a mouthful here. You re right that we all have our reasons to be either a SAHM or a WM. Everyone should be respectful of each other's decisions. I honestly have been both. I was a WM when I first just had Emma, but then I got pregnant with Lily got laid off of my teaching job, because of budget cuts and the economy. I ended up on bed rest during that pregnancy and then had trouble finding full-time employment. To just do subbing and pay for daycare for two little ones really wasn't worth it, so I have been home with them. Yes we could use more money, but it isn't in the cards. And I will be honest as crazy as things are around here, I feel fortunate to have this time with my girls. But that is just me!! :)

  4. I agree completely. I truly do not understand why moms judge one another. The fact is, both are really hard. Staying at home is hard, working full time with kids is hard and working part time with a kid is hard. I stayed at home for 3 1/2 years. Now, I work part-time. I'm not sure which is harder. Of course, I only work when Tucker's in school, so I don't have to deal with the nanny stuff.
    I have friends that have nannies and they're fine. Other friends stay home and they're fine too. Love this post. As always, friend!

  5. Couldn't agree more. I love my life, even though some would say I have the worst of both worlds, to me its the best. I get to be a full time mum and to exercise my brain with a little work to pay the bills while my son sleeps ( or not, as is the case this evening!)

  6. I love this. And it's time to realize that a lot of us may have made different "choices" if we had become parents at different times in our lives or under different circumstances. When I catch myself starting to make judgments about others, I remind myself that you never know what led to another person's choices.

  7. Yes, yes, yes! I think the mommy war hype is more media driven than mommy driven. I have a mix of SHM & WM. The one thing we all agree on? We don't know how the other one does it.

    You are so right parenting is hard enough without being drawn into a war moms probably didn't even start.

  8. Thanks for including me!! And I couldn't agree more with you. I'm so glad you've found support in your coworkers, motherhood is hard, but having support from others momsreally does make it easier.

  9. I'd love to be a SAHM! Of course, I don't have kids ... or a husband ... so maybe it's more to the point that I want to be a SAH Single Person.

  10. Awww, is the first comment from your husband???? If so, that is very awesome. :)

    I've been on both sides of your topic, and I've never received anything but loving support from everyone around me. If there is a hype over it, I believe you're right and it comes in large part from the media. Once you're in a job, you become family of sorts and those people rally around you no matter what you decide, at least I have been lucky enough that my experience has been as such.

    This is a great post!

  11. You know, I get so sick and tired of all the bitterness, over doing, competition and fighting between mothers. This is why I don't join Mother's group. It's just my kid is better than yours type thing.


    Thanks so much for this post!

  12. I'm sometimes mystified by other mom's choices, but only in the way I'm also mystified that other people don't love cheese or chocolate like I do :)

  13. Bless you, Rachel! This is so well said and I love how you presented this all in one post with such grace. Thanks for your kind mention of my post too. I couldn't agree more--time to stop the judging and start supporting and loving each other. You are wonderful.

  14. You are so right! It's about respecting that we're each choosing what is right for us.

  15. You are spot on, Rachel! No two people have the same needs, aspirations or abilities. Go for it - whichever side of the fence you are on!


  16. This is a great, thought-provoking post, Rachel. I was very happy to give up my job and be a SAHM but that didn't come without criticism from some others. I got tired of having to defend my decision. But it is one that I have never regretted!

  17. Not being a momma yet, I'm open to learning about both sides of the fence (I know what my goals are but I want to do a good job at relating with and respecting both camps) so this is a great "to remember" piece for me! Off topic, but I like reading your posts and wanted to pay something forward that I've recently been gifted; I got a Liebster Award and wanted to share it with you as well. Below is a link to my blog entry to explain more. Scroll to the end because I babble a lot before then, haha.

  18. Man I hate the mommy wars! People need to just be mature and respectful instead of petty and childish...

  19. Hi, I was nominated for a Liebster with you! I wanted to stop by and give you a congratulatory hello. I'm following you on Bloglovin', so I'll be looking forward to your Liebster post :)

  20. Well said! I've done both. Worked, while my children were in childcare, and been at home full time, and both are hard, both are rewarding, both have their tough bits, both have advantages and disadvantages. Neither is wrong and what works for one family, is not what works for another family. We need to support each other, Motherhood is the toughest job there is, we need to back each other, and celebrate our differences and live and let live, not compete, backbite and look down on others.
    Thank you for this!

  21. I don't have kids yet but this is a topic of conversation in my house. I am not sure what I want to do yet. Great to get both perspectives.


  22. Oh how I wish every mum I knew would read this!! I work from home and so am a bit of both. Either way it's difficult and I just wish everyone would try harder to put themselves in other people's shoes :) Em x

  23. A wonderful post. I work part time but would love to be a full time SAHM. We can only do what is best for our families. I can't believe people are arguing about this... so judgmental.

  24. BEAUTIFULLY said Rachel! And thank you so very much for the sweet mention. Parenting is matter how you do it, and it does take a village...and it's still hard. But also completely worth it. What a great piece!

  25. Stopping by from a Thankful Thursday link up.

    I love this! So true, I wish more people were like this. I get so many weird reactions because I'm a SAHM and wanna be writer. It's like people think I don't do anything...but I do plenty and end the day exhausted! Lol

  26. Another great post, Rachel! As a mostly SAHM I admire those who do both, nanny 24/7 and work full-time jobs. Bottom line is, we all need one another & we all love our kiddos!

  27. I follow you anyway, but thought I'd let you know I saw you on the Weekend Blog Hop!

    I completely agree that each parent's decision on how to raise their child is their own. I'm always shocked that it's such a big debate about whether being a SAHM is the right thing to do. It's an individual decision and should be respected as such.


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