Working Moms vs Stay-at-home moms

Working Moms vs Stay-at-home moms

I killed a fly two weeks ago. 

A real, buzzing, great-to-be-alive, annoying fly met its death at my hands. I’m not proud of the fact that I killed it. Okay, maybe I am slightly shocked at the fact that I actually killed a fly, because those things are impossible to kill! But what is more important is why I killed it. 

This article I read about stay-at- home moms who are glad to do what they do, stay at home and not miss the first step, the first smile and the first gurgle of their child made me see red! What made it even redder was a working mom’s article justifying why she did what she did and absorbing the guilt imposed by this article. The fly was an unfortunate victim of my anger. Yes, I was angry and still am at this unreasonable and meaningless debate between who has it better between working moms( WM) and stay at home moms (SAHM).


**Warning: This is a partial rant, a partial appeal and a bit of a departure from my usual posts, so be ready for some non-Zen moments and outbursts.**

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To be fair, this wasn’t the only article that triggered it. In the last few months alone, I see people blogging and writing triumphantly about how they have managed to salvage their souls by either staying at home or working and are therefore, better moms. Hold that thought! Just stop dead in your meaningless tracks right there!

Before you read ahead, let me just offer my credentials: I have been a working mom, a stay-at-home mom and am currently a Work-from-home-stay-at-home-mom (WFHSAHM). Yes, that’s a mouthful, so don’t try using it in a conversation any time soon.

I am deliberately not linking to the three articles that provoked me no end, because 


(A) I do not want to give them more publicity than they have already garnered 

(B) I don’t want to really pick out flaws, one by one.


The ‘supermom’ concept or the ‘one who has it all’ has always been just a myth, as far as I am concerned. No mom can do it all. I repeat. No mom can do it all. Because , whether you like it or not, there is always going to be someone doing something that you are unable to do. Does that make you an inadequate parent? Why should it? Oh wait, that’s what the article says, so it must be true.

Let’s bust some myths right here and right now:

Myth # 1:

 A SAHM has all the time in the world to do what she wants; 
A WM does not have enough time to spend with her kids.


Fact # 1:


Being a parent is difficult. 


Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise- not the happy Facebook updates or the Pin-worthy images of smiling kids and moms or the funny parenting tweets that paint a rosy picture of a perfect family.

Contrary to what people think, SAHMs (or dads) don’t sit around all day. We don’t spend our day with our feet up in front of the TV, nose buried in a book and calling out orders to our butlers and maidservants. 

Similarly, WMs are not so tied to their jobs that they don’t spend quality time with their kids. No, that’s just a twin myth perpetuated by both sides to make themselves feel better.

Myth # 2:

Staying at home is the best thing possible for your kids.


Fact # 2:


There is no one-size-fits-all t-shirt. Have you found one? If yes, please pass on the number of the retailer and I will ensure they get booming business. Let’s make one thing clear: Staying at home is the best thing possible if that is what you choose to do, not because you are told so by well-meaning parents/ friends/ an older generation. The key word here is choice. 

There is no guarantee that children brought up  by exclusive stay-at-home moms will grow up as better adjusted individuals than their counterparts, because frankly, studies in this field are never going to have the same set of variables.

Myth # 3:

You can choose not to work

Fact # 3:

Working is not always a matter of choice. If it is, it is still fine. 
Because, as a famous video proclaimed, ‘It’s My Choice.’

A lot of moms I know, work because they want to. It makes them feel happy, content, capable and confident. This, in no way, makes them incompetent mothers. If anything, their adjusted personalities are happy to spend those precious moments with their children without guilt or sadness.

An equal number of women I know work out of a need. This may be financial, emotional or a combination of both. Parenting is an expensive job, in case you hadn’t noticed. It needs a dual income to sustain a family. So, to call out a working mother and shame her for wanting to provide for the family is, frankly, disturbing.


Myth # 4:

Only working moms need a nanny/ daycare.

Fact # 4:

Moms need help. All moms. Everywhere.

When my daughter was 4 months old, I had two nannies. I was not working, but I was unable to manage all my daughter’s needs by myself. I needed someone to help with washing her clothes, giving her a bath, watching her for a brief time while I got some housework done or just to play with her. 

When I began working part-time, I sent her to day care for a few hours every day. She enjoyed the time spent with the caregivers and I worked at my teaching job without the guilt of worrying about her meals and her immediate needs.

~

You see, I get it. I get the fact that we all have our crosses to bear and our guilt to shoulder. That’s perfectly okay, by the way. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, guilty, overworked, tired and not as invested as you would like to be in this whole parenting game. What is NOT okay is to make other moms feel the guilt or worse, look down upon their choices, with not one shred of compassion ruling your decision.

Let’s stop with the naming, the shaming, the guilt-inducing and the condescension. What do we gain from this anyway? Some mistakenly imposed form of self-martyrdom? An idea that our choice makes us superior to someone else’s situation? A rather worrying fact that one set of moms are ‘better’ than another?

In a world otherwise ruled by patriarchy and narrow mindsets, we are united by an incredible bond- parenthood. When we should be elevating each other, helping up the ones who fall, brush their bruises aside and tell them that they are doing great, we instead choose to point fingers and mock. How exactly are we being mature when we indulge in this kind of behaviour?

To every mom/ parent out there, stay at home, working, work from home, 
part-time worker, flexi-worker, I say this: 

You are doing the best you can.
There is no ‘better’. 





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Comments

comments

0 thoughts on “Working Moms vs Stay-at-home moms

  1. This will remain an evergreen debate.. as there is no right answer to the benefits of SAHM & WM. I am a SAHWM and stressed out double. How do we handle that?

  2. The only real answer to that lies with you, Lata. I would suggest only biting off as much as you can chew, keeping your health as priority. Like you say, there is no one-stop solution to this debate.

  3. I believe being a homemaker is a equally challenging job like any other. It should be added to paycheck list of jobs. It requires specific skills which not every woman/man can have just like in any other job. So policy makers should start thinking over including this in the regular job package soon.
    The Moms who do other jobs or run a business from their home , work from home and so do dedicated homemakers. So I don't see any difference here. 🙂 But I know the debate will continue for a long, long time.

    Cheers,
    POETICbug
    http://poeticbug@blogspot.in

  4. First of all, I must confess. I love this Shailaja more. Not the 'always-Zen' one. This one – I can relate to.
    Secondly, you know my thought on this. And you've just put it a lot more eloquently that I possibly could have. Each one to their own, I say. The only thing I say is that it is to be doing by choice and decided by you. Not because society warrants things to be done in a certain way 🙂

  5. I always agree that parenting is one job that is thrust on you with zero qualifications and checks, but we seem to do okay, somehow, learning along the way. As long as we can trust others to do their thing, instead of hauling them up for being parents who neglect their kids, this debate will continue.

  6. I doubt anyone can really conform to society's expectations. Even if they do, society will still find a way to find fault with what you do. And for what? For whose peace of mind? It's ridiculous, the tunes we dance to, because it is the only music playing.

    You like this me? I wouldn't want to cross this Me on a good day 😉 You have no idea what you're in for.

  7. Well-said! There's really point with these futile debates. Ultimately you are a parent and there really can be no other category For me liberalism will kick in when you are not expected to make a particular “choice”.

  8. Exactly, Uma. Liberalism is a far cry away, though, given how people jump up and down over the most trivial issues. At least if we can aim for some form of empathy and compassion, that would be great 🙂

  9. Actually this debate can go on ,but there will be no one opinion, which will be suitable for every one. I was a full time working mom, I never had any regrets. My children are doing very well in liife. My daughter and DIL, both are working mothers.Even my grand children are doing very well. I am not against 'stay at home mothers'. It is for a woman to decide I personally feel that children of working mothers are more organised . Soon I will write my experiences as a working mother.

  10. Parenting is a tough job. More so because there is no training or induction period for it. You've to learn as you go. I'm not a parent yet, but I feel that being a happy parent is more important than being a working or stay-at-home parent.

  11. Great post Shailaja and even when I am not a mother, I totally agree with you. All those are myths and need to be exposed..SAHM, WM, SAHWFH or SAHWM – all Mums are doing their best and this is no competition..There is no guarantee even after any kind of upbringing if the child will become a good human being.There are so many variables that will never have one finite solution.

  12. Very very well said, Usha Madam. You are right. It is each mother's prerogative based on her circumstances. Nobody can or should take a call on another's situation. You are an admirable standard to look up to 🙂

  13. A really nice post. Such decisions also vary as per family conditions and situations.
    But anyways choice is always ours, as we know our priorities well. Each mom ensures best for her kids irrespective of her professional choice. Just love, laugh,share whatever moments you get to spend together.

  14. 🙂 So much fun to hear you rant! You must do this live for me next time we meet! This is a topic close to my heart, as you know.

    I think this is probably your best so far…post, not rant.

    Happy Mother's Day! And three cheers!

  15. Very true, Swati. I just wish more women would choose to slow down and think about these choices before going and writing a post about how she is 'better off' being a stay at home mom or a working mom. It hurts when people read it and feel guilty.

  16. People will always debate this issue. I think it is a personal choice that is either dictated by desire or need. Most people are forced to work outside the house to make ends meet, and it doesn't make them any less a mom. Still others are blessed with the opportunity to stay home with their babies and be with them first hand. Some folks are just better capable to juggle all the hats a mom must wear. For me, I have always felt extremely blessed to have been a stay at home mom for all these years. There are days when I envy those moms that went back to work and still have a life and identity that isn't intertwined with their children. Still, I don't regret the choice I made or.the hard times when money was tight because my husband and I made the choice we did. Happy Mother's Day dear. Whatever works…different strokes for different folks. Doesn't make anyone better than another.

  17. A rant! I like :-). Initially, I used to get affected especially since I was struggling with work and a little child. Luckily the people close to me supported when I chose to work professionally or not. Inside the house, I've always been working. I guess I don't care for these debates any more. Maybe they are struggling and need to pull the other side down to feel happier about what they're doing. Who can say? I just wish that we all would practice basic compassion. Life would be so much better then. Thank you for putting your sane voice forth. We all need more such articles.

  18. A great post perfectly timed for upcoming Mother's Day this Sunday! 🙂 I agree whether a WM or SAHM, both choices are valid and depends on the nature of one's circumstances and choice. Wise words of wisdom. 🙂 <3

  19. I don't think you are ranting at all! In fact, a very well laid out post highlighting that we are all (us mothers) are doing the very best we can! I liked it so much have shared your link 🙂

  20. This debate keeps going on but there cant be any right or wrong answer..each to her own..The point is whether you are working out of choice or need.take care of your children, ..and if you think that you dont have enough resources.be it time or money, dont bring them into this world…

  21. I really don't care about what people say in this matter. Each person has the right to make choices.To these judgmental people, all I can say is that you made your choice and I made my choice. Now pls do what best you can do and let me handle my work, my kid the way I deem it right! We get to hear the same judgmental opinions on a child studying in a boarding school vis-a-vis a day school!

  22. Loved it…there are things I agree and few I disagree however one thing that you said in the end sums it up…whatever we do we do in the best interests of our kids…so there is truly no “better”

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