In light of Hilary Rosen's unkind words towards Anne Romney that spurred yet another debate on the so called “mommy wars”, I thought I’d post my thoughts on the topic of being a working mom.
Even though logically, I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving H every morning for work, I do. The guilt pierces my heart and it’s all I can do to not curl up in a ball and cry. But here’s the thing—I know I am a good mom and I know that working outside of the home (because let’s be real here—stay-at-home moms are working, too. It’s just not paid work) is providing me with an immense amount of satisfaction and mental stimulation.
Here’s the thing though, I’m not into guilting other moms into choosing a certain path. I don’t believe there is one right way to parent a child. Every child is different and every family is different. There are many mothers, and fathers for that matter, who would love to stay at home with their kid(s) but they simply cannot afford to do so. There are people like me who, if we REALLY wanted it to work, we could find a way to stay home but we know deep down that we need something for ourselves, something away from the home where we aren’t constantly depended upon. Either way—it is not my place to pass judgment on a parent who can/wants to stay home or one who cannot/doesn’t want to stay home.
However, just because I love my job I find myself in a constant mental and emotional battle with myself:
I thoroughly enjoy having lunch with my co-workers. It’s my favorite meal of the day because I can actually eat in peace.
I also talk about my baby a majority of the lunch hour.
I love being able to get a lot of my (paid) work done without being interrupted by a crying baby, or otherwise needy baby. (I do have to take a 15-minute break three times a day to pump, but that’s another story.)
I also love the feeling I get waking up to my little baby smiling at me—I just melt and it takes all I've got to leave him every morning.
Working outside of the home is not easy just like being a stay at home mom isn’t a cake-walk either. I am emotionally and physically drained at the end of each day. As many parents know, once the baby is asleep, the work is not over. There’s laundry to be done, dishes to put away, work emails to answer, parenting books and blogs to pour over, bills to pay, a spouse to pay attention to, etc.
Things I used to do for pure pleasure are not an option these days—I haven’t painted or made jewelry since my second trimester. I’d love to plant some veggies and flowers in the yard but who knows when I’ll be able to do that! Maybe in a few years?!
This gets me back to my earlier post about Norway. Perhaps if U.S. policy actually cared about moms and had a decent paid maternity leave policy, moms would have the opportunity to take at least 6 months to a year off to spend time with their new babies, and then go back to work---maybe GUILT-FREE!
In addition to lobbying Congress for equal pay for women, we should also focus in on parental leave policies, particularly PAID parental leave. One thing is for sure—for a country that supposedly values families, we sure do suck at ensuring that families have what they need to raise healthy, well-fed and well-adjusted children.
So do this for me—stop comparing yourself to other moms. Stop valuing stay at home moms over working moms OR working moms over stay at home moms. Instead, let’s work together to move a proactive parental leave policy AND an equal pay policy forward.