Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not everyone wants to be June Cleaver

A few weeks ago I took Jamie to a Gymboree class. I was so excited to have found one in our area...and on a Saturday no less. A working mother's dream come true!  I couldn't wait for some mommy and me time.  I was also hoping to maybe meet a cool mom friend or two. Instead I met a nice enough mom, and then I lied to her. It was a little white lie, but a lie nonetheless. One I've told a few times before. You see upon meeting this mom, I told her how I was glad they offered Saturday classes for us working moms. She stared at me with a look of horror on her face. Had I said something wrong? She immediately responded with a snarky tone, I don't work....I'm a full time mom. Oh, I said, you're so lucky I wish I could stay at home too. And there it was. The lie. It kinda just happened. Like word vomit to avoid the judging that was brewing in her mind.  Truth be told, I don't want to be a stay at home mom.  However when I say it out loud, women look at me and my child with pity in their eyes.  How could any mother possibly WANT to work?  Surely if she could quit, she would. 
I feel like I'm an anomaly in the working mom world. Everyday I read blogs and talk to women who would give anything to quit their jobs and stay at home. Not me, I actually like what I do and if given the opportunity to quit, would probably still work at least a day or two. I had a whole life, a career, before my son was born.  I worked hard for four years in college to achieve my dream. Why should my new role as a mommy mean leaving my old identity behind? Why can't I be both?
I used to think there I was missing some vital "mom" gene for thinking this way. For not wanting to spend every waking, breathing moment with my child.  For having a baby knowing full well he'd *gasp* be a daycare kid, causing women everywhere to clutch their pearls.  Was I being a bad mom?  Was I doing the wrong thing?  Should I want to stay home?  But then I realized, being a mom is like everything else. There's no right or wrong way to do it.  Just do what's best for you and your family. And this?  This just works for us. I like the balance we've found.  I like the independence I get at work.  It helps me maintain a little piece of "Emily" before she became "Jamie's mom."
 Do I sometimes feel like I'm burning at both ends? Yep, doesn't every mom? Are there days when I drop Jamie off and he's clinging to my leg, begging me not to go, that I want to just scoop him up and run back home, never returning to work again? Sure. I'm not heartless. I'm still a mom who loves her son more than anything in the world. But most days he runs in, not giving our goodbye a second thought. Are there days when my house is a mess and we eat cereal for dinner because sneaking in a trip to the park or a few more snuggles with Jamie was more important? You better believe it. Because working outside the home doesn't make you a part time mom, you still do that full time too.
So do I think that other mom is lucky to be a SAHM? Absolutely. Because that's what she wants. That's what works for her.  But next time when I get those sad "Oh....she's a working mom" looks, there will be no little white lies, because I'm proud of what I do. Proud of the choice I made. And in my opinion, that makes me a pretty great {working} mom.


Katie @ Loves of Life said...

I'm one of those people who wanted to stay home. But I told everyone that if I could have my DREAM, I would want to teach 2 days a week, or heck, even half days. Honestly. But that doesn't exist in education, sadly--although it should b/c a heck of a lot of teachers are momma's too (and it would cost the school districts less, too-but that's a tangeant for another time). Anyway--I don't think you have to feel bad for liking to work. Hell, I work, too. It's hard to do at home with a kid at my feet though. I sometimes want to take her somewhere a day or two a week so I can get some focused time in. So I get that.

I don't, however, feel like I had to lose my identity by choosing to stay home, or forget who I was just because I'm now a mom. You know?

The other day I tweeted about how many appalled looks I got and "oh no! why would you do that?" when I told random people who asked that I stay home with my daughter. Seriously. Like, they were all, "oh my gosh, will you go back to teaching?" as if I made the worst mistake of my life. Sadly, the judging goes both ways. I hate that. Can't we all just do what we want to do!?

I think you're doing the best for your family by being the best you.

And feel proud of that, girl.

Jess said...

I've done both. I've worked, and right now I'm home. And I loved both for different reasons.

I think women are ridiculous to each other. Why should some random person care what you do? As long ad you're happy, and your kid is happy, then its all good.

Laura @ My Thoughts-Uninterrupted said...

There's nothing wrong with being a working mom and LOVING that you are doing just that. Honestly, I think you are judged no matter what choice you make. I'm completely happy as a SAHM and I have people ask me when I'm going to go back to work all the time. And when I tell them I"m not? They give me the "you must be really lazy look" and ask me if I get bored.

No one can ever win. Do what makes you happy!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Well I don't have a child but I know that when I do have one, I will have to go back to work. I'm sure it'll be a tough thing to leave a child but at the same time you have to do what's right for you! And you're right... not everyone wants to be June Cleaver!

Angie said...

Thanks for this post! Seriously took the words right out of my mouth! There is a part of me that wishes I could stay home with my kids, but at the same time I know if I did I would regret it later and want to go back to work. In a perfect world I would love to be able to just work part time so I could be with them more, but let's face it, there's just no way we could afford it. And honestly, I like the fact they go to daycare and can get that social interaction with other kids their age. I think even if I was at home, I would still want them to go to daycare, even for just a couple days a week. You do what works for you! :)

Molly said...

Being a working mom is not a crime, and WANTING to be a working mom is not a crime either. I do daycare, so that I can stay home with my kids, but for our family, I HAVE to work, to bring some type of income into the family. I would feel bad if I didn't. We all struggle with feelings, and you're definitely not a bad mom for feeling that way. Just like a SAHM may sometimes regret her decision to be such. Mom's work hard regardless, and no mom should look down on another mother for her personal decision. Sometimes women are just too damn judge'y, boo to that!

Stephanie said...

Good for you Em! Moms are just crazy, why all the hate. Why can't we all just embrace the sisterhood of motherhood?! While I want to be a SAHM, I think part of the reason is I'm not content and fulfilled by my career. However, I also realize I would probably go stir crazy if I was in the house 24/7 with the little one, especially when hubs works out of town Mon - Thur most weeks. Seriously, it would be 24/4 without an adult since our families don't live here. And I've quickly realized, I'm no teacher. I can not provide for my child the education he/she will receive by attending preschool. Granted that may not come into play during the infant stage, but once 1 year hits, they'll be learning. I don't have the background or the potential patience for that ;) And that doesn't make me a monster for admitting that! I would like to at least have some part time or flex time to be able to be involved in the preschool, but we'll see how that plays out once baby is here in February!

And anyone who knows you or reads this blog knows how amazing a mom you are to Jamie. He's lucky to have you and he's happier because you're happier!

Legally Fabulous said...

Ugh. I totally understand why you'd lie. It kills me how judgmental people are. You by the best mom for YOUR kid, and let everyone else worry about how to be the best mom for their kids.

Legally Fabulous said...

Oh also - not sure if you read LagLiv... she is a working mom who shares the same sentiments as you. She blogs about it a lot. I really enjoy her blog, you probably would too!

Jeremy, Censie and Jude said...

I totally understand why the white lie came out of your mouth! I have done it before too. I have thought about the life of a SAHM and a working mom and I see positives to both lives. But there is something about still having that independance from your child and having that adult interaction wth friends and co-workers. Honestly my perfect situatino would be working 25 hours a week out of the home. Oh the dream! :O)
Dont feel bad about your lie.

SG to SP said...

I say I would love to be a stay at home mom but that's mainly b/c I'm not in love with my current job. If I had a job I LOVED I'm sure I would feel different. Regardless I'm going to have to work for financial reasons. Ideally it would be nice to work part time. Best of both worlds!

Melissa said...

I definitely want to stay at home with my son and I'm very lucky that I can. I don't think it's wrong to want to go back to work though. I joined a mom group and the vast majority of the women in it are going back to work and I'd say about 3/4 of them want to go back. It doesn't make you a bad mom. Everyone has to do what works for them and their family.

Laura said...

I totally agree with everything you said. I also think that in my case, I'm a better and more patient mother because I work. I get tired of the judgement but I just say that this is what works for our family and end the conversation.
My own grandma has a comment every time she sees me about how my son is deprived for being a "daycare kid." Honestly, they do way cooler things than I'd ever think of so there is no way that kid is deprived!

meghan said...

thank you for posting this! i am not yet blessed enough to be called a mommy, but the hubs and i are trying. and even in the "trying stage" we're getting peppered with questions/opinions about my working after baby. like you, i worked hard for my degree and the position i currently hold and i can't ever see myself not working. i know once we have a little one i might want to step back a bit but i feel too strongly about that part of my life to let it go completely.

Nikki said...

I always say I'd LOVE to be a stay at home mom -- if I could take my kids to daycare anytime I wanted :) But a lot of that is because I don't love my job, and there are so many other things I would love to try! But while I love my kids more than anything in the world, I enjoy my time away from them on occasion too!

ALin said...

I hear ya sister! Imagine the looks I get when I tell people I work AND go to school! They probably imagine I have my child locked in a cage somewhere. The one thing I love about being a working mom is that the moment Tucker gets home, I'm all his. I don't LOVE my job, but I do enjoy having adult conversation. Would I love to be able to work part-time and stay home part-time? Sure, but that's just not ideal for our family. I love this post - thanks for letting me ramble :)

Lindsey said...

As I was walking into school this morning and seeing moms drop their kids off and head to the gym.. I wondered what is going to happen to these SAHMs when there are no longer kids to stay home with? Do they re-enter the workforce? Enjoy their quiet time at home?

Becky said...

Here here! We should be mommy friends :)

d.a.r. said...

Girl, you know you aren't alone--you have me!!!

People keep looking at me like I have two heads when I tell them that I am planning on returning to work after Jack gets here. They give me the "oh, wow, that stinks!". I actually had someone tell me that we shouldn't have bought such a big house so that I could afford to stay, wow, rude much? Anyway, the point of this long rambling comment is that we are all going about this differently. As long as the decisions we make make our babies, our husbands and US happy, then who gives a crap if we are doing it a little differently than someone else. I am excited that I get to be a role model to my son and show him that women can be strong and empowered and have careers that are meaningful to them while still baking cookies, reading books and cheering like a fool at soccer games. I'm going to be a better mom to him because I won't have any resentment about giving up this career I have worked so hard to establish and because I will be able to retain my professional identity--which is an important thing to me (though, not everyone and I am not saying that it has to be).

dave and jenn said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post. :) I know exactly how you feel. I have been happy being back at work this week, although I almost feel guilty admitting it to anyone. They expect me to be crying because I'm not at home anymore, but I love my job and I think it makes me a better mom when I am at home.

So glad you wrote this!

Happiness Is... said...

I found your blog through a comment on Stealing Baby Kisses where you said you wanted to work and I RAN over here. I am the same. I love my son to pieces, but I like to work. Call me selfish, but I like the praise. The earning income. The positive praise from adults (kids may thank you 20+ years from now, if you're lucky). I actually think staying home would make me nuts. I'd be resentful of my husband, bored (I know, I know, the "days are full") and feel less important. That's just me personally, but I rarely find other moms that actually WANT to work. Most "have" to work, which is sad if they are really dying to stay home, but I love working and being part of something outside the home.

Emily said...

So I have no children but I was raised by a working mom and I didn't see anything wrong with it as the child growing up. I liked the daycare!
As long as you don't put work first over your children (as we got older my mom seemed to do that)then you are doing great!
Keep it up working mama ;]

Molly said...


Love this post, girl. Totally and completely love it.

But for some reason I still tell those little white lies too.

But truth be told, I change my mind weekly on what I would like to do so it's kind of hard to call anything a lie when I can't figure it out myself :)

Jamie is lucky to have you as his mommy!

Lucky in Love said...

I'm proud of you too! And you're really lucky to have found a career you love so much. Jamie is better for that.

Jules said...

I have no room to speak on the subject since I'm not a mom, but I have to go with my old standby of "different strokes for different folks". I believe that applies to everything and you have to do what works for you and makes YOU happy. You're doing a great job and everyone knows you love Jamie with everything you have regardless of keeping your job or not.

Never let anyone make you feel bad about your decisions. Good for you for standing by them!

Hilary Lane said...

I'm right there with you. If my full time job was located IN MY HOME, I would pull my hair out. I don't have kids, but even now, I appreciate my evenings and weekends that much more because I'm working during the day. I love knowing that one day the company I work for will be MY business. And that's just as much a part of me as being a mother will be.

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