What is the Value of a Mom?

Working moms versus “stay-at-home” moms.  Is there really still a need for debate?  Plus, who came up with those labels anyway?  They both suck.  How many moms who are “at home” with their kids actually stay home?  As if confined to the four walls of their abode.  And is work all that “working moms” do?  I think not.

Lately I’ve felt that moms are simply not valued today, or perhaps better said, the role/responsibilities/tasks/job of a mom is not valued.  Considering that I fall into the “stay-at-home” category this drives me nuts.  I personally do not feel like my days are a waste of my time, intelligence, skills or education.  If anything, motherhood puts all of my life experience and training into use on a daily basis.

(I don’t know how to enter into this next thought without offending people, but hopefully if you read all of what I’m saying you’ll hear the heart of my point, rather than immediately bristle at your interpretation of my words.  Just a disclaimer.)

Any-who, I also hear the devaluation of mothers from mothers.  Often my “working mom” friends tell me that the benefit of perceived daycare socialization is a reason why they work.  They talk about their choice to work as something great for their child, as if trying to convince me that it is okay because their daycare has such and such extra curricular activity, etc.  I rarely here women free to say, “I love my job.  I’m passionate and invested in what I do and the people I impact through my work.”  (MUCH better reasons to work in my opinion).  I don’t know if it is from societal pressures or because I have made a different choice, but I often wonder why they don’t feel free to simply express that they work because they are passionate about their job.  If I had gone through undergraduate, medical school and residency like The Doc I’m sure that I would be working.  I have the utmost respect for women who have invested years into their training in a particular skill and understand why they would choose to continue in their vocation after having children.  Did that make sense?

To me there is no point in having a discussion about the benefits of a daycare setting or nanny over a child being at home with a parent.  That doesn’t really seem to be at the heart of this to work or not to work debate.  Perhaps it has become a central issue because we haven’t allowed women to express their passion for work as reason enough to be separated from their children.  We have forced them to defend their choice to work in ways that not only invalidate their “stay at home” counterparts, but devalue them as mothers!  Everyone loses and is left feeling inadequate.  A daycare is not interchangeable with a parent, nor is a nanny.  This doesn’t mean that if you choose to have your child receive care from either one that it is a bad thing!  Repeat, I am NOT saying daycares or nannies are bad.  My problem with this line of thinking is how much it devalues mom and dad.  (I want to include dads here because there are many men who are primary caregivers for their children while their wives work outside the home and I think it’s awesome).  If we parents are interchangeable with other caregivers, we are doing something wrong.  In addition, if a mom is made to believe that another person can care for her child just as well or better than she, that is not only untrue, but sad.  What message are we sending to one another?  Motherhood is hard and we are constantly doubting ourselves.  I hear so many moms saying that they don’t think they are doing a good job.  The belief that someone else who has been trained and studied about children can do a better job only reiterates, to an already self-doubting mom, that she is not good enough.  I don’t care how many books someone has read about childhood development, no one knows a child like a parent.  A parent knows the unique things that no book or theory can.  A mother can tell her child has a fever simply by pressing his sweet cheek to hers, as she has the feel of him written on her heart.  The intimate relationship between a parent and a child cannot be replicated.  No really, it can’t.  I had some great teachers and babysitters growing up, but were they even comparable to my mom?  No way.

Regardless of what you do between the hours of 8 and 5, never forget that you as a mom are irreplaceable.  When it comes to mommas, Beyonce had it wrong.  You, working or stay at home, are IRREPLACEABLE.  No one can know or love your child as well as you and your child will never seek the love or attention of another the way he craves it from his Mommy and Daddy.  Remember that on the days when you wonder if someone else would do it better. Rest in the fact that no, they could not.  Love your children, sacrifice for them, play with them, pray for them, forgive them, hold them, and whatever amount of time you have with them, make it count.

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5 thoughts on “What is the Value of a Mom?

  1. I agree there should no longer be a debate about if working parents or at home parents have it harder. Maybe we could all just agree that everyone’s life is hard? Without throwing in that last ‘but I….” I might argue that a work from home parent has it the hardest with the best and worst of both worlds trying to get work done while simultaneously raising kids. That sounds harder to me than just being the stay at home parent I am. 🙂

  2. Amy,

    What a beautifully written post.

    I have to preface what I’m about to comment on is partially stated because I am playing the devil’s advocate. Partially because it has been a week or so since I first read your post and think about your thoughts every morning on my way to work. And partially because I want to explain how your post brought feelings of empowerment, self doubt, guilt, and gratitude after reading.

    Thank you for saying it like it is. Why can’t mother’s who work just admit that they actually enjoy what they do and possibly the impact they have on others’ lives? I also agree that that reason is a MUCH better reason to justify working.

    Stay-at-home moms (or dads) DEFINITELY do NOT earn the credit they deserve. It is by no means taking the easy road out. Where it can typically take a village to raise a child (or pack of children) these days, stay-at-home moms do it all by themselves. The examples and job titles that come to mind are endless, not to mention priceless.

    However, I read your last paragraph over and over and can’t help but to apply it to my situation and possibly speak for those that have made the hard decision to return to work and sacrifice those moments with their little ones.
    “Regardless of what you do between the hours of 8 and 5, never forget that you as a mom are irreplaceable. When it comes to mommas, Beyonce had it wrong. You, working or stay at home, are IRREPLACEABLE. No one can know or love your child as well as you and your child will never seek the love or attention of another the way he craves it from his Mommy and Daddy. Remember that on the days when you wonder if someone else would do it better. Rest in the fact that no, they could not. Love your children, sacrifice for them, play with them, pray for them, forgive them, hold them, and whatever amount of time you have with them, make it count.”

    I think of your words as I drive away wondering if my baby will make friends. I wonder if she’ll miss me. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I wonder if I did enough research on the facility. The self doubt is endless and debilitating. We are talking about my baby. I know no one can love my little girl the way I love her. PERIOD. But, when I’m dropping her off with someone else to go to work I try to convince myself that they are going to try their hardest and she’s going to (hopefully) see that MANY people love her, not just momma or daddy. It may be different, but I know that when I think about people in my life that I love, it is good to have different types of love. The point is we do what we have to do, especially in trying times.

    In short, I’m saying I am envious of stay-at-home moms. I, with a small exception, wish nothing more than to spend my days loving, teaching, disciplining, hugging, playing, raising, encouraging, and simply being present with my baby. But at this point in my life, that is neither practical nor realistic. I know your post wasn’t an attack. I do understand the heart of your message. I do. But know for some moms that work, it is definitely NOT an easy decision to make. These moments are so incredibly precious and to not be a part of it every single day kills me (and that’s an understatement).

    1. Sarah, thanks so much for your thoughts. So many of my friends posted comments on my facebook page and not here, so I think it’s great to have ideas here. I even had a dear friend write a response in a letter. I love it all. I’m so appreciative of your honesty and vulnerability. I know that it isn’t easy for moms to drop off their babies with a nanny or at daycare, regardless of how amazing the love and care their child receives. I’m sorry that I caused you to feel guilt and self doubt, as that was the opposite of my goal. The fact that you wrestle with any decisions you make for your daughter shows that you are an amazing mom. I do agree that having a child receive love from many people is crucial. We are blessed to have family close by now and I am so grateful that our kids can receive love and care by so many others. I just want to affirm that you are making the right decisions for your family, because no one knows what is best better than you. No one. I struggle with guilt and self doubt too and it is awful. But, none of that is coming from the one person who matters most, right? Your daughter thinks you are amazing. That is what matters. Working in or out of the house, she wouldn’t want anyone who isn’t you. Thanks again for your thoughts. I’m sure many others can relate.

    1. Janelle, thanks for sharing that link. I think that many women can relate to her feelings for sure. That was part of my reason for writing this post- to affirm working moms and their choice to love their babies and their jobs. I don’t agree with her thoughts about how working enables a mom to take better care or invest more in herself, or helps in launching her kids into their futures, but otherwise I think that she resonates with many others. Thanks so much for sharing, as I’m sure other readers would enjoy reading this post as well.

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