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.