Living the #MomLife is hard. Literally any modifier put in front of "mom" doesn't change that fact. Even the half-assed #MomLife is substantially more difficult than any run-of-the-mill adulting. Still, we don't know what we don't know, and if you've only experienced motherhood from one particular perspective you may not realize someone else's struggle. I come today with a modest proposal to one particular mom group, because there things stay-at-home moms need to stop saying about working moms. I realize that more often than not, stay-at-home moms don't mean anything by it. When they do, it's probably because they're not looking at things from a working mom's perspective. However, per Atticus Fitch (before all the racist stuff, of course), we need to try to climb into someone's skin and walk around in it for a while.
I have the great benefit of having seen this issue from both sides: I've been a working mom (both with a stay-at-home partner and with a working partner) and a stay-at-home mom. I'm currently a work-from-home mom (another story for another day, trust me), but I have made a concerted effort to remember what stay-at-home #MomLife and working #MomLife is like, in order to remain compassionate and understanding. So, I try my best to avoid saying unintentionally annoying crap, like the following:
"I Could Never Do That"
Fun fact: 100 percent of children need food, clothing, and shelter. I know, right? Crazy. The vast majority of working mothers are working to provide those basics (and, hopefully, additional opportunities) for their children. Some families can manage the aforementioned with one parent bringing home a paycheck. (Or, like, vast amounts of inherited wealth. Or because they happen to live on a literal mountain of gold, like the Lannisters.) But in most two-parent families, both parents work. If you're among those who can manage to live comfortably on one paycheck and you've chosen not to work, that's cool. However, I'm confident that if you had to go out and earn money to provide for your children, you could and would do it. After all, you're a mom so you can and would do anything for your children.
But above and beyond this, it implies that working moms work because they somehow love their children less than SAHMs. Even if a mom doesn't "have" to work, whether or not she has a career is not indicative of her loving her children any less than a SAHM. It means she's approaching motherhood differently from you. It's cool.
"Well At Least You Can..."
Yeah, I'm going to stop you right there. While there are benefits and drawbacks to any choice a mom makes about working outside of the home or not, please don't assume what those benefits and/or drawbacks are for a working mom. And for the love of all that is pure and holy, don't make this a passive aggressive pissing contest about how much harder being a stay-at-home mom is. It's pointless, and for a few reasons:
1) Everyone is different, and their perception of what's more difficult is going to be different. So, really this is just giving your opinion as fact which leads me to my second point;
2) It's just obnoxious and condescending. Don't.
"They're Only Little Once"
Wait, what? Seriously?! I thought raising kids was like playing Super Mario Bros. because yes, sure they might get bigger if they eat their mushrooms, but if you ever want them to get small again you just bump them into a goomba and boom! They'll be itty bitty again!
Yes. Thank you. We're all aware of how being a human being works. This is just a not-very-subtle way of shaming working moms for working, by using something that probably bums them out already anyway. Save it.
"I Just Have Different Priorities"
You could just skip being coy and go right to, "I'm a more dedicated mother than you," because we all know this is what you mean.
"Why Isn't She Volunteering? Doesn't She Care About Her Kids?"
In the past, when I've volunteered at my son's schools, I've noticed three things:
1) Most (though not all) of the volunteers are stay-at-home moms;
2) Most of the parent volunteers are the sweetest, kindest, best organized, most capable people you could ever hope to work with;
3) There were always a few who "question" why there aren't more working moms present and kind of roll their eyes.
Stay-at-home moms, I know you're busy. Despite being busy, you still manage to find time to volunteer at your child's school and that's impressive and awesome. But you are not busy in the same way that working moms are busy. That's not saying you are less busy, but a working mom's schedule is less flexible and more precariously balanced, with fewer opportunities to kill two birds with one stone (like spending time with your child as you're running errands.)
So please don't judge the working moms for not being able to attend every meeting, bake sale, or fun run. Just appreciate any time anyone is able to lend a hand.
Daycare/Nanny Horror Stories
Unless you found out that your working mom friend's nanny/daycare worker is an escaped ax murder who's been on the lam for the past 10 years or something, please don't scare her with terrifying (possibly not even true) stories about horrible childcare workers you've heard. Trust, it's often scary enough to trust someone with your child and working moms are acutely aware that awful things can happen.
"Can't You Just Take Off Work?"
This is the working mom equivalent of, "Can't you just get a sitter?"
No. No they can't. Because it's a job. Participation is mandatory. Besides, it's a rare employer who just hands out paid days off willy-nilly. Those days are finite and need to be saved for the million other things that will come up over the course of the year.
"Have You Tried Crunching Some Numbers Or Looking Where You Could Make Sacrifices?"
OK, so this is assuming a couple of things, including:
1) That a working mom hasn't already done this;
2) That a working mom wouldn't think to do this;
3) That a working mom aspires to not be a working mom.
If she asks you what sort of budgeting you figured out to enable you to stay home, by all means share your tips and tricks. However, don't offer it without being asked. Even if she's lamenting a working mom problem, she's either blowing off steam or she's already longing to stop working and you suggesting something so obvious is just salting the wound.
"You Poor Thing"
Working moms do not need your pity (or your presumption that they are suffering somehow). Instead, they need your solidarity.
Ultimately, I think a lot of the things that should remain unsaid boil down to not understanding one another and relying on presumptions in the face of the unknown. So, instead of assuming, just ask a working mom what she thinks and feels and wants.
"You Probably Don't Like That I'm A Traditional Girl..."
I know a lot of stay-at-home moms are intimidated by working moms and feel like they're the ones who are being judged. Many assume that working moms deride stay-at-home moms as being anachronistic throwbacks to a more sexist time. Please don't think this, because it's almost certainly not true (and if it is true, that person is a jerk and not worth your time). Their choice is not an indictment of yours.
Remember: we're all moms, friends. There's more that unites us than divides us.