Unfortunately, at the core of mommy wars lies the most popular mommy war of all time: stay-at-home moms versus working moms. I had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom and a mom who works outside the home, and while many comments people make about working moms are simply untrue, I'm here to say that some stereotypes about working moms are legit. If it seems that moms who work outside of the house are "always busy" and/or "always tired," that's because they are. No, they're not looking for sympathy, they're just really, really exhausted.
Now, before you start to throw stones, please understand that I was a stay-at-home mom for a year and a half with each kid, so three years combined, and I can honestly say that every mom, regardless of her work situation, faces significant challenges. But when I stayed at home I was able to get everything done during the day. I was able to go grocery shopping, clean, cook, do laundry, attend school events, and go to whatever appointment I needed to attend during the day. My evenings and weekends were designated family times. We'd spend our evenings hanging out and the weekends doing family activities, like visiting the playgrounds or other festivities. Now, as a working mom, I have to do all of those things in the evenings and/or on weekends. In other words, there's no time for me to simply rest. I'm always tired and I'm always overwhelmed and, make no mistake, this isn't some badge of honor. No, this is the badge of motherhood.
As a stay-at-home mom I was able to spend way more time with my kids and with my family, but I felt unfulfilled on a deeply personal level. My perfect scenario would be to work part-time, if finances allowed it, but at the moment that's not an option. So, at least for the time being, I am working full-time and living the life depicted in numerous working mom stereotypes, like the following:
They Miss School Events
Moms who work outside of the house cannot be present at every school event. There's a class party for every occasion and I don't have nearly enough personal days to take in order to attend every single festivity. In fact, I don't even get enough personal days to use for the times my kids are sick. So, unfortunately, working moms have to miss a bunch of school events, even when their kid looks at them and says, "But all the other parents are going to be there."
They Stay Late At Work To Avoid Having To Work At Home
That's right, sometimes mothers who work outside of the house stay late at work because they know two things to be true: they will be more productive at work than at home, and they will be forced to clean, cook, put the kids to sleep, and do to everything in between once they get home. Sometimes it's just easier to wait until the kids are fed and bathed before coming home. We all deserve a break, and sometimes that break is staying late at work to finish up whatever needs finishing up.
They Forget Appointments
I've forgotten my share of appointments. Even with set reminders, I somehow manage to forget a doctor's visit here or a soccer practice there. I've forgotten my own appointments so often, in fact, that I have to set multiple reminders for myself.
They Order *A Lot* Of Take Out
I have just enough energy during the week to last me about two or three home-cooked meals. But once those two days are up, my husband cooks or we order takeout. I would say about half of our meals are not home-cooked, and that is all because I work full-time and by the time I come home all I want to do is someone to feed me. When will these kids finally cook for me? When? Tell me when.
They Have A Difficult Time Juggling It All
Sometimes it seems impossible to juggle it all. As I mentioned earlier, work-life balance doesn't really exist for working moms, so managing our obligations feels more like a near-impossible juggling act than "having it all." Yesterday, when I was at work, my daughter's school called and said that due to the weather they'd be closing early. As a result, I had to scramble and figure out who will pick up my daughter from the bus stop when she gets there. My parents were unavailable, so my husband had to leave early and get her from the bus stop.
Juggling it all is sometimes impossible.
They Are Envious Of Stay-At-Home Moms
I'm woman enough to admit I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. But I don't want to be the type of stay-at-home mom I used to be, either. I want to be one with a lot of money. I want to live a life of leisure and not worry about how I will go grocery shopping this week. I'm definitely envious of the moms who get to stay at home and not worry about anything but taking care of their kids and attending the events at their kids' schools. So, yeah, I'm envious of stay-at-home moms.
They Want Their Kids To Be Proud Of Them
I work because staying at home is not only an option financially, but also because I enjoy being productive outside my house. I also want my child to see her mother working and doing great things with her life. Many working moms are trying to set an example for their kids, especially their daughters. If we have to work anyway, we may as well make our kids proud.
They Constantly Feel Guilty
Working moms always feel guilty. They feel judged and, to some extent, they actually judge themselves. They wonder how they can better balance everything that comes at them. They want to be great moms and be great at what they do for work. They do want it all, but also don't want it to be as difficult as it is.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.