Texas Mama wrote this great post on September 21, 2008, on her blog and agreed to repost it here On The Flipside. Please read this wonderful post on this very interesting topic and then go over and visit Texas Mama and say hello. Thanks, Texas Mama!
Hmm.... just when you're thinking "I have NOTHING to blog about today. I wonder what I'll have to dig up just to keep my readers from yawning." something hits a nerve and POOF! A blog post is born.
We all have one of these friends... you know, the one who really loves you but deep down disagrees with you on some crucial point of your belief system. Maybe it's politics; maybe it's the decision to use dried herbs instead of fresh. Who knows. But you both know to NEVER go there, else the friendship may suffer irreparable damage.
So, I have this friend. Let's call her Pig. Now, please understand, I do not think she is a pig. She, actually, gave herself this nickname because she really likes pigs and used to collect pig things: stuffed animals, figurines, pictures, tee shirts, whatever. I have known Pig since our first days of college when we shared a freshman English class. She was the ying to my yang. She helped me to take life less seriously; I taught her how to compose herself in moments when laughter was not appropriate. Yes, me. I was there for her after her first marriage fell apart. She was there for me when I got married, as one of my bridesmaids. Her son and my daughter are born just weeks apart. She is my daughter's godmother.
So, you get it? We're close. And we have stayed close all these years.
She's also a heavy Democrat. I am a Republican. We both laugh because we both say how our votes are a wash. She lives in Kansas (always goes Republican) and I used to live in IL (always went Democrat). Sometimes I like to get her going by making some comment about liberals, or how we listen to Rush Limbaugh, or I simply mention the name "George W. Bush". She loves to debate politics and I think it infuriates her that I refuse to bend, even a little, towards the middle. Not that she's bending either, but she likes to believe that she can change someone's mind with her powers of persuasion.
Now, I was talking to Pig today and we were discussing a mutual friend from college whose children were grown now and in elementary school. She wondered why the friend had not gone back to work? I explained, well, I believe the friend - let's call her Amy (because that's my most favorite girl name and still, why have I not named any of my girls that name???) - that Amy enjoyed staying home and taking care of the house things, being active in her kids' school, volunteering, etc. Plus, Amy's husband made enough money that she didn't need to work. They weren't rich, but his salary was enough to support the family. Pig went on to say that it just didn't make sense. Why wouldn't a woman want to go back to work? What was the point in staying home?
She continued, while I listened in silence, that SHE took her son to and from school every day. That SHE took days off work when her son had field trips so that she could attend. That SHE took time off work when there was a holiday party at school with which she was helping, and not only did she attend but she baked (not bought) cookies. And, she said, I *do* like my job, but I am busy! I take my son to sports practices. I take him to games. I help him with homework.
I tried to explain, "well, maybe Amy likes staying home with her family. Maybe even if she could go back to work, she would choose not to. I can understand this dilemma if they were suffering financially, but they aren't - so what's the big deal?" And I mentioned, "maybe Amy doesn't understand why in the world you choose to work when your husband could easily support your family on his income alone."
Pig then continued, and I think this may have been the source of her frustration, how she was so SICK of bumping into one particular stay-at-home mom in her subdivision who complains that she's SO TIRED.
Pig says, "What in the hell is she so tired from? She doesn't even see her kids all day because they are at school!! The kids even ride the bus so she doesn't have to drive them either. How lazy is that? I mean, what else does she have to do?"
I was pretty much stunned.
Pig: "Hello? Are you there?"
Me: "Yes, I'm here. I'm just listening."
Pig: "Oh, I'm not talking about you. I mean, you still have a small child at home. And you have 4 kids! I mean, this lady in my subdivision only has 2. And hers are at school all day."
Me: "Okay, well, I don't know what her situation is. So, how was your son's birthday party?" (me, trying to redirect the conversation away from me putting my foot in my mouth)
Now, before you go and start in with "That Pig is a total rag. Drop her like a hot potato!" I must beg you to please restrain yourself. She is a VERY close friend. Just because I don't see the world the same way she does, doesn't mean I don't love her. We have very different views on parenting, which probably is directly related to our difference of opinions on the working/staying home thing.
Now, all day long, I can't stop thinking about this. Is that what Pig thinks about me? What if I had chosen not to go back to work, would she secretly be clucking her tongue at me? Or making snide comments, set up as just playful jabs but really based in truth? I almost feel like, "Thank God I have a baby at home to justify my Stay-At-Home-Mom status."
That continued the spiral... what do I do all day? Could I be doing what I do, and still go out and have a job? Why not? Many women do it and make it work. Many women do it and are really good at it! And, it's true: I don't see my kids a majority of the day (with the exception of the baby). So, should I be doing something more meaningful? Like homeschooling? (Oh, please don't make me do that. I may have to take a full-time job just to avoid it.) Or volunteering at a not-for-profit agency? Or getting a job that I can do from home? Suddenly, my days of clipping coupons, driving around town to get the best deals from various stores on our needed supplies, folding loads of laundry, picking up toys, and ironing Texan Papa's shirts seems very... insignificant. Like I'm wasting time. Like I'm unproductive.
I am so screwed. I take these little scenarios and hold onto them for dear life. My brain exists only to tumble around the different paths my life could take or should have taken. What if I'd done this instead? Would I be richer? Smarter? Someplace different? Would I have more kids? Less kids? Any kids at all?
Now, I know that every time I meet a working mom, I will be afraid that she's thinking the same thing that Pig thinks. I bet I will (subconsciously) mention that I have a baby at home, and she's only about 1 year old - just to make sure it's understood that I *DO* have someone to keep me busy all day. I will probably never act like I'm busy, but rather offer to relieve any burden she may have because, you know, I have so much extra time on my hands.
The funny thing is, I am not being funny. I DO have lots of extra time on my hands. I DO realize that my job is pretty easy. Because of those things, I purposely avoid asking my husband to do any household chores. I try to support him by allowing him to bring home the bacon without any added stress. I'm not saying that I walk around behind him, picking up his socks and wiping his nose. I just mean, I don't tell him that he has to cook dinner once a week, or that he has to fold laundry, or put away toys, etc. (For the record, he does occasionally do those things without being asked, just to be helpful.) And, in turn, he has never asked me to go out and get a job to help with the income. I have had small jobs here and there, but nothing more than what could cover a couple weeks of groceries. But my point is, I do realize that I have a great life. I enjoy staying home. I enjoy being a domestic goddess. I love teaching and one day hope to return to it. But in the mean time, should I apologize for my husband's and my belief that - for us - it's important to have a parent at home while the children are young? Should I feel guilty that I can - and do - go to yoga class, do bible study, write thank-you notes, and take bike rides while other moms are out there earning the Almighty Dollar? No, scratch that. I don't want to know if I should feel guilty. I want to know how I should justify it to my friends, to myself, to society?Originally posted by http://whoputmeinchargeofthesepeople.blogspot.com/ at 9/21/08 12:01
Please offer your honest opinion on this subject of working moms vs stay-at-home moms, but please follow the comment rules and be nice to Texas Mama, to me and to all those that comment. Also, please go over to my sidebar and participate in the 2 polls on this topic.
Poll results: Do You Feel Like Working Moms Look Down On SAHM? 12 people participated in poll. 3 (25%) said Yes. 1 (8%) said No. 8 (66%) said Some Do. (0) said Most do.
Poll results: Should SAHM Have To Justify Their Choice To Stay Home? 9 people participated. 8 (88%) said No. (0) said Yes. 1 (11%) said In Some Cases.