Sunday, August 1, 2010

Stay at Home Mom, or Not?: by Maija @ Mommy Moments

Today's guest blogger is my new friend Maija, from Mommy Moments. She is one awesome mommy! You can find her on Twitter @MommyMoments. Her post today really hits home for many of us who struggle with the balance between work and home. Enjoy!

Stay at Home Mom, or Not?

Have you ever pretended you were something you weren’t? Not in a way where you actually told a lie, but that you let someone assume something about you that maybe you just didn’t correct. Perhaps you let someone assume you read the book before the movie came out, or that you really did graduate Ivey League or even that your perfect tan came from a fabulous exotic vacation rather than from a bottle.

Today I did just that... only I pretended to be “one of them”. I just let someone assume I was a stay-at-home mom. It was 10 a.m. on a weekday and I was in the park. The park that many people drive to but the moms who live in close proximity consider it a ‘neighbourhood’ park. I had my three children with me and I looked like I had absolutely nowhere else to be. I had my mommy bag of healthy snacks, juice, and SPF 50 sunscreen. The one thing that would have truly given me away – my Blackberry – I left in the van.

I was wearing Sweet Pea in the baby sling and I was helping Bugaboo onto the ‘big boy’ swing when one of the neighbourhood moms who was forced to break away from her group due to a rogue child wanting to swing instead of slide asked me one of the appropriate ‘initiate conversation with fellow mommy’ questions: “How old is he?”

I look over, smile, give Bugaboo a push and answer “two and half. How old is your (quick check... yes she’s wearing pink shoes) daughter”? “Just turned two” she tells me. Now we’re best friends. Yes, on the playground, when you have nowhere else to be, sometimes it happens that quickly.

We exchange our children’s names (but never our own) and she asks about Sweet Pea and then about Sugar Plum who is happily playing with the others on the slide. Then she says to me “I’m not looking forward to school in September since Jack (among the sliding children) will be going into grade one and I’ll be home with just this one. It will be so lonely. At least you still have two at home.”

And there was my moment. My moment to say something about my maternity leave ending in September and therefore I won’t be home at all anymore. At 10 a.m. during the week I will have somewhere else I need to be (and likely many somewheres) besides the park.

But I didn’t. I just nodded as if admitting yes I was lucky and understood how lonely she would be. I then went on to a safe topic of where Jack went to school. Within a few minutes I was welcomed into the fold of the stay-at-home mommies, happily talking about upcoming cottage vacations and dance classes starting in September. It’s the same conversation I’m sure we would have had whether I was a stay-at-home mom or not but I was happy to be considered one of them.

There are stay-at-home moms, working moms, work-from-home moms and combinations of all of the above. For the last year I have been lucky to have been home on my third maternity leave but I am definitely a working mommy. I think I am one of those moms that fluctuate between wanting to work and wanting to be at home. If I am completely honest, however, I think the division would be 49% work and 51% home and it’s that 1% that gets me every time. I want to be one of them - at least 51% of the time.

There are stay-at-home moms, working moms, work-from-home moms and combinations of all of the above. For the last year I have been lucky to have been home on my third maternity leave but I am definitely a working mommy. I think I am one of those moms that fluctuate between wanting to work and wanting to be at home. If I am completely honest, however, I think the division would be 49% work and 51% home and it’s that 1% that gets me every time. I want to be one of them - at least 51% of the time.

I love my job. I make a difference in my job. Most importantly I make a good living and equally provide the financial resources to support our home and our lives. Seven years ago, while on my first maternity leave, staying at home was not an option. Now perhaps, if we had a smaller house, one less car and likely no dance, skating, swimming or vacations, living on my husband’s salary alone might be an option.

Maybe...

So perhaps by choice but perhaps not, I work... hard.

I’ve been a mom for seven years so I am well aware of the work-at-home vs. stay-at-home mommy debate and I refuse to take sides. I also refuse to believe that because my children went to daycare, preschool and/or stayed home with a nanny that they are any less emotionally, socially or intellectually developed. Nor that because I am a working mother my children will live unhealthy lifestyles or become obese.

I will also not believe that the children of stay-at-home mommies are any less prepared for school, have a higher rate of suffering from anxiety or have an unhealthy emotional attachment to their mothers.

I will, however, despite alienating many a working mom with this comment, continue to feel the guilt of choosing and/or having to work. I can only hope the guilt is less when all three of my children are in school full-time.

Again... maybe...

The mommy conversation dwindles as the children have tired of the slide and the swings. They’ve eaten all the snacks, the juice containers are empty and the sun is getting hotter by the minute. It’s time to go home. Jack’s mom is frantically trying to soothe her crying over –tired two year old while running after Jack who is grabbing a toy from another child. As her daughter is pulling at her hair and Jack is now screaming and lying face down in the sand after his mother gave back the toy, she looks at her friends who give her sympathetic smiles and says “it’s days like today I wish I was back at work”.

I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

6 comments:

Toni said...

I'm rowing the same boat. :)

Bree said...

Very sweet article.

Mama B said...

It's hard for to to 'title' myself too. I'm a stay at home, work from home, work at work less than 10hrs a week, mom. I generally use whichever title suits me at the time of conversation... :-)

Krista @ Not Mommy of the Year said...

I loved this. And agreed with it whole heartedly. I work technically because I "have to" but also, I like to and I don't think it makes me less of a mother because I put on heels and makeup and go to the office every day. I've said before that I think part of my "job" as a mother is to provide for my child. Maybe that's what keeps me from feeling the "working mom guilt" too often.

gina said...

What a well written essay! I have been all things - a full time SAHM, a single WM, a part time WM, and now a WAHM, lol. I think as long as we all focus on the last letter, we'll see we really are all the same people. Just like no two families parent the same, no two families provide the same... why the division?

Melinda said...

I have been every combination and am currently a WAHM, and I think the grass is always greener on the site you aren't currently on...only because you forgot what it was like there.

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