Monday, February 10, 2014

World of Warcraft: Mommy Edition

Tons of people these days seem to feel that they can just tell other mommies what's wrong with their family decisions. I'm not talking about just discussing options with friends who do different things than you do. I'm talking about the flat-out intrusions.

"You're letting your kid eat fast food?"
"You're not letting your kid eat fast food?"
"You put your toddler on a leash?"
"You're using formula when you could be nursing?"
"You went all natural when you could have had an epidural?"
"You had three kids in the hospital?! Have you looked into home births? They're really the best way to go."

I know that daddy's are parents, too. I consider my husband to me a wonderful daddy. I know that daddy's voices are becoming more prevalent in these discussions. However, even today, most of the insults are still directed at moms. Thus, I'm addressing the "Mommy Wars."

But of all the war-starting issues at hand today, the one that bothers me the most is probably among the most personal and private decisions that a family can make when it come to raising their kids: the stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) vs. the working mom (WM).

This issue is brutal. It's mean. It's always a competition of who has it worse; who's really "sacrificing" the most; who's working the hardest, who's more tired at the end of the day...

...You've witnessed it. You know what I mean.

On one hand:
I can't complain about being at SAHM because I get to stay home. I'm my own boss and get to eat when I want. I can even take a nap when the kids sleep. I can play outside all day every day in the spring/summertime with the kids. I know where everything is in the house because I'm in charge of it. I don't have to worry about workplace problems and adult drama. I must have it so good. It must be like every day's a day off for me! I can even have play-dates with other mommies and their kids in the park. Oh, what fun! If I'm complaining, maybe I just need an attitude change and that will make everything all better.

I can't complain about being a WM because hey, at least I get paid for what I do. If something happens to my spouse, I already have a way to support the family. I'm independent: I can have my own money to spend instead of having to spend my husband's. I get the best of both worlds: I can go to work, which means adult interaction, money, possible promotions, and no lack of employment time on my resumé, and then I get to come home to my sweet children and play with them until bed time. Days off and vacations must mean more to me because I'm not home all the time with my kids. If I'm complaining, maybe I just need an attitude change and that will make everything all better.

On the other hand:

I can't be openly happy about being a SAHM because I live in the 21st century! Women have rights now! I don't have to be locked in the house giving my all to a bunch of kids and cooking and cleaning when I could be using my degree and making something of myself.  Why am I going the old-fashioned, domestic route when there's so much more I could be doing with my life?! If I stay at home for too long, no one will want to hire me because I haven't worked in over a decade and have no skills. I really need to be making sure that me-me-me is taken care of. Besides, kids are over-rated anyway. They just eat at my energy. I should really take them to day care every once in a while.

I can't be openly happy about being a WM because "don't you know how important the mother-child bond is?!" If I'm working, my children are going to grow up with all sorts of problems and it will be all my fault! You've read studies that prove it! But at least I'm pumping for my child. Oh. That's not good enough. That latch is just so important that I should really be home to take care of my little one. A pump won't replace that, you know. It doesn't matter if I have a family member to watch them while I work. They need ME! I need to stop being selfish and go be a real mom. They're my kids; I need to start taking responsibility for them.

Stop it. Just stop it.

Stop competing. Everyone has it "worse." You're not me. You don't know how my life is. Maybe I really do want to be a SAHM. Maybe I would love to even get a part-time job, just to get out of the house.

Oh. But wait. You've done it both ways, so your opinion should be taken more seriously because you know.

Yes, you do know. You know what it's like for you. You don't know what it's like for me. Stop talking like you do.

Stop telling other moms how they should be feeling from your perspective. You don't know what they're going through, how their kids are on a daily basis, their husband's situation, and where they are mentally, emotionally, and physically. A school teacher may love being a SAHM because working with kindergartners all day and then coming home to even younger kids could very well be too much. On the other hand, a businesswoman may find the balance between adult interaction at work and her cute young children at home afterward to be the ideal situation.
In the end, we're ALL tired. We're ALL sacrificing. We're ALL working hard. We're ALL worn out. We ALL need a break.

You know what else we ALL need?

We need someone to just listen to us when we're having a hard time. We need someone to feel our pain and sympathize instead of "reminding" us of how good we must have it with whatever situation we're in. Are we capable of giving that or are we just so stuck on wanting our side to be the more pitied one that we can't shut our mouths and give someone a hug?

More mommy love and less mommy hate is something we could all use.

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