Monday, July 14, 2008

I don't get it. Really.

I so specifically detail how I am not and do not want to get into any kind of "stay at home" versus "working" mom debate.

Yet each time it's brought up, I get comments in regards to how terrible it is for working moms to miss time with their children. "Poor kids" I'm told. "Why would you even have children if you were just going to abandon them?" I am asked. "My children will know I am their mother, not some babysitter" and "You are a horrible mother" is commented to me.

I do not need to justify any of my decisions. This response is ~not~ about that.

I wanted to point out a few things in regards to the types of comments I've been receiving and the topic itself.

#1. I have written about two aspects of staying at home. a) If it's immoral to receive government assistance so a stay at home mom doesn't have to work. And b) How hard it must be for a stay at home mom to re-enter her career if that is what she chooses.

I NEVER left it open ended. I made sure I respected the stay at home mom in every posting. I specifically said I wasn't debating a very personal choice. Yet, stay at home moms have responded with negative comments about working moms. I've only published a couple, but I received dozens. Each and every one was from a stay at home mom bashing the working moms. No working moms left comments bashing stay at home moms.

#2. It makes me wonder. Are these negative stay at home moms bored and craving adult interaction, even if they have to bring it upon themselves by picking a fight? And the working moms don't need to resort to such comments?

#3. The basic argument from stay at home moms is working moms are missing out on our children's lives. And this is something I do want to respond to.

Yes, my children are in daycare for up to 8 hours each day. That's a lot of time. But, it's not 8 hours of pure "mommy & daddy / children" time. What do kids do during a normal day?

~ They spend time with their imaginations during "alone" playtime. I personally think alone time is imperative to their development. Could you imagine an older child who had every single moment attached to their mother? ~shudder~. I think every child, whether at home or at daycare, have this time. For a stay at home mom, this may be when mommy is taking a shower or talking on the phone or going to the bathroom, whatever.

~ They spend their time playing with other children. This is more time away from mommy which I feel is super important. Learning how to interact with other children is invaluable. Have you ever been to a public event (party, picnic, etc) where there is a child attached to their mother's leg, afraid to join in the fun with the other children? This is why children need time to learn to expand their world. To know they are an individual. Stay at home moms accomplish this by trips to the park, the play area in the mall, mommy groups, etc.

~ Napping. We are talking about the first 5 years in this whole "SAHM vs Working Mom", correct? (which is a lot of drama and debates for such a small amount of time, don't you think?) For most children under 5, there are naps. Under a year, in an 8 hour time frame, there is a lot of sleeping. Hours. For my 4 year old, this is 2 1/2 hours of time.

I would say those things above are a good 4-5 hours of their 8 hour day. So now we're talking about "missing" on about 4 hours. And yes, it's time missed. BUT ... it's time to be gained. Let me explain.

When I was on maternity leave, the entire day was just one big long day home with the kids. 5pm wasn't any different than 10am. But as a working mom, 5pm is ~huge~. It's when I walk in the door from work, I am greeted with 2 of the greatest smiles I've ever seen. I take 5 minutes to get in the door, change, get organized and then I have mommy/girls time. It's special. For an hour, all I do is play with my kids. I talk to them about their day. We sing. We dance. And then we get our aprons on and make dinner together. Eating together as a family is next. After that, we clean up together and get ready for bed, be it bath night or jammies only or whatever. We then have another hour in where we read books and play quietly. Tucking them into bed is a happy time for both of us. It's not until 8:30pm when my day is mine.

Don't let me forget weekends. Weekends are the days where there is no daycare and no work. Weekends are special. We know these are the only 2 days we get to spend all day together. Never is a weekend just like any other day. We know how important they are and we make sure we do something special each day.

See? As a working mom, I value the time I do get with my children. When I was on maternity leave, all the days were the same. We just did what we had to do until the end of the day came to signal us to get ready to start it all over again. NEVER do I take my off time with the girls for granted. I will admit I did when I wasn't working. No time of the weekday was special. The weekend was no different.

And this is ~why~ I find someone pointing their finger at me, telling me I'm missing out on my children's lives just ridiculous. Working as helped me find my special time with the kids. Without my career, I would take the time with my children for granted.

Please note everything I just said was used in the first person, "I". These are things ~I~ think. These are things ~I~ feel. These are things ~I~ react to. Nowhere do I generalize my experience as a working mom and my time at home with any other working mom or stay at home mom. I know plenty of stay at home moms whom I admire very much. I think staying at home is a wonderful choice for those whom it is right for. And while children benefit from staying at home, I also think children benefit from having working parents. It's not an "all or nothing" situation.

For me, my career has helped me appreciate my time with my children. It also allows us to live without worrying about money. If we want to go out to dinner, we go out to dinner. If we want to buy new shoes, we buy new shoes. If we want to go to Mexico for a week, we get our passports out of the safe and we go to Mexico.

What a "horrible mother" I am to have a career which reminds me each and everyday to spend all my moments as special time. I "abandon" my children and leave them with babysitters they mistake for their mother. I do all of this because I desire something more important - money. Money which is mostly spent to benefit the children themselves. Money spent on a meager home. A safe car. Healthy organic foods. Hormone free milk. Clothing. Heat in the winter. Cool air in the summer. Water to keep them clean. Educational toys. Silly toys. Trips to the swimming pool. Vacations. Gymnastic lessons. A new bike. Tickets to their very first baseball game at Fenway park.

"Poor kids" is right.

I have opinions. I have very strong opinions. I will give reasons for my opinions. But I don't judge. I am an intelligent woman who understands there are valid reasons to almost every side of every issue. The fact I am strong on what I believe doesn't mean I think the other side is wrong. It's simply different.


Anonymous said...

It sucks you are receiving comments like that. Mothers (and I guess women in general) are the most judgemental people - whether the debate is working vs. stay at home, breastfeeding vs. formula, thumb sucking vs. pacis...

I did want to comment about your initial post about re-entering the workforce. I am currently a SAHM and it was a tough decision for me to make, mainly for the reasons you mentioned - how was I ever going to re-enter the workforce in 5+ years? But I made the decision to stay at home for this reason (which is MY reason and I understand doesn't work for everyone) - I can always go back to work. I can always make more money, learn new skills, receive more degrees. But I can never go back in time and re-live the first few years of my children's lives. And that's what works for me. I don't judge any mother who choses to do otherwise.

Jenera said...

I can't see why anyone gets all up in arms with your last couple posts on this topic. Oh well, some people can be goofy (I'm being nice).

Anywho, the whole working vs. stay at home mom kind of applies to my hubby being a trucker. You don't know how often I get all kinds of derogatory comments on the fact that he is gone 5-7 days at a time. How he is missing so much and how much it sucks.

Yes, it does. And yes it is hard. But is something he does to provide for us so that we can have what we want and so that I can stay home. Also, I think that my hubby is so much more appreciative and loving of us and shows in more ways than most men do.

Thing to remember is everyone will have something to say about how a person chooses to live their lives.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I want to start this response by saying I did not post an anti-working mom comment on any or your posts, as I agree with what you have to say. Personally, I am a stay at home mom, and will be for the first 18 months of my son's life. I am blessed to be able to do so, but at the same time, I completely agree that working moms are just as loving and caring to their children as stay at home moms. I worked in a daycare for 3 years and I saw first hand the importance of the child interaction and the social growth that becomes of it. Play groups can achieve the same outcome for stay at home moms, as you said. There were plenty of stay at home moms that brought their children to daycare specifically for the interaction aspect. I do not agree with anyone that attacked you and turned your post into a stay at home mom versus a working mom post. That being said, perhaps they were on the defense because of the way things were worded on your part. This is just an assumption on my part, but consider you were reading a post written by a stay at home mom stating how much she loved being a stay at home mom and how she respected working moms, and then she proceeds to list the benefits she feels being a stay at home mom has for her and her family. Naturally, and again this is an assumption, you are going to be slightly defensive about your position as a working mom. Now, attacking the stay at home mom by calling her names or saying that she is robbing her children of social interaction by being a stay at home mom is extreme. Anyone that disregarded your pro-stay at home mom comments is just ignorant. I am just saying that anyone is naturally going to defend their own position on the subject. For the record, I totally agree with you and I believe that everyone does what works for their family and that is all that matters.

Cate said...

I agree about the 5pm feeling. I love coming home to my boy with a big smile and lots of kisses and hugs and that's from a 9 month old. Either working or staying home a mom is a wonderful person as long as she loves her children.

Katie B. said...

Delurking for this: as much as it pains you, I think the only way to not get into a debate is not let yourself get worked up to the point of defending yourself over and over again. Those loyal readers understand where you are coming from and respect your position, even if they don't agree with you. The folks that feel the need to lash out and pick you apart aren't worth your energy. Say your piece, let the goobers disagree and move on. We'll still love you. :)

nancy said...

Anon (the 2nd one), I agree and it's the first thing I kept in mind even when I initially wrote the post. I know I was being pro working, but everytime I wrote a pro, I commented on a pro for the opposite side. This was specifically to help with anyone who would feel defensive about me discussing the pros of the option they didn't pick.

Even so, I accepted and appreciated comments on the differing view. I published every single differing comment I received, except I denied the name calling ones.

I can totally understand the feeling of defensiveness anyone would feel when reading about the "other" side. I respect anyone who made that decision for themselves and welcomed any comments.

However, the "authors" I am speaking to currently, are the ones who went way beyond the natural feeling to feel a bit of defensive - even with how I tried to defuse those feelings throughout my writing - to start name calling and let other terrible things pour out of their mouths.

nancy said...

Katie B - I'm ~not~ debating it at all! :) I just saw such a commonality with the negative comments, I thought I would take the time to explain it to them as a whole, ~not~ to defend myself. I just wanted to take this time to explain something I think they may be totally missing. But then again, when you are dealing with people of this caliber, it's silly to expect them to actually have the ability for rational thoughts that are not of their own opinion.

~Totally~ not "worked up" at all. Anonymous comments do not have that kind of power.

LOL. Goobers. That's hilarious!

Poltzie said...

I hate this debate because I find it to be quite sexist. No one would ever attack a man for working, why a woman?
Happy parents have happy children, period!

Kirsten said...

Another delurker...
I love this post so much, I want to print it out and bring it to work with me :)
For me, you hit the nail on the head when describing the difference in your days during maternity leave and then your days now as a working mom. So true for me, too. One of the absolute best parts of my day is walking into daycare to get my girls. From that point until bedtime, it is family time. We come home, have a snack and then I'm on the floor playing with my girls until it's time for bath & bed. When I stayed home all day, I couldn't wait for them to nap so I could have a few moments to myself. Now, when I am with them, I dread looking at the clock to see how close we are to bedtime.

It upsets me that anyone would make a person feel guilty for working. Seriously, there are much worse things mothers do to their children. One of the main reasons I work is to save money for my children's future and for many women, it's just not a choice.
Though being a SAHM is not my choice at the time, I definitely admire those who do chose to stay home because it's a heck of a job.
So, I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate your words and hope that others will, too.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, thank you so much for illuminating some of the positives of the whole daycare question. As a future single mom by choice, hopefully (I'll be undergoing iui this fall), daycare won't be optional for me. Thankfully, as a teacher, I'll have the summers off, which I am already planning to make the most of. I'm so glad to hear that there are some positives to the daycare experience and about how much you value your time with your girls. Your post was so reassuring--thanks!
-Heather, also in Colorado

soapchick said...

I'm not a mom yet so I haven't commented before on any of your other posts about this topic. Just stopping by today to say "you rock"!

HopingDangerously said...

I almost posted exactly what anon 2 wrote--she took my thoughts and said them better than I could.

I think that there are such sensitive issues and all (well, I hope all, maybe I'm being generous) moms just really want what is best for their kids and spend time making these decisions (b/f or formula, stay home or work), knowing they are controversial, and just do the best they can to make the right decision for their family.

So, like with everything, I think some people are just more confident regarding their decisions--you are obviously very confident about yours. That confidence seems to inspire a few things--respect from people who are also confident in their decisions (whatever they are), a kind of leadership and affirmation for others who've chosen what you have and need a boost, or crazy defensiveness immature adult name-calling from people who have chosen differently and don't feel as confident.

From this happy (and confident) SAHM, you are great--as a blogger and as a mom!! And I'm glad you write this stuff!! (though sorry that you have to deal with the annoying folks who write rude stuff to you.)

Morrisa said...

I think people just like drama! I agree with everything you are saying. Sure, I would love to be a SAHM but for me it isn't financially possible. And I don't think my kids will be any worse off for it.

Kaci said...

Have these assholes who call you a bad mom bothered to visit your other blog? Have they bothered to look at the pictures of your girls, to see just how miserable & mistreated your girls are?

Liz (antimuse13) said...

I love your blog because it really makes people think.. well for me I know it does. I know when I have my LO I'd love to stay home (I think) if I can but more than likely I won't be able to. My mom worked & I went to babysitter's house. That didn't make me know her less. I hate when people say (a friend of mine in particular) that putting a child in daycare is having someone else raise your child. I know I've already been made to feel guilty- even before I got pregnant!!- for more than likely having to go back to work. But I'll tell you what (not ~you~ but you ;-) )... those people aren't raising your kids while you sit idly by & any firsts that may happen that you don't see, when you do see them, those are their firsts. Grr... can't people just accept that not everyon has the means to stay home? That doesn't make one a bad mother.

..soo.see.. said...

Right on! I love reading you for this reason. You're confident and know what you think and feel, yet you don't automatically say the opposite is absolutely wrong. I'm the same way in a sense, where I do what 'I' believe in and try not to sound judgmental (b/c I'm really not) when explaining my reasoning. Unfortunately not everyone is like that. Too some, its easier to attack, than to try and understand.

MrsSpock said...

I hate the work vs. SAHM debate myself. Motherhood is hard enough, and causes enough guilty feelings without the extras women try to heap on each other. I'm staying at home, but most of my friends work, either because of finances or because, like you, it's hard to take years off in their profession. I've never met a kid (including myself, for that matter), who seemed less smart, well-adjusted, etc. because they had been in daycare. I remember my babysitters fondly, but there was never any mistaking who mom was. I will say that as a SAHM with only one child, I worry about my son hanging around with his weird mother all day. Because of that, I joined a mom's group that meets for playgroups weekly. It seems my friend's kids come home from daycare having learned so much. I hope I'll be an apt enough teacher.

Sugar&Ice said...

Why mothers have to battle on subjects like this is beyond me. I went back to work after my maternity leave w/ Lila, and I stayed there for one full school year. Then I decided to take some time to stay home, just b/c that's my personal preference. I've been on both sides, and I like it this way better...but that's just me. I am annoyed by moms who are judgmental on both sides. When I made it public that I wasn't coming back to work for another school year, I had fellow mother co-workers that seemed to feel the needed to make me feel inadequate as a woman for deciding to stay at home. They liked to point out every reason why they could NEVER be a SAHM...and believe me, I wasn't asking. I learned quickly that there's no point in arguing about it. I don't need to plead my case for being a SAHM to anyone. I'm doing what I think is best for MY FAMILY and for ME. What anyone else chooses to do is absolutely fine with me as long as the kids are loved and well cared for.

So, I'm so sorry you've gotten ridiculous comments. I'm sorry that other mothers are that disrespectful of the decisions that you've made for your family. It's just so unfortunate that people get so judgmental when others don't share their opinion.

JamieD said...

Amen!! And why does anonymous internet bring out the ugly in people?!?!

Anonymous said...

Just thought you would find this funny. I am a SAHM who had to put her 2 year old into daycare because she was bored out of her freaking mind being with Mommy all day. Daycare is the BEST thing I could have ever done for her. And, having a hubby who is in the IT field I sympathize with you not wantin to takeany time off from work.

Anonymous said...

I've been a work-at-home mom for the last 10 years, so I don't really fit the profile of the stay-at-home moms or the working outside the home moms. I have always found it interesting, though, how polarizing this issue is among women. I have, like the previous poster, frequently observed with dismay that mothers are THE most judgmental group of people on the face of the planet.

We all need to understand that we make decisions based on our particular set of circumstances which are probably not exactly like anyone else's set of circumstances. What might be a perfect choice for my family might be completely wrong for another woman and her family. To impose one's viewpoints on other people is, in my opinion, the mark of true arrogance.

I love your blog and the way you articulate the dilemmas that many of us face. Best wishes in the remainder of your pregnancy, Nancy!

Anonymous said...

I am a SAHM, and I would do whatever I had to in order to make that happen because it is extremely important to me. Clearly having a career and being a mom is equally as important to you. We've both put a lot of thought into our decisions and feel passionately about them.

What pisses me off is people who DON'T think about it. People who dump their kids into any old daycare because they can't be bothered raising them themselves. Or people who have kids they don't want and don't care for just so they don't have to go get a job.

I also roll my eyes at people who complain that they hate going to work and putting their kids in daycare but that they "have" to. I'm talking about people who could, if they really wanted to, scale their lifestyles down a bit and live within their means.

Which of course is different to parents who truly do have to work and those who, like yourself, truly choose to, KWIM?

I also want to acknowledge that things are very different here to what they are in the US.