Last week I was over on stark. raving, mad. mommy’s blog firing the opening salvo in what we hope will be the last battle in the Mommy Wars. I had a post on her blog last week speaking up for the Working Moms of the world. You know who you are: you’re sitting in a board room right now, blissfully unaware that there’s a Cheerio cemented to the lapel of your pin-striped suit, Maybe you should go to the ladies room and try to clean that up when you get a chance.
Today, SRMM is going to settle our differences once and for all by telling the tale of Stay-At-Home Moms. And what a tale it is. This lady has FOUR kids. FOUR. And her oldest are twins. If I’d had twins, I probably would have just handed them my credit cards and car keys and hit the road because I am not equipped to deal with that. But SRMM is such a Super Mom that she had two more and she doesn’t have a Fortress of Solitude office to retreat to every day to breathe deep and reinstall her sanity.
Rebekah from Mom-In-A-Million and I decided to a post-swap about being a working mom (Rebekah) and being a stay-at-home mom (me). There’s always all this hoopla about some “Mommy War” thing in the media, and I’m just not buying it. Never once has a working mom asked me if I’ve been sitting on the couch watching Oprah and eating bon-bons all day. I just don’t think the Mommy War is real. I think it’s a myth, like being caught up on the laundry. I don’t know a single mom who isn’t far too exhausted to worry about that kind of stuff. I could probably come up with a better defense of my position if I wasn’t so busy staring at the coffee maker waiting for it to finish brewing.
In the years B.C. (before children), we had a little dog. I would walk her before I left for work and when the dog dawdled and wanted to chew on dead squirrels instead of getting down to business, I was like, “Come on! Hurry up and pee already! Your bladder is the size of a walnut! You must have to go!”
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I realized that if getting ready for work with a 13-pound dog seemed difficult, then probably getting ready for work with two infants was going to be challenging. And by “challenging” I mean “horrifyingly difficult to the point where I was sure we would all be crying by the time we left the house.”
Other than one brief consulting gig, I’ve been home with the kids for almost ten years. For quite a bit of that time I was literally barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Not cooking or anything. Just quietly weeping while cradling my coffee maker because I wasn’t drinking caffeine while pregnant.
My consulting gig was for the company I had worked for before having kids. This was when Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac were three, and the Peanut Butter Kid was eighteen months, and not one of them was potty-trained. By then, getting out of the house wasn’t so difficult, once I was done packing several dozen diapers in multiple sizes. The girls really liked the daycare-preschool I had found and the whole arrangement was beyond awesome. Three days a week I went to work for a few hours and it was like a vacation. A vacation from the diapers. I set my own schedule and it was only twelve hours a week. Tra la la!
Financially I don’t even think I came out ahead on that deal, because I had to pay for childcare for three kids, plus parking, because I was too nauseously pregnant with my fourth baby to ride public transportation. But there were grown-ups. And challenging work. And lunch with grown-ups. So basically it worked out to where I was paying someone to watch my kids so I could drive into the city and do something that had nothing at all to do with Dora. Sweet.
Still, when that consulting job came to an end, I was glad. I was about to have baby number four, and the whole sleepless walking-into-walls thing was about to resume. At least as a stay-at-home mom, I wouldn’t get fired for being unable to think straight, while looking like a hot mess. The moms who have to go back to work when their babies are little? Oh. My. God. How do you keep yourself coherent and even semi-presentable on no sleep?
From that perspective, being a stay-at-home mom is pretty awesome. I’m not really into getting dressed up every day, so my current work wardrobe suits me perfectly. I look for garments with labels that say things like “puke-resistant” and “machine wash at whatever temperature kills germs best.” I live in constant fear that I will be ambushed by What Not to Wear and have to stand in front of the 360-degree mirror while Stacy and Clinton mock my Target-brand jeans and flip-flops. (You try chasing four kids in heels, Stacy! And why must your victims always be forced to wear blazers? If I show up at the playground in a blazer I will look like a freak. Also, I will be sweaty sweatier.)
That being said, I am always a little jealous of how put-together working moms look. Even on days when you think you look terrible, to me you look as though you’ve been personally styled by Rachel Zoe.
Being a stay-at-home mom is still the best situation for our family, at least for now. All four of our children have have had some kind of special needs; there have been months at a stretch when we had doctor’s appointments or therapies almost every day. Managing that while working would have been almost impossible. Plus, with as many times as I would have had to call out because one of the kids was sick, I’m sure I would have been fired many times over. And then my resume would look even worse than it does now.
Well said, well put, well received! I will be home 3 years in October. I totally pick up what you are putting down 🙂
As I type this, I am listening to one kid cry because he is sick and I won’t build legos and another is stinky and crawling on my lap. I just dropped another off at school. If I were at work, I would be paying a nanny between $600-$1,000 per week (not including taxes) to do what I’m doing right now. Not comment on this awesome post, but you know what I mean. It’s just not worth it financially for us right now. How did you guys get so awesome, by the way? Is hard to bear? Are you sparkly with the awesomeness? Is it like fairy dust? Just asking…
@Lydia — I’m sparkly because I’m a vampire. A coffee vampire.
I love this post-swap!
I’m somewhere in the middle because I work from home so I sit here with my crack-whore pony tail and design stuff pretty stuff. I thought the good, the bad and the ugly was bang on from both of you.
You’re both Super Mom. Sparkling, coffee vampire super moms! Group hug! Oh sorry, that’s right, I haven’t showered today.
I have been home for 8 years now. I worked part-time at 2 different preschools (one for each child) and finally had to quit last year because I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Hubby works out of town, kids schedules, AND I had the brilliant idea that finishing my bachelor’s degree would be a good idea….
So, I am a stay-home Mommy for now. I am super nervous because within the next year or so I will transition into working-mommy. I don’t know how I am going to handle it all….probably with lots of caffeine and daily blogs like SRMM and Mom-in-a-million….
i am a working mom of four. There are days I envy the flexibility of sahp’s (P = parents). My ex hasn’t worked in more than 7 years. I am jealous that whenever he wants he runs to the school and has lunch with our kids. He can drop them off and pick them up on his weeks, they take vacation and run to grandma’s house (9 hours away) whenever they feel like it, etc…
I don’t advocate that staying home is easy. I don’t say that SAHP’s are lazy or anything like that. I do understand the resentment coming from both the working camp and the sah camp. I have had to pay a nanny in the past (while my then husband was home because he refused to help), i hated all the time she got with my children. I hate all the time my ex gets with our children.
Somedays I think I would love to stay home but I realize someone has to pay the bills. I would honestly be bored. I’ve parented my children, cleaned the house, paid the bills, done all the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, sick days, doctor appointments with a child with a life threatening illness (for 8 years of his life he was receiving one kind or another of cancer treatment), etc… went to school full time (for four years) all the while I worked full time. So when a SAHP gripes about not having time for themselves it is hard for me. Working parents have to do more than sahp’s and we have the same 24 hours a day the SAHP’s have. Don’t gripe, don’t judge. Just accept that each person makes their own decision and gets to live with the consequences of their decision – good and bad.
Some working parents don’t have a choice, some SAHP’s don’t have a choice. I don’t have the choice and if I did have a choice I would choose to work. I can’t sit at home all day. I know your day is busy, i appreciate the parents that can be the home room parent and more. but don’t tell me how special you are because of your choice and I won’t tell you how special I am because of my choice. It’s life… deal with it…
I’m sorry. You say that you don’t say that SAHP’s are lazy, but you would be bored and “can’t sit at home all day”? I rarely sit and am never bored.
I agree that it’s important to accept other people’s choices without judgment.
I personally think that every mom/parent that cares about their children and does what is best for them IS special. I will tell you how special you are….to someone you are the end all, be all of their little life. That is really all that matters.
we do what we have to do.
I work part time. I’m home part time. I teach my kids part time. It all has to work for what we needed.
That’s what it is, I think: what do we need to do to keep this family afloat.
I’m a work mostly at home mom. I find it challenging to juggle it all, but I’m certain I’d go insane if I was a SAHM. 2 things that struck me about your post: 1) I was totally sleep deprived for the first 18 months of my daughter’s life and I still have no idea how either of us are still alive, let alone how I came off as being coherent enough not to get myself fired! and 2) even though the wardrobe of a go-to-work mom may look more put together than the SAHM, it’s actually quite uncomfortable and I’d much rather wear jeans and a t-shirt everyday. 🙂
All moms do what we need to keep our families afloat (like Alexandra said), but I certainly tip my hat to the SAHMS and the moms that have to report to an office everyday. Oh, and I certainly have had several days that resulting in lots of tears before even getting out the door in the morning!
Gee, I must have missed the part where SRMM OR MIAM said or implied that either working or staying at home was best for everyone. Defensive much? I have done both and I genuinely enjoy and hate parts of both. All I see is two hilarious ladies sharing THEIR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES without judging anyone.
My working would be completely impossible were it not for my Ah-MAY ZING daycare provider who has essentially potty trained my 3 year old, dresses both kids since we leave the house in PJs, and has taught her how to put on her socks, shoes, shirt, and panties.
sing it sister!!
some days i wanna pack it all in, run away and get a job for the adult interaction – the kids are driving me so crazy!
but then i remember it’s only for a few years more (it’s been 12, but my youngest is 14months, so just 4 years till he goes to school!)not that im counting. much.
plus i would miss pj days too much.
And wearing my cape to Playcentre. not many jobs where it’s actually encouraged to wear a cape that I can think of. :O)
guess I’ll just have to suck it up and accept my blessings that the Husband can earn enough that I CAN choose to stay at home. (not just that it suits my personality better too….)