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.