Stay-At-Home-Mom vs. Work-Away from-Home-Mom...
When I signed the registration form for being a parent I had no idea what I was getting into. The only disclaimer I’d read in the past 48 hours included something about 99.9% effective and blah, blah, blah. Oh, I knew it would be hard, I’d seen things, I’d heard things, heck I’d even been a kid myself. I knew that when I chose to bring a child into this world my life would change, and that I would permanently be responsible for someone else. I also knew that I’d face people with opinions on everything.
There were people who made sure I knew that a drug free delivery was the only way to go, while others were strongly suggesting I “say YES to drugs”, there were the pro breastfeeding gals, who breastfed their children until they were 30 and figured that was the way everyone should go, and then there were my formula friends, who supported the fact that my boobs and milk just didn’t happen. There was Camp Spanks a Lot, and the Time Out bungalows. The saga has gone on and on as the time as turned. With each stage and development, come a whole new batch of people with a whole new bunch of opinions.
For the most part I was ready for that kind of stuff. I am pretty opinionated myself and so from time to time I’ve shared my views on things with the people around me (although I always include the disclaimer that states clearly, “This is the opinion of the author, please feel free to take, use or discard any and all information spewing forth”). I’ve taken the good with the bad, I’ve let a lot of it go and taken some pretty rockin’ advice to heart. The thing is, there was one debate I was completely and utterly ignorant to. The Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) vs. the Work Away from Home Mom (I don’t know the abbreviation here so let’s call her WAHM).
There are people who say that the only “good parent” is a SAHM (this is not me talking, NOT ME, but others), there are those who are very WAHM, keeps you young, in touch with things you know. There are arguments that it’s harder to be a SAHM than a WAHM. There are accusations of laziness on the part of the SAHM and selfishness on the part of the WAHM. Are you SAHM’d and WAHM’d out yet? Because I sure as heck am!
To most of it I say, whatever and a great big “Pffft” (punctuated with Daffy Duck like spit spray). But the thing is, sometimes it stings. A cousin of mine faced this just recently and brought forth yet again, the fire of emotions that I have on the subject. A comment made to her about Stay at Home Moms, of which she is and a pretty stinkin’ good one at that, is that SAHMs are not as smart as the working Mom. That’s right, SAHMs are S-M-R-T smart. Because the suit they put on in the morning is of the sweat variety not the double-breasted, or pack a diaper bag instead of a briefcase, their intelligence level is far below that of the average working stiff.
Well, that’s just plain brew-ha-ha! Garbage in the first degree. It’s a comment that, when made to someone I love and respect, offended even me, miles away.
I’m a working, stay at home mom. Sound a little contradictory, let me explain. I work 3 days a week in a business office, that happens to be in my parent’s home. It’s a fully functioning business, 24 years in business (WHOOT Mom and Dad!), and I do actual, brain activating work there. I also, have my two girls in tow. They play, “help” and distract us daily, but they are always there. In fact they hold the title of mini office assistants (MOAs, my girls are at 3 and 1, don’t you know) So, while I work I am still parenting my daughters.
I live in both camps, Tuesday – Thursday we’re working girls, of the classy division, Bethany, Audrey and I. Friday – Monday we’re Stay at Home, or shop till we drop ladies, still maintaining our class – unless one of us breaks down sobbing in the middle of IKEA because we can’t have that ridiculously ugly mirror with magnets, then the class disappears for everyone involved.
What I know, is that no matter what I do, being at home, going to work, this gig, being a Momma is hard. It’s rewarding, fulfilling, and wicked awesome, but most days it’s hard. Whether you work at home, work out of the home or stay home, on a minute by minute basis, you are faced with challenges that no schooling could have prepared you for. Haven’t you ever wondered why universities don’t offer degrees in Parenting? Why Parenting 101 isn’t the top of their curriculum? I mean they’d make a killing offering those classes, even if they only charged $25 a person.
It’s because there’s no formula to this being a Mom business. There’s no Holy Grail of Motherhood, a book that has the answer to every question, every problem for every child. Each kid is different, even when spawned from the same 2 parents. Just ask the Duggars, I betcha all 19 of their kids are different and have presented them with different joys and challenges over the past 20 something years. We have our first child, and think we’ve got it all figured and what we don’t know, we’re sure a quick phone call to Mom will fix, I mean, she’s our Mom, she’ll have the answer. And sometimes she does, but most often she doesn’t. She has advice, knowledge and life experience that leads you on the path to making your own decision as a parent.
Being a good parent isn’t contingent on whether or not you are a SAHM, a WAHM or CAHM (crazy at home Mom). It’s not measured on degrees or merits, nobody grades your laundry levels, measures the slime forming in your toilet or documents the fact that in a pinch you wipe your kid’s nose with the back of your hand and wipe in on your pants without even thinking (Oh, come on. Like you haven’t done it!)
It’s not the childless people with too much to say, the old ladies who’ve lost all sense of verbal control or the other competitive Moms who’s opinions matter. And even though you live with your husband/partner, and they had a small part in getting those kidlets here (when you weigh out the pregnancy and delivery part, the putting of the bun in the oven is the smallest part, sorry babe), it’s not even their opinion that matters.
The only ones who matter are the recipients of your parenting. The little buddies who receive all the love and hugs, lectures and scolding, time outs and date nights out. The ones who inspire those moments that you thinking, “Yes! I’ve got this. Maybe I am a good Mom!” and who are also the cause for those many, many times during the day you think, “What am I doing?! I didn’t sign up for THIS, get me outta here!” (Not that you want out of being a parent but out of the moment, absolutely)
They are also the ones who give you hugs that actually make you feel like your insides are warm, who make you laugh until milk comes out of your nose and who’s daily development leaves you astounded. They’re the ones who matter and if they are happy, healthy and content, then you’re doing your job, and your pay check, the one with your kids’ happy faces all over it, is well deserved.
So, whether you’re fortunate enough to be a SAHM or if being WAHM is what your life entails (and if that’s your choice there’s nothing wrong with it either! I just say fortunate because I’d love to not have to work), or if you’re like me and while you can’t not work, God and your parents have laid out the best of both worlds for you, if you’re having a good day or a bad. Take a moment, look at your kids (or a picture of them when they weren’t driving you to edge of insanity) and know you’re a good Mom! No, I take it back, you’re a GREAT Mom! You’re making life work for you and your family, you’re floundering sometimes and flourishing others, you love your kids and they love you.
In their eyes you’re a hero, a warrior, a doctor and a genius (unless they are teenagers and then no matter what you do you’re they’re still "smarter"). And to them you’re the best you can be, and that, my Mommy friends is all, that matters.
Ashley Stone, is a SAHM, WAHM and a blogger on the side. She has 2 beautiful little girls who fill her life with love, joy and exhaustion!