Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of articles and such on whether it’s better to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. So I figured I’d put in my two sense.
I have a great job. I find my work meaningful and my coworkers are like a second family. I get plenty of vacation. I don’t have to pay for daycare, because my husband and I have alternating schedules. Sure, by the end of the work week we’ve forgotten to tell each other 5 to 10 semi-important things, and the one night I tried to wait up for him, he found me asleep on the couch with a mouthful of potato chips, but we catch up on Sundays (after our weekly why are we late to church again fight). Ok, so things are not always ideal. And of course, I wish I could have more hours at home with my kids. But here are a few reasons why I love to go to work:
- Nobody chews up their lunch then spits it all over the break room table and expects me to clean it up.
- When I’m eating lunch, no one reaches their hand into my plate of pasta or intercepts my sandwich on its way to my mouth and helps themselves.
- When I’m speaking at a meeting or presentation, there is no one sitting in the corner yelling, “EXCUSE ME!! EXCUSE ME!! EXCUSE ME!!” until it’s physically impossible to make my voice heard.
- My co-workers don’t have all-out brawls over office supplies, nor do they scream at the top of their lungs purely for the sake of entertaining one another.
- When meeting with a potential funder, service provider or legislator, none of my colleagues open with, “I pooped in the potty and stayed dry all night!”
- In fact, everyone in my office has been successfully potty trained for quite some time.
- Finally, my husband and I both working allows us to pay our bills. And that’s kind of important.
There are some drawbacks however, as follows:
- If I get the urge to kiss or sniff someone’s head, it is in no way appropriate or acceptable.
- I can’t turn on The Wiggles and take a 15 minute nap, at least not if anyone else is in the office.
- People would notice if I wore pajamas all day, and not in a good way.
- Nobody sits in my lap when they get hurt or feel nervous, and if they did it would probably be uncomfortable.
- We don’t have sing-alongs or dance parties very often.
- If someone does something I don’t like, I can’t put them in time out and make them apologize. And if I could I’m not sure it would be effective.
- I enjoy drawing butterflies, giraffes, and monster trucks, but am instead expected to draft grant requests, power points and policy recommendations. Lame.
JK, I love my job, but I’m not gonna lie – it’s kind of hard being a working mom. I constantly feel guilty because I’m not giving 100%, I’m always running late, and I frequently arrive at the office with food or body fluids on my clothes. And then I feel guiltier because I don’t get to spend as much time with my kids as I would like, and I miss them. My house is never clean enough. Heck, I am never clean enough. When I come home, I’m often tired and I’m not much fun. I try to jam a week’s worth of activities and errands into every weekend.
But I’m making the best choice for my family. And I have no doubt that it’s hard being a stay at home mom too. I mean, sometimes I just sit in my office and marvel at the quiet, ordered environment where I can have a conversation that doesn’t involve the words “stinky” or “not nice.” Plus I’m pretty sure anyone who is responsible for the well being of another, smaller human being experiences guilt and uncertainty at times over whether they’re doing it right.
But we all want the best for our kids, and we do what we can to provide that. It looks different for different families. So if you’re working because you want to or need to, or if you’re staying at home because you want to or need to – good for you. If you’re a mom, you’re almost always trying to do what’s best for your family. We’re just wired that way. So keep on keeping on.
So my two cents? While I think it’s great that women have options, I think it would be even better if women and men had more options. This would require some culture change.
I work at a non-profit which is a family-friendly place to be. I am lucky. For the most part, moms and dads want to put their families first. But if you want your family to survive and thrive that usually means that at least one parent’s career needs to be prioritized above family a lot of the time.
If women want equality in the workforce, we need a shift in workplace culture that allows for a better career environment for both men and women. We need part time work and job sharing not to be a career-killer for parents, we need it to be good business to unplug from our work email when we get home, we need paid maternity (and paternity) leave that parents feel comfortable taking, and we need it to be considered healthy and positive to take your vacation, flex time and sick days. We need to encourage more work-life balance. Then both parents can be more involved with their kids and having that increased involvement wouldn’t be a basis for discrimination, it would just be normal.
If I ruled the world, work-life balance would also include employer-provided yoga.
Anyway, I would totally like to get some research together on why these culture changes would be helpful, how they could be achieved, and companies where family-friendly policies have proven beneficial. But I can’t because I’m a working mom, and I need to stuff my mouth with potato chips and fall asleep on the couch before my husband gets home. So I’ll leave you with another, related first world problem to consider: