Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Parenting decisions

I really enjoy reading the "5 minutes for parenting" blog. Quick snippets that give me insight into how other mothers handle the challenges of parenting. This one really jumped out at me.

I've never quite understood the SAHM vs. working mom tension. I know *I* am a better parent because I work outside of the home, but I know that's not true for everyone. I love my kids and family but I also love what I do for a living. I would feel incomplete if I had to choose one or the other. I feel fortunate that I am able to choose to work. And, I'm fortunate that my husband supports my decision.

I also know that some parents do not have the choice of working or not. That being said, I have friends who are SAHM but miss their careers. I also know other moms that work out of financial necessity but in their hearts want to be SAHMs. They make the best of their situation but they feel a constant pull in their hearts.

I don't think there is one right way to parent and I don't get that sense of belittling someone for making a decision that differs from the one you made. We are all different and what is right for one isn't the right decision for another.

That being said, I'm very confident in my decision to work outside of the home. I have an enormous amount of respect for parents who make the decision to stay at home. Honestly, I would have a very hard time doing it and I think I'd be a terrible parent in that setting. I have lots of friends who are SAHM and I think they are terrific parents and I value their parenting advice.

But, the one place that I do feel the "mommy wars" is at my kids' schools. There are lots and lots (and LOTS) of SAHM. It's almost like an exclusive club that I won't ever be eligible to join. Now, I'm usually pretty oblivious to that type of stuff so it has to be bad for me to notice and "the club" is a running joke with many of the other working moms in the schools, so it's not just me. I think there are some moms who actually get pleasure from saying, "oh, I forgot, you have to work." (like it's a dirty 4-letter world...usually said in a lowered tone so the kids won't hear.)

Now that I've rambled on...here is today's post on the 5 minutes for Parenting. I love the perspective of this author! We really are all in this together, making the best decisions in our power for our children.

If Every Mom Were a Stay-At-Home Mom
By Veronica on Veronica
By Veronica

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, the public schools would shut down due to a lack of teachers.

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, giving birth would become much more dangerous. All those mothers who are midwives and OBGYNS would disappear. The hospitals could not staff enough nurses for basic patient care. The pregnant women who already must drive twenty miles to a birth unit might have to drive fifty.

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, I would lose my pediatrician. My kids would go farther and wait longer to see a doctor. My sister's clients - children with neurological disorders - would spend years on waiting lists before seeing another physical therapist who specializes in their treatment.

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, some of the most brilliant scholars I know would not be available to affect the lives and minds of students. My children's future education would be immeasurably the poorer.

This stay-at-home mom has one thing to say to the moms who leave home to earn a paycheck at a job worth doing: thank you. Thank you for caring for patients and protecting citizens. Thank you for repairing our streets and driving our buses and picking up our garbage. Thank you for writing our newspapers and teaching our kids. Thank you for being an example to my daughters of the many options they have in adult life. Thank you for making my decision to be a stay-at-home mom a real choice.

The media-manufactured "Mommy Wars" tell us that mothers resent and judge each other. Sometimes we do. But sometimes we recognize that the world needs different people to make different choices. The truth is that as we all struggle to provide the best for our kids, we can't make it without each other. Your choices affect me, and mine affect you. We really are all in this together.

So the next time a belittling feature on a morning news program tries to exploit you emotionally; the next time a snooty mom at play group or school treats you like you are just a "part-time" mom; the next time you feel isolated and unappreciated in the challenges you face, please, come back and read this thank you again.

Because it will still be true.

Veronica Mitchell also posts at Toddled Dredge.


Vivian M said...

What a wonderful post! I was just struggling with this the other day. Thank you for your kind comments.

Tammie said...

Great post Gretchen!

I also love my job, but need to work in order to give Erin the things that David & I want her to have. I don't regret my decision since I know that the means justifies the ends here.

On the other hand, when I drop Erin off at camp each morning, I look at these mothers who have parked right up front (taking up the convenient parking spots) who are standing around chatting because their only worry is when to go to the gym while I have to park too far away to just run in & drop Erin off. I wonder if they realize (or even care) how self-absorbed they come off.

Of course, there are the SAHMs that keep themselves on a schedule 5 days a week. They know that their job is handling the household & family. These are the same people who don't have cleaning people, nannies or help of any kind.

Thankfully, I have to be in by 8:15 tomorrow morning.