those be fighting words

i just couldn’t put my kids in a daycare / i think it’s my responsibility to parent my own children / i just don’t know how you do it / your son goes to daycare? poor baby! / how much time do you get with him? / when do you sleep? / if you have plans with friends this weekend, when will you spend time with your boy? / daycare just seems like a waste of money! / you must be a superwoman / how do you know you can trust the childcare provider? / don’t you just wish you could stay home with him? /you choose your career over you son? / i stay at home to give my children the best / i just don’t know how you do it, don’t you miss him when you’re at work? / how do you juggle it all? / my job title is mother now / i didn’t go back to work until my children were old enough to manage without me / i just don’t want to miss any of their growing up, they are only young once / it’s not just the cost of daycare, but the cost of my children not having me around / how are you okay with the fact that you don’t know what he does in a day? /  all those different priorities! for me, it’s easy: my family comes first / it just seems so unnatural to give them to someone else to take care of / i would worry too much about mine / i just can’t justify paying someone to raise my children / my family is my work now / i just find with taking care of my kids well, there isn’t enough time to work / we can’t really afford for me to be at home, but it’s the right thing to do, so we get by / i sometimes don’t want to be at home but it seems so selfish to work / i’m just not comfortable handing my children to a stranger / i’m a full time mom / i guess if i had a career it would be different, maybe. i can’t imagine anything being as important as them / does he spend more time with them then with you? / he’s so young still, he must miss you / are you sure you’re okay? you look really tired.

believe it or not, this is what you sound like. not all of you, god knows (shout out to my super cool stay at home mom friends), but some of you do. and, for the record, it’s eff’n awful.  i hear it over, and over, and over again. i keep hoping it will stop but, so far, no luck.

i was lucky, however, to once read a terrible chick lit book (that i thoroughly enjoyed, ha!) that described this phenomenon, suggesting that stay at home mothers have a certain script that they need to say to themselves (and to others, apparently) to help justify their lives and that, similarly, working mothers do too.

it resonated, and since reading said tid bit of insight i always reflect on it when stay at home mothers, or former stay at home mothers even, ask about my life as a working mom only to proceed without genuine interest and comment with a combo infusion of shock and pity, on my life, my needs, my choices, our deal.

i try to remember the concept when the dialogue inevitably shifts to why they are or were stay at home. i try to remain curious about our differences when i feel as though i am being patronized, judged, or used as an example of how not to be. i try to be patient, assume that the conversation has nothing to do with me, and hope that you are simply defending your script.  i hold my head up and try not to get rattled by what i think you might be saying about me and what kind of person and mother i am.

i try not to get worked up.  i often don’t know how to back down but in this case, i don’t even rise up. i am tired and i’m not going to waste any time or energy on debate.  i mother my business. i never ask you why you are a stay at home mom. i don’t tell you all the reasons i am not. i don’t care to find retaliations to the statements you make about me and my family’s experience. i don’t go ahead and expose what i may perceive some of the stay at home flaws to be.  i don’t play the game and compete when it comes to who had the busiest, most tiring, most stressful or demanding day. i don’t think i invite these conversations, and i can’t remember starting any of them. i know i don’t engage all that readily, and i know that i try to ignore them into submission and hope they go away.

i try to be considerate of how personal, and frankly, political, our differences are and for the sake of not offending you, i just don’t go there. i wish you would do the same. i’m happy, most of the time, and my son almost always is. i hope you and yours are too. that should be enough.

it’s hard out there in mom land and i could use your help. it would make it easier on me if you’d just drop the value interview masked in friendly conversation that i didn’t sign up for. we, as individuals, spouses, and parents, are flawed. relatedly, our life set ups are too.   i respect yours. i also respect mine.

i work and, overall, it works. that’s all.  i don’t feel pressured to stand in defence of my script… we’re cool. okay? let’s be done.

peace.

“there is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women”- madeleine k. albright.

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3 Comments to “those be fighting words”

  1. Overheard in baby group last week:
    Mom 1-“I’m almost a little sad that baby’s first birthday is coming in July, cause it means my mat leave is over.”

    Mom 2-“You’re going back to work so soon? Oh I could NEVER.”

    Me- I’m going back when Sam is 7 weeks.

    Mom 2- Oh my God, that’s criminal! He needs you so much right now.

    Me- Right. He also needs shelter, food, an education and his mommy sane and whole. So mommy works. Bitch.

    People in BC have such a sweet deal with a year’s mat leave. Most of the world goes back to work pretty much immediately after giving birth -At the office or the rice field, wherever. That’s life.

  2. Excellent post! These last few months have me in shock with how many uninvited comments/”advice”/and suggestions I’ve received from people about my decision to go back to work after 12 weeks. I’m not sure why they care so much… I certainly don’t care about their choice.

    I still need to pick up that book!

  3. Well said! I think the universal message could be: everyone is doing what works for them. As a stay-at-home mother of two, I get a lot of comments and advice that sting too, if it makes you feel any better. Smug looks and “it must be nice”, “you’re soooo lucky”, “when are you going to get a real job?” and a general feeling of being less of a person because I don’t earn my own income. (Not from everyone, but from many, including people who don’t have kids) Keep your chin up, we’re all doing the best we can do and no one else is in our shoes.
    I LOVE reading your words, keep em coming!

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