This morning I had the opportunity to volunteer at Gabbi’s school for the first time. It was a lot of fun, face painting with the other moms and getting to know some of the kids in Gabbi’s class this year. I can’t wait until I start volunteering weekly, starting next Tuesday, so I can get a better feel for the school, teacher and how Gabbi is handling it all. She seems to be loving school, which truly makes me happy, but I still feel a little weird with her having this whole part of her life that I feel like I am not that much of a part of yet. More on that to come….
This post is about a comment that another mother made during our conversation that struck me as odd. She said she was newer to staying at home and that she had recently read a study that claimed that “women who go to work are happier, in general, with their lives.” I was shocked. I mean I am sure that some women who LOVE their jobs/careers are happier going to work than staying at home, but ALL MOMS? How can you create a study that generalizes what makes women happy, especially in terms of mothering their children? This really led me to start thinking on this whole stay at home mom vs. working mom argument that never seems to end.
Over the weekend I stumbled upon a blog of another young mom (click here to view her blog) who posted about the guilt that she felt about not bringing money in for her family, something that I think all stay at home moms struggle with feeling guilty about from time to time. The blog itself was great, relatable and seemed to sum up a lot of how I have been feeling, so I was appalled when I scrolled down to the first comment and saw another woman completely bash this poor girl for staying home with her son. In this response she accused women who stayed at home of putting too much pressure on their husbands financially, feeling entitled to not have to work and essentially called them lazy. However, it wasn’t just what she said, but how ANGRY she seemed at someone she didn’t even know for staying at home with her family and the type of struggles that it may or may not be creating for them, that really shocked me. Why was she so upset about how this couple was choosing to raise their children?
The problem I believe, is that we over generalize parenting in a way that makes some of us truly believe that there is a right or a wrong way to raise our kids. The truth is, each family is different and furthermore, every mother is different. When we chose for me to not go to work, we decided this because we thought that this is what is best for OUR children, not everyone else’s. I do not believe that I would be happier at work. Would we have more money? Yes (but not that much after paying for full time daycare for two kids, plus after school care for Gabbi). Would we be able to buy more things? Sure. Would their be less pressure on Matt financially? Probably. However, we decided that our financial standing wasn’t going to be our most important value. Children are only young once, and we wanted to make sure that we were the ones raising them and instilling in them a foundation that we believe in. It makes me more than happy to be home with them, changing every diaper, cooking every meal, playing with them, reading to them and creating a stable home for them. My life revolves around the lives of my children right now, and that is my greatest joy! But this is my choice and I am in no way saying that it is the only choice.
I know moms who work because they love their careers and they feel that they can balance both their careers and their families in a way that suits them and that is great too. They are happy, their kids are happy so it works well for them! Then I know moms who work because they need to provide more financial support for their families, and doing so makes them feel great because they are contributing to their family’s financial stability and that is awesome.
The best advice that I was given about being a mom is that there is no “normal family”. In order to be happy and create the best environment for your unique family, in your unique situation, you need to create your unique normal. Your values, your family make up, your schedule, your finances all factor into that normal. And once you get settled into your normal, you have to quit comparing yourself and your family to others around you.
As moms, we need to be nicer to each other, regardless of the differences in our families. We need to lift up and support those moms who are going to work, and we need to lift up and support those moms who choose to leave the work force to take care of their families full time. If we are sure that each mom in these situations are doing what they believe is best for their families, than we should be offering encouragement instead of comparison.
I have to be confident that I am living the life that the Lord created for me. He created me, my husband and all of my children and He put all of us together for His unique purposes. And He did the same for all of your families, regardless of what they look like from the outside.
On a side note…I am totally looking forward to taking the kids out tonight to go trick or treating. It is our first year trick or treating and we are going to let Gabbi get together with some little girls from her soccer team! Check back tomorrow for some pics from our night, plus some information on our views on Halloween!
I kind of hope some of the people hand out toothpaste, because we all know who will probably end up eating most of that candy