Monday, August 9, 2010

Dusting off the old soapbox

It's been a while since I've been on my soapbox, and it was starting to get really lonely and afraid that I hated it, so I'm going to pull it out and hop on for a while.
I just read an article that really, really pissed me off.  Well, the article itself did not piss me off, but the phrase it introduced me to did: "Weekend Mom".  This term, apparently, is made to apply to all mothers who work outside the home, usually in a standard 9-5 job, and only see their babies on evenings and weekends.  According to the article, it's a term coined by the "real moms" who stay at home.  

I'm almost boiling with anger and come-backs over here, so much so that my fingers can't keep up with my mind and I'm afraid that if I don't get everything down I'm going to forget something and spontaneously combust.  So much so that I paused Top Chef when I read that phrase so I could write this blog post.  

First and most obviously, I take EXTREME exception to that phrase.  Extreme.  If someone ever called me "Weekend Mom" to my face, I'm not sure I'd have an easy time keeping my response expletive-free and respectful of  the hate-spewer.  How dare these women judge me and my fellow working moms?  I know the phrase "how dare they" is thrown around so loosely that it almost sounds comical and weak, but I truly mean that.  Where the hell do they think they have the right to judge what kind of mother I am because of the simple fact that I must work to support my family?  

Let me say, before I get any deeper into this, that I have mad respect for all the stay-at-home moms out there.  It is not easy at all to constantly be at the mercy of your child.  I know this.  You know, from all the weekends I've spent parenting my child.  But sincerely, I truly admire the moms who stay home and make their children their full time job.  And this rant is in no way saying that all or even most stay-at-homes feel this way.  But the fact that enough of them do that this phrase has been invented and has caught on enough to have articles written about it just really makes me angry.

For one thing, I would love nothing more than to be able to stay home with L.  I would love to be able to quit my job and make "Mom" my new full-time job title.  It is something that I think about all the time, every single day.  I'm jealous of the moms who have this option.  

But I do not have this option.  D and I simply cannot afford for me to leave my job right now.  Believe me, I've crunched the numbers so many different ways that they're pretty much crumbs at this point.  I'm constantly filled with "what ifs" and "if onlys" and wishing I could go back in time so D and I could make different choices when we first started out in our life together.  But I can't.  That's just the fact.  And you know what?  They weren't necessarily bad choices.  Maybe we didn't have a lot of foresight, but they certainly weren't irresponsible.  We live well within our means, and it is clear by the recent choices we've made (namely, turning our lives upside down and moving in with my parents to pay off debt) that we have our family's best interests at heart and that we are responsible adults.  

And because of my job, the job that I work to help put food on the table and diapers on L's butt, I did not have to face one moment of panic or worry when L got sick twice this past week.  I didn't have to worry about how much a doctor's visit would cost or if we could afford the L's prescription.  Because I am the one carrying the benefits in our family.  I stay at a job that I strongly dislike because it's better for my family and for my son. 

Just because I don't see my son 9-5 Monday through Friday does not mean that the only time I parent is in the evening or on weekends.  "Parenting" does not just mean being with your child.  My role as a parent does not stop when I drop L off at daycare for the day (the daycare that I tirelessly and thoroughly researched and agonized over before choosing it as a suitable place for my child).  I'm the one worrying, thinking, solving to make sure that L has the best life possible.  I'm the one combing the internet for reviews on every single product we buy for him.  I'm the one making plans and scheduling and arranging so that he can have the best that we can give.  I'm the one taking sick time when daycare calls to tell me that L is sick and needs to be picked up or when L has a pediatrician appointment.  I'm the one worrying and wondering all the time.  

(And on the other hand, being with your child does not make you a good parent.  I've seen women who stay at home with their kids whom I would not trust to watch L while I run to the grocery store for 20 minutes.) 

I'm not usually one to play devil's advocate because it mostly drives me nuts, but I don't see these stay-at-homes calling out dads for working or saying they are only "weekend parents" because they have full time jobs.  It's certainly not fair to say something like "it's the man's job to support his family".  Whatever!  Last time I checked, if you're going to have children, it's BOTH parents' equal responsibility to make sure their children are loved and provided for in every sense.  How irresponsible and unloving would it be for me to be like, "Sorry D, you're just going to have to get ANOTHER job (on top of the 2 you already have) because I'm a horrible mother if I work."  

But I guess the thing that just really zaps my heart about this is the fact that us women can't seem to stop the madness.  Why is there so much mom-on-mom violence?  Why do we all have to judge each other about every single decision we make?  How does it effect you if I choose to use disposable diapers and feed my kid Gerber instead of growing my own vegetables and taking hours and hours from my precious time with L to steam them and freeze them into baby-sized portions for future use?  How does it impact my life if you decide that you want to keep your kid sleeping in your room (and probably bed) for 3 years?  It doesn't!  Your choice might not work for me, but your kid is not my kid!  My kid is my kid, and I am trying the very best I can to do the right thing.

And to me, the right thing is making sure that L is provided for in every way possible.  This does not mean giving him everything he wants and working merely so I can smother him with material possessions.  But I'm fairly certain that if he could answer you and you were to ask, he would tell you that he does want a roof over his head and he does want to eat every day.  He'd tell you that he does want to be able to go to bed at night and not have to lay awake worrying that his parents are one car repair away from financial ruin.  And he'd tell you that he KNOWS his parents love him because they tell him every day and are present for him whenever they are with him.  He knows they love him because they prayed for him and waited so long to have him and hold him.  He knows they love him because they eat dinner together every single night without exception, even if it's just soup and sandwiches.

So please, before you judge my choices as a parent, realize a few things.  Realize that I'd walk through fire to be in your shoes, and I'm doing the best I can to get our finances to a place where I'll have that option.  Realize that by criticizing and judging me and my choices, you don't make yourself a better mom (and you're setting a really crappy example on being a good human for your children).  And realize that as a group, us moms won't get anywhere until we can stop hating on each other.  Motherhood is hard enough without having to worry about measuring up to the snotty bitches in the Mean Girl's Club.             



allison said...

hi kate. whew! feel a little better. rants are always theraputic.
I understand both your stances from working mom and now stay-at-home..and its not because of my choice. The financial constrains to the wanting to be available to experience all the little moments with your babies.

But trust me! you are a wonderful mother and no amount MEA desk work can take that away from you..nor does an ingorant prejudicial commentary either! (hey send your article to the editor..without your L and Ds ;)

Tracy said...

Some articles are just terrible. It feels like they were purposely written a certain way to get under peoples skin. Keep your head. You are the provider for your child and you are working to make sure your child has a better life. That is an amazing feat.

Heidi said...

WOW! Ditto, Ditto, Ditto, Ditto! You totally feel my pain! I work full-time as well and I am so glad to hear that someone else out there feels my daily guilt and pain! I would love to stay-at-home with my kids, but it's just not in the cards for me and my family. And NO SAHM's I DO NOT WANT my husband working 2-3 jobs when I can work. Don't the kids need their dad just as much as they need their mom??? My hub watches my kids during the day while I'm at work and we switch at night, he goes to work and I stay at home. I hardly see him, but we do what we can to support our family in every way and because of that my hubs is so close with his kids, I'd hate to take that away and make him work everyday so I can stay home. I won't do that to him! So there's my rant! Rant and vent all you want, you're not alone!!

Yummy Mummy said...

Wow! Where was that article? I'd like to read that. I just can't stand the judgment moms pass on one another. A "weekend mom?" Seriously, if anyone called me that I would be probably slash a tire or two.

I wrote an article on the whole mom v. mom mentality. ( I just don't understand the whole putting down other moms fight.

Nicole Everitt said...

As a stay-at-home-mom, that makes ME mad. How dare they, is right! Some families NEED that additional income - how is it "shameful" to be supporting your family?!; also, why is it always a "bad mom" for working, but never a bad dad? Trust me, Katie, I completely agree.

Anonymous said...

That is one of the most disgusting things I've ever read that moms say about other moms.
The fact of the matter is, none of us are in a position to judge another person or the choices they make for their families.
I am a stay at home mom (recently divorced, no less), trying to stay afloat as my ex-husband alters the manner in which he supports his children. But I feel like I would be a bad mother to go back to work at this point because I believe my children need me at home.
When and if it becomes necessary for me to go to work, I will. But there is no other person that can make that call except for me. I am happy to cut corners and squeak by on less (a lot less) in order to stay at home.
Someone else might never give up the things I have given up in order to be at home with my kids. But I am exactly where I feel I need to be.
Whoever wrote that, and any woman that says or thinks these things about other women, I say "shame on you.'
As women, we should be smarter, stronger and just plain nicer than that.