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Because no matter how hard or often I beat that horse...

...it just won't die.

Wait.  That's not the expression is it?

Okay, so I'm not killing horses.  (That's weird and not very nice...even if I'm not a big fan of them.)  What I am doing is going back to that pesky work-out-of-the-home mom (WOHM) topic.  It's on my mind again.  Just when I come to peace with the fact that I don't owe anyone an explanation about my choice to work outside of the home, something (or someone) else pokes at me with a big, fat meanie stick and it all comes rushing to the forefront again.

I grew up in the Mid-Atlantic as a child of the 80's and 90's.  I would venture to say that out of my core group of friends, half of the moms worked outside of the home and half of them stayed home.  It never occurred to me to care about it one way or the other.  My friends were all awesome, mostly well-adjusted, equally quirky, and responsible kids.  Clearly, whether or not their moms worked at a job other than homemaker wasn't an issue to me.  It just didn't seem like a hot-button topic at the time.  Or if it was, my mom surely never let on.  She stayed home with my sister and me, but I don't remember her saying derogatory things about the moms who didn't or maybe couldn't.

Fast forward to now.

I live in the South.  I don't know actual statistics, but I can tell you that it feels like I am the only work-out-of-the-home mom I know.  Surely that is not the case, as my children attend a wonderful, amazing, loving childcare center full of kids.  They can't all be from single-fathers, can they?  I feel alone in my situation most of the time.  The woman I work with (in my male dominated field) is childless, the majority of my friends are childless or stay-at-home moms, and my sister and mother are also in that latter category.  I have an excellent online support group, and I love them dearly for helping me feel normal.  But sometimes, I just don't feel normal here.

[Please wait while I look up said actual statistics.  Due diligence and all.]

My findings (for the U.S.):
72% of moms with children over 1 year old work (about the same as childless women) , vs. 39% in 1976
55% of moms with a child under 1 year old work, vs. 31% in 1976 [source: Happy Worker]
Obviously I was unable to find any specific geographical demographics.  I presume those would have been significantly more enlightening.

I can't speak for anyone but myself.  Despite what others may think, this applies to everyone.  I cannot condemn another family's choices because I have not spent a single moment in their shoes.  I expect the same consideration in return, but I have to tell you, there is a vicious paradigm about this WOHM thing.  People assume a lot of things about me because I work.  Here's a list of some of the most common stigmas attached to work-out-of-the-home moms:
  • I am letting someone else raise my kids.
  • I work, primarily, so we can have luxuries like a fancy wardrobe, car, and house.
  • I am not cut out to be a mom, so I pass them off during the day and live my own life.
  • My children must be little discipline-lacking demons as a result of my almost complete absence as a parent.
  • I work because we are so deeply in debt that I have no other choice.
  • I spend little to no quality time with my children because my days are full of work and my nights are full of chores.
  • My children will grow up to be miserable and self-loathing because I put my career ahead of them.
I'm here to tell you those things are all true.

Phew.  

It feels better getting that off my chest.

If it's not obvious that I'm kidding - 


I'm not going to go through those point for point and try to dissuade anyone from thinking such things.  It's a little thing called "your prerogative" (and plus, I've already kind of done that here).  Consider this post my own personal, virtual therapy session, and you've [strangely] been invited to watch it unfold.  

At the end of the day, I am happy with my decision to work.  I feel that I am doing what I was called to do.  I love my kids with all my heart and I know they know it (even when I call them nerds).  I am completely at peace with their caregivers.  I look forward to the evenings when I can go home and play with them and listen to them say off the wall things and read them their bedtime stories, even if it means extra laundry and a sink full of dishes for another day.  We don't live an extravagant lifestyle and wouldn't even if we could, because that's not what we want for our kids.  I am doing the best I can.  I think most of us are.  It's called parenting.

The thing I have to ask myself when I feel that big, mean stick prodding at me is this:
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10
Then suddenly, I am at peace again.

And isn't it so appropriate that this song just came on the radio?  I think these will be my parting words.

So let's leave it alone, 'cause we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys.
There's only you and me and we just disagree.


Today (though perhaps not the best blog post with which to take this leap for the first time - I'm probably alienating readers before they even start!), I am linking up with:



Maybe later I'll break my own personal blogging rule and post twice in one day with a Flashback.  But I just couldn't not write about this today.  Thanks so much for letting me let it out.  If this is your first time stopping by, please come back.  I'm not usually so grumpy!

13 comments:

Diane said...

I'm glad that you're comfortable with your choices. And I feel sad that you have to keep justifying it, again and again. You're good at what you do... both parenting and working. And they're not separate parts of you.

let me recommend a book to you... it's called "When Everything Changed: the Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the present. I think it will make your choices more understandable in the context of the changes around us.

http://www.amazon.com/When-Everything-Changed-Amazing-American/dp/0316059544/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280509919&sr=8-1

Sherri said...

I hadn't really thought about it before, but there probably are areas of the country where it seems to be skewed one way or the other. What I think is funny is that many of these SAHMs probably also have a part-time nanny or some sort of drop-off care or babysitter at some point during the week, and that's OK! I have always felt that each mother and father make the decisions that are best for THEIR family, and they roll with it. To try and say that one way is better than another is crazy-talk.

Great post!

Mass Hole Mommy said...

Howdy! I'm your newest follower!

Melissa said...

Hey Jennie,

I think that we as woman are ALL very insecure and often lash out at what we consider different because we are just not secure or content in our choices. At least I do! The grass does seem greener, no matter what side of the fence you are on. Cheers to you for choosing to be a peace with your choices and who you are and not waste time with what-ifs.

AubreyRose @ My Simple Everyday said...

Good post.. and the topic of being a SAHM versus a WOHM is such a touchy one that gets people super riled up (OMGmom recently wrote a similar post that caused lots of controversy). I believe, that everyone's situation is different and you just have to do what's best for your family. Everyone wants their children to be happy and healthy, and there isn't just one way to do it. I'm not a mom yet, but I'm pretty sure when that day comes (which I hope is pretty soon) that I will be a WOHM. My mom was and I think I turned out pretty OK :)

Lorilynne said...

I found you through the Chickadee Follow and you definitely made me want to follow you so I think it was an excellent topic!
It's weird, I grew up in the 80s-90s and I don't think I had one friend who's mom stayed at home. My stepmom and Dad worked and all of my parents friends worked. Now that I have kids, I'm the only stay at home mom that I know. I get a lot of comments like "how can you afford to do that?" and my best friend always makes these veiled comments about how I have time to do all these things that she doesn't because I stay home. I don't think she really knows how much work staying at home actually is! Anyway...I don't think there is any "right" choice besides the one that works best for you and your family. So don't beat yourself up and just keep doing what you're doing :)

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Popcorn Served Daily said...

HI,

I'm following you on a Friday Follow.

Happy Friday!!!

Lisa

Julie said...

I think Galatians 1:10 pretty much sums it all up!! Yep...we are here to glorify God...we are not here to please men!! I'm not sure why we as mother's find the need to be so judgemental of other moms who have made different choices than we have. Can't we just all get along?? We need to encourage one another...build eachother up!! So...I applaud you and the choices you have made. It in no way makes you a "less committed mother"!! I have great respect for WOHM's...and I hope that I don't ever make anyone who has chosen differently than myself feel like "less" of a mother.

Denise said...

I've been on both sides of the fence and it always seems to me that where ever I am I'm almost fiercely alone with that choice. (Not true of course, but it has always felt that way). You're doing a super job with YOUR choice. Keep up the good work and keep smiling.

Debbie said...

Ok, I'm back. I have been thinking about this since the original novel that I felt the need to write.

I think that the person or people in your life who make you feel like you need to defend your choice need to be cropped out of your life like the background of a bad picture. Seriously... I have had to do that. If at all possible, crop them out. If you see them coming, high tail it to the other side of the room.

And if you can't, at least refuse to get into into Momversations with them.

brandt! said...

It's your life, your choice .. you make these choices based on what you live .. no one walks in your shoes, but you alone ... there is a poem called Anyway .. the final line reads "You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and GOD; It was never between you and them anyway."

Graceful said...

Hey Jennie,
It's great to meet you here. Thanks for visiting Graceful last week -- and good news...you won the book giveaway of Susan DiMickele's new book "Chasing Superwoman!" And as I read through this post, it sounds like you are the perfect candidate (I am a working mom, too, by the way).

Please email me your mailing adddress, and I will get your copy of the book off this week!

Thank you!!

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