Thursday, February 19, 2009

So you're "just" a mom, huh?

[As a preface to this post I am going to say that the statements below are purely my thoughts and feelings on the matter and that I do not condemn those who disagree with me on these points. In fact, I'd love to hear from those who disagree with me, along with their thoughts and feelings on the matter. So long as said responses are in good taste and are of the respectful "agree to disagree" nature, of course.]

I'm at the point where this statement and statements like it are wearing on my nerves a bit. Which is a little strange seeing as how I am not yet a mother, nor am I pregnant or anything like that. In fact, I am fully devoted to and enjoy the job I have now. I just think that the juxtaposition of motherhood v. career is a perplexing one, and (generally speaking) it seems as if each side never fully accepts the other.

A few of my blog friends have touched on similar ideas in the past few weeks, which initially got me thinking more deeply about the matter. And this morning I came across this article, which caused me to contemplate it even further. I was surprised at the condescending and oversimplified tone of the author. She can't honestly think that her friend sits on the couch and eats bon-bons all day... can she? As far as the woman who replied to the author, I applaud her for her efforts. Was she defensive? Yes, but I don't really blame her that much. I think I'd be defensive too if my choice of occupation (yes, you read right, occupation) was so naively and snobbishly attacked.

That being said, I guess the first question that comes to my mind is: "Why do so many people regard stay-at-home motherhood (hereafter referred to as SAHM) as a cop-out?"

I understand that there are women out there who wish to vigorously pursue a career path. Who are willing to dedicate copious amounts of time and energy to do so. I also understand that there are women out there whose desire (or lack thereof) to have children is trumped by their desire to succeed in the workplace or their desire to traverse myriad other paths. Lovely. I don't really understand this point of view, because my own feelings don't jibe with this lifestyle choice, but I recognize that there are plenty of women out there who do.

So why can't we all get along? Why is it that some of those who are sans children that have a career are so apt to question whether or not SAHM is a farce? Conversely, why are some stay-at-home moms so quick to condemn the women who choose to pursue their careers? Personally, I don't think that anyone can fully grasp the breadth of SAHM unless they have done it themselves. This idea goes both ways, though I think it's prudent to point out that many who choose SAHM have worked/had careers in the past, so I think there is perhaps a greater sense of understanding there than from women who have never had children. Sometimes.

To me, SAHM is one of the (if not the) most difficult jobs there is. Why, you ask? For starters, I believe that it is one of the most selfless things you can do with you life. Ideally, you leave your wants and needs at the door and completely invest your time in the growth and development of another human being. You're not rewarded fiscally, or even verbally, yet you devote 24 hours of your day, seven days a week to this job. You teach this child values and help instill in him/her a belief system, one they might completely reject later in life... but at least they have been taught something (hopefully) worthwhile. Your life becomes their life, encompassed by their needs. It's a daunting task, really. And for those who assert that this "lifestyle choice" is an excuse to be lazy and kick back is kidding themselves.

In the end, I think it's vital to respect other people and their decisions. I may lean a certain way concerning this topic, and find it frustrating when I feel that people I love are being judged because they are choosing to raise their children, but that doesn't mean that I will declare someone who chooses to work instead of procreate as "selfish" etc. etc. I just think that there is no more important role in a woman's life than that of a mother; I can't wait to be one. I just hope that those who surround me can support me in my choice whilst I respect them in theirs.


Kenna said...

Well said.

I have found myself in this debate myself.

It was when a individual came up to me and said, 'You can't be a good wife or mother if you work.'

And of, let's not forget the tirades I get every day because I am childless. Too bad people don't know the whole situation...


Megan said...

Recently I have been bombarded with comments about being a SAHM. With those comments have come multiple conversations between Jason and me regarding our ability to raise a child on one income (and remember we live in LA - EXPENSIVE). There never has been any quesiton of whether I would stay at home with my baby because I believe it IS very important to be "just a mom." With that said, I think it is equally important to be able to afford that career path. We (Jason and I) don't think a child should add a significant financial stress to its parents. (And that is why we waited a couple years to have kids... which in our opinion is smart.) In the end if one is able (financially, physically, mentally, etc) to be a stay at home mom and raise their child I applaud them.
Now, don't get me started on SAHMs with nannies.

mary elizabeth said...

Amen! It is such a critical world we live in -- where if someone doesn't agree with our beliefs, then they are "wrong".

I personally cannot wait until I can be a SAHM. It is what I feel I was born to do. My mom was a SAHM and I loved having here home all the time.

On the otherhand, my MIL worked while her kids were little. And her adorable kids (my hubs included) turned out amazing!

Everyones situations are so personal + unique + different... it is just not our place to judge.

Kelly and Stacey said...

I can't believe that woman dared to write that article. Nobody can fully understand what it takes to be a parent until you are one, but she didn't even try to put herself in the situation at all. Motherhood is the most rewarding job anyone could have. It's not easy though, not even a little bit. You're always wondering if they're happy, hungry, tired, need extra love today, bored, etc. etc. There are emotions of fear you never knew you had, and joy beyond belief. That lady should keep her mouth shut, because she just made herself look like the biggest a** in the world.

Eliza said...

I agree, well said.

This seems to quickly become such a hot button topic among women... just like breastfeeding vs. formula feeding is. I couldn't breastfeed my first son (like I am able to do with my second son) and I had a complete stranger in the grocery store come up to me and tell me I was a bad mother for buying formula... hello?? she didn't know my situation. Would it really be better that my baby starve than not have formula, get real. I knew the truth but I still bawled and bawled about it when I got home because I desperately wanted to be the mother who breastfed but it just wasn't in the cards at the time.

Anyway, I guess I'm starting to ramble but the whole point of my rambling is to agree with you... it's better not to judge others because you don't know the situation + desires.

I'm just grateful that I CAN be a SAHM like I have always dreamed of being and that I married a man who values so highly having his wife home to raise our kids.

Aaron and Ashley Walker said...

Very well said. I was able to quit my job and become a SAHM. I love it. It is very hard, and we have to budget carefully. It is worth it though, and I am so grateful I have a husband who supports me in this. I grew up never having to go to daycare and I am so grateful for that. On the other hand, my husband and his brothers went to daycare while their mom was at work, and they all grew up to be great men. It is a personal decision, and we shouldn't judge.

Jules said...
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Jules said...

Well said once again Lauren! I read that article last week and it actually made me laugh out loud . . . I couldn't believe that woman was actually that naive. I almost felt a little sorry for her. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I became a mom- I don't really think anyone can comprehend the all-consumingness that is motherhood until you're in it. But it is more rewarding than anything I've ever done and I truly feel that this is the best way that I can contribute to society. It is such a shame that so many women don't realize that and are incredibly demeaning to those of us who want to stay at home and raise children. I say it's their loss. For sure. It's probably better that the SAHM bashers are not SAHM's; they've obviously missed the whole point of it anyway. I also have lots of friends who are moms that work because it's a necessity for them. It's awful that people judge them, saying that they're "bad moms" for working. Either way it's a personal decision and people should be respectful of that.

If you want to work because you think its a waste to stay home with your kids and you think you can find a better job somewhere else, fine. That's your deal, whatever. But please, keep your mindless, idiotic statements to yourselves people. We're busy trying to raise the future of America.

Anyway, bravo for standing up for what you think is right; I think you hit the nail right on the head on this one.

Whitney said...

it's really crazy that you posted a great and well-written blog on this issue. my co-worker and i have been going back and forth on this for awhile. she can't understand how anybody can afford to stay home with their children and thinks it's good to have children be in child care to be around others and to get the social aspect from an early age. i however respectfully disagree since i would like to be the one raising my child and teaching then vs some stranger. however, it's funny because i had a single mom who had to work. and we turned out great, but it would have been really nice to have her home. therefore, i want to give my kids what i never had. but either way, i agree with you, i don't think we should judge each other for our choices!

Kimba said...

Having done both, I can safely say that for me, being a SAHM is MUCH more demanding, but 100% more rewarding. I feel blessed to be able to stay home, especially now.

And uh, amen to the 45 mins to 15 mins bit.

Shannon said...

I love that you stayed on un-biased ground, while still laying out your stance AND pointing out the simple reminder that we can only walk in our own shoes. Brilliant. I tip my hat to you (the one I'm not wearing--but if I were wearing a hat, I'd tip it).