I’ve been both stay at home and not stay at home mom. The ‘working’ never stopped. And neither situation, in my opinion, is as rosy or as fraught with negative consequences as we are led to believe. The war that mommies have is not against each other but with the system and the environment which makes it difficult for women to work and parent at the same time. Most moms and/or parents for that matter are making the best of what they have.
Contrary to popular belief, staying at home with kids looks nothing like this picture above!
I have struggled with both sides and it has a lot to do with who I am as a person. I am someone who loves to work. I love that I can use the education I received over the years and enjoy the growth I experience in my career as I interact with the professional world. I am also someone who wants to raise her kids with all the love and attention they deserve. My ideal situation would be to work part time and be able to devote most of my day to the kids. But it does not make financial sense, and if it does make financial sense it usually means I’m spending more time at work than I planned on, and I am not getting enough time to spend with my kids.
I love my work but my kids are my life and try as I might I could not do justice to both sides at the same time. I'd swivel in one direction once this way, once that way, giving it my all but rarely was I able to do it all. There were times, but it usually took its toll on me leaving me extremely exhausted and at the end of my tether. I'd either have to curtail my ambition at work and take on less or minimize my expectations as to what I want to do as a mother. I am not saying it is not possible. It is possible, but a lot of things have to line up just so for that magic to happen.
It may not be the most pressing issue out there but it is an issue.
Humanity has had challenges all through its evolution over the centuries. Be it about gender, race, status or the many other million causes, there has always been something that needed fighting for. We’ve come a long way but the cycle continues and there are different things to change today than before. Our struggle is no greater or no more trivial than the struggles of others over time. One of the challenges that some moms face today is finding that right balance.
Of course I believe in a better system, in equality for women and for parents to have better choices. I have two daughters and I want them to have better circumstances where it isn’t a hard choice between parenting and having a career. I want them not to have to worry about going back to work and starting from scratch or losing the strides they made in their careers because they chose to get pregnant and have a child. I want them to know that raising a child is an important endeavor and do not want them to feel judged. I want them to know that the education they had or the career they built is not wasted because they have to have a child or choose to raise them. I hope the system and environment is more supportive in the future.
What are the changes that need to be made to help women strike that balance?
- Many new mothers do not get paid leave to care for their child. When it comes to mandated paid leave, U.S stands quite alone in comparison to other advanced countries.
- Most companies do not have the facilities necessary for mothers to pump milk for their newborn. I know of a friend who had to make do with the restrooms at work. She quit shortly thereafter. Not all have that choice to quit.
- The sick leave policy is never usually enough and does not consider the time needed for when both the child and mom fall sick. The quality of work and/or health of the mom usually suffers as she tries to juggle it all.
- Most moms take a cut in their salaries when returning back to work. Yes we are tired and look drained but if anything, we've had our brains sharpened and excel at managing issues and big responsibilities. The salaries should be commensurate to the talent moms bring to the workforce. They should not be penalized for taking the time off to raise the future generation.
- We are an overworked society with not enough time off. A lot of people sadly do not even take the time off they have because they cannot keep up with the work. There is something extremely wrong with that picture.
In addition there is a lot of pressure moms face in society today when it comes to parenting. We are bombarded by messages in social media and there is a huge expectation to do it all. Moms could use some downtime to be resolute and calm in the face of criticism and the many demands of home and work life, to feel rested and have some sanity to tackle all these challenges.
It is not us against them, working vs stay-at-home, male vs female.
We are all in this together and it is the situation now. And as we speak up and hope to change the system around us we are still forced to cope with the present as we wait for that change to take place. And during this time instead of pitting one choice over the other we are better off being empathetic and supportive of each other's choices. At the very least moms can stand together in support of each other. We can lower the insane expectations we have of ourselves and be empathetic and understanding of our fellow parents.
There are aspects of both choices that I love and don’t love as is true with most others I presume. Some have found that one suits them more than the other and that’s wonderful if they are able to choose or have the balance that works for them. There are millions out there who do not have the option to even make a choice.
My mommy friends are doing everything they can; some work full time, others part time, others stay at home. Some have a great support structure in the form of family and/or community, others not so much. But each and every one of us understands we are doing our best and what makes sense to our life, for our families and individual situations.
The Human ‘race' we have is not against each other, it is with time!
In the time we have, how do we make it the best world possible for each other and for our future generations? How can we all have a dialogue and conversation that leads to better things for all of us and our children? Let's stop judging, do the best we can to make the changes, and let's just let everyone be!
What is your story? What do you think?