This week was a crazy one (hence my poor, ignored blog). I feel like I have spent the last ten days or so sprinting from thing to thing to thing with barely a moment to breathe in between.
As my kids get older and involved in more things weeks like this just may become a regular part of life, it could get pretty wild around here. It's happening more and more.
But that's not the point.
So, this week I had one day in particular that was ridiculous! I had to maneuver things into crazy yoga poses just to fit everything into an amenable time slot. It was a rowdy bit of wrangling.
And then I got a message from someone asking me to do something for her that day. It was a rough day already, but I knew she needed help and I wanted to help her and figured I could maneuver things to make it work so I took a deep breath and I said ok.
The hard part for me was her attitude. She is a working mom and after I said I thought I could manage what she needed she took on this attitude of, "Well, of course you can. You stay at home with your kids so you have all the time in the world. Don't pretend that you know what it is like to be tied into an overly-demanding schedule like those of us who work full time and still have to try to fit everything into the hours left over after that."
I hate this attitude. I've run into it over and over throughout my years as a stay-at-home mom and I despise it every, single time. Why am I somehow lesser because I stay at home with my children?
However, I'll readily admit this sneering attitude is not one sided. I've hated it for years, and -- I'll tell you the truth -- I hate it from both sides.
I don't like this Mom vs Mom under the table battle covered with false smiles and barely veiled contempt that seems to go on about who is the more fit, more stressed, more run ragged mother -- the one who works or the one who doesn't.
I hate it when a working mom insinuates that a stay-at-home mom is semi-lazy, only semi-intelligent and only semi-living up to her potential (not to mention she has all the time in the world for any activity under the sun) because she isn't tied to full time employment. I cringe at the, "Well, it's not like you really have anything to do all day anyway" look that I sometimes get from such mothers.
But, I also hate the other side of this stigma. I have heard time and time again stay-at-home moms who berate working moms because they don't care enough about their families to sacrifice to be home with them or they expect someone else to raise their children because they are too tied into their jobs. This, "If you really cared about your kids then you would stay at home like I do" attitude is nasty and unfair as well.
I imagine there are instances where both of these stereotypes are true. There are probably lazy moms who lounge around all day watching tv and eating bon bons and there are probably moms who care very little about their family and choose their work like over their home life....but I don't really know any of them.
The women I know -- almost without fail -- are grasping to do everything they possibly can to raise their children and support their husband and manage their home in the very best way.
Some of those women are like me. They scrimp and save and plan because they choose to live on one income instead of two so that they can be available for their children during the day. Or maybe finances aren't an issue for them, but they b-line from grocery shopping to library trips to school to dance practices to soccer games and flute lessons and scouts and everything in between while still making dinner, canning tomatoes and peaches, doing laundry and trying to be kind to those around them. These women often lend a hand to other moms who need them and that is as it should be.
But many of these amazing women have full time jobs. Many of them work these jobs because it is what their family needs them to do or because they are a powerful contributing force to the good of their community. They are nurses and teachers and lawyers and principals and everything in between. We need them. But because of their work, their day is clipped. They get to squeeze homework and vacuuming and yard work and cooking and family time and projects into a much tighter schedule because they are minus 8-10 hours each weekday (and sometimes weekends). What they get done in that time is incredible.
In each case, these women adore their children and want what is best for them. Each woman sacrifices for the good of her family and strives to meet their needs but each has a different way of doing that -- the way that works for her household.
What I don't understand is why we have to compete with each other. Why do we look down our noses at another mom who is trying her best but is doing it in a different way than OUR way?
Why are we judging everything "she" does as wrong and building up our way as the ONLY right course.
There are billions of families out there in the world. It seems to me that every single family is different and that means there must be billions of right ways to have a family.
As long as we stay focused on what is most important, I strongly believe God will guide us in our decisions and help us each to find the path that will be best for our situation.
Instead of belittling or criticizing, wouldn't it be great if we -- the moms of this world -- would band together to support and encourage each other.
Wouldn't it be great if I could tell my working-mom friend about a rough week and she would just listen and sympathize because she knows what a rough week is like instead of smugly thinking to herself, "Well, you had it easy because you had the whole day to get it all done. You have no idea what a rough day really is."
And wouldn't it be awesome if she could complain to me about a difficult day on the job without me thinking, "You are completely wasting your time there, if you were any kind of real mom you would spend your time with your kids instead" or "At least you got to have intelligent conversation with adults, I got to speak toddler and break up fights all day." (FYI, I don't actually think those things -- well, maybe the 2nd one sometimes -- but you get the idea.)
I firmly believe that moms love their children. Period. (Is typing a period after writing the word period redundant?...whatever.)
I also believe that in nearly every single case, moms work hard to do what is best for their family.
These women want their small ones (and not so small ones) to be healthy, happy, well rounded, intelligent, loving people. They want to help and support and encourage and teach and bless their baby's lives more than anything else.
But there is more than one way to do that. Not every family fits into the cute little picket fence, two children and a dog "Leave it to Beaver" mold (yeah, we sort of burst out of that one four kids ago).
There is a right way for each family, and your way may not be my way. In fact, I'd bet you a dollar that your right way will be vastly different in some aspect or another than my right way.
And that is ok.
In fact, it is the way things should be.
Maybe instead of picking each other to pieces, we can unite.
We can mommify ourselves!
We can raise our families in love and harmony and can see each other as equals -- one more mom together with us on the path -- instead of competitors that must be beaten out because they just aren't good enough.
Our goal is (or should be) to help our families become the best they can possibly be. If that is what we are aiming for then we will each make the choices within our own sphere that will lead us toward that end. When we are honestly, truthfully, fully devoted to that cause, how can we go wrong?
And all the better if we cheer and encourage our fellow Momma's because we know from experience that this is a difficult journey.