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June 18, 2009

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"A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."

Gloria Steinem
vm

good aha moment about motherhood: http://www.ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/207

transitional point about thinking about it all differently.

cam@ahamoment.com

Just wanted to say thank you for this post (even if it's a few days late). I've been longing to work at home lately, even though I have heard about how hard it is.

Thanks for reminding us that the grass is always greener on the other side (or both of the other sides, since there are at least three here). It IS my choice to work outside the home, because I am the sole supporter of our family while my husband finishes school. And most days I am happy at my job.

I would call that a good choice.

@Julie- Just got back here. I'm sorry if I took your post the wrong way. I think it's sad that we do judge what other moms are doing, and MOST of the time it does stem from where we are afraid we are missing something. I think all moms are working moms, whatever role they may or may not be playing in the paid workforce. Kudos to all moms!!

From other posts...I do agree. Not everyone has the choice, so we can't say that it's a choice. It's a choice for those that even have the chance. I have to say that DH and I worked hard in the 6 years before baby to make it an option for us. It was a mutual effort, and wouldn't/couldn't happen if it weren't. I feel badly that not everyone HAS the choice. At least then you can decide for yourself and not because you gotta do what you gotta do. I feel blessed to have had the choice, but we MADE it an option by not living a certain way in order to maintain a one-income lifestyle. Not everyone still can do that, but it wasn't easy, and it wasn't an easy choice either...no matter how much I love it or wanted to do it.

Wow. Isn't it amazing how this topic hits a nerve? I blogged about this recently too - http://atlanticwriter.blogspot.com/2009/06/mommy-wars.html I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to be a little envious about someone else's situation as long as we remember they have their problems too.
It was great to find your blog today... I'm a writer mom with a military husband too. Thanks for your insight.

Great post Kristen! If only we could all appreciate that each one of us is doing the best that we can as moms and have the best of intentions for our little kiddies and spouses. It's time to stop attacking each other as women and mothers and be supportive of whatever people choose for themselves!

Elegant and poignant! Well said. I've done it all and have arguments for each side of the equation. I think what this all boils down to is that we all like to bitch.

um... yes. hear fuckin' hear.

In the four and a half years I've been a mom, I've been a full time WOHM, part-time WOHM, SAHM and WAHM. (alphabet soup!)

I've had life throw some pretty shitty cards my way at times. We've been unemployed for most of the past year. But I still feel like every situation I'm in still has some of my choice in it.

I enjoyed working part-time, but I knew it wasn't feasible for the long-term, money-wise. So I made the choice to go back to school so I could have more control over my situation. I took out a ton of student loans (again) and just graduated as a nurse.

I've been put in positions where the choice was removed from me, but each time I made a new choice, to either accept the new surroundings or find a new solution. It's very zen - I am a willow, see me bend to the winds without breaking.

I guess this is a rambling way of saying that there are pros and cons of any situation we're placed in as mothers, but we have the ability to force change if we don't like our situation. Maybe not as fast as we'd like, but we can do it.

I've been both - the mom who has to work a 9 to whenever job and good night is over the phone from the road, and now a mom who runs a consulting business from my home, and that may change again too.

You nailed it exactly. There are pluses and minuses to every decision we make about our lives. We need to own our choices, and change them if they don't work the way we want them too.

And not judge others for their choices. Just because we've made different decisions doesn't make one wrong and the other right.

Wowee... wish it were easier for some folks to actually tap into the power of small. For the WOH - the pleasure of lunches with friends, a day free of distractions, a business outfit.

For the WAH - the joy of having your child drawing next to you while you work, the pleasure of knowing the laundry is done by the end of the day, the satisfaction of feeling you're fulfilling two sides of your personality.

Of course it's hard (try tossing in homeschooling a son with autism). It seems to me that it's also rather joyless for some, tho.

Lisa

Holy crap! I'm so sick of this debate. Being a mommy is hard! Whether you work from home, work outside the home, have help, don't have help, whatever! This is such a strange pissing contest...Mommies need to stick together!

Completely agree, Meredith.

i think we can chalk all this moaning, groaning, bitching, complaining, etc. up to one thing: we all DON'T GET ENOUGH EFFING SLEEP! i certainly feel less patient, generous and kind when i haven't gotten enough zzzzzs.

thanks for letting me get that out of my system.

LOVE it! I love your take. And women do love to beat a dead horse like 500 times over, and get that last word in. I'd rather hear some crazy birthing stories, or the most insane thing you did as a mom than duke it out over who has it harder. I mean I was shouting "I feel like an alien!" and "I don't want to be like one of those moms on baby story!!!" a the top of my lungs with my non-epi baby girl. Now THAT's something to talk about! :)

While our parenting situations are all different, and some parents have less options than others, I do believe we all have the choice, the option to choose to find the happiness, the blessings in whatever our personal challenges may be.

To do otherwise, is inviting defeat and robs us what joy there is in our lives, in our parenting situations, regardless of income, jobs or marital status.

My life certainly didn't pan out as I planned through no choice of my own, and I couldn't control the outcome, but I can control how I perceive it and try to make the best of it for myself and for my children.

To do anything less, in my humble opinion, is a disservice to my family and to myself.

Feel free to hurl stones at my head if you disagree, but I fully understand what Kristen is trying to say.

Cuh-rap, I'm sorry I misspelled your name Kristen!

Here's what I tell my 3 young boyz pretty much constantly:

IT'S NOT A COMPETITION!

Methinks that this notion could be applied to this discussion as well.

So many of these comments (and I only read about 75% of them) remind me of my 3-year-old. When she is upset and convinced that the world is conspiring against her, it doesn't matter how much I talk to her about the situation at hand. All she wants to hear is "wow, that is just awful, you must feel sooooo bad. I'm sorry you are so sad."

So to everyone who feels it is worth the time and energy to compare penis sizes, er, I mean see who can pee the farthest, ooops, I mean convince others that your life is the hardest or that you struggle(d) more than the next mommy, I say this: Wow, that is just awful, you must feel terrible, I'm soooooo sorry for your struggle.

Seriously ladies, we are grown women raising human beings. I believe we have much more in common than we may think. It just makes me so frustrated to see/hear/read all the whining. And yes, way too much of it is whining.

To Kristin - I adore your blog. I agree with about 97% of what you write and I am so grateful for (and respectful of) that remaining 3%. Because agreeing ALL the time can be boring. :)

HOLY SHIT! Clearly, the mommy wars are still very much alive!

Can't we just agree that being a MOTHER is an immense job, and that we ALL, no matter what our situations, have quite a burden to bear? We need to support each other, not act like rival sororities catfighting over turf. Not to put a finer point on it, but WTF?

Well put. Thank you.

Reading this post and all of the comments has made me so greatful that I have the choice. I am a WAHM which is surely hard, but I am so glad to get to be with my children. I will try to think of this post when I feel like I hate my job or "choice".

I would like to apply for a job as a Lady of Leisure. Think those exists? :)

I'm just happy with the MOM role I play despite what ever situation I'm in.
Let's just all be thankful for having the chance to be MOMs. (Except when they won't. stop. crying.) (OK, maybe then too.)

Didn't even know it was going around until I wrote at IP and got a comment about the "Mommy Wars Revisited" and holy shit, I'm so glad I'm not alone in my thinking.

very well written :) I'm a full-time WOH mom, and I'd love to be a WAH mom, or a SAHM... neither of which will happen anytime soon, and I'm not sure I'm cut out for anyway... but like you said, the grass IS always greener in someone else's pasture... we all want what we can't have right? oh well - I look forward to 5:00pm EVERY day so that I can go pick up my SugarBear and hold her close... before starting all the chores that need to be done at home while the hubs works second shift :) Oh well... life could definitely be worse! I'm lucky to have a decent paying job, and a happy healthy family. What else could I ask for (well, other than a million dollars?) ;)

MU - I don't see this post as "taking a second to acknowledge how hard it is." All is see (from the title alone) is telling women to suck it up and "own choices." I will not own a choice I did not make. I just won't do it. I will not accept it and I'll keep fighting to get out of it.

And to the person who insists that I'm playing the victim, you might want to read past the first post in my blog to see that the only reason I'm still alive is because of my "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" mentality. I have survived it all. I settle for nothing less than what needs to be done. There is no "victimhood." I'm just saying that not EVERYTHING is a choice - and I know for a FACT that I did not "choose" to be where I am. I made some very deliberate choiced NOT to be where I am, and factors out of my control (some dumb shit done by the husband, mainly, who's lucky I didn't divorce him) landed me here anyway. And I'm pissed. And life is generally most stressful and overwhelming than I'd like for it to be - but I'm DOING it. I never said I wasn't willing to do it - but I'm not going to do it with a smile on my face, and I'm not going to "Own" it either. I don't want it.

I've just learned over the past 7 years there is no perfect solution. I will always disapoint someone because I have to work. I don't think being a SAHM, WAHM or a WOH mom is easy one anyone. I get adult conversations, but I miss my kids and cannot volunteer to bring the cupcakes or be in the Bible study with the other moms. My grandma got crap in the 50's for my dad having a nanny while she worked as a pharmacist and my grandpa was a physicist. I have respect for all moms.

@TFB - I'm not calling you a big irresponsible baby. I don't think anyone is.

Your post sounded really angry, and you have a right to be. It sounds as though you're completely unhappy with your current situation, so I get why my post might be offensive to you.

And surprised as you might be, I've been there. Well, if you've read my blog long enough, you've known that I've been there. Maybe not exactly there, but I have been.

All I've tried to say here is that what we all do is hard. I just don't see the value of trying to prove to someone that what one of us does is harder than the other.

I really think you acknowledgment of the every day challenges that you face - working your many jobs, going to school fulltime and parenting your kids (along with being a partner, etc.).

And as a fellow mom, I acknowledge you. And what you do.

That might not mean a damn thing to you. But when I was feeling like shit about my own situation (some parts of it that could be seen as me not having a choice as you've discussed today) all I really needed was someone to tell me that it was hard. And sucky. AND NOT FAIR.

We can one up each other on shitty pasts and hard knocks all night long. You were homeless. My dad beat me. The last time I saw him hit me in the head with a white board and then slapped me across the face. I worked three jobs while deeply depressed, wondering if it was worth waking up the next day.

We've all had some pretty shitty burdens to bear.

I just don't think it's worth battling it out over something that I think could be better solved with a bunch of us just taking a second to acknowledge how hard it is.

Totally and completely unrelated to this post, I was just Googling 'what is 30 day shred' and the first link was this: http://familyfitness.about.com/b/2009/04/02/30-day-shred-how-did-i-do.htm

You are seriously famous.

@feminist
I dont think youre getting the point. We all get it- youre in a tough situation. Many of us have or have had very tough and stressful situations just as difficult and probably even harder than yours. No one is saying the choice is to feed/shelter your children or not. Your choice was to have a child and start a family under really hard circumstances. I did the same thing and never considered myself a victim. No one around to help me so dont tell me about how youve done it all alone because I am sure that my sob story can make yours look tame. When you lose the victim thing and own your life and your choices, you find that your complaining is different- its venting but not whining. The burdens youve choosen lighten up even when the demands havent. No one has ever handed me anything and after glancing at your very angry blog I can tell no one has given you much either. You can CHOOSE to see that as your strength or the beginning of your victimhood. Its a generally american ailment this victimhood thing and its heavy with power to make people nasty and bitter. Youre unhappy- dont tell the rest of us that you wouldnt be if you had our lives.

@julie - I've re-read my comment six times now and never did I say that every mother who works wishes they could stay home. I said *I* wish that, and the mothers who share the pumping room at work with me wish that (because they cry to me about it every time I see them), but never did *I* say anything about your life.

@dieg - you have no idea how I got where I am, and for you to pretend that you could possibly know is ignorant.

@MU - (and this is not really about you, this is about the fact that my situation has me in tears most days of the week, and I really cannot listen to another person who doesn't know what they're talking about tell me I'm being a big irresponsible baby, especially not a retired therapist).... I'm fuzzy on the details, but if I remember correctly, you and I are quite the same. You and I both got knocked up before we were married or had homes/money. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I have the image of you in a wedding dress nursing a baby.

The only difference between our situations is that you got knocked up by a guy with a career. I got knocked up by a guy without one.

You also got knocked up by a guy whose family let you live with them for years until you could get on your feet. We didn't have that luxury. Do you really think everyone else DOES? Neither of us have any family we could live with. If we'd had somebody paying our rent, our situation would be totally different now, and this would be a whole 'nother ball of wax.

So tell me, if you'd gotten knocked up by a man like my husband, would you be able to stay home now? If I'd gotten knocked up by a future pilot, would I have to go to work right now? I'm guessing the answer to both those questions is No. If you woke up with no pilot-income tomorrow, you'd be *forced* to go to work, wouldn't you? Or would you still "choose" to stay home until they evicted you? I'm not understanding this "we all can choose" business.

It's easy to have the luxury of making a "choice" when the man who you're married to can provide you with that choice. I fail to see how my brand of birth-control failure was dumber than your brand of birth-control failure.

Walk a mile in someone else's shoes, and then we can talk about what kind of "choice" really exists.

FANTASTIC post! Love the writing and the chutzpah!

But really? I just don't get it. What's everyone so worked up about? Is this like the high school things I just NEVER got? Who's the competition? Who cares what you do? I'm interested if you have an interesting story to tell or we connect emotionally but otherwise... why would I care to bring down some moral gavel on your parenting? It perplexes me to no end. Why would anyone care if I chose to breastfeed or bottlefeed? To co-sleep or to drop my kid off down the hall for their nap? To stay with them 4 or 12 hours per day? To play with them on the floor or to do the dishes? Like everything else, shouldn't people just assume of others that we're all doing our best, as half-assed and dubious the whole enterprise may be? Honestly, I can't take any of it seriously -- who cares what you think of my parenting choices?

This was a great blog! I agree. Get over it girls, stop arguing and realize that MOST of us are doing the best we can! SAHM, WAHM, WOTM (is that right?) we are trying to raise our kids the best we can.

I am smack dab in the middle. My son is 3 and I have been a SAHM, WAHM, and WOTM and all of them are great and suck! It depends on the day, the sleep, the job, my mood...but I am over judging and onto compassionate!

Smile, Laugh, Live, and enjoy the time....

Good post!

Ok, you guys, you what's hard?

LIFE.

If it were easy we wouldn't appreciate it.

@Deanna I'm sorry you misunderstood, or that I wasn't clear. I was only talking about my own children, no one else's. It was my experience. I wish I could have done more for my kids, and that's where my guilt stemmed from. I know there are as many scenarios as there are people out there. All I'm saying is that everyone has to find the right solution for themselves.

When I win the lottery, I'm gonna come and comment on all of these blogs about how hard my life is laying around the giant pool eating peeled grapes, while my manservant, Francois, fans me with a palm leaf and Frauline Maria dances my kids around town to the tune of Doe Ray Me. Until then, I guess I don't have anything to complain about that hasn't been said by every type of mother here. (other than the fact that Momversation left an entire demographic out of that video - WOHMs - and I think that's what started this whole mess...this time around anyways)

I found myself nodding my head in agreement and saying "Yes!" while reading this post.

For me, as a SAHM, I just want some recognition. From my husband, mostly, but sometimes from WAHMs or WOHMs. I dare say we ALL want recognition. Recognition that what we are doing is hard and sometimes sucks. Just a little head nod, or a "I know". I can't imagine working from home or working out of the home. But sometimes I can't imagine how I'm going to make it through the end of a day at home with my three kids! I just want someone to agree that what I am doing isn't easy. And I don't think what you're doing is easy either!

A little recognition can go a long way.

I haven't read the other comments, it looks interesting though. But I had to add that even Mother Teresa bitched and moaned. Her "secret" letters were revealed recently where she questioned her choices and faith ALL THE TIME. So, I think that justifies our bitching and moaning. Hopefully taking it out on the internet is better than taking it out on our families! Good post.

@feminist- you made choices. you chose to get pregnant or to stay pregnant and to have a child at a time when it would be this hard. It would be great if there was more support for family choices that made them easier for women but you knew that going in. You are responsible for your choices and your life. its ok for it to suck- we all hear you and it sounds rough and if you own your choie instead of sounding like a victim, you might get some sincere support instead of eye rolling. It really is your choice.

I'm so freaking over the whole judgement/ competition thing. I went back to work when my daughter was 16 weeks and I worked from home. And did I ever hear it from the family and the SAHM sector. I would keep the little bug at home until after her morning nap (working through that)and her daycare was a mile away... and then drop her off at daycare and pick her up around 3 and then start working again after she went down for the night. Of course she didnt get the memo so she would often not go to sleep in time for my conference call with China or she would cut a tooth the week of major deadlines or would take a short nap and start wailing while I was in the middle of a call with the state dept. And then there was the pumping and blocking my calendar to pump. I couldnt drop her off all day though- I just couldnt. I hated it. I felt like I was constantly underperforming at work, I missed her the 5 hours she was gone, I was stressed when I was with her because I was falling behind at work. My husband commuted, worked full time and was doing his MBA at night so it was all me, all the time. When i got laid off (whole division wiped out-very sad), I started looking for another job and my Bug was about 15 months by then and I was having so much fun hanging out with her that we decided I would take a little break from the career and take care of her. And its been awesome. I never, ever, EVER thought I could handle staying home but we are all three in such a happy place right now that the stress and hell of those months seems like a distant nightmare. The bug and I spend the days having all kinds of adventures (not sitting in front of the TV while I vacuum- what a silly thing to say!) and the stress level in the house has disipated. The hubby graduated and comes home at night now. Its working really, really well for us. For me, staying home is easier. My job was also really intense (international policy) and I never got a break- I NEVER went out (I was making up my flex time all night and weekends). I had no friends, I was exhasuted, etc. Now, there is balance and do I think for one minute that my working friends are depriving their children? NO WAY. Do I think the SAHM gig is the rightous path for those of us who really love our kids and is somehow easier or harder than getting a paycheck- HELL NO!!!

Back off of each other and dont feel so threatened by your choices. Be happy for anyone who finds a way to make thier jobs suck less.

No ONE thing is going to work for everyone. No one thing is going to be GOOD (or even possible) for everyone. So why do these my-way-is-better-than-your-way, your-way-is-easier-than-my-way arguments keep popping up surrounding motherhood? Drives me crazy.

If there were an easy, effective, one-size-fits-all way to be a mother, wouldn't we all be trying to do THAT?

@Julie - Apparently this has become a pissing match, as it was NOT intended. Your comments are directed at SAHM's, IMO -apparently our children sit in front of the TV while we clean house and spend their days strapped into grocery carts. That would be equal to me assuming that since you're a WOHM that you know NOTHING about your children and haven't taught them a single thing. That their lives are caught up in whatever strangers teach them at daycare, and that they are sick constantly. HA. I don't think those things at ALL about you, yet you assume that the children of SAHM's live their lives in boredom and staring at a wall.

I thought this was NOT about judgements?
Choice, choice, choice!

As a former co-worker of mine used to say, build a bridge and get over it. She also happened to be a single mid-thirties woman whom I occasionally envied for her fabulous travel schedule and freedom to drink all night long.

Thanks Abby. *power knuckles*

I like that, for the most part, we are all in agreement that a) Everyone bitches about something and b) Everyone thinks they have it harder than the next person. This is true in other topics as well, (just ask my Husband who he thinks does more around the house?). In my experience, the majotiry of "conversations" are a contest, no matter what the discussion.

I have two jobs. One full time that allows me to WAH and one part time that is impossible to WAH unless someone wants to syndicate me and pay for a home studio. I thank God E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E N-I-G-H-T for the blessing of being able to WAH most of the week. I know that it is something to appreciate, rather than expect. And all of the people I speak with KNOW what I sacrifice to WAH, so I don't have to put up with the "contest" mentality, and if you're in the mood to attack then you're an asshole and I don't feel like wasting my time and energy to try to convince you that there are sacrifices and what they are. I like the friends I have, thanks. BUT, when I go to my other job, I have to make DIFFERENT sacrifices. Motherhood (and womanhood and SOME fathers) does require giving yourself to some other cause 90% of the day and then sleeping the other 10%. It's all in who we're giving ourselves to and in what quantities. THAT is the exhausting, pity party, nobody understands my plight bitch fest we all want to spew forth the moment ANYONE asks us "How are you?". We, as mothers (and some fathers), frequently feel neglected, underappreciated, underpaid, overwhelmed and on the edge of a cliff waiting to be talked down... BUT, before I was a Mother?? I felt the same way, only it was my employer making me feel that way.

So, if people want to bitch about their plight, that's fine, but why attack? What a waste of energy...

Most people must have missed the point of this post since the comments seem to have become - once again - a pissing contest for who has it harder.

I own my choice to sacrifice a lot in our lifestyle to be a SAHM just like I owned my career choice to be an underpaid, overworked elementary school teacher when I was working. You can't have it all, so love what you do have.

-Abby

To clarify:

I'm not a white elitist.

I'm a half-Asian elitist.

Ha.

As a therapist, we're trained to help clients remember that they ALWAYS have choices. They may not be able to choose where they live or how they live or how society perceives them (a pilot's wife living a cushy life in the 'burbs of Atlanta - perhaps).

But they can choose to take a breath. And wake up in the morning. And face another day.

So yes, there are choices.

I agree with the essence here: Be grateful for what you have and don't judge others. At the same time, we should all recognize that mothers are extremely limited in their realistic choices in this country. Our family leave policies and worker protection policies leave many in a situations without a meaningful choice. I am dealing with this right now. I was laid off from my ideal, work at home job last week. In order to be able to feed my children AND pay my mortgage at the same time, I will have to accept the first job offer that comes my way, which, more likely than not, will be an office job. I will have no choice but to put my children in full time care. I am allowed to say that I don't want to work in an office and that working in an office sucks and that paying for childcare sucks. That is different than saying that other mothers who choose those things for themselves are bad mothers or that they made bad choices.

@TheFeministBreeder - I am a WOH mom, and I made that choice. Not fair to assume most of us would stay home given the chance. I love my kids, but not enough to sacrifice my own needs to meet every one of theirs.

@Luann Thanks for your comment. I, too, sent my children to daycare. My son at 18 months, my daughter at 9 months. Every day. 9-5. And you're right - they are THRIVING. They love it. Never want to come home. Even before I went back to work I sent them to daycare because really, what's more interesting for them, being with their peers, learning and playing or running around with mommy while she does groceries and sitting in front of the TV while I clean house? It was a no-brainer for me.

Maybe I just don't measure up as a mom, or maybe I just know what works for our family. The point is, I'LL DECIDE, thank you very much.

My choice.

Interesting - because I don't feel the pressure from other moms in terms of status of WAH WOH SAH - rather, I feel it from employers / clients / teachers / my family.

If I answer an email at 11pm, it is expected that I am always available to work at 11pm. Likewise, if I volunteer in the class one morning, it is assumed that I am always free to volunteer. It seems I am always disappointing someone.

As a mom, I am expected to be the one to take care of the kids if one is sick. If Husband has a night meeting, it is assumed I'm taking care of the kids. If I have a night meeting, I must find babysitting or ask Husband to come home "early." Mom is the default provider, regardless of other roles.

We all try to juggle all kinds of things, but it is expectations of our availability that really get to me.

No matter what, I'm dropping some sort of ball. And that is true of ALL working situations, paid or not.

Should read: Having said all that (that I think we can not and should not insist that choice in theory - which, yes - equates to meaningful choice in practice - which, no) I disagree with labelling anyone who falls on the choice side of the argument as having a "grossly elitist, white-woman attitude."

Gah. NEEDZ MOAR COFFEE NAO.

Okay, wow. Me incoherent much?

(Having said all that - that I think we can not and should not insist that choice in theory - which, yes - equates to meaningful choice in practice - which, no - I disagree with labelling anyone who falls on the choice side of the argument as having a "grossly elitist, white-woman attitude")

(Which is especially strange applied to Kristen.)

(So.)

I love your point that the grass is always greener. Mostly in my own head. When I'm home I want out. When I'm at work, I want home. I'm annoying that way.

@feminstbreeder, I understand your point because I too have to work and am the sole earner of the family. I don't feel I have a choice although I suppose if it came down to it we could stay here for free until we were evicted and then eat out of the dumpster and call it a choice. But I don't think Kristen made any sort of statement about "all women" - it seems she was just defending her own decisions and admitting that what we do is hard no matter what. I buy that.

Also she's biracial which would make it hard for her to be a white elitist kind of by definition.

I also disagree with feministbreeder. The choices began at conception, whether we chose to become pregnant or not. We chose to become mothers when we chose to carry and deliver our child(ren). Even those who are anti-abortion (as I am) have made that choice. So yes, it IS a choice, and the domino effect of choices carries on from there.

'And I think it's a grossly elitist, white-woman attitude to assume that all mothers get a "choice."'

Would that statement include my non-white-woman friends who also agree with Kristen?

Choice is a tricky concept to apply here. I mean, to some extent, yes, it's all choice (choosing to make sacrifices to SAH, WAH, or WOH, choosing to give up the Electrolux appliances so as to afford to stay home, give up home ownership to WAH, give up staying home to pursue a desired career) but for some people, the element of choice is more obscure. My sister, for example, desperately wishes that she could stay home and spend every minute with Tanner, but that's just not possible for her. Sure, she made the choice to leave an unhappy marriage, which further limited that possibility, but to insist that that was meaningful choice v.v. her desire to stay home is stretching it. And even with her husband, money was needed to afford a wheelchair-accessible home, a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, trips for extended hospital stays - all of which require money that she can only get by working. And working while Tanner's life ticks down to a close breaks her heart. So, although I agree in principle that we're the sum of our choices, and there are always choices being made, I don't know that it's black and white.

(I, on the other hand, DO totally own my choice to write with a baby strapped to me, so ;))

I am a work at home mom who proudly sends her kids to daycare. Every. Single. Day. from 9-5.

I have a 40 hour a week job that requires me to be at my desk working on my computer. I tried keeping them home..and I DID keep them home until they were old enough to be tugging at my back and demanding attention. At this point rather than having them think I was too busy for them, I sent them to where they would get the attention they deserve.

And they are THRIVING. They get to to things they would NEVER get to do at home. They play with scissors and use glue and glitter. And have circle time. And learn social skills.

I don't regret my decision one bit.

@TheFeministBreeder - I disagree.

As humans - living in a democracy at least, we always have a choice.

It might be a shitty one that really sucks ass, but if you look down a long scheme of your [collective] life, you got there by making a choice.

Yes, Yes, Yes. Very well said.

And to all the people who talk about it being a choice. It's not necessarily that. It's simply doing what's best for YOUR family. If it means working so you don't lose the house, well then that is what is best for your family.

For me, I think the best solution is a part time office job. I don't have that, sadly, but it would make me feel more balanced. I am a WOHM that drops her kids off at daycare every morning and miss them all day. But I made this choice and I can honestly say that I could not handle being a full time SAHM. I wish I could keep my job but lower my hours to part time, but that isn't possible in my line of work. Regardless, I don't think my life is any harder than the WAHM or the SAHM next door.

Exactly perfect, and just what I needed to read today! Thank you so much! We all do what we do to get what we need and it is hard sometimes. But if we didn't do it, well, we'd bitch about that, too.

The topic certainly struck a nerve, didn't it? MAY-un.

I think it's an interesting conversation. And that's about it.

I do hate the negative imagery that exists for all mothers and their work, whether they're SAHMs, WAHMs, or WOHMs, because I can think of horrible stereotypes for every single one. And that tends to make EVERYONE verrrrrry defensive.

I have a post stirring about this, but let me just say that sometimes it is NOT a "Choice." And I think it's a grossly elitist, white-woman attitude to assume that all mothers get a "choice." I had no "choice." Most of the moms I see pumping away in the mother's room of my office didn't have a "choice." If they DID have a "choice" they wouldn't be working TWO full time jobs.

I know that staying at home with kids is a full time job, but that doesn't mean that moms who WOH only have a "different" full-time job. That means they have TWO full-time jobs. And if you're like me and have a degree you must complete before you can do anything else, you go to school full time at night, and now you have THREE full-time jobs.

None of that is a "choice." If I had my way, I'd stay home with my kids and take night classes. Too bad we'll lose our house if we do that. Doesn't sound like a "choice" in my world.

I don't get why women have to marginalize one another...
I choose to work, in an office setting, and I think it makes me the best possible mom in our current situation. Even though its often not easy, it works and I know its my choice.
I think everyone has the right to choose what works best for them - whether it be working, not working, where you work... working part-time, full-time, etc. Or whether it be Breastfeeding or any other 1000 choices we make as mothers and families... We should support each other in our choices.

I hate that it can be such a touchy subject... I feel like I need to be singing its a small world and asking for world peace but seriously - why can't we all just be supportive of one another - we are all moms. The end.

Meagan said above "it isn't a contest." The day I figured this out -- in terms of ALL parenting situations, with my husband, my family, my best friend, the mom across the country whose blog I follow -- I became a better, calmer, more grounded mother. It's not a contest. Most of us are doing our best, trying to be the happiest, best versions of ourselves we can be. And if someone is doing a seemingly better job, great. But that doesn't mean they win and we lose.

I think a lot of it boils down to figuring out what works for YOU. Instead of focusing on what's acceptable, or expected, in your circle, just do what works for you. Personally, I'm much happier working outside the home. It makes the rest of my life (ie: the hard part) much easier to deal with. Finding a job I love did wonders for my mental health. It took me a long time to realize this and accept it without the guilt. Once I did, I never looked back.

I couldn't have said it better myself! which is why you are writing the fancy popular blog....and I am NOT!! Love it! Keep it coming........

I love this post.

I recently read a book by Dana Buchmann (the designer) about her experiences being the parent of a child with learning differences. I was shocked that so many of the comments on Amazon about the book were focused on Ms. Buchmann's wealth and the advantages of living in NYC. Didn't they get that being a parent is hard no matter what?

Love it, love it, love it!!! Great post, as usual...we thank you. ALL of us.

A-fucking-men!

Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. LIFE is hard. We all have to do shit we don't want to do from time to time. probably more frequently than we'd like, and the grass is ALWAYS going to seem greener over there. But sometimes we just have to be adults & suck it up, and be happy and grateful for what we DO have and stop bitching about what we lack. if all we do is compare and wish for more, it's going to make for a miserable existence. And, you know, at the end of the day I'd rather be tired & worn out because of choices I MADE than be miserable/jealous of perceptions of other people "having it better”.

......You have closets your babies can sleep in???!?!!? I want those closets!!! lol
It's a battle that will never go away. Stay at home, work away, here nor there, do the best you can with what you've got and don't overthink it.

OMG YES. This is basically what I said yesterday here http://twitter.com/mcmama/status/2211396410 and here http://twitter.com/mcmama/status/2211484661

This is so tiring.

Angela In Ohio made a tremendously important point - WOH or WAH or SAH: if we have these as choices, we're lucky. EXTREMELY lucky.

And if we would rather stay at home and not work, but are compelled to tend to our (at home or out of home) jobs? We should at least be grateful that we HAVE jobs. Some women (some men, as Julie pointed out yesterday) don't have these choices, or are restricted in these choices.

So before we whine, let's be grateful. And then, once we've thanked our stars, let's be - as you say - tolerant and respectful of the fact that this work - however it's organized - is hard for everybody. And remember that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

yes. Yes. YES!

The bottom line is we are all mothers, and that's our top priority. It's hard. Life is hard. We're supposed to support each other not bicker and fight over stuff that doesn't matter in the end anyway.

THANK YOU for writing this.

Absolutely. We all have such different lives, different circumstances, different challenges. I do think the life of a WOH mom is different than a WAH mom and in some ways harder...but the reverse is also true. There are always tradeoffs, and it isn't a contest.

ha! I wrote this same post last week. Work is work no matter what work you do. Can we all virtually hug now?

Spot on once again.
It's so much easier to bitch about being a wife/mother/slave with friends over a bottle or six of wine. That's my support group for the drudgery that is the under appreciated job of motherhood.

I was just complaining last night to my husband about how hard my job was. Yes, I chose it. - thanks for the reminder. ;)
But sometimes I want a babysitter (which I've never had) and 2 hours of quiet so I can actually complete something.

This WAHM stuff is not EASY. I'm sure the WOHM deal is not easy either. Nothing is easy. Period. I just wish those around me who think it's easy being me could get a taste of what I do every day then they'd shut up and stop asking me to do so much extra crap.

Well, said! In any situation, I've never been able to figure out what arguments like this are meant to accomplish. There is no right or wrong answer here, it's about what works for you and your family, and, importantly, what you make of it.

Um,Unemployment is hard. Maybe maybe some of the whiners need to STFU and be glad you HAVE a job no matter where it is. I'm just sayin.

Being *anything* is hard. I know without question that if I went back to my 20something barista days I would be every bit as stressed. Or bitter. Or lofty.

I think an unexpected splash of cold water and an emphatic, but serious, "Snap the fuck out of it," is really needed from time to time.

Well said!

mmm hmmm, I hear ya girlfriend! Great post...

Jamie :)

A-f'n-men! We are all Mom's hear us roar! Whether we have 1 kid or 10, stay at home or go to work, breast feed or bottle feed, organic or not! We all have the hardest jobs and we make it work!

Not to complicate things a bit more but has anyone seen the "Mr. Mom" segment on the Today show? Got my ire up. People are doing what is best for their families. Leave them alone.

Being a mom is hard. Period.


Great post!

I'm just envious of WAHM. To work out of my home is my dream, but unfortunately as a single mom who's responsible for the insurance that's impossible. I'd still ship the little ones off to daycare though to get some work done! lol

Good one! I totally agree!

can I just kiss you? Yes yes yes all over this post. I agree sister. sing it.

You know we (meaning males, though I don't speak for every man everywhere, I've never met one who wasn't aware of this phenomena or phrase) generally refer that as a 'dick size war'. So much easier to say. Gets the point across, and points out the absurdity of the whole thing all in one three syllable phrase. It applies to far more than just dicks, BTW. Watch a pair of geeks going on about their computers, or a pair of rednecks going on about their trucks...you're in Atlanta, you should be able to easily find either.

A-freaking-men. Thank you!

THANK YOU, Amanda. Was just talking about this to another military mom.

Exactly! You can also throw in the military wives who when one wife bitches about some innane thing about military life (and there are many!) they'll say "Well at least your husband isn't deployed." Yes, I know. We've done a deployment. SO WHAT? It doesn't make the current situation suck any less. Just let me bitch about it for 30 seconds, and I'll move on.

All our jobs suck, they just suck differently depending on the day.

Amen! I understand why it happens, but it is so sad that it does.

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