Let’s admit it, sometimes conversations between working moms and stay-at-home moms can be a bit awkward. I say that in honesty but with zero hostility. Let me say that I firmly believe with 100 percent of my being that kids turn out well when they have strong, happy and dedicated parents. End of story. Whether they were in daycare all day from the beginning, no daycare, a nanny, or some version of the above is not the issue. I have the utmost respect for moms who work and I often marvel at the feats they pull off on a daily basis. I only say that it’s awkward sometimes because there are certain things that we can’t relate to very easily in each others' lives.
I had one of those moments last week. A friend of mine was frustrated that she was going to miss her daughter’s church pageant performance because she had to work that weekend. “You know how that stuff goes,” she said to me. It was a second before I realized that I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t missed anything (thus far) because I’m usually able to go to my kids’ events. I just sort of nodded and she changed the subject quickly because I think she felt a bit awkward as well.
I had the other side of it happen recently as well, though. There were several moms who got together from my son’s class for drinks and I quickly realized that everyone I was sitting near was a working mom. A lot of the discussion focused on their work and it was fascinating. These were interesting and accomplished women and honestly, it was a little intimidating when the conversation shifted toward me. I was very quiet and my portion of the conversation was pretty short when I said that I stayed at home and had for many years.
Again, I bring no judgment to either of these situations but there are times when things feel awkward. It can be easy for us to fixate on those times and idolize the others’ lives. I do worry that I’m giving up a lot of my future earning potential or a possible title that I may have held had I not chosen to stay at home. I also know that working moms sometimes feel that their kids get short shrift. When I find myself starting to regret or rethink my decision, I remember two situations from my childhood that make me feel better.
I was in the fourth grade and living in Wisconsin when we had our first “talk” at my school. You know the one – boys in one room and girls in the other. My mom worked at the time and couldn’t come. Well, as it turned out, she was the only mom who was not there. Every single other girl was sitting next to her mom and I remember being mortified that the chair next to me was empty. We ended up moving shortly after that and my new school in Minnesota had the “talk” in fifth grade. My mom wasn’t working at the time and she was there sitting right next to me. I am sure that she was happy that she could join me and possibly correct what had happened last time. Well, this time, she was the only mom there. Now I was mortified that she was there and I slid down in my chair as I imagined all of the other girls rolling their eyes at me.
What I remember most, though, is that my mom tried. I think that even as a kid I realized that she was just doing her best and I did appreciate all of her efforts. So, here’s what I choose to take from this…sometimes, this parenting thing is a tricky business and you can only do the best you can do. My poor mom was doing her best both times and there is no right answer. Sometimes it’s great to be at home and sometimes it’s great to be a working mom.
In the end, we are all doing what we can to make a nice life for our kids. Working or not, I think that’s something everyone can relate to.