Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Requested by Phread

I forwarded an email exchange a friend and I have been having to ~J and she requested that I ask the author to make a post out of it. My friend is quite lovely and bold, but hesitated to post something that she felt was "just off the top of her head." So I am posting it for her and keeping it anonymous. So there.

The topic that we were discussing is the internal struggle that mommies often feel when we express frustration at staying home to a listener who may not be sympathetic to women leaving the workforce. We feel guilty because we know that we have made the right choice for ourselves and our families, but we still don't like it all of the time. The response we often get from listeners is "Just go back to work." "Leave your kid in day care." "They really like being in preschool better than staying at home" "You need to get away from kids and back with adults" And then we feel stupid. Because we don't know what to say to that. So here is what she told me--I hope that you enjoy it!

Staying home to raise your kid IS hard. I know it sounds cliche. But it's such an all encompassing, divine nature building trial. It's hard in that it is an on-going experience which molds and shapes our very nature!!!! We have to LEARN how to enjoy mommyhood with all of it's scrapes and bruises. Some people seem to fall more naturally into that role than others. They make me feel guilty. But it also makes me sad when I see a mom run away to work as an escape. As if she's not cut out for motherhood because it is hard for her. Have they never done anything hard in their life??? What do you do when you want to accomplish something hard? If it were a work project or school assignment, you'd inform yourself, you'd practice. You might fail a bit. You'd seek support from people who have experience or knowledge in the area. The more energy you put towards a trial, the more you will grow and learn and accomplish. It would be hard to complete an assignment and REALLY gain from it if you just did what you knew and then handed the rest over to a "professional" when you'd had enough. There are so many reasons for a mom to work. But working as an "escape" from other trials is so sad. Instead of addressing the real issues for unhappiness... and finding potential happiness and fulfillment...women look for a quick fix that can impede growth.

I'm realizing that this might not be coming across the way I'd intended. If you feel any guilt from reading any part of this I have not expressed myself very well. Forgive me.

REASON to work is the issue here. Don't thinks me a working-mom hater. Prayer and personal revelation can help us find the path that will be best for our family.

The path of refinement and development of our divine traits does not lie on either the working mom road, or the stay at home mom road. It lies in doing your best to fulfill your calling as a wife and mother. That's it!!! We just keep plugging away. As a daughter of God you are not asked to be perfect. What a relief to not have to try and figure out what choices are the "perfect" ones!!!!!! That's my advice to you. Stop trying to be perfect. Trying to be a "perfect" mom will overwhelm you. At least that's what it does to me. I don't even see myself as trying to be "perfect" when I am struggling as a mom. But when I think about it....that is what brings me down. In my head I'm not living up to some whack perfect ideal. It snowballs from there.

This is one of the reasons that I started Good Mommy/Bad Mommy-to start some discussions between women who are smarter than me.


~j. said...

thank you.

Monica B. said...

Well said! Being a mom isn't always easy, but it is always worth it.

AzĂșcar said...

I love that exchange.

The more I consider it, the more it becomes clear that I am just a better mom than my husband. That might sound stupid, but he's been in school and has been the one primarily at home during the day for almost three years.

Guess what? No one can do what I do, no one.

Even though it's hard, I'm still better equipped than he is, and not just in the physical sense (holla.) It's not that he lacks the capacity to grow, it's that I have the touch, the magic, the influence to calm and center ALL of us. It's my role, it's what I was born and put here to do. And no one, not even my loving spouse, can do it like I can. We are our children's mothers for a good reason--no one else could be.

compulsive writer said...

Yes. I have nothing to add but a simple, "Yes!"

compulsive writer said...

This is me counting to ten after daughter (yes, same daughter I am cutting back my work hours for so she won't come home to an empty house now that she is going to be going to jr. high) just yelled at me, "I hope you die this second.":

And coming back to take issue with your statement about women smarter than you. I find you quite smart and I love to hear what you have to say on just about anything.

So party on.

And, I think I need a big hug

compulsive writer said...

I forgot the multiple exclamation points after I hope you die this second!!!!!

AzĂșcar said...

CW, I'm so sorry. I almost asked my mom the other night as we were chattering on and on if my teenage strain had hurt her. Then I didn't ask because I already knew the answer.

~j. said...

cw - I want to give you your big hug.

~cari~ said...

Thanks. I needed to hear this today!

cw - It might take a little while but one day she will realize what a wonderful mom she has!

soybeanlover said...

CW - good luck, as a past mom-hater, it will turn around.

I like the part about Stop trying to be perfect. We see all sorts of women who can 'do it all' on TV and think we can/have to too. It isn't real, once I got that, I felt a lot better about having a growing pile of unfolded laundry on my floor.

compulsive writer said...

and now back to the regularly scheduled programming...

Here's the thing. Regardless of where you are on the mommy scale (does it come naturally or not--for me I had to work at it with little ones, I do teens much better), no one will ever love your kids like you do. It makes you unique and special to them (so special your teen-age daughter would never feel so passionately the need to hurt someone else's mother so deeply). That is part of the divine nature of the mommy role.

As someone who stayed home fro 17 years and then went back to work, can I be honest about the work thing? For me anyway, it's easier to go to work. Sure it makes for more things you have to juggle when you get home, but it's easier to go be respected and admired and appreciated and get paid for it than to stay at home and deal with puke and overflowing toilets and temper tantrums (at any age).

I guess I would really hope no one would feel stupid for staying at home. Because that is the hard road. And frankly I don't think anyone should have to explain or apologize for that choice (although I've tried to do both).

"Stop trying to be perfect" is good advice. I've come to learn that even the ones who look like they've got it all together are usually struggling with the same feelings of imperfection as you are. You bring the sum of all your parts to the mommy table and that is just what your kid needs from you. Just be there. Let go of expectations--yours or anyone else's. Enjoy the ride--even the bumpy parts.

For what it's worth anyway.

Queen Scarlett said...


One of the best things one of my friends told me - -as I was dealing with my biggest challenge so far (potty training) was - it's SUPPOSED to be hard. Once she told me that it was like the weight lifted off my shoulders and I could just go with the flow.

I loved the part about the REASON we do things, and concept of escape... perfectly put.

I'm linking to this post... it's brilliant.

La Yen - THANK YOU. (Stop saying smarter than you... you are GENIUS)

Kathy's Korner said...

Thank you for this. I've been a SAHM for 7 years now. Most of the Moms I knew who stayed home are now back at work and it is hard to remember sometimes why I'm still here! I haven't gotten any raises. There is still plenty of puke and problem toilets. I've got a 2 year old who needs to be potty trained yet....sigh.

Sometimes I can get caught in the perfect trap, after all, I've had 4 little ones, I should be a pro at this by now right?

What I've learned....there is no prefect no matter how long you do it! And who ever wrote that, "I am the best Mom for my kids." Amen Sister!!! I know it. So therefore, I must be perfect enough.

I also love that "Its suppose to be hard" I'm going to say that over over as we embark on training #3. :D

Mom to many! said...

The correlation between working moms and moms "running away" to escape is interesting. I would guess not many moms work as an escape. Also, at work or at home, you can't do anything well 24 hrs a day 7 days a week.

I think staying home is great if you can do it without trying to convince yourself every 10 minutes that you are choosing the right thing.

And maybe, just maybe, you can be a better parent if you keep yourself happy and healthy. Sometimes this means a few hours to yourself, you are human.

So many "stay home moms", do just that. Stay home. Being a complete person with or without your children is equally important. Sometimes, a couple of days a week, forcing yourself to get out of your PJ's, do your hair, get yourself together and be on a schedule, will actually rejuvenate your self being. (This does not mean I think all stay home moms are slobs, I am just talking about going the extra mile, and many stay home moms do go the extra mile. No offence meant, just perspective.)

Along with that you might just bring in a little extra money to make the days off with the kids, extra special. Or help with a bill. Maybe the children will learn different social skills or that authority, comes in many shapes and sizes.

If staying home is good for you, GREAT! But don't for one second believe that mom's that work are any less than perfect moms.

And we don't have to convince ourselves.

Just keep your eyes open and subjective. I know some "stay home moms" who had to return to work. As it turns out, the children were surprised to find that the world did not revolve around them. Maybe this is a good thing?!

(I also believe sometimes people are looking for words to talk themselves out of something they really want to do because of what peers will think. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. Either way.)

That being said, some "stay home moms" really do everything a stay home mom should. Cleaning, cooking, bill paying, kids, errands and keeping house up in general. It does make GOOD "stay home moms" look bad when other complain about how busy they are and how can they get it all done.

I know some really good "Stay home moms", and I love them.

Finally, good luck to you stay home moms who juggle lots in your day. NieNie, you are amazing and really make it look easy.

I certainly hope no one is offended. I hope this can just be a different perspective.

From one almost stay home mom, whom occasionally needs to help with a bill, to another.

keepin itreal said...

NieNie doesn't make it look easy.

She makes it look impossible.

Nette said...

You were great enough for me to ask you to "Mommy" my Jonny in Monterey. I'm so glad you have Gigi. You continue to be a great example to tons of people, inlcuding me. It's been a long, long time, but hugs and kishes. I'm pleased to say I'm still amazed by you.

La Yen said...

What a discussion this is turning out to be...

Welcome to all the newcomers, and I hope that you will contribute more often!

In response to the longest comment (and subsequent comments to that comment) here, I want to emphatically state that I did not start this blog to pit women against each other, but to point out that the world does enough of that for us. There is no prize for the woman who raises her children the best, for the woman who makes the best homemade organic granola, or who gets dressed to the nines ever morning, even while struggling with morning sickness and a vomitous toddler. Likewise, there is no prize for the woman who has the best nanny, the woman who has the best "quality" time, or the woman who is the best at juggling. These are all mind sets that we need to work together, as sisters (Sistahs?) to eradicate once and for all. You, your spouse, and God are the only ones qualified enough to determine what is best for your family. It is a sign of integrity and wisdom that you follow that plan, no matter where it leads you. If that place is to be a surgeon and have your children nannied and day cared, then you need to have the faith and guts to stick to that even when you feel guilty because you are not home (or guilty because you DON'T feel guilty). If that place is to be on a 50 acre farm, homeschooling thirteen children while simultaneously birthing calves, then you need to have the faith and guts to stick to that even when you feel lonely or tired or guilty because you are not helping to earn money. We DO need to acknowledge the truth that it is impossible for women to "have it all"--that is why we need to make these choices and own them.

Personally, I have chosen to make it my season to stay at home with my Jooj. I worked for many years, and I may work later on, or I may get my doctorate, or I may do nothing at all, but it is my choice and I own it. I have a very brave BFF who is struggling because she works outside the home, part-time, and is constantly being second-guessed by everyone around her. (You don't know her, she is from Canada.) Does she believe that it is in her children's best interest to have more time with their dad, or in her best interest to spend more time with other adults? Not really, but she does believe that it is important for her family to eat on a regular basis, and she does believe that it is none of anyone else's business what her family prayerfully decides to do.

What we don't need are people second-guessing us and offering suggestions that may be more harmful than helpful. I would never dream of telling someone that my choices should be their choices, but I need to know what the choices of other women are, so that I can better understand my options and reaffirm the decisions that I have made for myself.

And for the record, some days I do not get dressed. I love those days It is the privelege of staying home. I also do not remodel, redecorate, cook, clean, or pay the bills unless I feel like I want to. It is just as much as a mistake to think that the "traditional" housekeeping roles are the job of a stay at home-er as it is to think that all women want to stay at home, or work, or whatever.

I refuse to allow any of you to feel guilty because you are not the "Good Mommy" that someone else says you need to be.

And keep the differing view-points coming--because the only Bad Mommies are those who beat their children more than once a day. (or hour if they are between the ages of 3 and 11.)

Nette said...

Love you too. Thank you. Miss you.

waldo said...

OK, so I don't stay at home, nor am I a mom, but I know a few moms who stay at home and a few who don't, and here's what I have to say:

Do whatever the hell you have to do so as not to go crazy. I watch my daughter for approximately two hours a night when I am home (for two weeks a month) and she makes me insane. I love her, but could not imagine being a full-time caregiver. So if staying in bed and having your child trash the house keeps you sane, then gun it. If getting dressed up to go to the Wal-Mart grocery store in makeup and jewelry keeps you sane, then gun it. Do whatever you have to, because at the end of the day, you are the one that's in charge of making these little people into productive big people. Carina had it right- no one can do what you do. My hat's off to the moms out there, whether you're working out in the world or working at home. Holla.

Kathy's Korner said...

I refuse to allow any of you to feel guilty because you are not the "Good Mommy" that someone else says you need to be.

Thank you very much for that phrase right there!!! I think in this "Race" of mommyhood....that hits the nail on the head. If we focus on what is working for us and our family its all good.

I also love that being a stay at home mom means on the rare days I do stay home all day I CAN stay in jammies!

I also admit to dressing up a bit for Walmart cause it DOES make me feel better about myself too.

Do what works for you....and if it ain't working....find what does!

Queen Scarlett said...

Thank you La Yen...you're right. Once we stop caring what someone else thinks...and stop competing and all that junk - we stop feeling guilty... I think... anyway.

Thanks for starting this blog.

I love that a guy says Holla. Awesome.

ps. I don't have to wear make-up to Walmart to feel better... I mean... is every Walmart near a bridge? ;-) *snicker*