Calling a Truce in the Mom Wars
For years I felt like a failure because I couldn’t handle being a stay at home mom. Comments like “We’d live on bread and milk if that’s what it took for me to be able to stay home” and “But don’t you see the productivity in raising your children?” did nothing to ease my self-inflicted mom-guilt.
I hoped this pettiness had ended, but evidently I was wrong.
Earlier this week a woman in a Facebook group asked how we did it all, you know, killing it with our growing enterprises, keeping the house clean, cooking nutritious meals every night, spending quality time with our kids and, of course, being a loving wife. I told her the truth. Nobody does it or has it all and if someone tells you different they are lying.
When my business started to take off I was still working a part-time job and had an infant at home. As soon as our finances allowed I hired someone to help with the housework. Eight years later she feels like family and her work in our home is a blessing of peace for us. My husband does the grocery shopping and half of the cooking. And sometimes I stay up until midnight to finish a project or I work on the weekends.
If you’ve punched a ticket for the having it all train I’m afraid you’d have better luck finding that ocean front property in Arizona. I’m sorry you’ve invested into that scheme but it’s time to gather your bags and get back on the path to reality because I can bet your reality will flourish in places you never imagined if you watered it.
As a working mom I’ve ridden my fair share of Uber’s through Guiltland. I didn’t make it to the pumpkin patch field trip one year because I’d taken off earlier in the week with a sick child. I refused to stay up until midnight making snacks for a special day at school the week we moved into our new house. Last year I did not even join the PTO. And I crushed my daughter’s dreams of being an olympic gymnast because I refused to spend every waking moment in the gym.
If you think SAHM’s missed the Guiltland exit think again. She may have a list of fun summer activities planned for her kids that you’d give all the snacks in your desk drawer for a chance at, but you know what she doesn’t have? An hour to spend lunch with a friend or her husband or eating a sandwich on stale bread and reading a book in her car alone.
It’s time we all give each other a break. We’re all working hard in our own way to launch respectable citizens into the world. That launching pad looks a little bit like the punkin chunkin contest where everyone creates their own catapult to see which one goes the furthest. Just because her catapult doesn’t look like yours doesn’t mean it won’t work.
God leads us all through different seasons. Sometimes we sacrifice some family time now to complete a college degree or earn a promotion that allows us more time and more financial flexibility to do more with our family later. Sometimes we sacrifice moving forward in our careers for a while, or forever, in order to spend more time with our families. Sometimes we don’t have the privilege to not have to work. The woman next to you isn’t writing the same book you are. Her chapters may be shorter or longer, more dramatic or funnier, but they are hers. And yours belong to you.
Which brings me to my final point. Someday these incredibly cute, loving, smart children who have leached from us our time and energy and intelligence will go away to a college that costs more than our first house. And then do you know who’s left? These women who’ve walked beside us through the kindergarten hallway and the McDonald’s playland and the band concerts and the football games and for an unlucky few the police station. And our husbands. Our husbands will be there too.
As a very wise friend of mine told me the day we brought my first baby home from the hospital, “This too shall pass.”
In the meantime, let’s show our kids that kindness doesn’t stop after Kindergarten.