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« Stop "Shoulding" All Over Yourself | Main | I'd Like a Side of Empathy With My Bias, Please »

Comments

Krista

I guess part of what I'm dealing with at the moment, is trying to sort out how I REALLY feel and what are simply "shoulds". I took a full-time job thinking that since part-time work was fine, that helping to bring in more income would be even better. But now I am miserable. Although I enjoyed my daily "breaks" away from my son when I was part-time, add another 20 hours on top of that and I just can't handle being gone ALL day. Like Laura was mentioning, it all depends on what kind of a mother YOU are. Not your neighbor or sister or co-worker, YOU. I'm slowing learning (I think) that I am at my best when I can have some time away from my family to refresh myself and feel like an adult again, but that I also want to be my son's primary care giver. The sacrifice of coming to terms with all this is the dent it will make on the family finances. But what is more important to me: being with my children during their most tender years or having enough money to put aside for a new car some day? A car I can always buy "tomorrow" but my son will only be tiny for a blink of an eye.

To any potential bashers out there: This is just me and my experience. I do not in any way feel this is best for you, or your situation.

Peter

As a freshman at Norwich University I was coerced into memorizing this quote.

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, though canst not then be false to any other man."

I believe it is Shakespeare, Henry VIII

Heidi felt/feels the same as Krista and has embarked on a couple of different journey's to reach that happy medium. They are based out of the home, one venture is tutu sales and the other is direct selling.

Both entertain digfferent needs, with the tutus she actually built a business and has developed relationships with working moms all over the country selling their wares, The direct selling gets her out of the house a couple nights a week working with a team to make some $. I think the $ is secondary, it is the relationships and making something happen that she really enjoys. That is me speaking for my wife which means I am probably close to the mark but missing the point.

Laura and Mary P. This is great stuff that leaves me writing these very long posts. I hope you don't mind. If you do I am sorry but once the ball gets rolling it is hard to stop and the two of you started it .
Thanks
Peter

misfithausfrau

Yay Yay YAY! Every time I go away for a week, something exciting happens! Congratulations Laura and Mary on your new blog!

Laura S.

Krista, it sounds like you do know how you really feel and what the "should" is!

Peter, we love your comments. Keep 'em coming!

Melissa

Here's the hard part for me. I know I am doing what is right for me to go to work. And I know I am a better mother to my girls, when I am with them, because I had some time without. But I do feel guilty about missing things. Small things. Things that I wouldn't miss if I were with them. I am still firm on my descision, but I do find that the guilt can be overwhelming at times. Especially when I hear about the things that others do with their kids all day long.

kristied

I always believed that whatever keeps mom the happiest and most sane was, in the end, best for the kids. I personally didnt work or go to school for the 1st 9 months of my son's life. then i started working very part time and attending classes very part time. Now that he's 2, i work and attend classes a little more, but am home with him mostly. It's what works for me. My dad is constantly pushing me to take more classes or get a "real job" (not that he doesnt respect my job, he means one with actual benefits and good pay and regular hours). But for right now, i am happy with things the way they are. And i encourage all my friends who get pregnant (and my sisters) to not make any final decisions about whether they will work or not until they give birth. because you just dont know what you want until its time. Some people have to work. My sister has to work a min of 32 hours to maintain their health insurance. (The baby is on her plan until her husband graduates and gets himself a better job). She would rather not and plans to cut back and resume school as soon as she can. I personally do not enjoy the idea of letting a daycare raise my child. Or have more time with him. I could work more, or at a different job, but i choose to have a lower income because of the many benefits i feel my son and i receive from it. I get upset when i see other parents looking down on fellow parents for their particular choices. Its all about what works for you.

VirtualSprite

Hear hear! Fabulous post, insightful and thoughtful. It's hard being a parent, giving all of yourself to your children and then feeling like you don't have any self left. My feeling is, so long as you're being a good parent, everyone should do what they need to keep sane. I have judged other parents and I have been judged myself. It's not a good thing in either direction.

Oh, Peter... the quote was from Hamlet... Polonius said it. (Sorry... super-anal English major.) But your post was still wonderful!

Kat

I think you guys summed it up so well: "parenting is only effective if it expresses who the parent really is". I always thought I wanted to be a SAHM - and bugged my partner to let me stay home even though he didn't think that would be a good thing - but after a few months at home with a baby, I realised that even though it was my ideal, in reality I didn't have to personality to carry it off.

By the way, your post reminded me of a post I read the other day about an unspoken conversation between two mothers who have made very different choices: http://www.notesfromthetrenches.com/2006/07/14/the-unspoken-conversations-in-our-heads/

Deanna

When I began dating my husband, I told him right off that I wanted to be a SAHM, to which he agreed to immediately. Even though my kids drive me nuts, I just feel so comfortable in my role as mom. What makes me frustrated is when I'm told that I can't possibly be happy catering to toddlers all day! Yes, I am! I've seen the rat race that the career I trained for entails - I'll gladly deal with a cranky, needy toddler instead! I always find it interesting that many working moms would really choose to stay home with their kids if they could. It makes me even more thankful that my husband and I made the choices that we did to give me this chance.

Rachel

I was just talking to a friend of mine - both of us have law degrees and she is a lawyer and I stay at home with my kids - and we realized that either option has its own set of misgivings. Its great is someone is "at home" or "at work" and feels completely content with their decision, but I think that most women's reality is that their will be times of questioning and discontentment regardless of which choice you make. I don't know if it is a matter of which choice is right for you, but rather which choice is mostly right for you. Just my opinion, but great posts and thanks for the insights.

Melissa

Kristied-
I completly hear what you are saying, but can I say one thing....my kids are not being raised by daycare. I take offense to this. They are being raised by my husband and I. But they do go to daycare and play during the day. People have a weird idea of what daycare is. It is not some horrible place where my kids are not taken care of, nor is it the place where they are raised. It just is.

It is a choice for us. We could afford for me to stay home, if we didn't want to get to go on trips or send the girls to private school. It is a choice, just like you staying home is a choice. But I promise you, I am raising my kids.

Melissa

Oh and I agree with Kit, I too don't have the personality to do it. I adore my kids, but four months with each was enough to show me I don't have what it takes. It makes me a better mom to send mine to daycare. It makes me more present in my time with them. Less resentfull than I was staying at home.

kathrynaz

THANK YOU Melissa!! Not wanting to recapitulate the inanity of the SAHM/working mom debate, I hestitated to comment on krista's well-intentioned, but implicitly hurtful, post.

I went back to work 30 hrs/week after 3 months home with my son, who is now in a wonderful inter-generational day care facility, and thriving! While the income is nice, it is not the reason I choose to work. My occupation is a concrete part of my identity, and to leave it behind, I believe, would really rock my conception of who I am- which ultimately (I fear) would impact my ability to be the best parent I can be to my child.

It is very hurtful to hear statements that suggest that my decision to take advantage of day care and honor my dual identity as a mother and archaeologist/historian somehow reflects that I have abdicated the role of "primary care giver" to my son to strangers. Stripping the emotion out of this logic, I have to ask: If our children were in grammar school (and not day care), would we somehow think of their teacher as their PRIMARY care giver? I think we all agree that is ridiculous.

I want to thank Melissa again for her comment, because I do think the tendency to resort to hyperbole is injurious to this really important discussion. It DOES take a village to raise a child, and in many other non-industrialized countries/cultures children spend a good portion of the day with other adult caregivers (extended families, neighbors, etc). Children can be nurtured by MANY individuals (not just their mamas!) and can truly benefit from exposure to adult caregivers (plural) who provide a diversity of talent in the classroom. Of course, I will always be the one who loves my child "best," but I certainly wouldn't undersell the great work that competent and attentive childcare providers accomplish.

I want to underscore the fact that I think that comments in the vein of "It may work for you, but isn't right for me" are well intentioned. My best friend (who had her son six weeks after mine) is a SAHM, and has expressed this sentiment many times. She shares her frustration with household isolation and the reconfiguration of power in her marriage (now that she is incomeless), and I vent about the chaos of mid-week meal planning and balancing doctor's appointments with staff meetings. Both choices seem to have pitfalls. However, during one particular conversation in which I suggested some of her stress may be alleviated by part-time childcare assistance, she responded with a quick, "I could never do that to him" (meaning, her son). I can not tell you how much those words stung, because in that instant I knew that as many times as she had told me that we were doing what "worked the best" for each of us, she somehow placed a value that what I was choosing to do was perhaps "good enough" for my son, but not "good enough" for her own. Ouch. And this is someone who I knows respects and cares a great deal about me.

So, to distill my point: Although I think the "whatever works best" argument is a very polite remedy to dealing with the debate, I think we also need to probe deeper and ask ourselves if we honestly can say there is a positive value to both decisions.

Id love to hear from more SAHMs. Do you feel that "working" moms judge your choice as injurious to your child? Or when you feel judged, do you feel the judgement is directed more toward your decision to stay at home and "give up" an otherwise "productive" career?

Tammy

This is exactly the agony I am currently going through. I can argue both Mary's side and Laura's side of the coin! I'm headed back to work this fall, and I'm so excited and yet sick in my heart. Every day I sit on a different side of this fence!

Melissa

I also think that the idea of putting your kids in daycare is a double edged sword. If you tell people you are doing it because you have to, they tell you it is okay, that it won't harm your child, that it will help them learn how to deal in the world. If you tell people that you put you kids in daycare because you want to, whether you love your career and need outside stimulation like me or you just want to have some alone time or you are wanting to go to school, then you are looked down on. As if your kids are not important to you, as if you are putting yourself before them. I am not putting myself before my kids. But I do know myself and my kids. And I know they are thriving and I am too and that is good for all of us. Ok, I am done tkaing up space on this post. Sorry MaryP and Laura. :)

kristied

Looking back at what i said, i want to apologize. i never meant to imply that people who use daycare are letting others raise their kids. What i meant to say is that i, personally, would feel guilty for not being with them when i could afford to be. For me, that was a deciding factor. I do work part time and for me that is enough. it gives me some time away to feel independant and make some extra money to allow us to do fun stuff, but not enough to move to a bigger house. So for me it was a choice b/t what was comfortable for me and what wasnt. Again, i am sorry if what i said was unclear. I do NOT feel that any of you parents using daycare are shirking your jobs. I know plenty of parents who are wonderful parents and do a fabulous job of raising their kids and send them to daycare. I just wanted to clear the air. I think the main point is: everyone should do what is comofortable to them and not judge others for their decisions. What works for one person doesnt necessarily work for another. that was my point. Hopefully i am a little more clear this tmie. ;)

cutemama

BRAVO!! Thank you for pointing out the criticism that we feel as moms (on either side of the work/home question). I've been fascinated by this phenomenon since I became a mother 5 yrs ago. After lots of reading (mommy war books, feminist history, parenting advice books yadayada) I've concluded that mothers tend to judge other women out of a tribal tendancy to stick their noses in each other's business...hear me out...

We are colonial, or tribal creatures by nature. However, our modern society often isolates us and our own satellite family. Well, we still have tribal tendancies as women to contribute to each other's families, and to heed each other's advice. Therefor, we care about what other women do, we feel the need to advise each other, to share our own tips on what we feel works best. However, because we are not an extended family like tribes, our experiences are quite different, as are our opinions and advice. This creates tension, because our tendancy is to care what other women say and take it to heart(same village child raising tendancies). Add into all of this the rather recent women's liberation movement 1960's-70's and the plethora of choices made available and you get the "Mommy Wars".

I'm glad we are starting to realize that we can support each other even when we make different choices. To each his own...er..uhm... her own!

www.carolinascoffeebreak.blogspot.com

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