Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stark Raving Mad About My Day Job: Guest Writer Mom-In-A-Million




Today's post is by Rebekah of Mom-In-A-Million.  She is awesome and funny and a great writer.  And she works full-time.   We send stupid emails and tweets back and forth quite a bit and it helps us both get through the day.  In the midst of one of these exchanges, we decided we should do a guest post swap and write about Working Moms and Stay-at-Home Moms because we're both totally sick of the media pretending there's some huge battle between us.


As her reward for writing the post, I'm going to send her some open jars of glitter.  

Next week I'll be on Mom-In-A-Million glorifying all that is Stay-at-Home goodness.  And maybe making mention of the parts that suck.

You can also follow Mom-In-A-Million on Facebook and Twitter!

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Stark Raving Mad About My Day Job
by Guest Writer Mom-In-A-Million

There’s been a lot written about the so-called Mommy Wars, where Work-Very-Very-Hard-At-Home-For-No-Fiscal-Remuneration Moms and Work-Outside-The-Home-For-Some-Money-And-Health-Insurance-But-Not-Enough-Paid-Leave Moms bludgeon each other with increasingly PC labels for the ways each spends their day until finally they collapse, exhausted, in a sea of jargon. Or one of them steps on a Lego and becomes incapacitated and the other declares a de facto victory.

Or they both get drunk. Either way.

In my experience, the Mommy Wars are not the pitched battle the media would make them out to be. Instead, the members of each group circle each other slowly, taking the other’s measure, practically sniffing each other’s butts like dogs to try and figure out what makes the other tick.  After a few rounds of questions and some speculative looks, both factions settle into a truce-like state wherein they agree to respect one another.

Then they get drunk together.

I’m on the working side of the putative Mommy Wars. My husband and I agreed that I would work after the birth of our son because my maintaining my career as a non-profit advocacy professional adhered to some important parenting principles we both hold dear, namely providing food, clothing, and shelter to our offspring.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t work if there was the choice not to, I probably would. But if my salary wasn’t quite so critical to our basic functioning as a family, I might work less and spend more time hanging out with the awesome person that is my son.  But I don’t have the chops to be a stay-at-home-mom full time and frankly, I think my kid knows that and would take advantage of my unseemly interest in the Blue Wiggle to watch more tv than most child development experts really recommend.

There are pros and cons to working a steady gig while also being a parent, especially the parent of a child below school age. The downsides are all the time you miss. I didn’t see C‘s first steps; instead I got to see the steps he took later on his first day walking. Sometimes he pops out with new words or ideas and I have no idea where he learned them and have to assume he got them in daycare. And when he got hurt one time, and needed to get stitches, I wasn’t there when he fell, or when he was getting cleaned up by his teacher, or when the EMTs showed up. I got there before they put him in the ambulance but part of me will always think I should have been there faster or I shouldn’t have left him alone at all. Even though not being at work would have meant he was homeless and uninsured in addition to having 10 stitches in his forehead.

Such is Mommy Guilt. 

Then there are the things that ROCK about working. These things are so significant that they require their own list with bullet points and everything.
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  • Once a day, five days a week, I sit down to lunch with a group of adults. We talk about all kinds of things, I get to sit in my chair until I’m finished eating and talking, and at no time do I have to puncture the top of anyone else’s beverage nor do I have to cut up anyone’s hot dog. It’s BLISS.  
  • I have a reason and a place to wear cute clothes. Sure, I’m often too broke from paying for daycare to buy cute clothes but when I do have enough money left over to shop, there’s no voice in my head saying “Where are earth are you going to wear faux lizard kitten heels?” because I know that I can wear them to the office and admire them under my desk all day long.
  • I get to keep up with the important happenings of people other than the Elmo. Working around people with no kids, or older kids, affords me opportunities to discuss subjects totally foreign to the world of small children like electoral politics, international affairs, art, music, reality television, and books with words.
  • I don’t have to be crafty. This may not seem like a pro to people who delight in devising wonderful activities with glue, yarn, food coloring, noodles, and those foam letters that I see all over the place nowadays but for me, a person whose main form of creative expression is making up words like “douche-nozzle”, it’s a blessed relief. Instead, C gets to make brilliant art projects at daycare, things it never in a million years would it have occurred to me to try and make. 
  • I will not be forced to take a trip to the nervous hospital after too many consecutive viewings of Roary the Racing Car on Sprout. 
  • I do something incredibly satisfying and meaningful. Not to say raising my son isn’t important or meaningful but I chose a career where I work in service to a greater societal good. My part of that greater good is small but it’s present. And by going to work every day and doing what I do, I show my son the value and satisfaction that come from doing good work.
I wish I thought there was a magic ratio of time-with-kid(s) to time-at-work that would cause things to click into place and make life work perfectly for those of us who have to ride a desk to make ends meet but there probably isn’t. Unless that’s what Stephen Hawking is working on now. I should call him and ask. Maybe bribe him with cookies or something. I bet he'll tell me before he publishes if I bring cookies.

I’m sorry. Where was I? Ah yes, balance. I think it’s a myth. No mom I know feels truly balanced. Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow does but I don’t think I’d like her very well. 

The big take-away I’ve gotten from all the moms I’ve talked to is that we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have. All of us office drones would quit our jobs in a heartbeat if our child needed care that no daycare or sitter could provide. And all of the at-home moms would dust off their resumes and start commuting if the alternative was letting their family starve. We’re all good moms. And we can all be good friends. 

So let’s all agree to get along, stop with the judging, and just get drunk together.  I'll bring the wine.

28 comments:

  1. *happy sigh* thanks for the Editorial notes SRMM, it was wonderful, and giggle-inducing to have my two favourite bloggers writing together!
    thanks again Ladies, keep it up! :OD

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  2. I work part-time, 5, 6-hour days a week. I am one of the lucky ones. My hours coincide w/the school day and since I am generally alone in my office, if necessary I can take them with me. I work to get out of the house so I don't take a trip to the nervous hospital. I have the gig that could easily create balance....but I am not easily balanced. *sigh* At least now, my kids are in double digits and I can bribe them w/cash to be my domestic doubles. :D

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  3. I love this post, MIAM. :) And love the snarky editorial, too.

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  4. Open Jars of Glitter. SO. MEAN.
    I am a SAHM dipping my toes back into work (if I can find a job) (if I can get away from all Girl Scout/school obligations) (I was just asked to bake cookies for about 100 people...really!) Thank you so much for the laugh!

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  5. One of the cons to being a SAHM means Dh has to work more... not that the farm doesn't take up a LOT of time depending on the time of year. And he does enjoy his "extra's".... But truth is, btwn those extra's and the geared to income funding for "special" children I don't have to go to work.

    I did jury duty for 4 days a couple of years ago and realized quickly that working is not a good fit for us... not that the other 3 noticed but I had a lot of trouble with it.

    I did run away last week for 5 days... kid and Dh less and left Grandma here to help...

    I don't have issues with the SAHM or working Mom... Everyone does what's right for them and theirs... and after 11yrs I don't think I could handle the office games anymore.

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  6. Awesome...we just posted something on the same topic at http://sunshinemamas.com/teacher-talk/stay-at-home-mom-vs-working-mom/

    Thanks for the great read! It's a wonderful way to start the day;)!!

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  7. Yay for supporting each other in all the difficult and not-so-difficult choices that we all make!

    Also, on the topic of balance, I read somewhere that the only way to be perfectly balanced is to remain standing still. If you want to move forward, you have to shift your weight - sometimes one part of your life gets the attention, sometimes it's another part. It's my new mantra.

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  8. We don't always get to pee all by ourselves. Sometimes there's that annoying lady in the stall right next to you who thinks that this would be an excellent time to ask you about how big your kids are getting to be now. Which causes peeing alone (or at least without anyone watching) to instantly lose all its luster.

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  9. I'm a SAHM and I've never, ever caught any attitude from working moms about it. From older males? Yes. But not from other moms. Despite the media inference, we don't have some massive war going on. We're all just moms, doing what we do as well as we can. Love this post, especially the side-note exchanges between you two.

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  10. I also have the best of both worlds (or the worst). I work three days a week and I'm in graduate school, and I get to stay home with my kid two days, clean the house, cook, take out the trash, walk the dog, grocery shop...wait, maybe I shouldn't write this all down.

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  11. R - YES! Who is that lady and why does she become so chatty when her pantyhose are around her ankles?

    Hmmm. Pantyhose. Those should be added to the con column about working.

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  12. See, you had me at the jab at Gwyneth K. Paltrow. What a douche nozzle.

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  13. R -- I'm terribly sad that people want to talk to you while you pee. Now I never want to go back to work.

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  14. @Suniverse -- I look forward to "douche-nozzle" being used more frequently in adult conversations.

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  15. Totally awesome! I've been both a working mommy and a stay at home mommy and now looking to be a little of both lol

    Fantastic post - love the commentary SRMM!

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  16. See, I've done both and I prefer neither. Well, I lied. At least as SAHM I don't get fired if I doze off.

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  17. Love, love, love. I spend a brief part of each day reading three mom blogs...there is no room for more, sorry, I try to devote some time to my employer, after all...SRMM, MIAM, and Rants. Hats off to you all for sharing and guest posting, it's so blessedly wonderful to read what you have to say!

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  18. SAHM, WFHM, Office Jockey Mom....whatever the deal is, we are all moms. The media needs to appreciate that we all do what we have to do. the people that we get the snarky commentary from are the ANTI-KID people or the "work is so important I don't remember my kids name" types...those people. Yea...they make my life as a WFHM (who has no childcare) very hard!

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  19. R - Or the coworker who spots you coming into the bathroom, and although they are done, proceeds to stand in the bathroom and talk to you while you pee. Really? You couldn't wait 2 minutes to have this conversation?

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  20. I LOVED this post. I am a working mom who stuggles to balance a career and family every single day. (Which is why my blog is www.slightlyoffbalanceblog.com) I have had brief stints as a SAHM while on extended maternity leaves and worked part-time for a year after the birth of my second child, but here's the secret... shhh... don't tell...

    All mom's are stressed out and exhausted whether they work or not. There are days where the opposite of what we are seems like a dreamy solution. I want to run in the sunshine at the park and swim with my kids. My friends, want to close their office dorrs and let the nanny sort out the tantrum.

    As you said, the best we all can do is cope... and DRINK!

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  21. Great post MIAM! The bathroom thing: my assistant used to come into the BR looking for me to take a phone call. Are you Kidding ME? Yeah, I'll wipe really fast and not wash my hands. Uh, no. Please take a message. EEK!

    I was a working mom who also did Girl Scouts as our designated activity for 12 years. It worked out great for us. May not for everyone else, but that's the point. We all do what we can and what we need to and respect each other's choices. Thanks for sharing your forum for another perspective SRMM. It would be interesting to hear from any moms with special needs kids who work.
    physicsmom

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  22. This is BEAUTIFUL. May I have permission to share on FB, or reprint in my blog?

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  23. @Lainie, please link it and share on Facebook! I prefer you not reprint it completely but links are always loved!

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  24. This is a great post. Well said! I am a stay at home mom since my son has some difficulties that have me running him around to appts on the daily. I love being a stay at home mom, but I miss working too. I have a Masters...all that education and now I wipe butts all day! As long as our children are well cared for and loved, then I'd say we're all doing a great job!

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  25. A-MEN!

    To each her own. It's such a simple concept, but we seem to ignore it over and over again (breastfeeding vs. bottle debates, anyone?). Love your child and do what's right for your family.

    I also thank you for the perspective of a working mom who *likes* going to work. We do exist! :)

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