A few days ago I stumbled across this on Facebook and my first reaction was to gag. Now days later my initial reaction is still to gag but also to kill it with fire. Even the title is vomit-inducing A Letter from a Working Mother to a Stay-At-Home Mother, and vice versa.
But why I hear all three of you reading this exclaim – “it’s celebrating both the role of a stay-at-home mother and a working mother”. I’m sure that was the author’s intention but my reading of it is quite the opposite.
It’s turning mothers into martyrs and quite frankly that makes my eyes roll so far back in my head I’m getting a great view of my frontal lobe.
I’m a working mother but more than that I am a strong, independent, intelligent woman. I want respect for what I do – not pity. I don’t need approval or condolences from anyone either. It’s an insult to my intelligence and my feminist values. I’m fairly certain my fabulous friends who are stay-at-home mums don’t want any of that either.
I’m not a hero or special because I choose to “juggle” a career and motherhood. I’m just like millions of other woman out there who do the same thing every day.
You know who else does the same as me every day? My husband and millions of other blokes too.
But where is his letter of appraisal or induction into the hall of sainthood and martyrdom? Why are dads considered second-rate when it comes to parenting? In my house we share the load and get on with things there’s no time for sanctimonious bullshit over who’s doing it tougher.
I also don’t sit hunched at my desk beavering away like my life depends on it wracked with guilt because I chose a career over staying at home. I most certainly do go out for coffee and guess what at least once a week I meet up with friends and go out for lunch. I also don’t secretly love days at home when my son is sick – umm hello does anyone like having a sick child? Not likely.
I’d be keen to know who it is that is judging me for “leaving your children in the care of others to work” or who the people are who “imply that you don’t love your children as much as us SAHMs do, and that it’s best for children to be at home with their mothers”. Seriously??? Thanks for now planting that into my thoughts – I’m sure it will pop up next time I pay a visit to one of my stay-at-home mum friends. Is she silently judging me? IS SHE?!
I can almost pretty much guarantee my mates who are stay-at-home mothers aren’t sitting there fantasising about me having “coffee breaks at work” because apparently I don’t have those anyway as I’m far too busy feeling sick about all the time I’m spending away from my child. Nor do they sit around and feel sorry for themselves – give them some credit for christ’s sake. What an insult.
I’m also tired of motherhood being referred to as ‘”work” or a “job”. It’s neither, it’s life. Once again the double standard – what about dads?
Both letters have smug undertones and neither sit right with me. They make me feel uncomfortable.
Here are some truths – parenting isn’t that difficult. Sure there are really shitty days when you just want to jump in your car and drive away but they are very far and few between. As far as I’m concerned if my boy is fed, clothed and loved then that’s all that matters and none of that is exactly rocket science.
I don’t want to be held up higher than my non-parent mates just because I’ve popped out a kidlet – those mates are pretty f*cking amazing too. Some of them are doing pretty damn special things which I’d consider a lot more challenging than raising a mini-human. They’re not wallowing waiting for someone to pat them on the back.
So can we please stop with putting mums on a pedestal? Can we please stop with these hideous comparisons of who’s doing it tougher?
I’ll tell you who is doing it tougher those who don’t have the same privileges as the ‘mothers’ in that post. The mothers and fathers in the third-world who struggle to feed, clothe and shelter their children. The parents who are fleeing war-torn countries and who are now displaced with nowhere to call home. The kids who will never have the education or opportunities like the kids of those martyred mothers in that post. Let’s have some perspective please.