I grew up with a brilliant, strong woman for a mother who had left off scaling the career ladder to be a stay-at-home mom to my sisters and I. We were encouraged to do the same someday, and I came into adulthood and motherhood (by no fault of my mother’s…just my own convictions) staunchly believing that being a full-time stay-at-home mom was the best way for a mom who actually wanted to mother her kids and be a godly mother.
Actually being a mom changes things.
Since entering the world of motherhood, I’ve met moms from near and far and from all walks of life. If I’ve learned anything, it’s we can’t put godly motherhood in a box. It doesn’t look the same for every mom. I have friends who are working moms who are doing exactly what God has called them to do.
I’ve also come to realize that most moms are self-conscious about their own chosen path. Working moms, in particular, complain that they don’t feel comfortable around stay-at-home moms…that they feel judged for working and still pursuing careers.
Working Moms, let me let you in on a little secret…stay-at-home moms feel judged too. They’ve heard the whispers about how they’re lazy, or must be bored just sitting home all day, or are just lucky that their husband’s bring in the big bucks. And each whisper stings deep.
Many stay-at-home moms struggle with feelings of inadequacy. They watch their working mom friends juggle a career, kids, and a home with seemingly flawless ease. The old argument that you’d be paying someone to watch your kids while you work anyway (and, therefore, being a stay-at-home mom is a real job) only serves to fuel their feelings of worthlessness. They want to be seen as more than a glorified baby sitter. They want to feel like they are doing something important and worthwhile…but some days they’re honestly lucky to get out of sweatpants or fold a load of laundry. Their hard-working men march off each day to bring home a little to put in their bank account, and they meanwhile only seem to drain it.
They listen to their working mom friends talk about all the awesome things they’re doing and accomplishing at work. They listen to talk of grand, important things and a kind of busyness that makes the bottoms they wiped and the PB&J sandwiches they made seem insignificant and mundane.
And so, they keep silent. What, really, can they say? “Oh, you saved a patient’s life today or taught a room full of third grader’s math? I picked up blocks and cleaned up cracker crumbs. My main struggle today was getting my son down for his nap, and I cried when my husband called and said he’d have to work late tonight.”
The truth, however, is that a stay-at-home mom’s job is just as important as a working mom’s…it’s just different. Take it from someone who’s been both a SAHM and a working mom…you feel just as exhausted, drained, and sucked dry after a day at home with your children as you do after a day at the office dealing with people and papers and money. Yet, there can also be just as much joy, just as many accomplishments, and just as much self-worth. What truly matters is that your day was spent right where God wants YOU to be, doing the things that He’s called YOU to do.
We are all moms, but we are also all unique. The way we mother and live our lives should be unique as well. We need to stop criticizing one another’s choices and instead encourage each other on the path God has led us each on specifically. We won’t always understand each other or agree, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be different from one another. What’s not okay is to demean someone else for being different from you in order to build yourself up and make yourself feel better about your choices.
Ladies, being a mother is stinking hard work. We all have those days that we lock ourselves in the bathroom knowing that we’ll have a nervous breakdown if we hear that nasally, whiny, “MOM!!!” one. more. time. Being a mom is tough enough without having to deal with the constant critiques and judgments from other moms. Lets stop arguing about whose path is better, and start encouraging and supporting each other instead. Lets stop focusing on our differences and start embracing the similar experiences we share as mothers. Lets stop the mommy wars and start building each other up.
Working mom, stay-at-home mom…what does it matter really? What matters is that we are all women trying to navigate the unknown waters of motherhood. Better we do it together than all alone.