I killed a fly two weeks ago.
A real, buzzing, great-to-be-alive, annoying fly met its death at my hands. I'm not proud of the fact that I killed it. Okay, maybe I am slightly shocked at the fact that I actually killed a fly, because those things are impossible to kill! But what is more important is why I killed it.
This article I read about stay-at- home moms who are glad to do what they do, stay at home and not miss the first step, the first smile and the first gurgle of their child made me see red! What made it even redder was a working mom's article justifying why she did what she did and absorbing the guilt imposed by this article. The fly was an unfortunate victim of my anger. Yes, I was angry and still am at this unreasonable and meaningless debate between who has it better between working moms( WM) and stay at home moms (SAHM).
**Warning: This is a partial rant, a partial appeal and a bit of a departure from my usual posts, so be ready for some non-Zen moments and outbursts.**
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To be fair, this wasn't the only article that triggered it. In the last few months alone, I see people blogging and writing triumphantly about how they have managed to salvage their souls by either staying at home or working and are therefore, better moms. Hold that thought! Just stop dead in your meaningless tracks right there!
Before you read ahead, let me just offer my credentials: I have been a working mom, a stay-at-home mom and am currently a Work-from-home-stay-at-home-mom (WFHSAHM). Yes, that's a mouthful, so don't try using it in a conversation any time soon.
I am deliberately not linking to the three articles that provoked me no end, because
(A) I do not want to give them more publicity than they have already garnered
(B) I don't want to really pick out flaws, one by one.
The 'supermom' concept or the 'one who has it all' has always been just a myth, as far as I am concerned. No mom can do it all. I repeat. No mom can do it all. Because , whether you like it or not, there is always going to be someone doing something that you are unable to do. Does that make you an inadequate parent? Why should it? Oh wait, that's what the article says, so it must be true.
Let's bust some myths right here and right now:
Myth # 1:
A SAHM has all the time in the world to do what she wants;
A WM does not have enough time to spend with her kids.
Fact # 1:
Being a parent is difficult.
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise- not the happy Facebook updates or the Pin-worthy images of smiling kids and moms or the funny parenting tweets that paint a rosy picture of a perfect family.
Contrary to what people think, SAHMs (or dads) don't sit around all day. We don't spend our day with our feet up in front of the TV, nose buried in a book and calling out orders to our butlers and maidservants.
Similarly, WMs are not so tied to their jobs that they don't spend quality time with their kids. No, that's just a twin myth perpetuated by both sides to make themselves feel better.
Myth # 2:
Staying at home is the best thing possible for your kids.
Fact # 2:
There is no one-size-fits-all t-shirt. Have you found one? If yes, please pass on the number of the retailer and I will ensure they get booming business. Let's make one thing clear: Staying at home is the best thing possible if that is what you choose to do, not because you are told so by well-meaning parents/ friends/ an older generation. The key word here is choice.
There is no guarantee that children brought up by exclusive stay-at-home moms will grow up as better adjusted individuals than their counterparts, because frankly, studies in this field are never going to have the same set of variables.
Myth # 3:
You can choose not to work
Fact # 3:
Working is not always a matter of choice. If it is, it is still fine.
Because, as a famous video proclaimed, 'It's My Choice.'
A lot of moms I know, work because they want to. It makes them feel happy, content, capable and confident. This, in no way, makes them incompetent mothers. If anything, their adjusted personalities are happy to spend those precious moments with their children without guilt or sadness.
An equal number of women I know work out of a need. This may be financial, emotional or a combination of both. Parenting is an expensive job, in case you hadn't noticed. It needs a dual income to sustain a family. So, to call out a working mother and shame her for wanting to provide for the family is, frankly, disturbing.
Myth # 4:
Only working moms need a nanny/ daycare.
Fact # 4:
Moms need help. All moms. Everywhere.
When my daughter was 4 months old, I had two nannies. I was not working, but I was unable to manage all my daughter's needs by myself. I needed someone to help with washing her clothes, giving her a bath, watching her for a brief time while I got some housework done or just to play with her.
When I began working part-time, I sent her to day care for a few hours every day. She enjoyed the time spent with the caregivers and I worked at my teaching job without the guilt of worrying about her meals and her immediate needs.
You see, I get it. I get the fact that we all have our crosses to bear and our guilt to shoulder. That's perfectly okay, by the way. It's normal to feel overwhelmed, guilty, overworked, tired and not as invested as you would like to be in this whole parenting game. What is NOT okay is to make other moms feel the guilt or worse, look down upon their choices, with not one shred of compassion ruling your decision.
Let's stop with the naming, the shaming, the guilt-inducing and the condescension. What do we gain from this anyway? Some mistakenly imposed form of self-martyrdom? An idea that our choice makes us superior to someone else's situation? A rather worrying fact that one set of moms are 'better' than another?
In a world otherwise ruled by patriarchy and narrow mindsets, we are united by an incredible bond- parenthood. When we should be elevating each other, helping up the ones who fall, brush their bruises aside and tell them that they are doing great, we instead choose to point fingers and mock. How exactly are we being mature when we indulge in this kind of behaviour?
To every mom/ parent out there, stay at home, working, work from home,
part-time worker, flexi-worker, I say this:
You are doing the best you can.
There is no 'better'.