I recently put my heels back on for a quick contract stint in the business world. As a full time stay-at-home-mom, being able to keep one tiny pinky toe in the door to the modern working world has been life-giving to me since I took the job about six years ago. Twice a year, I put on “fancy clothes” as my kids call them, grab my tote bag with my laptop in hand, and head out the door. I leave before they go to school, I enjoy a couple of scheduled breaks and an hour long catered lunch, and I arrive home usually around dinner time (if not after). Honestly, it’s a DREAM!
But as I learned this go-round, it is a huge shock to our family’s system. We are not currently set up for me to be juggling a career outside of the home. Not that we can’t, but we just don’t have the supports in place to manage that workload. And as dreamy as it sounds for those two days, our household gets sent into a tizzy. The laundry has piled up, no one has any food in the house for meals, and I realize quickly that the workplace isn’t necessarily the land of milk and honey the way that I oftentimes perceive it to be.
The second day of my job this week, I ran into a new friend who had recognized that we were at an influencer event the previous week together. She was delightful and kind, and I’m so thankful she stepped out of her comfort zone to formally introduce herself. We ended up chatting for a good while over a meal, and she shared about her life as a full time career mom, juggling family life, with a marriage, a demanding job, and oh a side hustle as well. Her story, and her challenges are far more common than not. She represents more of my friends than I give credit to. And she was struggling. Here she was, encompassing all the things that I wish I had most days, and it was hard. I could see the glaze in her eyes talking about all of the balls she’s responsible to juggle, and the tension in her heart of wanting to be in five million places at once, wondering if was even good enough or worth the stress.
As women today, we are asked and frankly encouraged, to do it all. Volunteer in the classroom! Pursue your dreams! Climb the corporate ladder! Serve in a meaningful capacity for a local non-profit! Be snack mom! Be party mom! Don’t forget to sign up for summer camps! Whoops, kids are sick from daycare this week, cancel work and your meetings because the nanny called in sick. It’s just all too much. The temptation though can be to view the SAHM mom next door with eyes of envy and think her life must be so easy and balanced.
Well, speaking as the SAHM next door, her life isn’t easy either. The pressures are there for her just the same to pursue the side hustle, be the field trip chaperone, coordinate neighbor happy hours, run the carpool, cook the meals, do the laundry, juggle all the schedules and activities, and actively engage all of the children coming under her care. Again, it’s just all too much.
Enough with the Mommy Wars
The reality is that we both work, and we’re both busting our butts to do more, do better, say yes to all the things and it’s exhausting. Frankly, career or stay at home, we are all WORKING MOMS. Sure, one side of the coin may have a bigger paycheck to show for her work, but I’ve made the case before that the size of your paycheck does not determine your worth or value, or in this case, the hierarchy of who works harder.
We need both stay at home and career moms. One is not better than the other. One does not need to be judging the other side, assuming that they are more enlightened and doing it right. No. Nonsense. And at some point, both camps might switch – you never know when a new season is coming, especially given the variable that is children and motherhood. There could be a season right around the corner that forces you to step away from your career. There could be a storm coming that forces you to step back into a career. You just never know. And thus, there simply needs to be a respect for both.
As women, we are too smart, too strong, and have way too many other battles to be competing (whether quietly or not) with each other. There is no one right path. To have a career and raise kids is amazing. To put a career on hold and raise kids is amazing. Both require sacrifice, both require serious heart work, and both are needed. Motherhood is freaking hard, regardless of how you spend your 9-5 waking hours!
Motherhood is freaking hard, regardless of how you spend your 9-5 waking hours!Ashley Carbonatto
Ladies, let’s help champion one another, not compete. One category is not right, and one is not doing more or doing it better. We all are on the same team, and working toward the same goal – raise kind humans and make an impact with our lives. Some will do it in the home. Some will do it at the workplace. Some will do it in both. It’s time though that we took our aim off each other, banded together, and linked arms to fight the rest of the battles together.
Let’s cheer each other on, lift each other up. The SAHM who suffers from low self-esteem because her work is never recognized, and the Career Mom who hasn’t had an overnight with her spouse in over five years because #momguilt. It’s all hard! Let’s recognize that we’re both working so very hard, just in different ways. One is not better than, or less than, the other. Enough with the mommy wars. We’re better than that. We don’t have time to tear each other down, there are too many important things we need to get done.
Career mom, I see you. I see your heart to push through barriers in the workplace and fight for a seat at the table. I see you drowning in worry and guilt, wondering if you’re doing enough or present enough with your kids and your partner at home. Trust me, you are.
Stay-at-home-mom, I see you. I see you wondering if there is more to you than the piles of laundry or the crumbs under the table you’re cleaning up for the 50th time today. I see you selling yourself short to others as you describe yourself as “just” a mom. I see you longing to make a difference and feel important and appreciated again. Trust me, you are.
We need each other ladies. Let’s be who our moms raised us to be, and lead the next generation in the beauty of celebrating each of our different career paths. It’s all needed, and we’re all in. No more competition. Enough is enough.