Friday, February 02, 2007

I Am A Good Mom

Aside from the repetitive question of "Are you ready do be done with this pregnancy?" , the other most frequently asked question is "Will you be going back to work after this baby?". And, my answer is always "Yes. I have to." Up until recently, part of me always felt like I needed to justify that answer by explaining that we needed the income for our household just to be able to make ends meet. There were times that you would get a nod in response but then my imagination would run amok and I would assume that the person facing me was summing me up:

  1. She isn't a good mother because her kids are "Daycare Kids";
  2. She is materialistic and is selfish by not wanting to go without therefore putting herself before her children; or,
  3. If you can't afford to stay home, maybe you shouldn't be having kids.

Now some of those statements might sound dramatic, but they are true. I have heard them before. Not necessarily to my face, but in passing conversations amongst other women who happen to be gossiping about another. Why is it that we as women, find the need to be so cruel towards one another? Why is it that we find the need to talk about other's faults and get fixated on them?

I will be the first person to admit that I envy other mothers; particulary moms that have the ability to stay at home with their children. But being envious is okay. To me, there is a huge difference between envy and jealousy. Being envious is that you are aware of something someone has and/or does and wish that you have it as well. You recognize it as something that would be nice to have/experience but are not bitter about it. Being jealous is that you covet that quality and become negative towards it. You start to feel resentful that you don't have it which then leads to negative behaviour whether it is through words, or through actions. Jealousy can become hurtful, whereas envy can acknowledge circumstances and desires.

A fellow co-worker (referred to here on in as Friend A) came to work on Wednesday very obviously upset. You could tell that she had been crying and was barely holding it together. Upon seeing Friend A upset, I had asked her if all was okay. She replied yes, that all was okay but her best friend (referred to here on in as B Friend) had made a comment to her that she just was not able to let go. She felt silly by letting this upset her but just couldn't let it go. With me being a person who loves to both talk and comfort people, I eventually got it out of her. What was the comment? It was along the lines of B Friend criticizing Friend A for having to go back to work once her maternity leave was finished. B Friend shared that it was part of her marriage contract that once the children came, that she would stay at home; period. B Friend went on to point out that mothers should be at home and those mothers who go back to work do so for selfish reasons.

Upon hearing this, I got mad. I explained to Friend A that this may work for her B Friend, but it doesn't necessarily work for all other people. I explained to Friend A that in today's society, we all face different challenges in our lives and there is no longer a right way or a wrong way. That being a mother in general is a special priviledge and it allows for us as women to be so multi dimensional. While I am sure 90% of women out there dream of being able to stay home with their children, the fact of reality is that many can't. With society the way it is now, the cost of living is so high not to mention what the cost of educating our children will amount to 15 - 20 years down the road. For some of us women, we have to work outside of the house and raise our children at the same time. It is not a choice for us. To ensure that our babies are taken care of, have food on the table and a roof over their heads, we are obligated to go back to work. Being one of these women, it certainly has given me a whole new found respect for single mothers. I give them the highest kudos for doing what they do. I have all that much more appreciation for my life knowing that at least I have an amazing husband to come home to who assists in the rearing of our children. Can you imagine how difficult some days may get for those single mothers?

There are also those women out there that have established careers and they would like to continue on succeeding in that direction. Does this make them a bad mother for wanting to go back to work? No. In my opinion absolutely not. You see - we as women are all different. We are made to be different as that is evolution. However, we all have that common bond: the desire to nurture. Whether it is nurturing children, pets or a significant other. We have an instinctive need to share our love with something/someone other than upon ourselves. Why do we seem to have such obstacles in nurturing our fellow sisters though? Why do we have this incecent need to judge each other whether it is upon looks, how we mother our children or what our beliefs are?

A fellow blogger Stephanie, posted this last week and this again today. Take a moment to read them and the comments that follow. We have the power to change and support one another and to me, it is obvious that there are many of us out there that are capable of doing that.

Oh .... and to Friend A's B Friend and all of the other people that have asked me if I will be going back to work and made me feel judged: The answer is Yes. I have to. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to stay home but at this point in my life, it isn't an option. You see, I have to live my life and if I waited until the perfect financial opportunity to have children, I may have waited a lifetime. To me, there is no such thing as the perfect time unless you create it for yourself. But don't worry though; I am a great mother. My son and this baby within me are loved beyond anything else in my life. And together with my husband, we will continue to ensure that our children are protected, cherished and loved. Should you ever feel that I am failing at this, please come and talk to me about it rather than everyone else. After all, if you go directly to the source for your information, you are likely going to get the most accurate and truthful answer.


beth said...

Bravo. I hope that when you feel judged by other women as they give you "that look" you can remember what you said to your friend. There's no winning. Someone always thinks they know better and I've been amazed at how quick fellow moms are when it comes to judging each other. It's very sad.

Breanne said...

Right on Allie!!! Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you are a bad mother, you aren't a good are without a doubt a phenomenal mother, and wife!

p.s: how am I doing with the blogging? ;o) Tee hee I am actually really enjoying it.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Whether it's working moms vs. stay at home moms or stay at home moms vs. stay at home moms... etc. Moms are always going to judge. What's important is to feel confident in the decision you make- like you said, what is the right fit for YOU.

And also, we shouldn't be made to feel like we have to "defend" our choices, because then in a way that makes it sound like we have to justify it... I hope that the mom debate ends soon and that the mom love & support begins instead!

goofball said...

Hi Allie, I remember that we once chatted about this subject. I am sorry to hear that you sometimes feel judged. I know that you would love to stay at home with Kaelen and your little girl but I can assure you than you are the best mom for your children even when you are a working mom!!

Not being a mom and living on the other side of the world, I am a total stranger in this debate. I am actually surprised that this seems to be such an issue (I had by coincidence just read Stephanies posts about this as well). I am not sure but I think all of this is much less of an issue in Belgium....probably because 95% of all moms go back to work. So did my mom and most of her colleages and in my generation I don't know any stay at home mom among friends and family or colleagues. I don't know if they all want to have a career or if some of them would like to stay home but cannot afford it financially. In Belgium people usually have a mortgage running on both incomes so staying at home full time is not really an option. The only thing that is common is that moms (and dads!) work parttime, 4 days out of 5 for a while as that is government supported.

So maybe if you ever feel judged again, think of all Belgian working moms that are just as excellent mothers for their children as you are...and as are the stay at home moms. The only thing that matters is the love for you children !!!!!

Big big hug


Jenn said...

Hi Allie,

I am also sorry you feel judged. I am one of those mom's who could stay home full time if I wanted to. I couldn't have the house I live in or a second car. But I chose not to. I love my job and am happy to do it a couple of days a week. I also have a job that if I were to stop doing it I would have to go back and re-train. I think I would resent my children if I had to give up my career for them. I think if I stayed home with Lucas all the time I wouldn't be as good of a mom as I am now. Personally I need the adult interaction and the fufillment I feel in my job. I have great balance now only working 2 days a week. If anyone judges me, that is there problem.

I do agree that Mom's need to not be so judgemental of each other.

Great Post


Anonymous said...

You are the best mom I know! Little sista may have to kick some butt if anyone ever makes you feel like that again!!!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Boats said...

You have to do what's best for your family. You know who knows what's best for your family? YOU DO! No one else. Children can grow up quite well with mommies who work- I know, my mom worked. Who cares what other people think! It's obvious to anyone who knows you even just a little bit that you are a great mommy!