When I was pregnant with Moira both the Mister & I were unemployed and I took a temporary job at the studio of a good friend. There was a woman there who used to be this friend’s business partner but then she started having kids and he bought out the business and blah blah blah. The point is that she was back and we talked a lot because she was the only other mom there and she was very kind by giving me a bunch of maternity clothes in addition to letting me come and go as my very pregnant body dictated. She only worked three days a week because she wanted to work and spend time with her kids but and said something to me that has always stuck:
“It is better for my daughter and I if we have time apart. We work better that way.”
Now, medical her daughter was about 5 years old and my first reaction was of disbelief. I mean, she’s the mother so how on earth could it be better for her relationship if her and her daughter don’t spend all their time together? It didn’t make any sense to me. Naively I thought that could never be me.
Don’t you just love how you know everything about kids before you actually have them?
One thought I am always trying to keep in the front of my mind is that you can never really know the circumstances behind another persons situation. That homeless person down the street? The reason the about-to-be-married neighbour couple fight all the time? Why your really close friend can’t kick the cigarette habit? Why one person prefers short hair when you are certain they would look better with long. You just never really know. You might have theories. You might tell yourself stories or think that you know what those people need to do to make their lives better, their situation easier or how to fix themselves but unless you can read minds you can never really know.
So why does one mom want to stay home while another wants to work? Does it really matter? In my personal reality I will never make enough money to make it worthwhile sending the girls to daycare and so that decision was made for me but it also aligned itself with the Mister & my values. Some women have to go back to work and the decision is made for them. My staying home works for us but I was working two summers ago and had a part-time nanny and I loved it. I loved going out and using my brain for something other than failed attempts at making play-dough and still having lots of time to spend with Moira. For her part she enjoyed spending time with the babysitter because she got some one on one attention that was different than the attention I give her. As much as I hate to admit it – although mostly it makes me laugh at myself – It is better for Moira & I when we have time apart. We work better that way.
There were times in the past year when I thought it would have saved my sanity to go back to work than to deal with Moira’s tantrums all day – but I was pregnant, didn’t have a job to go back to and, let’s face it, I’m sure she would have saved them for me (she does when she spends the day with her grandmother). If I had run back to work I also wouldn’t have learned how to deal with her tantrums and so that is one more example of why my staying home works for us. The other side to this story would be that if I did go back to work I probably wouldn’t have felt like I was being screamed at all day long and we wouldn’t feel like we were sinking under the weight of our mortgage payments.
There are two sides to every story – even your own.
The more I talk and think about the ‘mommy wars’ the more they piss me off. Formula vs breastfeeding. Cloth diapers vs disposable. Staying at home vs going back to work. Home schooling vs public school. I am reminded of my childhood self who just wanted everyone to be my friend and the world to be fair. I would never want anyone to feel “less than” because of my attitude.