Monday, October 13, 2014

Letter to a Working Mom from a Stay-at-Home Mom: 5 Promises



Dear Working Mom,

        I saw you out the window this morning when I was getting cereal out for the toddlers. You were heading for your car. You were in a cute skirt and heels. I was in my bathrobe. You looked like you had actually taken a shower...today.  


        I imagined all the interesting people you would talk to today. I thought about the hot cup of coffee you would enjoy while sitting at a quiet desk. I thought about the sense of accomplishment you would feel by the end of the day.

        And I desperately wanted to come with you. 

        But as you pulled out of the driveway I saw your four-year-old girl come running out of the house for one last kiss goodbye. You rolled down the window and she kissed your cheek, leaving remnants of breakfast behind. I brushed spit-up off my shoulder at the same moment you wiped her breakfast off your face. 

        And then I realized. We're not "stay-at-home" vs. "working." We're moms. 

        So I think we need to start with a clean slate. There's a sad line dividing stay-at-home-moms and working moms. It's a line of jealousy, discontentment, guilt - but mostly misunderstanding. 

        For example, you might think I'm writing this in between pinterest and homemade organic smoothies. 

        I'm not. 

        In fact I haven't eaten anything yet today (if you don't count licking the pureed carrots off my wrist when the baby threw his spoon). I'm bouncing a baby on one knee and I'm in between loads of laundry and dishes. I can hear someone unrolling the toilet paper in the bathroom.

        You might think my life is simple. Easy. If I stay home I must be wealthy or lazy - or both.

        I understand why you think that. With the number of tasks we both have each day it's hard to find time to put ourselves in each others' shoes. So in the interest of erasing that ugly dividing line I want to make some promises to you. Here it goes:

#1. I won't ask you how much longer you have to work. Asking implies that if everything was going right in your life you'd be home all day with the kids. True, you might want to stay home, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy your job. 

#2. I'll respect the fact that you might occasionally turn me down for play dates - but I won't stop inviting you. At the end of a long work day you would probably rather be with your family. But when you need another mommy friend, I'm here. 

#3. I'll ask you about your job. There's a whole different aspect to your life besides changing diapers and packing school lunches. In many ways it defines you. If I want to know you I'll want to know about what you do all day. 

#4. I won't refer to work as your "social time." Keep in mind that I only talk to people under the age of five all day so I consider any adult interaction a luxury. Just like being at home isn't my personal spa day, working is not primarily your social scene. 

#5. I'll stop comparing checklists with you. I don't have to break down my routine into all of the individual jobs I do all day in order to feel valuable. Neither do you. 

        When it comes down to it, our jobs are not valuable because we contribute more than each other in some way. Our jobs are valuable because God called us to them. He has us each strategically placed where He will receive the most glory. If He could have gotten more glory by putting us in a different positions, He would have. And He still might. Who knows - one day you and I might swap roles. We can rest assured that God doesn't make mistakes. We are who we are, what we are, and where we are because of His perfect plan.

        So if I need to vent about teething or I want to share every new rolling-crawling-walking-potty-training milestone with you, bear with me. It's my life. I love it. But I know your life looks different and I want to know about that, too. We both need all the support we can get.


What about you? What are other issues you think should be addressed between SAHM's and WM's to help bring more understanding? 

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16 comments:

  1. I struggle with this myself. I stay at home and make sacrifices both financial and personal. I get frustrated when people say they can't afford it, but want to stay at home and then take fancy vacations, have fancy cars, etc. I would like to take away that piece of me that has righteous streaks and judgement. I'm working on it. But, yes, we are all in it together, though differently. I think the biggest thing is that being around children all day exhausts me and that's where the no shower, no eating comes in. I'm just so tired. When you can get away and have moments to yourself even if it's at an office,( I mean you get to go to the bathroom in peace, you get to eat in peace) especially when you are an introvert, such as myself, you get energized. I have very little time to do that, to recharge those batteries.

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    1. Every SAHM can relate to that. We all have to find our own way to "recharge." Thankfully God gives us so much grace and He sustains our hearts even when our bodies and minds are worn so thin. Thanks for the great input.

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    2. Please understand that the WM life is not as glorious as it may appear. Mine is horrible. A boss that hates you. A hostile environment every day. We have to stay up with our kids in the middle of the night and somehow stay awake at our desk to do our work. Our houses are out of control. Mail stacks up and isn't read. I showered Monday, but not again until Friday because i am too TIRED! There is no social scene. We sit in our cubes and work as fast as we can because of all the demands. We dont have fancy cars and we haven't taken a vacation since our honeymoon six years ago. We use our vacation days to stay home with our kids when they are sick. We ache for our children realizing the daycare is raising them. But if you are a single mom or your husband doesn't make much or have a stable job, you have no choice. SAHMs have more choices. You can have playdates and go to MOPS and actually have friends. There is no comparison. Count your blessings. I guess i am an alien.

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    3. Oh - and your neighbor who gets a kiss from her daughter as she pulls away from work - that is not everyone's reality. I get up early to shower, then I have to get the kids up, which is so hard because they are in a deep sleep. Then, I have to get them dressed and shove breakfast down their throats. Throw them in the van and rush to school. Rush to get out of school too - drop-offs with a special needs child who has separation anxiety is real fun. The whole time I am dripping sweat and I wonder why I even bothered taking a shower! I have sweated my make-up off, my hair that was washed, dryed and styled is now dripping wet and my whole body is drenched. If I arrive a couple minutes late to work, I get sent to HR's office. But guess what? HR isn't even there! She walks in at 8:20 and is not considered late, but I walk in at 8:02 and I'm late. I love double-standards, favoritism and discrimination in the work place.

      This may be selfish, but I would rather pour myself out for my own family than for a cruel boss and a thankless company that will fire you as soon as they don't need you anymore.

      SAHMs envy WMs? The grass is not greener! SAHMs have choices. You can choose to shower early, dress up, throw your kids in daycare and go to work to. Why don't you? Because deep down you know you have it better. You know that you are blessed.

      My two best friends from college are SAHMs and they homeschool their children. They are my biggest prayer warriors. I fear I don't pray for them enough. I may envy them, but I definitely don't want to punch them out like your picture above shows.

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    4. I work and have little ones at home. I do not shower every day. I also have to skip meals for my kids. I also cannot go to the bathroom in peace at home, and a stall in a busy public bathroom is not as peaceful as you may imagine. I am also tired - I am also up all night with a baby. I come to work with baby food/snot/poop all over my sweater and have to wash it off in the office bathroom. Work does not recharge my batteries - it just makes me cranky when I finally get home to my babies.

      I do have a successful career and I am blessed to provide well for my family. We can afford to take vacations and drive reliable cars. I occasionally buy gifts for my kids out of guilt - they probably qualify as spoiled.

      My heart aches for my children every day while I'm at work. I cry because my kids don't have play dates with the other kids at church. I cry because I can't join MOPS. I cry because I have little time to tell my kids about Jesus or show them how much I love Him. I am broken.

      I'm learning to trust that God put me in this situation for a reason. I'll never know why God gave me steady work and not my husband. I'll never know why I wasn't called to the Christian "ideal" where I stay home, raise my babies and shower them with God's love. But somewhere in this mess I have to trust that God has enough grace for my kids. That they will find salvation even though I can't homeschool. That God's grace will cover them while I work late and work Saturdays. That God has a plan for my family, just like he has for yours. This is God's plan for my life. I'm learning to find joy in it.

      So let's make a deal. You try to love me where I'm at. Try not be irritated when I tell you I'm jealous that you get stay home with your babies. I am jealous, and God and I need to work on my heart. I need to remember that God's plan for my life is different from yours.

      And I'll try to be more considerate of the fact that you'd like more adult interaction. When we see each other, I'll try to give you the adult support you're craving. I don't think your life is easy - I think it's hard.

      I'll be praying for you, please pray for me too.

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    5. Thank you, MBC! I was thinking about you and praying for you today. You are right, God's grace is enough for every season of life. Sometimes trying to figure out the meaning of every phase we are in keeps us from being able to fully embrace it. We can leave the reasons to God and move forward one step at a time, praising Him for each blessing along the way.

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    6. Hi MBC I just want to say something though I know this is old. God gave us instructions on how we are to live and it says that wives are to bear children and be keepers in the home, he wants your husband to step up. You both are making the decision to live the way you do, though God is sovereign not sure how much of a choice we really have but as Christians not everything we do is God honoring so I disagree that God has us where we are because we can honor God where we are, this is no more true of a working mom than any Christian who is involved in any sin. We are in situations all the time the time that are not God honoring so how can one be confident that they are honoring God just because they are where they are? No matter what your life is like, you are showing your kids Jesus' importance to you by what you compromise him for and them for you. You can find another job that enables you to be there more your husband could gain skills and change fields but instead you continue on a path that enables you to continue to neglect your children spiritually, a life that says: these things are more important than God and you. You have a God given responsibility to pour into your children, to instruct them in the ways of the Lord and any job that prevents you from doing that is a job you shouldn't have. We are not all rich, some of us are sacrificing monetarily to be home with our children. Living in affordable housing and doing the best we can while our husbands work hard without degrees and fancy jobs and I live in California which is super expensive. We live in a small rural town, in a 3-bedroom apartment that I hate and having a home where my kids can play in peace and I can play with them without being depressed that I don't have a house for them,seems like an impossibility with just one income. I just had our third child and I have been staying up all night looking for ways to afford a home (we hate having debt). We keep our bills low. We have government sponsored healthcare. If my husband makes a little more money we will no longer qualify for that and his job healthcare is too expensive. It just irritates me because we are sacrificing and yet people think they are too good too. My husband was afraid to carry the burden alone just like yours probably is, my husband was making $9 and hr when we got married and moved out together in 2012, in the Bay Area which is very expensive. I was working at that time too making $8.50. I had to quit two months into our marriage because I got pregnant and threw up constantly the whole nine months. Our rent was $595 (God blessed us with a cheap apartment) and it always seemed like we had enough and more than we needed though we did eventually apply for food stamps when we were able. Glad to be rid of those though since the beginning of 2014. Our trust is in the Lord. I do not feel how this author feels, I do not miss adult human interaction, but I have sisters and friends. I just think it is all excuses caused by a cycle and system that want people to be preoccupied with paying bills and debt so the kids and family get neglected. Most people go to college and leave with debt and then want a home and then have two cars that are also not paid for, it's sad. All children are being showed is how to accumulate debt.

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  2. Wow Sara, very well said. I, now a grandma, was both a stay at home mom and then a working mom and I can tell you mommys the grace was always there. Seeking first the Kingdom, God did add all that was needed.

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    1. Thank you, Tina! I love hearing from moms who have been through it and can testify to God's faithfulness.

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  3. I kind of have one foot in both camps. I work Thurs mornings but I stay home the rest of the time. While I love being hom,, sometimes I feel try need for a break and so that's where its nice to have a morning away to enjoy another passion (being a beautician in a nursing home). I do feel quite guilty while I'm there some days. I feel guilty that I left my daughter with someone else, even though I trust that person with my life and Jenni naps most of the time. All in all, I love being a SAHM. I love having the time to run my household. However, I did have the guilt of very little contribution to my household financially. When I was working , I still brought it enough money to cover quite a few of the bills and we were contributing to our savings much more. Now I barely cover groceries. To get me through, I always remember the providence of God. He will provide financially and physically but ultimately spiritually. We have good, clothing, and shelter but ultimately, our treasures must be stored up in heaven. I wonder if any WMs know that some of us SAHMs feel this way about financial contribution to the household.

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    1. That's a great point, Kelli. The way a SAHM contributes to the home can't be measured in dollars and cents. If you're used to contributing financially it can be a hard shift to providing in more intangible ways.

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  4. This article is perfect. Yes. Yes. And, yes.

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  5. I'm a little bit late commenting, but I just saw this and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. As someone who has done both, I can attest that both are HARD jobs that are often misunderstood by women who either have chosen or have been forced to choose a different option. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have been able to afford staying home last year when our second little one arrived and yes, I also consider myself incredibly blessed to be able to pursue what I believe God has also called me to do in addition to being a wife & a mommy. I greatly enjoy what I do, and I greatly enjoy coming home to my kids and husband and getting to love on them.

    Is my life perfect? Absolutely not - far far from it. There are days that I feel guilty about being away from my kids despite them LOVING their preschool/daycare. There are days I wish I could just snuggle with my cuties on the couch for longer than I can do it. There are days that they go to school absolutely unmatched because everything that even vaguely matches is in the laundry because I haven't been able to do laundry for a couple weeks since I have a big test coming up. There are days I head into a long day exhausted and somewhat unprepared because our 3 year old decided to throw a massive tantrum right at bedtime so I chose to discipline him instead of working on my presentation and then I was up with my 1 year old who inexplicably woke up every hour the night before.

    But was my life perfect when I was a SAHM? Absolutely not. My appreciation for the difficulty of being on call as a mom 24/7 with limited adult interaction (especially when the little ones are sick and you can't really go anywhere) increased dramatically last year. Being a SAHM is a job with little appreciation apart from a grateful husband and children (and sometimes the "gratefulness" is not all that evident... er, like when your tantruming 2 year old tells you that "you DO NOT love him"). There are days when you don't get a single moment to yourself, when getting to sit on the toilet with no little kids in the bathroom for 2 minutes is a luxury, when as you described, you're happy to get a couple bites of anything in.

    We do need to be so much kinder to each other. Being a mommy is tough enough without being at war with other mommies :) We ALL have challenging jobs that are rewarding in ways, but difficult in ways. God has different callings for each woman and each family. Let's build each other up and believe the best of each other. Thank you so much for your post!

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  6. I would just like to add here that it is all in your perspective. When you find gratitude for your situation even when there are things that you would like to improve, more blessings always come your way. Focusing on the good things brings more joy. I am a work at home single mother to three beautiful kids. I work on average 40-50 hours a week and while it can be difficult getting all my deadlines done on time and there are many nights I work well into the morning as my children sleep, I am grateful every day that I am blessed with the ability to provide for them. I know that I am allowing my children to grow up in love and light and they assist me in running our household together.

    It's not always easy, but that isn't the point now, is it :)

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  7. I really enjoyed this piece. As a teacher, I get what can kind of be considered the best of both worlds. I am a working mom 9 months out of the year and a (sort of) SAHM 3 months of the year.

    When I went back to work after my first was born, someone said, "I'm really sorry you have to go back to work." But "have to" isn't really accurate in my situation. I don't "have" to work. I work because it's better for my family. I have mild anxiety/depression that I have chosen to control (with the support of my husband) without medication. But I don't work for the financial benefits, or even the health insurance. My husband's job provides plenty for us to live comfortably in the event we decide it best for me to stay home.

    I also believe I am "called" to my field. Because I work in a poverty school district, I feel I can be a missionary to the kids who may not have caring, helpful parents at home.

    Do I think SAH Moms have it easy? Gracious no. I've seen your job. I do it 3 months of the year. It's hard. It's especially difficult to get a shower and/or get ready for the day with young 'uns hanging on your leg. It's hard to plan/cook meals. It's hard to ACTUALLY CLEAN THE HOUSE even though you're in it. I have a lot of respect for you.

    And actually? I hate that this divide even exists. What you said is exactly right--we are ALL moms. And we're just trying to do what we think is best.

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  8. I ugly cried as I read this. I'm not joking.

    All I ever wanted from life was to be a SAHM, to manage my home, to home school my kids, to volunteer any spare time (I know you SAHMs don't have spare time but when I was younger I thought you did) to my church or community. Then life threw a curve ball at me and my then husband left me and my son. That's when I decided I would never marry again and that I needed an education to provide for myself and my son. That education took eight grueling years of blood, sweat, and tears. I was living with impossible anxiety daily and angry with God that my life took this turn. I didn't want to be a career mom.

    Somehow in the midst of all the chaos of those years, I did start to develop some vision for my future and the career I was working for. I resented the vision and I tried to ignore the joy that I felt when I worked with patients because it still was not what I thought I wanted. Honestly, I realize now that the joy I started to feel in regards to my work was straight from God, perhaps he was trying to plant the seed of desire within me? I'm no Jonah but I do think of how he tried to run from God's purpose. Faith is really hard sometimes.

    As far as the battle between working moms and SAHMs, I am incredibly frustrated that there is even a battle. Why? Why are we not supporting one another more? I have incredible respect and admiration for my SAHM friends. I know they work their tails off. We all do, just in different ways and for different purposes.

    A few months ago one of my SAHM friends posted something on FB that said, "I'm glad I get to be a mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." Hello? I am also a mom 24/7! Just because I work outside the home does not mean I am not a mom when I am away. My family is my top priority (I did remarry after seven years of being single and we had another son). I would not hesitate to drop everything if they need me. MANY of the things posted by other working moms above are exactly what I experience. It certainly isn't glamorous or fun but it is my life and I embrace it.

    I sincerely wish we as moms, on both sides of the camp, did not feel the need to defend our roles. Like someone else said, I hate that this divide exists. I shouldn't have to explain that God is using me in this role outside my home. SAHMs shouldn't have to face silly people who think they are lazy and have nothing to do all day. Please! I for one, know how doggone busy you are! I respect and love you for it! I would like the same in return.

    I pray for each of you, that God lead you, guide you, and reveal his purpose to you. It does help most days to know I am in his will. Like it or leave it, there is no better place for me.

    Let's work to understand one another better rather than working against one another. :) We are ALL moms, regardless of how we spend our day.

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