If you are a parent or ever plan to be a parent you have probably contemplated the stay-at-home vs. working parent scenario. I am here to tell you, I certainly have. What I’ve discovered from a little life experience and conversations with other parents is that there is NO right answer. There is NO option that leaves you carefree and guilt-free. NO option that makes your kiddos grow-up perfectly with no stumbling blocks. NO option that God smiles upon more or frowns on. I truly believe that. It is an incredibly intimate and personal decision… and the one you made (or needed to make) is the RIGHT one. You need to know that. You’re making it work and that is inspiring in and of itself.
Here’s what I know as a woman and a mom. There are two sides to this coin and both are equally noble, sacrificial, hard, fulfilling, hard, did I mention hard? What I also know is that I love and support women and I hope you all love and support me too – whatever my personal style and choices are as a parents and human. I’ve read articles and letters similar to this over the years and I am certain I gleaned a lot of subconscious inspiration for this post. I hope one of the letters (or both) speaks to YOUR heart.
Dear stay-at-home mom,
Some people wonder what you do at home all day long. I don’t wonder; I know what you do. I know because I’m a mom and there are never-ending things to be done at home and for your family.
I know you do work that you will never be financially compensated for and may never even be thanked, which begins the second you open your eyes in the morning. There is no buffer, or a long commute with coffee to help you mentally prepare for your day. I see that you work nights and weekends, with no distinct end to your day or week. I know you probably feel a little annoyed when people get excited about Friday and the approaching weekend – because to you every day is the exact same – there is no Friday in your world – no break from your job for the weekend.
I see that your work has long-term rewards but is extremely sacrificial and selfless.
I know that you infrequently have a cup of coffee that you get to finish without reheating it in the multiple times. I know there is no lunch break and a lot of your meals consist of eating the leftovers on your kid’s plate as you clean-up (#momivore). I know that your work requires you to start before you are fully awake and certainly before you’ve showered and are dressed. I know that your attention is always divided, you are the queen of multitasking, and you can rarely count on completing a task in the first try, without interruption. I realize that you don’t get breaks or downtime during the day. Maybe there is still naptime for your child, but that time is reserved for other duties including getting your home put back to some resemblance of order only to be undone again once naptime ends or the kids get home from school.
I understand the battles that greet you every day. The tiny and unreasonable ‘co-worker’, the monumental messes, the personality clashes, the pleas of boredom, the dirty or sticky fingerprints on the wall, the sibling rivalry, the battle of the screen-time (Lord, help us all), the one that needs you all day long. I know that your work can seem unyielding. You go to the grocery store, you prepare meals, attempt to feed it to your family, wipe the counters, sweep the crumbs, wash the dishes, and repeat every three to four hours. Then you have guilt because what you fed them could have been healthier.
I am certain that you daydream about having time all to yourself (just a little). You most certainly fantasize about catching up on sleep and maybe those good ole days when you could watch television that wasn’t completely wholesome or had more adult conversations. I know your days are long, and you might even feel some envy for your friends who are having a slow cup of hot coffee at their desk at work while catching up on current events. You might even envy the fact that they appear more put together during the day and seem to have a more organized life. I get that when your husband comes home after work, his workday is done, and he may want to decompress and even relax. This is at the exact moment when you need his attention and support the most, and this can hurt and frustrate you (and him). But then – there’s the guilt again – you feel unable to lay this heaviness on him because you have the ‘honor and privilege’ of staying home with your family.
I know that you are probably misunderstood by a society that struggles to appreciate the difficulties of caring for children on your own, all day (and night), and the work it takes to keep your home running, the people fed and not to mention the pressure of teaching them things, keeping them active and healthy, all while feeding them a balanced and wholesome diet. I mean, is it organic, grass-fed and free-range? Oh the pressure. It’s really heavy. Others might imagine you spending your days scrolling social media while your children play quietly or do a creative craft that is totally Instagramable. They may wonder why you don’t volunteer for every possible committee because you obviously have the time. They may find it surprising when you don’t get to the gym every day and cook a Pinterest perfect meal every night.
Stay-at-home-momma, my hat is off to you sister, I don’t know how you do it. I so admire your fortitude, your ability to face each day head first and bring happiness and consistency into your children’s lives even when they wear you down and out. I admire your perseverance in being a constant presence in your children’s lives even when it isn’t easy. I admire and want to honor the way you work without getting any tangible reward – no big promotion, no recognition, and no salary. I know you do it because you want your children to feel cherished and loved, and stay-at-home-mom, you do this really exceptionally well. I need you to know that I get it, because we are both mommies and we have to be in this thing together. You are doing such a good job and I respect you so much.
Dear working mom,
I know that you are oftentimes silently judged by others for leaving your children in someone else’s care while you go to work. Some might even conclude that you don’t adore your children as much as a stay-at-home mom does, and that it’s best for children to be at home with their mothers. That it’s best for women to fully commit 24-hours each day to the care of their children.
But, I know how desperately you love your children. I know that going back to work was a heart-wrenching decision. You tried to weigh every possible positive and negative, long before you even had a baby. It has always been one of the heaviest and most important decisions of your life.
I see you everywhere. You are at all of the pre-k and school performances and assemblies. You are at the doctor when your children are sick. Heck, you are the doctor. You are the attorney who fights for the rights of children and the innocent every day. You are the police officer who risks your life and prays that you make it back home to your own babies at night. You are my daughter’s teacher who molds her young mind and encourages her confidence. You are an entrepreneur who has bravely designed your own life, you are the salesperson burning up the roads to make a better life for your family. You are the boss at work. You are the mom all the time. You are all of it. What kind of place would this world be if we didn’t have you doing what you do best? What you were called to do. What if you hadn’t followed that calling and rather stayed at home because of the pressure to do so (not necessarily because it was your calling)?
I know that you wake-up at least an hour before anyone else does, just so you can work out, have a quiet time, makes lunches, prepare breakfasts and get yourself looking put-together and professional. I know you still make it to work with a smile even after being up all night with your child. I know that when you come home after work, your second shift begins. Those who don’t take the time to really see you, don’t understand that you help run a household and you have a job. You come home from work (stopping by the grocery on the way home), cook dinner, bath your kids, go through the bedtime routine, write a check for school pictures, re-read the school calendar to be sure you aren’t forgetting anything, check backpacks for notes, start a load of laundry, fold a load of laundry, put up the dishes, and straighten the house – just like every other mother does. Then it starts over early the next morning. No time to waste, no time to procrastinate. Everything has to happen now.
I know that when you are at work you don’t waste a minute. I know you eat your lunch at your desk and you show complete dedication to your job. You do this for a few reasons; if you are going to be away from your kids, you are going to make that time really count. Also, you don’t want to linger. When the end of the workday nears, you want to hit the door running to go pick-up those little babes and soak in the few hours you get with them. Idle conversation can be hard for you at work because you are thinking about getting all of your to-do’s done before it’s time to leave for the day. Honestly, idle anything is hard for yo, because there are always things to get done. Every day’s ultimate goal is getting back to your kids.
I know it hurts your heart when you want to see them and hold them during the day and can’t. I know it hurts to think of others seeing their little personalities grow and interact, while you’re at work. I also know that you spend days caring for your children at home when they are sick and that you secretly enjoy these days, and celebrate being able to be with them like that.
Working mom, please I know this and let it really sink in. You are setting an outstanding example for your children. You are showing them a woman who knows how to work hard and contribute to the world outside of the home, and still be a nurturing and focused mom. This lesson is tremendous. You are showing your watchful children that they can do absolutely anything they want to do in life. You are displaying focus, positivity, endurance, dedication, and you do it with so much grace and persistence! Amazing job sweet working momma.
What it boils down to is that we are all mothers. We have all gone through the life-altering experience of becoming a parent. We are all in this together. Show love, support, patience and understanding for all of our different ‘styles’ of doing this motherhood thing. I don’t know about you, but it is the scariest hood I’ve ever been through. #Jesustakethewheel