About two weeks ago I read a status update on Facebook that stuck with me. It is that time of year that stay at home moms are counting down the days, minutes, and seconds until school, preschool, or mom’s morning out starts back for the fall. These moms aren’t counting down because they don’t like, appreciate, or don’t enjoy their job of staying home with their children. They are counting down because with the school year comes schedules and rhythm and routine. But for those moms who work full time and don’t know the wildness of 24hr days of no routine it’s easy to misunderstand or mistake the stay at home mom’s excitement for the school year for lack of appreciation for the gift they have. It is so easy for us as moms to judge and even envy each other. It’s easy to think that “your” shoes are easier to walk in than “my” shoes. It’s a quick judgment to think the grass is greener on the other side. I just want to encourage you – whether you stay home, work full time or work part time that what you are doing for your children is good! Each mom, dad, and family has to make decisions based on what is best for their family unit. For me and my family unit the decision was made that I would come out of full time work and salary and go into part time work and hourly wages. This was and is a daily adjustment even after almost 4 years! My income is ever changing and sometimes very small. To make up for this lack of income we made decisions to cut other things out of our lives. We don’t have cable or satellite TV, we don’t wear the latest fashions, and we don’t take much time off for vacations and traveling. We eat leftovers for lunch and rarely get a date night because dinner and a babysitter sometimes takes away half my paycheck. These are all choices that we’ve made – and we are ok with these decisions.
For your family, your choice, whether driven by finances or some other “third party” circumstance is a good one. It may not be your first choice, but it’s a good one because it means you’ve done what is best for your family. Maybe you work full time because the income is a necessity to get by daily. Maybe you stay at home because working wouldn’t matter due to the cost of child care. Or maybe you work because you love your career and staying home isn’t even a desire of your heart. Whatever your choice, I’m here to say it’s ok! You don’t need to feel guilty because you work. You don’t need to feel guilty because you can’t work. And you don’t need to feel guilty for not feeling guilty that you do or don’t work.
It is so easy to judge others about what you think is going on in their lives. Maybe the mom who just posted a complaint about being home all day with her kids just had one of “those” days where she felt like she was living in a zoo of disrespect and disobedience. Maybe staying home isn’t all roses, but instead filled with sticky fingers, runny noses, and dirty diapers galore. For the mom at home that is judging the actions of the working mom, maybe the amount of the salary doesn’t make up for the pain of being away all day. Maybe coming home an hour later so the working mom can get in a decent work out is the best she can do to be healthy for her children. It’s not our place to judge one another, but instead encourage one another.
To the mom of one, don’t jump to the conclusion that the mom of 2 or 3 or more doesn’t appreciate being at home with her children if she is frazzled at the end of the day and simply needs a break or desires a week off from her duties. To the mom of 2 or 3 or more, don’t jump to the conclusion that the mom of one doesn’t know what it’s like to be stressed to the max because she only has one child.
With each child comes his/her own personality and set of parenting challenges. It’s the same with each mom. We are all different. We all desire different things and we all make different choices for different reasons.
Whatever your choice is (whether you feel like it’s a choice or not) it’s ok! It’s ok that in this stage of your life this is your choice. It’s also ok to want or desire to make a different choice. It’s ok to choose a different path if you want. It’s ok to quit work and stay home. It’s ok to quit staying home to go to work. It’s even ok to work part time and still secretly hope and pray your kids nap all afternoon because you simply need some recovery time between working and parenting…at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
It’s ok to cry as your drop your baby off at day care and it’s ok to celebrate mother’s morning out as you drive away on your way to get a pedicure. It’s ok to sneak away from the office for lunch with your little one at day care and it’s ok to hire a babysitter so you can escape for lunch out with friends. It’s ok to use grocery shopping as your “mommy break” and it’s ok to plan a night out to spend with your kids because you need the opportunity to simply be mommy.
Make your choices prayerfully and wisely. Love your children and family the best way you know how and don’t place a weight of guilt on your own shoulders or those of your friends based on the life you are living today. Take each day as it comes. If you work because the income is necessary, thank God daily for the job you have instead of feeling guilty that you need to be at work. If you stay at home because you can, celebrate that time with your children and do your best to be thankful for even the awful days that end with no shower and pounding headaches due to endless screams. Be a glass half full girl and enjoy every moment of motherhood. No one’s journey looks the same which is what makes us all beautiful and unique.
You are a good mother. You have made your decisions based on what is best for your children and no one has the right to judge you for that…especially yourself. You have permission to have bad days and bad attitudes on occasion but then get over it and move on. Don’t focus on what you don’t have so that you can focus and be thankful for what you do have.
Today I want to challenge you to encourage the moms in your life. If you are a working mother I want you to call, text, email, or write a note to your friend, "the stay at home mom", and encourage her by praising her for the sacrifices she has to make to stay home all day and not receive a paycheck or a lunch break. If you are the stay at home mom, I want you to call, text, email, or write a note to your friend, "the working mom", and encourage her by telling her how proud you of her being courageous enough to let someone else care for her children while she earns an income to help support and provide for her family. Let's quit taking jabs at one another when we have a bad day and instead lift one another up in encouragement as we journey these different paths.
Finally, if you are a father reading this...let the mom in your life know how proud you are of her for the brave choices she has made that support your children and family.
Until Next Time, Be Blessed, and Be a Blessing....