Edited to add: Recently this entry was linked to as saying that I think some Moms have it harder than others. PLEASE READ THIS ENTRY. If someone interpreted this entry to mean that, I apologize, but I don’t think I said that at all. I hope you’ll read the whole thing to see that. As a matter of fact, I feel like I said just the opposite. I said you can’t compare situations. Please read this entire entry before you make a judgment because I would never EVER say that. I have said a million times on this blog that I chose to work outside the home because working FROM home is TOO HARD. Therefore for me? I believe staying at home is much harder than working in an office! At least my office gives me paid vacation…heh.
Okay. I’ll be honest. I love me some A-list bloggers. I do. Sometimes it’s not cool to admit that, but I feel most of them are A-list because they’re good at what they do. They are good writers. They make me laugh/think/cry. Because they’re good at these things, they get invited to participate in various awesome web activities. This doesn’t bother me at all and I almost always enjoy their work. However, the latest Momversation kinda bugged me.
(If you haven’t watched it yet, go watch it now so you’ll know where I’m coming from. I’ll wait.)
Actually, I’ll be honest. Several of them have bugged me – but I get the impression from some of the panelists at their individual sites that the editing sometimes isn’t favorable. It seems maybe statements get grabbed out of context and often the panelists revisit the issue on their own site to explain themselves more thoroughly. I’m fine with that. It allows me to overlook some of the statements that sit wrong with me and just read their words on their sites as suitable explanations.
This one, however, bugged me in ways beyond what could be blamed on editing.
Let me start by being completely honest: I could not be a Stay At Home Mom. It’s not because I can’t play trains for five hours, because I can. I like the playing/crafting/activity part of being a Mom. It’s the cooking/cleaning/bathing/tooth-brushing part I hate. And I feel like a great SAHM either (a) Considers those tasks part of her obligations and doesn’t mind doing that stuff as well as care for the children or (b) Considers her job raising the kids ONLY. Therefore, the HOUSE stuff is still to be divided equally with the spouse and the spouse agrees. I think they’re both legitimate ways of looking at being a SAHM/WAHM, but I just don’t do either successfully. I would become bitter. And have proof because my 2 separate 12-week maternity leaves left me very bitter. Ask my husband.
So – I work outside the home.
(Oh yeah, we also like the extra money. Because we’re greedy whores.)
Now that I got that out of the way…let’s move on to what bugged me about that video. It has a very limited scope of what makes a Working Mom.
It’s funny, in the Real World (outside the internet) SAHM/WAHM have to defend themselves daily. The Real World doesn’t often see them as working. I think that’s dumb as hell and voice my opinion about how their job is harder than mine as often as possible. But in the blog world? Sometimes it’s assumed that if you say you work that you do it from home. I’ve had several conversations with people who are new to my blog that assume I work from home. Maybe it’s because I do blog regularly, maybe it’s because I don’t talk about The Office. This is a brilliant thing about my little space on the internet – my little community I’m a part of – it is understood that EVERY Mom works. Regardless of where, we all work. Right?
BUT. Everyone DOESN’T work at home. So, if you’re going to do a whole episode about the stresses of working Moms – can’t someone talk about various stresses from working outside the home?
Every person on this planet is stressed in some way. Right? I look back at the 7th grade version of myself and remember anxiety and stress at levels I’ve never revisited in my life. Even recently with a baby and a dying father and the traveling and the sadness…I was still not as anxious or as stressed as I was in 7th grade with no responsibilities save for some painful research papers.
The second most stressful time in my life would be the years following splitting with LilZ’s Dad. The single Mom/college student/working full time/racking up credit card debt/losing friends because I was an asshole years. Those years were also more stressful than anything in my life in the last 8 years.
POINT: Stress is relative. It is ridiculous to ever try to say one person’s stress is more/worse than another’s. So – when I talk about my stress levels now as a working Mom? It’s all relative. I still have way more of a handle on my life and anxiety than I did during either of the two previously mentioned phases.
THAT SAID: There are two different types of working Moms. Those who work AT home and those who work OUTSIDE the home. I believe there is a huge difference in the TYPE of stress that a Mom who works OUTSIDE the home and a Mom who works AT home experiences. And what bugged me about the video? Most of the women on the panel were discussing working Mom stress as Moms who work (sometimes part time) INSIDE THEIR HOME. Shouldn’t at least half of the Working Moms on the panel be Moms who have to squeeze the 40-hour work week between commutes and trips to the daycare? Who can’t take that walk down the hall to throw the laundry in or lay chicken out for dinner and have to figure out ways to get those things done AFTER work?
I’ve already established it’s all relative, I’m not saying one is harder than the other. One of my best friends is a single Mom to TWO kids and some weeks she has to work 70 hours outside the home. She is probably more stressed than all of us. BUT – if you’re going to do a panel about the stress of being a working Mom, can we at least bring in someone to talk about how much it sucks to have to decided between your job and your kid when they’re sick? When you have to argue with your husband over who’s turn it is to stay home? Or how about when you have to miss the Spring Bonnet parade at school because of a meeting? Or when you completely forget to send treats to the Valentine’s Day party and have to take your lunch break at the office to run by something you just picked up at the nearest Wal-Greens? What about those type of Working Mom stresses?
Being a SAHM/WAHM has it’s own set of stresses I know nothing about. And I don’t want to know about them. That’s why I work outside the home. You SAHM/WAHM don’t get a designated vacation from your job. What the hell? Shouldn’t the be a law against that? You don’t get raises, or even minimal recognition. There might be struggles with your spouse: Do they appreciate your work? Do they undermine it? Do they take you for granted? It’s a different set of problems to worry about from the ones women who work outside the home worry about, like: Did I just leave the house in two different shoes? Again?
IN CONCLUSION: They did an entire video about working Mom stress and no one mentioned daycare struggles or frustrating commutes. What about the guilt when you only see your kids for three hours a day? Or the guilt when the weekend comes and you realize that 14 hours in a row may be too much? Does the laundry pile up? Do you find yourself sitting down for dinner at 9pm? There are so many other Working Mom stresses that could have been addressed and weren’t. I respect those women are all working Moms and maybe some of them do work outside the home, but no one was discussing the factors that so many of us deal with every day. How many times do you use your lunch break to run an errand for the family? Do you choose a daycare close to home or close to the office?
Maybe it got edited out. I don’t know. I do know that I could talk about this for hours. And I would if (a) I wasn’t to mortified watching myself on camera or (b) I had some sort of way to film myself that didn’t require my 3-year old holding the iFlip.
So – half of the Working Mom community was represented in that Momversation. And represented well, as there were several viewpoints about compromise and sacrifice. I just wish there had been a voice for those of us who drop off the kids with strangers (albeit wonderful strangers in my case) and spend 8-9 hours in an office before going back to those strangers to get the kids and find out what all they missed during that day. Only to wake up before the sun to do it all again tomorrow.
PS. I am a little stressed about my own work/family balance this week. You can ask my husband. This week alone I’ve had to work my office schedule around everything from feverish kids (funny how they don’t want the kids at daycare with a fever…) and internet repair crews coming to my home. I forgot to register NikkiZ for soccer and went to the store to get milk only to come home with everything but. Maybe this video wouldn’t have seemed so off balance if my own life this week wasn’t so off-balanced. In other words, I may look back on this entry when things settle down (sometime around 2020) and say, “Damn, Kim. Relax. It’s just a stupid video.”