My Own Stress As A Working Mom

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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.”

Takin' a hit to my dignity for entertainment purposes

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76 Responses

  1. Tamara says:

    It may just be a stupid video, but honestly? Working from home is really different than working from the office. Commuting (especially) is a time drain that stinks works than anything when you are missing family time because of it.

  2. zoot says:

    Yeah. Exactly. And it just seems a Working Mom Stress panel should have some women who feel those same VERY common stresses. I don’t know what I’d do on my commute without NPR!

  3. I think you have a very valid point, Kim. I think the panel could have been a little more balanced.

  4. Nicole says:

    Amen. I have been a mom for all of 3 1/2 months and only half of that has been back at the office but I feel guilty for being at work, and then I feel relieved for having some time to myself even if it is dictated to some extent by my boss, and then feel even guiltier for feeling relieved. I hate how little time I get with him and find myself getting jealous when friends and family want to see him on the weekends too. Those are my hours. I hate that the daycare lady sees more of his first milestones than I do. Yeah, this isn’t something I think about daily. Nope not at all.

  5. Amanda says:

    I am a working out of the home mom also, and I just want to say your post is brilliant.

  6. -R- says:

    I find that a lot of sites/blogs about working moms are written by moms who work at home. Which is fine. But it annoys me when they act like they represent all working moms, which they don’t. I agree with you that working outside the home is very different than working at home. I’m not saying one is harder than the other, just that they’re DIFFERENT and create different stresses, and that should be acknowledged. Ugh. I so agree with you.

    I don’t care for the Momversations, and this is one of the reasons why.

  7. cagey says:

    Great post, Zoot!

    You know what? Everyone has stress. Everyone! I think the saddest part of all these discussions, videos, blog posts, etc. is that always folks want to make it a contest – whose stress is worse? who has the MOST stress?

    I don’t worry about money. We are doing fine in that area (furiously rapping a wooden table, yo) I stay at home fulltime, our lawn is mowed and we even have a housecleaner that comes in every 2 weeks. My husband often cooks. Does that make my life less stressful? No, because I have a husband who has a very, very HIGH threshold for clutter. I have an extremely LOW threshold. Throw in 2 kids and my stomach is in constant knots around here trying to keep on top of it. I do EVERYTHING around here. My husband? He takes care of the kids with me (he really is hands-on, thank GOD) and brings home the bacon (yummy!) However. Ant infestations? My job. Meal moths? My job. Yardwork? My job. Trash to the curb? My job. Home repairs? My job.

    I did not mean to make this my personal gripe session – your post is spot on. My point is, ALL moms are working moms, the type of work depends on the particular situation. And it seems to me that ALL moms are stressed about something these days.

    Also, sidenote – it appears the #1 stressor for working moms is the simple lack of time – there are only 24 hours in the day. If we could just figure out how to expand the time continuum, problem solved, no?

    Again, great post!

  8. zoot says:

    Exactly, Cagey. We’re all stressed. And I think my anxiety would be much HIGHER if I stayed at home because I’d be bitter too.

    I guess I just wanted my type of stress to be included in the Working Mom roundup too. I don’t think I’m too unique. Now, if I were a traveling Circus performer I wouldn’t expect them to include my type of stress…not mainstream enough. But the working in an office 7-4 stress? Seems pretty common.

    (Now I wish I could find a blog written by a Mom who was a traveling circus performer. That would be awesome.)

  9. steff says:

    I completely agree! Just getting every one up and out of the house and yourself to work on time is HARD.

    Summer alone brings on a whole new level of anxiety for me – between baseball in the evenings usually at 2 different times and 2 different fields and keeping them entertained (YMCA Camp) without going broke or without them being bored – or glued to computer/video games is complicated.

    I know you know…LilZ is just one year old than my oldest.

    Maybe they are going to do another version of the same subject – Moms who works outside the home.

    Hang Tough! Have a cold beer! :-)

  10. Christina says:

    Zoot, I am glad you wrote this – it is excellent. Life is stressful no matter what you do in your in life. And the truth is as a working mom I am a better mom but that is MY reality. Each person’s reality is their own. I take the time I have with my kids and make the most of it much better then if I spent 24/7 with them – it is that simple for me.

    Also, let’s face it, my husband and I are also “greedy whores” when it comes to money ;)

  11. Alias Mother says:

    I don’t watch the Momversations because I find them irritating on many levels (the name is just the tip of the iceberg). But I think what you are pointed out here is reflective of mommyblogs in general. Most blogs that I find are written by women who stay at home or who work out of the home, presumably because they are able to make the time. These women also seem to have more drive to promote, and market, and brand, which is why they show up so much on BlogHer and Momversations. There are blogs by women who work full-time out of the home (like me! Hello!), but so many of them feel corporate or focused on career-advancement. They aren’t just sharing experiences like, for example, yours. I think blogs by working moms that talk about being working moms are rare.

    My point (yes, please find it, AM), is that I think our voice is missing at this level of conversation. Maybe because we spend so much energy trying to remember to buy the milk on our way home. I don’t know why. But that’s my impression and part of why I feel so disconnected from Momversatino, BlogHer, and mommyblogging community.

  12. Maria says:

    I agree. Stress is relative. I don’t have children, so I don’t follow the Momversations. I don’t think was a roundup though since it focused soley on WAHM. Would it have bother you less if it had a title indicating that the Momversation was one sided?

  13. Holly says:

    I agree with you completely. I love blogging in that I feel I can relate to other moms and feel I am not the only one bungling through this whole parenting thing. However, the Momversation bothered me as well. I am always feeling like I just can’t do it all…can’t get the house clean enough, can’t spend enough quality time with my daughter, can’t cook meals that require more than 20 minutes and 3 ingredients…
    Now that it is summer and I am off from work (teacher) it is like a whole new world. And my house is clean!

  14. Krista says:

    This morning as I walking out of the house to go to the office (yep, I’m one of those 8-5 worker bees), I got a phone call from the daycare. Seems my oldest left a library book there. Since today is the last day of the school year, I had no choice but to drive to the daycare and pick it up, run it up to the school, and then drive into work. I was a half-hour late getting into the office today because of all the unexpected driving, most of it in the complete opposite direction of the office.

    But, hey, I won’t get charged for the missing library book now! Go, me!

    But not the best way to start my day. And that’s just this morning’s stress.

  15. kdiddy says:

    dude TOTALLY! I’m actually working on a blog post about this very same thing…but I’m busy at work. ;-)

  16. beachmom says:

    are you kidding?!? thanks Kim, this is a great post … and from a SAHM who is finally acknowledging that staying at home is probably not the best move for me personally, can you let me know how you POSSIBLY get it all done… and still manage to take pictures of such happy kids?!?

  17. stacey says:

    I don’t watch those videos, but I had a feeling this one would make me go um. My sister is a vet, works extremly long hours and has a toddler and a baby. She is lucky that her hubby does so so so much around the house. He is a teacher and is right now SAHD for the summer. I watch both my bosses, each with 3 kids and them trying to run a business. There is so much going on with soccer games, baseball, swimming, concerts, plays, homework not to mention the fact that there is work to do. I don’t know how some mom’s, yourself included do it sometimes. It is amazing and wonderful!!

  18. bessie.viola says:

    This is hands-down the best thing I’ve read all week. That video irritated me, too. Where was the talk of the REAL stresses and guilt that you mentioned? I have that “I only see you for 3 hours a day” guilt. I worry about all I’m missing, but like you I don’t know if I could stay home all day. It’s a crap catch-22 and I feel like that video completely missed that point.

    Thanks for speaking to ME. This made me cry a bit, to know that I’m not alone. Thanks.

  19. Genie says:

    As someone pregnant with our first baby and planning on going back to work outside the home, I was a little annoyed that the video didn’t touch on that topic at all. I’m not sure how they pick their interviewees.

  20. Amanda says:

    When I watched that video yesterday the first person I thought of was you. I thought you truly are the person who knows BEST about be a working mother. I truly felt that video was a joke. I’ll say it and put it out there, that those women really, truly have no idea how HARD it can be. Yes, they have their own stresses and complications to being WAHM’s but until you get up everyday at 4:30, go exercise, come home get the kids up, take to daycare, have a 45 min commute in traffic, work, commute again, daycare, dinner, baths, reading/playtime, maybe some chores, and then maybe if you have energy have sex with your husband. It’s just nutty. It seems like every minute of my day is planned and accounted for. I am not complaining about it because this is what I signed up for. I love my job and my family and can’t imagine either not being part of my life. Both mean the world to me.

    I just think the video could have been better represented with us outside of the home working women. We are a strong group of women!

  21. Michelle says:

    I think you make very valid points.

    But just one small point about the video, They actually did qualify their point of view even though they did not go into any detail about it, someone, (I believe it was Maggie) said something to the effect of this discussion doesn’t even begin to cover the stress of women who have to get up get their children to daycare and go to the office to work.
    Perhaps it was merely the focus of the piece that was skewed.
    Either way, it would be time well spent to do another piece focusing on the issues you mention!

  22. I work 20 hrs a week in an office environment and would stab my eyes out with pencils if I didn’t have that “break” from being at home with the kids. That said, doing the daycare/commute dance those days of the week exhausts me in a different way and I can’t imagine doing it 5 days a week.
    It’s all stressful. But yes, there is a great under-representation of office working moms on the web in general…mostly because it’s hard to fit in alone/family time around the commuting and daycare stuff.
    You make great points here, Zoot. And I agree with PP that the Momversation episodes are mostly fluff, barely scratch the surface of most topics, and are rarely balanced. They can be fun to watch, but aside from creating side conversations like the one right here, I don’t find them particularly enlightning.

  23. Tiffani says:

    You are right! And I didn’t even have to watch the video to know that. :-)

    I think I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom for a little while just to see what it’s like. Right now I’m a work-from-home and work-out-of-the-home mom … I do both for the same job. Sometimes I get confused by my own schedule. haha

  24. I work full-time as a civil engineer. I have a 9-month old son. My husband is out of two at least two weeks every month. I currently take about 2 hours of time out of my workday to either pump or go the daycare to nurse. I’ve been back at work for 6 months now. AND IT’S ABOUT TO KILL ME.

    I have great employers, who are totally flexible and accomodating, and it’s STILL the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. The expectations are higher – not only do you have a Good Mother, you also have to still be damn good at your paying job. The time…oh, the time limits. You never have enough time for anything. You have to cut out sleep because that’s the ONLY part of the day you can adjust to squeeze everything in. And still, at the end of the day, I never feel as if I’ve done ANY of my jobs as well as I should have.

    I haven’t seen the video, but a discussion of working mom stress without any of that shit thrown in? Clearly lacking.

  25. zoot says:

    @Michelle -

    Oh – I didnt mean that the panelists didn’t recognize there were other stresses. It actually helped that some of them clarified the difference. BUT – the people who set it up seemed a little off balanced by not including anyone from the other side. The panelists themselves talked about their own lives! Which is what I would do!

  26. Lauren says:

    THANK YOU for this. I’ve only been at this working outside the home thing for a month now (baby is 4 months old), and this is the first time that I feel like the real issues of that have been addressed among any of the bloggers I read (and there are a lot). I can’t tell you how much better it made me feel to have someone express everything I’ve been feeling and thinking about the experience. Just to take it one step further, I’ve really been wishing people would write more about the difficulties of pumping at work. I can’t find anyone that can relate to that. It takes me five pumps and I still can’t get enough. Add in the time and hassle of that during the work day, plus the stress of wanting to get enough, etc. THANK YOU for making me feel better this morning. I needed that.

  27. junkie says:

    you think you’re stressed now? just wait until i throw another child at you and into your mix! :)

    loved the post, girl.

  28. AndreAnna says:

    Came via a shared post from Sarah Lena in GReader…

    This hits home for me because I am BOTH. I work outside of the home twice a week and inside the other three (or five if you count the weekends I find myself in the basement office trying to make deadlines).

    What is failed to mention about working from home is the type of job. Is it something they make their own schedule or are they on a deadline-driven one where they must be available during certain hours? I work in publishing and I have to be available from 7-4 every day and meet my deadlines no matter what hours I work, sometimes late into the night making up for the morning I skipped taking my daughter to dance class or my son for his well visit.

    The days I go into the office are easier in a way for me because despite the madness of the 53-mile commute and the fact that I don’t see my children for more than an hour or so, my roles are defined. Editor, THEN Mom, THEN wife & home caretaker. Easier, but with it’s own set of stresses.

    On the days I am home, there is no definition. There is sheer madness. There are phonecalls from irate authors in Japan. There are emails from my boss demanding my again-late status report. There is a baby eating dog food, a three-year old girl painting the dog, meals to make, floors to sweep AND I have a true equal partner in life who does just as much as I do with our children and home.

    I chose the schedule I have for a reason. I feel like I get the best of both worlds. But with that, I also get the WORST of both worlds. I never wanted to be a SAHM for many of the same reasons you mentioned and because I love having a professional career, but dude, this is HARD too.

    There’s a different kind of stress all relative to our paths in life and I agree with you 100% that it is not viewed as balanced at all.

    (Sorry for my own post.. LOL)

  29. Randi says:

    I know moms of both types – I know one mom who was a SAHM who said that she could “NEVER” go back to work outside of the home. Later she did, however, and then said she didn’t know how she’d stayed away for so long. Everyone has to know their strengths and weaknesses – all that matters, honestly, is the kids. As long as they’re loved, taken care of, and not sold on ebay, it’s all good.

  30. YES! YES! YES!

    I was practically jumping up and down reading this. AWESOME, AWESOME post Kim!! I agree 1000% with everything you’re saying.

    I would take being a WAHM over a full-time employed commuter any day.

    The stresses are so VERY different being home and working compared to working outside the home.

    I don’t think anything compares to getting up at the butt crack of dawn, shipping kids off to daycare, sitting in traffic, rushing home to make dinner and spending about two hours with them each day.

    Not to mention the fact that all those household duties STILL need to be done as well.

    I was really disappointed with Momversations coverage. It was pretty lame.

    Your post though? FREAKIN’ FANTASTIC!

  31. ali says:

    yes yes yes!

    mom who works in an office waving her hand over here!
    :)

  32. Steph says:

    Wow. I don’t have kids, I started reading your blog back before Nikkiz was born because of the television commentary and talk. I kept reading because your kids are too cute and all of the television/movie commentary mixed in.

    Anyways, I am always constantly amazed at all that you do. I always think you must have tons of energy and must be one of those people who is constantly doing something. I admire any mother, but I couldn’t imagine my life as busy as it is with a career, house, friends, and then mixing in daycare, massive amounts of grocery shopping etc. I can come home from work, flop down on the couch and not feel guilt. You have to come home and chase after kids.

    In short, I think I would pass out from exaustion after one day in your life. Even if you kids are too cute.

  33. Laurie says:

    Thanks for bringing to light a topic that is near and dear to me – working outside of the home while juggling being a full-time mom. I agree that all women work – but I like to see a focus on mom’s like me! It helps me not feel so alone when I feel like I am being the worst mom!

    Thanks Zoot!

  34. Busy Mom says:

    Oh, Sweet Jesus. I think I love you. You have said so beautifully what I’ve been thinking for a long time.

    Also? @commenters: there are lots of us who are employed full-time outside the home. The Internet just assumes that we work at home. Have no idea why.

  35. Patty says:

    Thank you!!! I was a little peeved at that segment as well. I am fortunate enough to work one day a week from home and I can say from experience that there is little comparison between working form home and actually being in an office for 8 hours a day plus commuting. Night and day. I got very riled up and was tempted ot comment there, but afriad I’d be too snarky. Thank for for stating the csae so thoughtfully!

  36. Michelle says:

    Thanks for writing this. Because knowing that other people worry about how the hell they’re going to fit in an oil change on a Wednesday or drag themselves into the office with the flu to save sick days for when their kid is sick somehow makes me feel better about having those anxieties…

  37. Procrastamom says:

    AMEN to everything you said Zoot. I haven’t seen the video on Momversation. Mainly because I’m at work and I don’t have a private place to view it without someone in another cubicle becoming curious as to what I’m watching.

    We working moms (out of the home working moms) do have a different kinds of stresses. And until you’ve had to use your vacation time to attend your kid’s field trip or spent two hours on a bus and a train to get home to your child who’s sick at school…until you’ve done that, you don’t know that type of stress.

  38. Swiggy says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I feel exactly how you feel – with the not having enough time with the kids during the week, but not wanting them around for 14 hours on the weekends. Not enough time to run errands, do laundry, clean the house, pick my nose…you get the idea. I agree, they should have had at least one person talk about these challenges.

  39. Jenera says:

    I hope one day this debate will become boring. Even nice conversations can turn into wars because we moms feel the need to justify ourselves.

    I am a stay at home mom to two kids and my husband is a trucker gone for a week or more at a time. I handle everything in the household by myself. On top of that I do photography which is turning into a part time job for me. On top of that, I have commitments with friends and family for various things that keep me busy.

    Do I work outside the home for 40 hours (or more) a week? No. Do I get to be home with my kids and see them. Yes.

    But I do 100% of cleaning, cooking, planning, bills, errands, household projects, vehicle maintenance, yard maintenance and child rearing SO THAT while my hubby is home, we can have family time. I’m like a single mom but I work INSIDE the home.

    But I chose this life and try not to complain. I only get riled up when I’m told I have it easy and I have to right to be stressed.

    No matter our job situation or income level or number of parents in the home, being a mother is a rough job. I have tried very hard not to judge another mom if she’s complaining or having a rough time, I’ve been there. Most moms need a break now and then. I know I do.

  40. I’m going to (no surprise) take a stance that isn’t particularly popular with my SAHM brethren. I get tired of hearing SAHMs whine about how under appreciated they are and how they never get a day off and how hard it is being stuck with toddlers all damn day. Is it true? Well of course it is – but deal with it.

    All mothers – heck all people – have their own things to deal with and complain about. And as a mom, unless you are Donna Reed, no one gets a good deal. If you stay home, you are isolated and bored and yada yada. If you work from home, you are unable to focus on anything because your being bombarded with everything. If you work outside the home, you have to hear how your kid’s day was from someone else and take days off for every sniffle caught at day care – and hello guilt.

    As for stress? You are right – it is all relative. But I have to say most of my stress these days is of the existential variety – who am I now that I can’t define myself with my job, will anyone ever want to hire me after I spent all of this time out of the main stream, and so on. A little bit of financial stress because I’ve never not worked before and that rounds it out. Most everything else qualifies under an annoyance rather than stress.

    Okay, I think I’ve sufficiently alienated all women with children and gone off topic.

  41. Oh and single moms? Deserve sainthood.

  42. Heather says:

    I think part of the disconnect is likely because the bloggers they interview are those who make careers out of their blogs, like Dooce. (It still amazes me that they can afford to both work at home and market themselves in such a way to comfortably support their family!)

  43. brit says:

    I think you hits lots of great points. Mainly…it’s all relative.Your grief, my grief, your workload, my workload, your choices, my choices, your husband my husband.

    We don’t have the same marriage and no one expects us too, but why are we expected to have the same ‘mom’ experiences?

    I think the most important thing is knowing what you want. You want to work outside the home. I don’t. You have the perfect job for you, I have the perfect job for me. We are happy with OUR Choices..

    I believe that the criticism that comes from outside us? Is not really about us, it is about who ever is making the criticisms and their issues. Are you kids happy? Yes?! Are my kids happy? Yes!

    In the words of Buffy, and I think this sums it all up nicely.

    “I think I speak for everyone here when I say, “huh?”” — Buffy

    although Angel has his moments too

    “I saw the fire, I figured you’d be here.” — Angel

  44. zoot says:

    @jenera – I don’t think there’s an argument here at all. (At least I hope there’s not!) I just was voicing an area of stress not considered in the video. The Mom works outside the office side of the story. I don’t think anyone is arguing, at least I hope I didn’t come off sounding like that.

  45. Jessica V says:

    I didn’t realize how much this video annoyed me until I read this post. They really did leave out a major part – although Daphne sort of alluded to it at the end. I agree with what you have to say wholeheartedly – I work from my home full time, so my kids go to daycare. Fortunately it is only 5 minutes away, which helps with the “i only see them for 3 hours a day” guilt – except that those three hours are spent getting up, dressed, potty, diaper change, eat, drop off…pick up, potty, eat, bath, books, bed…with lots of arguing, bribing, pleading to go with it. So it certainly doesn’t feel like quality time – it kills me, but what can we do? I have to work – fortunately daycare is close by so I don’t have to do the commute thing (one of the main reasons I left my last job is because I do daycare drop off and pick up, so have very limited hours that I can spend at work, much less commuting).

    Anyway – this just got long – but I wanted to say thanks for posting this. It made me think.

  46. Thank you.

    As a teacher, I’m a WOHM for nine months of the year. For those nine months, I am stressed beyond belief by the things you mentioned: commuting, daycare and housework. We have no family in the area and Hub travels a couple of times a month (about 4-6 work days/month), so at those times I truly fly solo without a net; job in one town, daycare/home in another, no backup. It’s a house of cards.

    Then summer comes and I become a SAHM for three months. I was just thinking yesterday (after only one week off) that I am just not wired for this. The one positive thing I can say about being at home during the day is that the laundry gets done quicker than during the rest of the year.

    But back to your original point: I agree that there’s a big difference between WAHMs and WOHMs. Both work, both are torn between work and family, but the distinction is between the “being there” vs. the “not being there.” It’s just different. Some days — the ones with a sick kid, for example — I just feel like I’m held hostage at my job. But I also acknowledge that I made this choice and most of the time, I’m happy with it and know that it is the right choice.

    I agree with your point that all three kinds of moms — SAHMs, WAHMs, and WOHMs — should have been represented. They’re three different games entirely.

  47. chantale says:

    I feel like a mom working outside the house, except that I go to school and don’t have daycare. BUT, I do have to go to school and my husband works evenings so he can watch the kids while I’m in class.
    I don’t feel that those moms represented me at all. Of course, I don’t think that they would make a panel for full-time moms/students such as I am (and you were).
    And please tell me it gets better when you graduate… I feel like I’m losing it trying to raise my kids and go to school. And housing cleaning? Comes a distance third.

  48. Mindy says:

    Baby, you know this better than 90% of the people who have ever been to my site: I was a better blogger when I worked in an office. I swear I feel like my best work is behind me because that frenzy of commute and care and cleaning and cooking and spousing and not sleeping because I had three kids in four years fueled great writing at an inhuman pace.

    Now? I’m so depressed about being a divorced, out-of-work mom that I can’t even drag my ass to the computer to produce like I used to do. Now that I depend on it for what little money I do earn, I should be on it like a mofo, but the dismal state of my personal economy makes me sad, which needs medication, which costs a buttload because I have shit insurance, which is going to run out in a couple months (COBRA), and will be near impossible to replace without a working spouse (or any spouse) because I take medications for depression, which is caused by being out of work and… I’ve just gone cross-eyed.

  49. zoot says:

    I hear ya, Mindy. I do a lot better at many things while working in an office. My bills get paid on time and I follow up on emails better. (Although still not great!)

    Thats what I meant by there are different types of stress for different types of working Moms. There is no way to compare (except in my life: Staying At Home Is Harder. So I don’t do it! Heh.) I just wish I could have heard some of the panelists talk about the stresses Moms who work in the office face. To add to the discussion.

    And I hear you about the cyclical mess of stress meds needing Money but being out of money causes the stress. Hang in there, hon. As a formerly divorced out-of-work Mom I can assure you – you are doing awesome. Seriously.

  50. I can totally relate. Without getting into the LONG version of it – I’ve been both, and am much better suited to work outside the home. The stresses were nowhere near the same for me from one to the other. That is exactly why this working mom panel should have, as you pointed out, included moms who work outside the home. Maybe no WOHMs applied for the panel? I sure hope that was the case, instead of that panel just not including this very important demographic.

  51. Dear Mazzy says:

    No apology necessary, you said what many of us are thinking. It’s HARD to work outside the home, and it’s HARD to work at home. Hell, it’s hard to NOT work at home. I think working moms get slighted a lot in the whole mommy blogging world because we’re not online all day, every day, because you know, we’re AT WORK working. Well said.

  52. Gabby says:

    I so agree with you Zoot.

  53. Mama Bee says:

    Good for you Miss Zoot. This was an incredibly frustrating video for many reasons, not the least of which is the total lack of diversity — both of ethnicity and perspective — that it suggests in the women’s blogging community. (Hate the term “mommy blog.”) See some of my views on the lack of real working mothers in the media at http://themamabee.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/a-response-to-jeanne-sager-at-strollerderby/.

    Keep up the good work!

  54. Yup. Agreed. I’ve been on all 3 sides of the fence. (It’s apparently a Dr. Seuss fence, but go with me.)

    The hardest of all three is BY FAR the work-at-office mom. That’s why I (was fortunate enough to) chose to stay home. At times, I wish I did have an ‘escape’ to the office, but I’ve been there, and FOR ME, staying/working at home ended up being the best.

    I rarely watch the Momversation vids. They just irk me. Not necessarily the women on them, but just irked.

  55. Allie says:

    I am not a mother, and I have to say I am amazed at your ability to take your kids to cool events/activities, maintain personal hobbies and interests, have a good marriage, update your blog regularly, AND work full-time. All I do is work, and I still wish I could litterbox train my Boston Terrier because sometimes when I get home the last thing I want to do is take him out. Perhaps you should make your own video just to let the rest of us in on your secrets to obtaining energy and patience!

  56. Jen Ambrose says:

    Word, girl. I usually love all those videos, and this one bugged the CRAP out of me for the exact same reason.

    A number of years ago, when I had a 2 year old and a newborn and I was the major breadwinner and I felt the stress and the pull of house/home vs. career and the constant need and struggle of both, I was about to lose my ever loving mind. I felt so absolutely alone. And then I found Mindy’s site by accident (www.themommyblog.com), and I swear to God, she saved me. Her stories about working outside of the home and mothering and being a wife and dealing with it all made me feel so normal and so not alone. Through her, I found you, Zoot and many, many others.

    Because you know what? Some of us struggle with this business. We don’t have our stuff all together. We order pizza because do we not have time to cook dinner because we have a presentation due in the morning. Some of us have an unhealthy addiction to diet coke. And some of us love work because: OMG….escape, escape, escape. But we feel like major poo when we can’t be there for things like seeing our kids roll over for the first time.

    So big ups and props and whatnot to Mindy and Zoot because seriously ya’ll — you have been there for us for YEARS and have helped me keep my sanity.

    And to the momversation people – please include other perspectives next time, K? Its not that we disagreed with anything said…it just wasn’t so well-rounded. That’s all.

  57. Jess says:

    I just want to say that I am a SAHM who cannot imagine being a WOHM or WAHM. My hats are off to you ladies. Just as you, Zoot, say you could not be a SAHM.. I would be the worst WOHM/WAHM on the planet. And not all SAHM complain about being underappreciated and bored.. I freaking love my life and say a prayer of thanks every day.

  58. Mindy says:

    Heh, the timing was ALL WRONG on this one. I should have pretended it was 2004 when I was the breadwinner, an executive, having had three babies in four years, one of them catastrophically ill, going through a divorce, and having biopsies and lumpectomies. I was the poster child then, just not anymore. I am sure they are hearing you on this one, and will suggest a followup.

  59. Christine says:

    Kim, I couldn’t agree with you more. Great post.
    I have 4 kids, 3 cats, 2 fish, 1 husband, and feel like I can’t get anything done. Summer is particulary busy, baseball games, no school, boredom. I work 3 12-hour night shifts and sometimes I barely function. Taking kids to doctor,dentist, friends houses. uggggghhh. But stress is all relative, like you said. I could never ever ever ever stay at home full-time. I need to have adult interaction and get away from the hustle bustle of my house. That does not mean in any way that I don’t love my kids, but for me to be a good mom, I need time away. Thanks again for such a great post.

  60. rebecca says:

    i was an office working, commuting, day care mama for the first kid, for almost 3 years. I am a SAHM with this one, and i say, without a doubt, hands down, the SAHM is way less stressful for me, even though i have an infant and a toddler at home. no alarm-shower-dressed-child dressed-drop-at-daycare-traffic to work at 6 am. no working for 8+ hours-making dinner-spending and hour with your kid-putting them to bed-passing out on the couch.
    I know every mom experience is different, but as someone who has been on both sides of the fence, my heart goes out to you workin mamas.

  61. Christina says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post Kim (wow, I can call you that!:) Nothing to add…just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your perspective.

  62. Al_Pal says:

    Great post. Here from http://www.temporarilyme.com/2009/06/12/hey-momversation-lets-talk-about-real-working-moms-for-a-second/

    I’d never heard of the “Momversations” before. (I’m an aunt, not a mom.) ;p Interesting to see some of the ‘big name bloggers’, I suppose.

    Again, great post. Commuting sucks, for sure. ;p

  63. Sarah says:

    Kim,
    Thank you for the post. My sister and I talked after we both watched that Momversation episode – and we both determined that it left a lot out, and in many ways felt so shallow. I had contemplated writing a piece about it but I suppose I wasn’t gutsy enough, or maybe it’s just that I’m timid of jumping on a topic that is all over the place all the time. But it’s important that people talk about the great many aspects of motherhood – and I think Momversation tends to focus only on the panelists’ lifestyles which are all pretty much the same. It’s unfortunate.
    Thanks for the post.

  64. Fay says:

    My main question after I watch such a thing, or really after I read about… 70% of the “serious” “mommyblog” posts is… where is your husband?!? (Or partner!) Single moms, obviously, are in a class by themselves, but…

    It is 2009. If you are WOH, and still coming home and doing all the cooking and cleaning and bathing and feeding, then someone is not pulling his weight, and it drives me INSANE. Mommyblogs often seem to me to perpetuate the “women’s work” thing, and I don’t quite know… what to make of that.

    Whenever I make such a comment (which is rare), I generally immediately see a “my husband does a LOT” defense. But you never see those in the blogs. All you see is “I changed 18 diapers and cooked 3 meals and went to work today, and he’s playing golf tomorrow, and blahblahblah.” Makes. Me. Nuts. And it especially grates when both partners WOH.

  65. zoot says:

    @Fay – In my case (and my case only) it’s just because it’s MY blog! (heh) I don’t write much about what my in-laws do or what my teenage son does and they all do stuff. I think on our own blogs we write our own perspectives. It would be weird to be chronicling what my husband does all day.

    But I don’t think that means that I’m perpetuating the “womens work” thing. (Although I have a lot to say about that concept, for another time I guess). It just means that on my blog I talk about what I do – not my husband. I hope the women’s movement doesn’t rest on my blog entries or we’re all in trouble! ;)

  66. hecticmom says:

    OMG! Thank you for putting into words exactly what I was thinking. That momversations video sort of ticked me off too.

    You summed it up perfectly – not taking away from anyone, but noting the difference. Thanks!

  67. Brooke says:

    I think your post was well written. I am a WAHM, and I think you brought up some good points about the representation needed for a WOHM and the momversation video. I appreciated that you didn’t slam anyone in the process! I feel like you made your point well without dragging anyone else down.

    I feel like all moms are being pulled in so many directions, and they are different directions depending on our own situations. But I love when moms talk about the bad and the ugly and not just the good. That might sound weird, but I think when we can empathize with one another and see the struggles other moms face we don’t feel so alone in our own struggles.

  68. massageon says:

    Amen, Sister. I struggle with leaving my Son with some lady I kind of know, everyday. I only get to see him a limited amount of time, and to be honest, sometimes I think…. Man, how does she deal with THIS for 9 hours a DAY???? I am glad I work outside my home, and sad at the same time. I am missing milestones, but taking huge leaps in my career. What’s more important? I’ll never know….

  69. Frema says:

    I appreciate this post so much, Kim. I think you did a wonderful job of respecting the difficulties that all mothers face. (Like you always do.) And as a working mother, I can personally identify with many of the struggles you deal with (though not the daycare aspect, as Luke is at home with the kids).

    Thanks for speaking up about this. I don’t want those videos on purpose because I know no good can come of it.

  70. Gina says:

    **Applause** I think sometimes within the blogging community, the view of the world gets a little narrow. I am a fan of a lot of A-listers, too, but many times I feel so disconnected and out of touch for the exact reasons you laid out in your post. We are not all the same, and yet we’re so much alike. Don’t discount a whole group of us because of it. Also – anyone who misinterpreted what you said as being a “who’s got it worse pissing contest” is a doofus.

  71. Beatriz says:

    I didn’t like that video either. I came here via the link you mentioned above, and I really liked your post, I thought it was pretty well-balanced. Often I feel like people in these Momversations belong to a little club that represents a very limited view of what being a parent is all about. Plus, I hate the name!

  72. Came here after following all the brouhaha and I most closely identify w/ your post.

    Thanks for speaking up on behalf of us WOHMs.

  73. eva says:

    Thank you for speaking out. I work “full time” (35 hours a week, does that count?) 10 minutes from home and daycare. My husband works full time and travels for work a couple of times a month. We don’t really have family in town to help out so Megan is in a full time fairly kickass daycare. She has not forgotten who we are, and we’re definitely still her favourite people, even when I only get 3 hrs a day and it’s all about diaper battles, food battles, and dog walks/hikes with her snoozing in the backpack or facing away from me in her stroller.

    Even with just one 18 month old, and a teensy commute, I feel the stress of working and mothering and wife-ing all the time. I have nothing but respect for single mothers who do not absolutely lose their minds and tempers. I couldn’t do it. I like work, like paycheques, and like the coworker socializing stuff. The going for coffee stuff. The lunch with adults or all on my own. The uninterrupted errand running at lunch time.

    Although clearly that momversation did not in any way reflect my experience of working and mothering, I liked seeing a totally different perspective on being a working mom. I liked hearing about their experiences, even knowing they’ve been heavily edited down to sound bites, and liked knowing that these few women can inspire thoughts and ideas in so many other women. And I liked being smug in knowing, unlike most work at home self-employed types, that my next paycheque is coming on Friday (today!) and that my dental bills and eyeglasses will be totally paid for through my work benefits:) And that if something happened to my husband tomorrow? I would be completely capable of supporting my daughter right off the bat.

  74. William says:

    Excellent post Zoot. I have some opinions on this but I will keep them to myself.

    I like that you are a greedy Whore.

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