I saw some old friends over summer vacation. The wife of the couple is a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) of three (soon to be four!). I was sharing with them how I’m working part-time this year and how we have a caregiver for Little Man that I was pretty excited about (and still am… she’s great). The comment the wife gave me was about how sad she is when she’s out running in the morning and sees little kids getting dropped off at daycare when they’re still tired/in their pajamas. No supportive words or comfort towards how I might be feeling about giving up my baby for hours every day.
Then, there was the other friend (also a SAHM) who told me of her near-catastrophe of the day was that the dogs almost got out without their collars on… and what would she have done with the baby? This, on the third day that I had EVER left Little Man with his babysitter, Teacher Man was at a meeting all evening several hours away, and we had been to a funeral that afternoon after having been in meetings at work all morning.
Here’s the thing. I’m not really mad at either of these people. I’m just a little disappointed. Not in a “poor me, why don’t they coddle me because of all I have to go through” kind of way. I’m disappointed for their complete lack of understanding. Both of these women are lovely and are kind, kind people. They just don’t get it.
There are mothers out there who choose to work outside of the home and there are a litany of reasons as to why this might be. Maybe, financially they need to be the breadwinner. Or, perhaps, their husbands are willing or wanting to be home with their children. But, there are other mothers who work outside of the home because the have to. Perhaps they are the only parent in the house or maybe, like me, one income just isn’t going to cut it (it’s one of the many ironies of the world that you can give your life up to the Church and then can’t afford to do almost anything… including pay tuition for schools run by the Church and Her members).
I’m not saying that staying at home with kids all day is a walk in the park. This isn’t a comparison of how difficult each job is. Instead, I’m saying that if you think being a SAHM is a full-time job, then women who work have two jobs, not one. And they feel guilty every single day that they leave their precious babies and children with someone else to raise. But, they know that they’re doing to right thing to help raise their child. If I didn’t work, I wouldn’t have health insurance and there is no way that we would be able to afford to go and see my parents in another state. Like, ever. I can’t bring up my son in a world where he doesn’t know his maternal grandparents or where I worry about getting sick because I can’t afford to go to the doctor.
So, while my heart breaks every time I have to part with Little Man, I try and find comfort in the fact that I’m doing what I think is best for him right now and my life really isn’t all that bad. When I think about the sick kids that my mom sees as a pediatric nurse, people who are caring for their ailing parents who don’t recognize them anymore, or those who are struggling with mental illnesses and who maybe aren’t able to see their children at all, I realize that I don’t have it so bad at all.
And I give thanks for that.