Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommies with Grace

I've had this post on my mind for quite some time. It's a tricky one to share. I'm talking about Stay at Home Mommies (SAHM) vs. Working Mommies...and just the word "versus" makes me angry. :) I know that none of us actually "say" that we are at odds, but the truth is that I don't think we know how to act around each other.

I've been both, for a decent period of time, so I guess I feel I've seen both sides. I'm even experiencing an interesting version of Working Mommy right now because my amazing husband is a SAHD and cooks and cleans.

So, here's the thing I've been dying to say. I've waited because I wanted to be able to share it with grace and peace and love. NEITHER ONE IS HARDER THAN THE OTHER.

Did you get that? Let me say it again: NEITHER MOMMY JOB IS HARDER THAN THE OTHER. They. are. both. hard.

A few thoughts, & then I'll jump into some pointers for "the other side." I know that a lot of people have opinions on "what is always best" for mothers and their children. I had some pretty strong opinions myself a few years ago. Please, please please. Can we give each other some grace? Because I know I need it....

The Stay at Home Mommy's World

This is a difficult road to walk. Staying at home with your kids is what you always dreamed of, right? Those glorious mornings when you would leisurely wake up at 8, make a healthy breakfast for your little sweethearts, spend the morning reading and learning Latin. WRONG! More like, your day starts at 5:30 a.m. when a 2 year old climbs into your bed (if not earlier when you are nursing a little one), you stumble into the kitchen, MAKE COFFEE, turn on Barney, and sit on the couch and pretend you're awake while your kid says, "Mommy, watch THIS!" Then when they won't quit bothering you, you drag yourself off the couch, pour them a bowl of Froot Loops, and wonder how you're ever going to make it through this day.

The reality is, you have hard days even when you aren't in a corporate environment. It's still a struggle to get out of bed every day and feel purposeful in the dishes and the laundry and the endless "Mommy, watch THIS!" You know that God has called you to train them and teach them, but you have no idea how to do it, much less do it well. You feel like an utter failure when 4:30 p.m. rolls around and the house looks like you haven't touched it all day, you totally forgot to put your roast in the crockpot and the only thing left to eat is peanut butter on a spoon. Except all the spoons are dirty...

Dinner, bath time, Bible time, bed time. Didn't think you'd make it this long. Fold the 2 loads of laundry you somehow managed to wash during the day, set them outside the rooms to be put away in the morning, load and run the dishwasher, balance the checkbook, put the baby down, and then finally, blissfully, it's your time.

The Working Mommy's World

Yuck. Even now, I think about this world, and I want to stick out my tongue at it. It's the world I'm currently in...not by choice, although I am learning to find joy every day in my new role. The thing about the Working Mommy's world is that it's different for every WM. Some of us work part-time from the home (a "status symbol" in my mind...still hard but at least you are mostly home with the kids!), some of us work part-time out of the home, and still others full-time outside the home. Some of us choose to work, others of us feel forced to work.

We didn't dream about waking up early, squeezing in a nursing session with the newborn, hurry up and ignore the older ones in order to get a shower so you look presentable for work. Rush through getting ready, get your coat on, pick up the baby to get one last breath of that beautiful "baby scent" only to get thrown up on and have to completely change clothes. Late for work again, this time with no breakfast. And we drive to work (or are driven to work in my case), checking work email on the way there to anticipate the next "crisis," all the while wondering "How on earth am I going to make it through this day?"

Is there really a purpose in those daily and weekly reports, the last minute "I've got to have that number!" and "Your action plan for increasing cash collections is due by Friday."? Most of us don't think so. We wonder if the baby is adjusting to his morning nap or if our 2 year old is feeling better since she was up half the night with a toothache. Lunch is a scarfed down bag of microwave popcorn around 1:30, and next thing you know, it's 4:30 and that report didn't get turned in on time. Fail, fail, fail.

Get home from work (the lucky ones have at least 15 minutes in the car before being attacked by the kids). Get attacked by the kids, nurse the baby, read stories, get attacked by the kids. Desperately try to get 5 minutes to breathe. Hide in the closet. Be found in the closet. Try to find humor in the fact that your kids want to be with you on the floor in the closet. Give up, help with baths, Bible time, bed time. Finally scarf down the cold remains of supper while collapsing on the couch. Sometimes do dishes and fold laundry, balance the checkbook. And then, it's You-time.

See what I mean? Still hard. Just different-hard.

A couple of things to take away from my tongue-in-cheek post. One, there is no way I could ever do justice to a single mom's lifestyle. Way, way, way, way, WAY harder than anything I just mentioned. Props to those of you who do it, with God's grace and strength. He will carry you.

Two, we need to do a better job of reaching out to "the other side" of women. It's really hard, I know. For a long, LONG time, as a working mom, I felt like it wasn't even worth it to meet other moms because I knew I didn't have much to give. I couldn't meet for coffee after dropping the kids off at school, or have a playdate at the park. Not to mention that even if I remembered to call my friends in the middle of the day, I simply couldn't while I was working. We need to learn to love each other well, even when we can't completely relate to the other's current lifestyle. It's a work in progress for me.

Three, we are different. But different is okay. As much as I would love to stay that God "calls all women to stay at home with their children," I can't. Because if I said that, does that mean I'm disobeying God right now? A lot of you know my story, but basically it was "homelessness" or "Mommy goes to work." Not so hard to make that decision when you know your kids eat 2 tons of food every day.

A few challenges to SAHM: 1) Realize that while you are just as busy as the working mommy, you have more "free time." Enjoy it. Use it wisely. Doing dishes and folding laundry is pretty mindless. Take charge of that time and use it to pray for others, or meditate on God's word. 2)Also, reach out to a working mommy you may know. A quick call to say, "I'm thinking of you," means more than you ever know. Even if you know she won't or can't answer the phone, taking 2 minutes out of your day to do that is a such a blessing. 3) Try not to complain too loudly about being at home all the time. Others are desperately wanting to be where you are.

A few challenges to Working Moms: 1) Be thankful for the time you get "outside of the house." Whether by your choice or by necessity, you get to be with other adults for awhile. See it as a blessing. God is giving you a chance to be Salt and Light in the world. Don't forget that others' eyes are always watching to see how you respond to situations. 2) Make an effort to be a friend. Continue your old friendships, or try to find a new friend. Don't let your loneliness drive you away from other women. You need community! A quick phone call to your SAHM friend means a lot to them, too. She realizes that you are busy, but knowing you thought of her makes her feel special! 3) Don't make SAHM feel "less than" because they don't bring home a paycheck, or they don't "do as much as you do." Their role is just as vital as yours, and they work just as hard. Remember that you get appreciated and usually paid! And they often do not.

What do you think, ladies? Can we show grace to each other? Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Gosh I love you! So glad you are my are wise and funny...a good balance for me! Are you sure you don't want to move in here? I really think it would be fun!

Nikki said...

Great post, that is a lot of stuff to think about.