Every working mother has heard it at least once: “Oh, I stay at home. I don’t want to let someone else raise my child.” Can we stop this? Working mothers raise their children every bit as much as mothers who stay at home.
Look. First of all, let’s get this part out of the way — no one says this crap to men. No one. No one — short of awesome feminist ladies making a point — asks men if they plan to return to work after the baby comes. No one accuses a man of letting a stranger raise his children or pities his having to — or judges his choosing to — work once he has a newborn. Huh. I wonder why that might be.
Funny, also, how this only seems to apply to children under a certain age. Are elementary school teachers raising my kids? How about the bus drivers and cafeteria workers? What exactly is it about putting a newborn down for naps and feeding them that constitutes “raising” them? Where is the magical line between 2-year-olds doing learning activities and running around on the playground all day and kindergartners doing the same?
Mom Mona nails it: “People really conflate the physical aspect of child rearing with the relationship, and it’s not.” Motherhood is a lifelong connection comprising far more than the daily tasks of a newborn’s physical care. It won’t be destroyed because someone else meets those physical needs during business hours.
“I was scoffed at by a stay-at-home mom who told me that while I have a full-time job, she is a full-time mom,” shares Sara, a working mother of five. Friends. I am saying this as a SAHM of eight years and change — that is not OK. If you are a mother, you are a full-time mother. Part-time mother is not a thing. These women instill values, they nurture their babies, they put them to bed at night and kiss their cheeks, do their laundry, give them baths, read them stories, teach them manners, take them shopping and shape them into adults. Cue Mrs. White and the flames on the sides of my face.
I fear it comes down to right where I started — society prefers women in the home and out of the workplace. Even in 2015, a woman without children who works is pitied and a woman with children who works is denigrated. How tragic that these women need to provide for their families or enjoy the stimulation work provides them. Woe! Let us scoff at them and imply this selfish behavior robs their children of a lasting maternal bond.
Or maybe let’s knock it off and remember a mother is a mother is a mother. Mothers who stay at home make sacrifices and mothers who work out of the home make sacrifices and a plague of bumblebees upon anyone who tries to engage either one in a hand of misery poker.