There’s always a lot of controversy when people start debating stay-at-home moms v.s. work-outside-the-home moms. There’s huffing and hubbub about who are the better parents and whose kids are happier/healthier/smarter/fitter, and round and round she goes until everyone’s panties are quite certainly cutting off the circulation to their brains. My sympathies are on both sides, I think because I don’t feel like I have to defend myself; I’m not a SAHM or a WOHM but a rarer hybrid: the work-at-home mom.
In my three-plus years as a parent, the subject of my WAHMness hasn’t created even a ripple in the wavepool of moms judging other moms…unless you count the three times it came up last month.
“Oh, you work from home? That must be nice. But then why is your son in full-time daycare?”
“Um…because I’m working?”
The fact that my desk is the kitchen table and my cats are my coworkers doesn’t mean I can divide my time between my job and my child any better at home than I’d be able to in a formal office setting (unless I just sat my son in front of the t.v. all day, which he’d probably LOVE, but no), and yet there are apparently a handful of people out there who don’t quite understand that I can’t do my job and actively parent my son at the same time. Maybe I’m being a hippy here, but parenting isn’t about mere proximity to your kids, it’s about actually engaging with them, right? I can hardly do that when I’m up to my eyebrows in deadlines.
I’ve been surprised to hear the logic (or lack thereof) coming out of peoples’ mouths when they’ve said these things to me (especially three times in a matter of weeks), but although I’ve been taken aback, I haven’t been offended, per se. I know (or like to believe; “Benefit of the Doubt” is my middle name) that an outside judgment of my personal decision is more likely to be a reflection of the judger than the judged. Perhaps the mom who says these things wishes she could work from home while spending time with her kids. Or perhaps she’s attempting to justify the time she spends at the office, assuaging the guilt that can come with that through careless comments about another’s situation. Or perhaps she doesn’t want to work at all and would be a stay-at-home mom in a heartbeat if that were possible. I don’t know. I can’t know. And it doesn’t matter, really. Her situation has no bearing on mine, just as mine has none on hers. Weird, though, how we still sometimes act like they do.
(Related: Take a look at the images that pop up when you do a Google search for “work at home mom”: women at laptops with kids crawling all over them–a situation that can’t be good for any of them. This IS the common perception of work-at-home moms, whether we like it or not.)
Any other work-at-home moms out there? Has anyone judged you for that decision (or made stupid assumptions about how the location of your office should affect your parenting style)? Do you think people expect different things from you than they do from work-outside-the-home moms?