With the recent flap about just what a working mom is–Hillary Rosen and Ann Romney –or isn’t or what was actually said made me think about my own time working ‘in the home’ and ‘outside of the home.’
I’m not going to go over what did or didn’t happen with Rosen and Romney–we all have our opinions and the only thing I’m going to say about that is I wish these manufactured outrages would stop.
That said there is a tangent here that is worth exploring.
I am speaking from personal experience. This is what happened to me and these are my opinions.
The work inside the home is not as mentally demanding all the time as the work that I’ve done outside the home, not all the time. But the work (and it can be but it is a joyful work) of being a parent is more important than anything I’ve ever done for money.
As much as I would almost? probably? rather be home with at least two kids (we were only able to have one)I feel that I it is important to be a rounded role model for my daughter–work is part of life and if things continue as they have been she won’t even have the luxury of a few years off to raise her children should she choose to have them. Also, with only one child it is difficult for me to justify TO MYSELF not working outside the home. Now I’m not saying you aren’t a role model if you stay home. I’ve done both. She’s seen both. She knows I believe fervently both are important.
We’ve had few babysitters, never a nanny and the only time I had a housekeeper what when James and I both were working 70 hours a week BEFORE we had the Bean.
Work, inside and outside the home can leave you drained but in different ways. At work you have a gauntlet of difficult, interesting or impossible personalities to juggle to get your goals achieved. At home you have isolation and the lack of needed mental stimulation that life with a very young child affords.
At the end of both types of days I was exhausted. And I wasn’t able to be the exceedingly crafty or clothes making or house painting stay at home mom like several I know.
One thing I’ve not been able to navigate? Or to understand?
As “just a mom” I was dismissed. Other women would walk off from conversations with me in social situations. I wasn’t interesting to them I suppose. Which, considering the life I’ve had ,I find more than slightly insulting. Several times I was dismissed by women I knew slightly through other friends. The one that hurt the most was the time, I ran into a friend at a street fair who I hadn’t seen since high school (she was visiting, I’d just moved back). She is a PhD , and I gather important where she lives. We were geeks together in high school and I was so happy to see her. She found out what I did and walked off with a look of disinterest and about four words.
That repeated itself several times during the years I had off when the Bean was young.
No I’m not imagining this or projecting anything. There were times friends witnessed the dismissals and would look at me and wince sympathetically.
And now that I’m working and have been again for awhile? Well I do have a coveted skill–I can fix just about anything going on with a computer. Some skills are rusty, some have returned gangbusters. I’m getting back to where I was years ago in 7 league boots. Because I didn’t stop learning and doing things even when I was “just a mom.” And because I’ve always been pretty damn smart. Not smart enough to get the degree I should have had years ago (in computer science, but there is still time for that!) but smart enough to get an MCSE, build networks and have a masters in literature. And I learn fast and keep learning.
So now my problems are over right? Not at all. When I have to buy snacks instead of making them from scratch the way I used to –the moms who work at home have a nice little dig about that. When I can’t take off work to do something I really want to do with or at the Bean’s school? Ah yes, another pica to my neck. Room mom’s sometimes haven’t been interested in saying anything to me because even though I’m more than willing to help, I may not be able to do exactly what they would like to give me to do –so I’m an annoyance (that is certainly how it seems). So I’ll bring the juice boxes and either my husband or I show up to everything our Bean does and we make our own opportunities.
So if I work I’m jabbed from one side, if I don’t I’m jabbed from the other.
Women–seriously it is time for this to stop. As human beings we make choices and we should NOT, out of our own fears–because that’s where these things come from–demean other women for what they choose to do work wise. At least that. Most of us don’t HAVE a choice. Some of us may ,but we are extremely few and very very lucky.
I think these digs and cruelties come from fear–fear that at a stay at home mom we aren’t important or fear that as a working mom we aren’t giving enough to our children. But that needs to stop. We are all doing the best that we can with the opportunities we’ve been given. We need to get over ourselves and support each other, not degrade each other.
We as women, need to stop being haters of women. Or at least stop being so damn defensive.