Sep 282009

I recently heard a vicious radio debate between women who believe that mothers should stay home and others who believe that mothers should work outside the home. All the debaters were mothers themselves.

As I listened wearily while ducking and dodging the ladies’ sucker punches like a cornered boxer, I thought…this is really getting old.

I’ve been both a “working” and a “stay home” mom so I’ve experienced both sides of the internal and eternal debate moms endure all day, every day. When I worked outside my house, Mommy Guilt rode shotgun with me each morning, chiding me for dropping off my sick boy at day care instead of keeping him home and for rocking him the night before instead of preparing for work. When I got to work each day Mommy Guilt whispered that a good mom would still be at home with her son and when I returned home she’d insist that a better teacher would have stayed at work longer. When I’d visit girlfriends who stayed home, Mommy Guilt would say “See…this lady’s doing it right. Her kids are better off than yours are.” And Mommy Guilt certainly had a hey day when Chase’s day care provider admitted that he had taken his first steps while I was working. Every night when I finally got Chase to sleep, finished grading papers, and collapsed into the couch, Mommy Guilt would snuggle up next to me and sweetly say “shouldn’t you spend some quality time with your husband instead of checking out?” And finally, before I fell asleep each night, Mommy Guilt would whisper in my ear, “YOU KNOW, THE ONLY WAY YOU’RE GOING TO BE A GOOD MOTHER AND WIFE IS IF YOU QUIT YOUR JOB AND STAY HOME.”

And so now I’m a stay at home mom. And the thing is that Mommy Guilt stays home with me. These days I experience her less as a drive- by- shooter and more as a constant commentator. Now she sounds like this:

“Did you go to all three of those college classes just so you could clean the kitchen and play Candy Land all day? And how is it that you don’t even do those things very well? Can you concentrate on nothing? Look at this mess! A good mom would clean more and play less. Also, a good mom would clean less and play more. Also a good mom would clean more and play more and quit emailing altogether. Additionally, I’ve been meaning to ask if you’re sure you feel comfortable spending so much money when you don’t even make any. Moreover, when was the last time you volunteered at Chase’s school? What kind of stay at home mom doesn’t go to PTA meetings or know how to make lasagna? Furthermore, nobody in this house appreciates you.” My favorite, though, is that when I finally do sit down, concentrate on one of my kids, and read a few books all the way through… instead of saying “Good job!” Mommy Guilt says, “See how happy your daughter is? You’re home all day…why don’t you do this more often?”

And of course, before I go to sleep every night she whispers… “YOU KNOW, MAYBE YOU’D BE A BETTER MOTHER AND WOMAN IF YOU COULD JUST GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND WORK.”

Mommy Guilt is like that scene from “Liar, Liar” in which Jim Carrey enters a bathroom, throws himself against the walls, slams his head inside the toilet seat, rubs soap into his eyes…and when he stumbles back into the lobby, he explains his battered appearance like this: I WAS KICKIN’ MY ASS! DO YA MIND?”

I sympathize with kicking one’s own ass. I do it all the time.

What I don’t understand is why some ladies insist on making everything worse by kicking each other’s asses.

To the women who argue vehemently that all “good mothers” stay at home: Are you nuts? If you got your way, who would show my daughters that some women actually change out of yoga pants and into scrubs and police badges and power suits each day? How would my girls even know that women who don’t feel like carrying diaper bags can carry briefcases or stethoscopes instead…or also? How, pray tell, could I tell them with a straight face that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be?

And to the women who argue that all stay home mothers damage women’s liberation: Are you nuts? Aren’t you causing some damage by suggesting that we all must fit into a category, that women are a cause instead of individuals? And doesn’t choosing to spend your limited time and energy attacking “us” set “us” back? But for argument’s sake, what if you got your way and every mother was required to work outside of the home? What would that mean to ME? Who would volunteer to lead my son’s reading group at school, host his class party, plan his Sunday school lesson or wait with him in the parking lot when I forget to pick him up? Who would watch my daughter while the baby gets her shots? Who would knock on my door and tell me that my keys are still in the front door, the doors to my van are open, and my purse is in the driveway?

And if every woman made the same decision, how would my children learn that sometimes motherhood looks like going to work to put food on the table or stay sane or share your gifts or because you want to work and you’ve earned that right.And that other times motherhood looks like staying home for all of the exact same reasons.

As far as I can tell, no matter what decision a woman makes, she’s offering an invaluable gift to my daughters and me. So I’d like to thank all of you. Because I’m not necessarily trying to raise an executive or a mommy. I’m trying to raise a woman. And there are as many different right ways to be a woman as there are women.

So, angry, debating ladies…here’s the thing. My daughter is watching me andyou to learn what it means to be a woman. And I’d like her to learn that a woman’s value is determined less by her career choices and more by how she treats other women, in particular, women who are different than she is. I’d like her to learn that her strength is defined by her honesty and her ability to exist in grey areas without succumbing to camouflaging her insecurities with generalizations or accusations. And I’d like her to learn that the only way to be both graceful and powerful is to dance among the endless definitions of the word woman… and to refuse to organize women into categories, to view ideas in black and white, or to choose sides and come out swinging. Because being a woman is not that easy, and it’s not that hard.

And speaking of “Liar, Liar”….angry debating ladies…. when you yell about how much peace you have with your decisions, it just doesn’t ring true. The thing is, if you’re yelling, I don’t believe that you’ve got it all figured out. I don’t even believe that you believeyou’ve got it all figured out.I think your problem might be that you’re as internally conflicted as the rest of us about your choices. But instead of kicking your own ass, you’ve decided it’d be easier to kick ours.

Which is tempting, but also wrong.

So, maybe instead of tearing each other up, we could each admit that we’re a bit torn up about our choices, or lack thereof. And we could offer each other a shoulder or a hand. And then maybe our girls would see what it really means to be a woman.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  60 Responses to “Friendly Fire”

  1. […] very popular blogger, Glennon Melton, at Momastery, wrote this post a while back and I LOVE it, with a capital L. Glennon talks about the whole stay at home mom vs […]

  2. Iam basicly a stay at home father and work every other weekend and it just works for me and my wife. She would never be able to stay at home full time where I love being home with the kids all the time even though it can be a hand full at times. I have 2 sons under 3 and a 8yearoldburrito stepdaughter.

  3. […] not here to rehash this debate – it’s been discussed beautifully here.  I just want to share my […]

  4. Glennon, This post was absolutely incredible. I enjoy your writing style and voice.I was once a military officer and now am a stay at home mom pursuing freelance writing.I had a difficult time transitioning to being a stay at home mother. For me, it was because I valued the spiffy titles I once had and though ALL mothers were amazing but quite honestly, a little off their rockers as they talked about their kids ALL the time (I had three miscarriages before our first son was born, so I realize now why more irritation was present). Then, I got all high and mighty, thinking I was a martyr staying at home…sacrificing myself for the betterment of family, God and country.Today as I look at my mentor in life – a working mother with four grown children who made endless sacrifices – she admits she wasn't a "normal" mom – she didn't get to feed her kids cereal every morning b.c she was in ministry, sometimes in other countries…but the 3 decades that passed produced all FOUR kids with strong faith, work ethic and passion for people.Now, the bottom line for me is this…God created us all to be different – in college I never judged my friends with different majors or career paths and I don't desire to adopt a different process in motherhood. My closest friends are stay at home, working, part time working WOMEN – they're all WOMEN and many are mothers. I support them in the unique path God placed them on as I've deeply appreciated their support.

  5. I'm taking my son to the doctor today. His pediatrician is the mother of four. It just occurred to me to THANK HER for being away from her little ones to take care of mine. I imagine that her boss thanks her for her hard work, but I imagine not many of her patients do. I'm going to change that today and tell her that I am glad she does what she does because she has helped me tremendously in the past 6 months with advice (medical advice and mommy advice, breastfeeding advice, etc.). :-)

  6. Kapow! Well said Glennon!

  7. I completely agree with the 'you have to do what is right for you and your family' strand.However, I've got to add to the idea of what working women bring to our society. I teach first grade. If you stopped all working moms from teaching you would lose many of the best teachers out there. How many stay at home moms rely on working moms to check them out at the grocery store, teach their children, run the gas station, etc.? Women add so much to our society both as moms and in many other ways.I have immense respect for stay at home moms and for working moms. I have immense respect for moms.

  8. I think Stay at Home Dads AND Moms for that matter is great IF you can swing it. I can't, I'm a single parent, so I have no choice but to work, but I also LOVE my job and I LOVE my kids.

  9. A few thoughts that won't leave my head in response to all of the comments above from those that seem to really be judging the concept of working mothers… 1) what about the father? what if he wants to be involved and works less and is therefore more involved in the lives of the children? what if he wants that? isn't that good for the kids, too? my father wasn't around so much and I think that had an impact on me and I'd have liked for him to be more involved. we women feel like we're the only ones who get to stay at home… what if my husband wanted us both to work and both to child-rear? i think that could be really great for children, too!!! OR EVEN BETTER… What if my husband wanted to be a stay-at-home DAD… Do you ladies think that is wrong, too? I have a friend who has this arrangement and it works great for them. i always thought it was great as they both seem really happy 2) what if the woman had a job that was really "important" like curing cancer? what if her husband had a really lucrative job? should she stay at home because he makes enough for her to be able to? gosh — I hope she works! :-)

  10. I don't see the point in getting so upset about who does what with their lives. Didn't your mother's teach you to mind your own business? I work outside the home and a friend of mine who stays home watches my little one. Her and I don't argue about who is doing the right thing… I love the set up we have. I truly do think that if you get angry about this subject then you CLEARLY don't agree with the path you have chosen… deal with it, change it if you don't like it and move on. We are all going to have guilt either way you sacrifice that's just a FACT that none of us will get around.

  11. WOW, I'm just catching up on everything from yesterday. Is it ok that I work out of the home? I'm a single Mom of two. It was my choice to be a single Mom with my daughter as she was a suprise blessing but I had no intention of doing that again a 2nd time but I guess some things happen for a reason.Like Glennon, my husband is an alcoholic but unlike Glennon he is just now seeing that he needs help. We've been separated for over a year and I had no choice but to go back to work when my son was 8 months old. Would it be easier to have stayed with my husband and been able to stay home with my kids? Absolutely NOT! I am the provider, I am the one that makes the money, I am the one that has to pay the bills, I am the one that had to get up in the middle of the night when the kids were sick or just wanted to cuddle becacuse my husband was too drunk to even hear them. I'm the one that has to take off work to go to Doctor appointments, there's no "father" in the picture to do any of these things. I go to back to school nights, dragging both kids along, I got to the grocery store again dragging both kids along, there is no "me" time, there is no "date night" or even a girls night out because the money I would have spent on "me" should really be spent on something they need. My book club meets once a month and guess what? The kids come with me because it's just too much money to have to pay for a baby-sitter. So am I a stay at home mom? Not technically but I sure as hell do everything a stay at home Mom does, all the while putting in an 8 hour day at the office just so my kids can have a nice place to live, food on the table, clothes on their backs and insurance so they can go to the Doctors.I love everything that Glennon said and I agree 100% with everything she said, but this argument is kind of like the whole breastfeeding vs. formula debate.We all do what "WE" think is best for "OUR" children. I try my hardest and I know that I have failed in some ways but God is helping me through that and I firmly believe I am doing what He needs me to do.Thank you Glennon.

  12. Can't we all just get along? ; )Glennon, personally, I think you're spot on. But maybe that's just because I drank the kool-aid. : )

  13. Wow! I've been following the comments all afternoon. Well written Glennon. I bet you didn't think it turn out like this. Being a mom is hard. Working outside the home or staying home. So tomorrow – tell a mom they are doing good job. I think it's something we all need to hear more often. Leave a note on the windshield of the mom who's toddler was throwing a tantrum to hang in there, she's doing a good job. Compliment each other – lift each other up above the guilt.

  14. Wow – quite a debate – I think I will leave it at this – guilt always haunts us no matter where we are – what we do with that guilt, will determine many things about us – it is the guilt that needs to be addressed no matter what side of the fence we are on – it can be paralyzing! Love your words Glennon!

  15. Goodness! It seems that the message got lost in the comments! Always did think that the whole working mom/stay at home mom was a topic to start a war. (Should I put it that way?) I've been on both sides and I firmly believe that you do what you have to do – try to find peace – find a way to deal with the mommy guilt. I have teenagers and believe me the guilt doesn't go away!But really – we need to support one another. It makes such a difference. My husband is from Egypt and we were able to go this summer to visit family. It was absolutely amazing to be around these women who support each other every day. I could have stayed and never come back. Sure there are the arguments – but the understanding and help they give to each other was eye-opening. During Ramadan we cooked together and shared the child caring duties. We prayed together. We shared and tried not to judge because when we did the sisterhood fell apart. Because they are there for each other there is time to pamper one's self. Without the guilt. I was free of mommy guilt for a few weeks this summer. And it was so healing.Anyway – Glennon – just love your writing and how you speak from your heart.

  16. my goodness. nothing draws out the claws like the good old "stay at home" vs. "working" mom debate. though i find it somewhat annoying to post anonymously, i choose to do so in this case so as to not detract from my point by those who might know me as a working or stay at home my opinion, the reason this debate is so passionate for us moms is because nothing is as precious to us as our role as "mother". i am fairly confidant that an argument about who is a better wife, a stay at home wife or a working wife, would not stir nearly the same emotion. Not because we don't want to be great wives to our husbands, but because we were actually CREATED to be mothers. The need to do this "right" is an integral part of our self-worth. To know this as a mother myself makes mefeel compassion for all other mothers, regardless of whether they work in or out of the home. If only we could see our commonality in this, our greatest vulnerability, than we might FINALLY move beyond this very divisive debate.

  17. I have followed this thread throughout the day and I have found the following points to be evident:1. BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): The true issue here is suffering. To those of you who are Christian, I exhort you to remember that Our Lord told us all (even the saints who strove to do His will) that "no servant is greater than his master." Translated: we all are going to suffer, even if we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing (i.e. working outside the home to feed our babies or staying at home with our kids to provide the love a small child needs from Mom). To those who are not Christian, the reality of suffering does not go away – you can run, but you will only die tired. Ultimately, the truth (and yes, there is truth) is that we are all going to suffer. What matters is that we love (and the first and key ingredient of love according to St. Paul is patience). Suffering without love is insanity. Conversely, you cannot love someone without sacrificing for them (i.e. suffering for them) in some way. Glennon, remember that you love your children and that you are doing your best for them – it will not be perfect, but it is your best. Remember also that you will suffer (especially because you are trying to do what is right) – but yours will be a great reward for staying the course. A mature person (and that is what all mothers must be) does three things: a. Takes responsibility for their actions b. Understands that they will suffer for the choices they make and that ultimately suffering is efficacious for us and leads to our perfection c. Perseveres no matter what the suffering or obstacles (strengthened by prayer and faith, of course)2. Those who claim to be nonjudgmental seem to have trouble accepting other people's views that differ from theirs. So, the question begs to be asked: Are YOU (insert anonymous name here) as open-minded as you profess yourself to be or are you prideful?3. A wise man once said to me: "If you have an infection in your side and I poke you in the side, it's going to hurt!" Consciences can have infections as well. To those who were wounded by posts that are contrary to the way they do things, maybe your lengthy self-justifications are an indication of a guilty conscience.I recommend all who have posted today take a sincere look at their circumstances and ask themselves: "Am I serving the common good, or am I serving myself?"

  18. Anon II,Call it criticism, judging, tough love, etc. G's original point is still the same, which you still seem to be missing, in my humble opinion. And really ladies, enough with the "materialism" argument… in some way, shape or form, we ALL like to look cute, or have the kids look cute, or have a nice trinket in the house. So what?? Gosh are there bigger things to worry about in life than if your neighbor spends too much on clothes and that's why she's going to work. Really? THAT matters to you? Unbelievable to me. I stumbled upon this blog, I don't even have kids. But I can say right now, I won't give up some of the things I like if I decide to have a kid. I have no idea why some of you think this relates to not being a good mom. Isn't that really all that matters anyway? Some of these reactions are just downright silly and quite frankly, really messed up. I commend all you women that do whatever it is you need to for your families and your happiness. I honestly couldn't care less what that is, despite how I may do things in my own life. Glennon, you write well. Your ideas are spot on. Too bad some can't see the nice message. Good day to you and your family.

  19. Glennon, you rock. I get it. We all feel the guilt, we all love our children more than anything. Do our best, spread the love, move on….and maybe even give someone a pat on the back instead of a raised eyebrow 😉 It takes a village! (of workers and stay at homers!)

  20. Dear Anonymous, you ask, "Why, oh why, must others judge?" There is a big difference between saying that people "judge" versus saying that people "make judgments." The first means that you hate someone and condemn them in your heart (may God forbid). The second means that you assign a greater value of good to some actions people take than to others, and THAT, surely, may be done without drawing criticism? I believe that stay-at-home moms who spend a lot of money on "things" may, most definitely, also be guilty of materialism. Though I would never judge the person on that score, I would challenge them to think about it. Having these kind of debates, where, as you say, we can become better wives and mothers and women by, hopefully, learning something from one another or thinking about something in a different way, can help us to inform our consciences, in such a way that we may grow as a person. You say you are a little hurt. Did you not think A.Laxton might be hurt, when you penned 15 paragraphs of self-justification aimed specifically at her? Nevertheless, please don't feel beat up, and please DO consider my criticisms of you to be tough love. God bless.

  21. I have yet to have kids, but I have thought about this a lot. I know that one day I will be a working Mommy. That is the plan. I have many strong skills that I use to excel at my career. I plan to continue to develop these skills because it makes me happy and it makes me….me. I hope to develop many skills to be a wonderful mother. I hope to learn how to make it all work. And this is my choice. I chose to have a successful career and I plan to be a successful parent. I make decision all the time that people may not agree with. I enjoy being an individual who does what she likes regardless of how others perceive her. If people judge my choices then I hope the process of judging results in something good for them, because it will do nothing for me. I am proud to be surrounded by woman who care so much about their families that they struggle with how to make it all work. I think it is beautiful to see how much these women truly love. I am thrilled that women have the ability to choose what is right for their family. And I think it is downright silly to assume that what is right for you is right for everyone else. At the end of the day we all have to look ourselves in the mirror. That is hard enough without someone else telling you that you are having a bad hair day.Glennon, I thank you for sharing with us your daily struggles. I support you in every decision that you make for you and your family. You are the cat's pjs. Anonymous 8:17am, Good for you for knowing what is important to you and making it all work. You seem happy with the decisions you make, so I see no reason to be put down by someone who judges you for them. If I spent time worrying about people judging me…I wouldn't have time to work from home or at the office.

  22. I really feel that not everyone is understanding Glennon's point… I re-read it just now and I see so clearly what she is trying to say. Why, oh why, must others judge? Why is it right for you to tell me I'm wrong for the way I live? What about stay at home moms who spend a lot of money on "things"? Are they also guilty of materialism? Should they give more to the poor? It's a slippery slope, this judging thing… I agree that it would be nice for Tish and Amanda to see that a woman’s value is determined less by her career choices and more by how she treats other women. I, too, struggle with how to each my little girl and I know this is something we will discuss down the line. I admire many women for many reasons. I love learning from other women. I think it makes me a better wife and mother and woman. I'm sure there are things about you I would admire. And, I love debate and chose to weigh in on this topic because it relevant to me and one that I have an opinion on. I'm a little hurt that you've chosen to label me to be honest. I'm feeling pretty beat up right now so I'm going to go snuggle with the little people and the big person that love me.

  23. "Friendly Fire," indeed….

  24. Sorry for the misunderstanding about this blog. I thought we were having a discussion, here, but I guess you're just supposed to drink the cool-aid and say, "what a great post!" every day…Confirmation: No, Anonymous of 12:41, "Some things are true and always will be" does NOT equal "No Mother Should Work Outside the Home." But it might mean she should have darn good reasons (and those reasons might best be evaluated in the light of the question, "What constitutes materialism?") for doing so!P.S. If it were wrong to "judge" certain actions under certain circumstances, there would be no laws, n'est-ce pas?

  25. Anonymous II — I beg you to further describe rather than generalize. For now, I am interpreting your comments as follows: "Some things are true and always will be" = No Mother Should Work Outside the HomePlease confirm.

  26. Anonymous II – there is more than 1 person posting as "anonymous", I think. Who is the one you are describing? I guess I just don't see the point in criticizing or judging or whatever you want to call it. I don't care how you (and that's a generic you, not one specific person) do things in your house, why do you care how I do things in mine? That's my point – why must we be so quick to judge others – leave it be.

  27. Here's a judgement for you, or at least for most of you: Some things are true and always will be, whether or not we walk in another's shoes. If they are difficult for some people to hear, so be it. It is quite apparent that some of you are so prideful that you can't bear to hear anything that might be construed as a criticism of the way YOU do things. No surprise though, since we are so PC in this culture, now, that absolutes, or anything even approaching such, verboten. You also betray yourselves as being, for the most part, members of a generation educated to be feminists in the worst sense of the word, in a sisterhood that is as exclusive as a sorority. But what else can be expected from so many decades of government education that prides itself on giving unmitigated affirmation of "self." Anonymous, thous dost protest too much. (You are the woman I'm describing!)

  28. GlennonI loved your blog today (well as always, but I'll focus on today's). I always struggle with the mommy guilt/work issue. I do work part-time, which should be a great balance, but there is still the guilt on both sides. I love reading your posts because it always validates how I feel and makes me feel sane again when I have this running commentary in my head and wonder if others do to. This weekend was especially hard, for no particular reason, so it was very reassuring to read your blog. (It was as if you had read my mind.) Thank you!!

  29. I admire A. Laxton's courage to post with her name. We all make errors in judgment on occasion. I know mine usually come right out of mouth. And I start kicking my rear…but then I remember Peter who constantly let his mouth lead his heart and how loving Jesus was with him nonetheless. A. Laxton, I do hope you'll post when you feel you have something to say.

  30. A.Laxton,I don't think anyone would deny you were trying to encourage Glennon. I think the point being made was that there were some judments made in your post. You have given reason to why you stay at home and the others have given reasons for not doing so. Until we walk in each other's shoes, we cannot and should not pass judgement.

  31. WHOA that was visceral. I wasn't expecting that. My humble apologies to Glennon and all. It's hard to be understood on a blog, but I promise I was encouraging you Glennon. ENCOURAGING! I am not the judgmental jerk a lot of you think I am. Or who knows, maybe I am, but I certainly don't want to be! What was perhaps not apparent in my post is that I believe in loving the people around you and helping them get to heaven. I just find people more important than stuff, especially since I have nearly lost two of my children and have lost one sister. So I was thinking, if you don't have to work, why not enjoy the little people in your life for the short time they are home. I am sorry if I offended any one. Truly I am. And I promise I shall not post again on this site!

  32. Caren — Congratulations on your baby! I am learning a lot here — about myself and others and life and God. I often have people ask how I do it. Usually my answer is "I wake up. I do what I have to do. I go to bed. Repeat." The real answer is that I have an amazing partner in my husband who isn't afraid to do dishes or change diapers. He also isn't afraid to take time for himself and to leave me with all four. Or to tell me to zip it or to cut back or to call my mother for help because we're DROWNING OVER HERE. And then there's my sister who is great at moral support and squashing people who make me feel badly about myself. Oh, and my father who gave me this amazing drive to achieve. And, some great friends who are well trained to listen to my diatribe and blather and respond with phrases like "you're doing a great job". And my boss who hired me knowing exactly what he was getting because we worked together for years in our previous company. Let's just say I'm well propped up! You will find that you get better and better at balancing and prioritizing. You will also find if/when you have your second that IT WAS SO EASY WHEN YOU HAD ONLY ONE and that you should have eaten out/gone on dates/traveled/cooked/decorated/scrapbooked/read/worked out, etc. MORE. 😉

  33. HA! I was hoping you'd get the humor! I'm Glennon's cousin from Ohio… I love reading the comments…I have a new little one 11 months and hearing from all of you and that everyone does what they have to and whatever makes them happy is helpful to me! You have a very busy life though… I'm not sure I could pull that off… maybe with practice… it's all so overwhelming right now…

  34. Yes, and FOUR CHILDREN. If they could pull that off then more power to them!

  35. You leave your husband at home with the Au Pair? OH MY:)

  36. To Anonymous at 8:18,I would categorize you as a mother who is doing her best. I had the same reaction that you had after A. Layton's point ; the whole point of Glennon's post was that we as women need to recognize that just about everyone out there is trying to do what's best for her family and that looks different for every woman (and will look different at different times even for the same family.)

  37. Splatypus: I always feel like I'm giving half to each, too. I think it is hard not to feel that way. I try to remind myself that, by virtue of the fact that I feel this way means I CARE about being a good mother and a good employee. And, because I CARE, I know I will never give up or fall short or slack off or fail.

  38. A.Laxton,It's unfortunate that you missed the point of such a well-written blog about the stay at home vs working mom debate. How do I know this? You did exactly what Glennon suggested we shouldn't do – you judged her. For whatever her reason's are that she has guilt, leave her be. That was her point – everyone struggles and does the best they can do for their family whether they are a stay at home or have a career outside the home. I won't even get into how you proceed to judge further with your claims about "things" or a "career"… just more of the same judgmental-ness that gets women nowhere. Do what you do and leave what other family's choose to do alone, I do believe this was part of G's point from the start.

  39. Wow. Amen Sister (and I am using "sister" as fellow-woman-who-totally-gets-it). I blogged about this, although not nearly as eloquently as you, when I returned from maternity leave. We are so hard on ourselves…

  40. Our children don’t watch television unless it is a very special occasion. One of these occasions is when they have a sitter because my husband and I decide it is time for a date. Am I the woman you’re describing? I was invited to a party recently. I wanted to look pretty. I wanted to show I had lost most of the baby weight. And, I wanted to hide the baby weight I had not yet lost. I wanted my friends to think I was pulled together and trendy. I wanted my husband to think I was sexy. So, I stole some “me time” during the middle of the day and went to the Nordstrom Rack and bought a new dress. I spent $22 and it made me feel trendy and attractive and thin. My friends said I looked great. My husband and I shared a nice night of flirting and togetherness because I was confident and pleased with the way I looked. Am I the woman you’re describing? So, I ask you, am I the woman you’re describing? Am I the woman who works to pay for food for her baby? Or for “worldly possessions”? My husband and I pay for things that some see as unnecessary. We pay for a Catholic education. We intend to pay for college. I think the $22 dress is a worldly possession. I know I had other things in my closet I could have worn. I also think the $22 was an investment in my self confidence and in my marriage. I think the Suburban is a worldly possession. I also know it makes family outings easier and safer. I am proud of the fact that we bought it used and that we therefore spent less money than we would have if we bought it new. But, I suppose we could have crammed into the Explorer, too. I think this is precisely Glennon’s point… Instead of kicking your own ass, you’ve decided it’d be easier to kick mine. Maybe you don’t want to kick your ass. And, quite frankly, I’m tired of kicking mine. I believe wholeheartedly that I am training up my children in the way they should go despite the fact that I go to work everyday. And so does my husband. And, I believe in my heart that God does, too.

  41. From the time I get home until our children go to bed we are a team. Usually he plays outside with the older three while I cook dinner with the baby on my hip. The older three children tend to float back and forth between us as they alternate between wanting to play outside and wanting to help me cook. I sometimes get frustrated with the help when something gets spilled, but I often allow them to make the salad which means letting go of a little control and allowing them to do it differently than I would. We sit down together each night at the table. There are usually three prayers said at each meal because each of the children wants the opportunity. We don’t allow hats at the table. We don’t force them to clear their plate, but dessert is a reward for those that do. I start the baths while my husband does the dishes. He reads to them from the bible while I hang up the bath towels and put their clothes in the hamper and get their cups of water. We tuck them in together. Each child gets a hug and a kiss from each parent. Each parent takes a moment with each of them to see if there is anything on their mind and to thank God for something good about the day. Am I the woman you’re describing? He has no benefits because he is self employed. Fortunately, we have medical and dental and flexible spending accounts and 401k through my job. And, I make more money than he does. We spend more money than we intend from time to time when something unplanned happens like a car malfunction. Sometimes we spend more money than we intend to when we decide we really want to do something special. This year we went to the Homestead as a family. Our baby was new and I was on maternity leave so it was easy to get away. The children were out of school and the trout were running. So, we packed up and spend two nights there. We bowled together. The boys fished. Our daughter got to ride a horse for the first time. I hoped to get a massage, but decided that it was more important to spend time with the family at the pool. I sort of regretted on the drive home that I was at the Homestead and didn’t take advantage of their spa. But, I know I made the right decision. Sometimes we spend more money than we plan because we tend to overspend on gift giving for our friends and family. We like to show them we care when they marry or when they have a milestone birthday or when they welcome a baby. I’m not sure this is necessary, but it makes me feel good. We are saving for college and we don’t carry debt other than our mortgage. Am I the woman you’re describing? My house is clean. I spend time on cleaning and like the way I feel when things are organized and tidy. It quiets my brain when I’m surrounded by organization. I also pay ladies to help me with this task. They come every other week and they also assist with laundry. I am able to spend more time with my family when I spend less time cleaning. And, I also view this as an investment in my home. Am I the woman you’re describing?

  42. Sometimes when I’m in a hurry I run by Harris Teeter and spend more than I should. About once every other week we order pizza. Occasionally we go out for a nice brunch after church. From time to time we have scrambled eggs for dinner because I’m running late and we don’t have the right food in the house to make a traditional dinner meal. Usually I buy from the farmer's market or Costco to keep the price down. I take a lot of short cuts. They eat macaroni and cheese out of the box and frozen waffles sometimes. On Saturday morning daddy always gets them donuts. They have fruit with every meal and milk, too. I sometimes feel like a short order cook when I prepare a few different meals just because I know each child doesn’t like the same foods and I want everyone to be happy. Across my four children we have had 12 birthdays. Their cakes are delicious and perfect and prepared lovingly for each child. The cake is always exactly as they designed and described to match the theme of their party. Yet, I don’t make them. My mother does and she takes great pride in this. Am I the woman you’re describing? My oldest son goes to a Catholic school because we feel it’s important to include religious education into their formal education. We like the fact that his teachers can say “God Bless You” to our son and that he has the opportunity to see God in everyday life because the topic is not taboo at school. Yet, there is a price for this school. Am I the woman you’re describing? My husband works, too. But, he is self employed and works from our home. He is here 80% of the time and is therefore able to oversee the children and our au pair to ensure things are running smoothly. He does most of the driving to and from school and puts these trips on his calendar to ensure he doesn’t schedule a meeting to conflict with this. He takes the children over from the au pair at 5 PM every day. He never starts dinner. He never allows them to watch television. When I get home they’re outside playing catch and football and lacrosse and riding bikes and getting sunshine and exercise. I usually miss this first hour of the outside playing as I typically arrive home at 6 PM. Am I the woman you’re describing? (continued)

  43. We drive a 2007 Suburban. We bought it when God “surprised” us with the blessing of a fourth child. It has leather heated seats and a navigation system. But we bought it used. We also have an Audi. I bought it in 2001 to celebrate a big promotion. This was before we had children. It now has 136k miles. It’s in the shop right now. Our third car is the Ford Explorer we bought when we were expecting our first. My husband called it our “baby carriage” and we got it because it was safe and sturdy and had room for the huge jogging stroller I insisted on. It has 96k miles on it now and a nice dent that I put in the bumper the other week when I was hurrying to leave a meeting to get home in time for Back to School night. I failed to see a fire hydrant. We won’t fix the dent as a car is really just a way to get from Point A to Point B anyway. My husband, his best friend, and my father bought a fishing boat together a few years back because that’s their passion. We found it on Craig’s List. It is shiny and fast. Am I the woman you’re describing? Last year we went to Disney World to see the magic of Disney sparking in their eyes, but my parents helped foot the bill. Next year we hope to go away together to celebrate the blessing of ten years of marriage. Am I the woman you’re describing? My children sometimes wear brand new clothes that I purchased on sale, sometimes hand me down clothes from a friend, sometimes beautiful clothes that I bought from a consignment store and occasionally adorable outfits that I bought full price from a boutique for a holiday because I want to have the precious pictures of them looking perfect and beautiful when they’re grown. Am I the woman you’re describing? (continued)

  44. A. Laxton – After reading your post, I'm curious as to how you would categorize me. I work. Sometimes I work from my house for a few hours in the morning to be here to help ensure the chaos is minimized during the rush to get everyone fed, dressed and ready for the day. But, sometimes I leave before everyone is awake and get home just in time to prepare a quick meal. Yet, sometimes I make my way home after a meeting before the work day is officially over. Often times I work from 9 PM on to get caught up after my babies are in bed and my husband is settled in front of the television to catch up on the news or to watch the game. Am I the woman you’re describing?I am usually the one to take my children to their doctor appointments, but my husband takes them, too. He is usually the one to take them to school, though sometimes I do drop off on my way to work. I am always there for the first day, and a seldom miss an event where the parents are invited to school for one event or another. But, it has happened. My mother once had to pick up my children late from preschool because my husband’s car broke down and I was stuck in a meeting. Am I the woman you’re describing? (continued)

  45. Thank you thank you thank you!Seems like, along with having a baby, I also gave birth to the Mommy Guilt, too! I work part-time and I get to take my son to work with me, and I stay-at-home and do the laundry, cleaning, bill-paying, child rearing, etc. And on each side of the coin, there is guilt! On a good day there's not much, but I am forever thinking I SHOULD be doing better, more, less, higher, lower, etc. I joke that beating myself up is my favorite form of exercise! Sometimes I just need to tell that sneaky voice in my head to shut up, and leave me in peace! This is the hardest job I've ever loved, being a mother. And I think that, however it is done, if a mother just tries as hard as she can and loves her child(ren) desperately much, then it will really all turn out ok. Thank you for your insight on this topic!

  46. I believe that kids are tougher and more resilient than most people think; that their hearts heal as quickly as their boo-boos. I also think that kids are impressionable, especially in the formative pre-school years. But more importantly, I think what kids most need are happy parents, and that each mother needs to find the conditions that keep her happiest. Consider the inverse: kids don't benefit any more from a miserable stay-at-home mom than a miserable working mom. These are the principles that guide me at home, both for my own decisions and the guidance I share with my wife.

  47. glennon, you should be on TV! =)

  48. Conflicted about what Glennon? I am confused. About staying home? Your arguments for Mommy guilt and working guilt don't seem to be of equal import. Not reading enough books to your child or not having as clean a house as you would like are not really that significant in the long run. Not staying home with your kids can be very significant. I'm assuming we're not talking about women who have to work to feed their babies, but rather women who want the extras (extra cars, vacations, a boat, or even extra "me" time for example) or want the prestige of a successful career. Also, as your daughter grows, she will no doubt run into women of all different walks of life. I wouldn't worry about that. Never underestimate the work you do at home, even if your house doesn't look like a magazine ad. Day by day you "train up a child in the way he should go." All earthly things are passing. Cars, houses, and prestige won't last. We have to keep the goal in mind. The goal is heaven! And you are the one God has chosen to train those children in His ways.

    • What gives you the right to judge WHY someone works? If they choose to work, they choose to work. Isn’t that what women’s liberation is all about – that we have choices and it’s NO ONE’S BUSINESS but our own why we choose what we choose? There is no right path. There are many right paths to the same end – our children being productive, contributing, members of society – and some women’s will involve working outside the home while some women’s will involve staying home with monkeys. It’s ALL God’s work.

  49. What really bugs me about the 'mommy wars' is that no one considers the moms who don't have a choice in the matter. Whether they want a job and can't find one or whether they are working because there's no one else to pay the bills, to suggest that their situation is wrong simply adds unnecessarily to their burden. For some, it's not a choice at all and I'm quite certain they still feel the same guilt the rest of us do anyway. Thanks for posting on this topic!:)MK

  50. Glennon, I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and love it. Thank you for so eloquently expressing my thoughts. :) So impressive considering I've never met you. I'm sitting on the train going to Philadelphia for two days of meeting and feeling guilty that I didn't play enough with my son this weekend and that I won't see him until tomorrow night. If I'm lucky, I'll get home in time to put him to bed. I work from home, so I see him lots, but I still have the guilt track running no matter what I'm doing. So, I have to thank you, because the soundtrack quit while I was reading your post this morning and the knot in my stomach has actually loosened a bit. I'm grateful.

  51. Preach it sister!(Now the mommy guilt says to me, get off the computer and see what your child is doing!!):)

  52. Glennon,Great post! The mommy guilt never goes away. I work from home but I also feel that tug of "I should be working" when I am playing, and "I should be playing" when I am working. I do feel that I am doing what is best for our family but I think it is in a mom's nature to second-guess every decision that we make.Thanks again for sharing….a great start to my Monday.Laura

  53. Coincidentally, I spent a lot of time thinking about the "mommy wars" this weekend and about how much I wish women, those who work and those who stay home, would just let it go and quit judging each other. Thank you for echoing my thoughts, but in a much more eloquent way.

  54. Oh, I don't mean there will be perfect peace in joy in motherhood — that would be simplistic. I was conflicted for years — always introduced myself as a lawyer, not a mom! What I mean is that there will be perfect peace and joy in your decision…and knowledge that He will accompany you on the hard days too! And He never asks for snacks! Hang in there. It doesn't get easier, but it does get different and you start to see His work in your children. Of course, this is offered after a morning fighting ants in the backpack. "I know I don't have any food in there…" as the mother pulls out a cupcake wrapper. sigh. back to square 1.

  55. You are lucky South Lakes Mom! I think it's a little dangerous though, to suggest that if a woman is following God, she will find perfect peace and joy in motherhood. I talk to God and listen for Him often, and I am comforted, but still conflicted. I think that's okay.

  56. There's a price to be paid, whichever decision a family makes. Ultimately, it needs to be one that God calls a woman to and God will NEVER call us to do something that is at the expense of our kids. He loves them more than we do. Once that is the motivator, the peace will fill you and the joy will be restored. I gave up practicing law for being home. Now that mine are teens, I see the pay-off. Just turn off the radio. :-)

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