Jan 212012

An interviewer recently asked me so many wild questions about the imaginary “mommy wars” that I got really tired. I told him that I think the “mommy war” is a battle that rages INSIDE each parent –  that internal battle between guilt and sanity – between “perfection” and reality. Between what family life is supposed look like (calm and pretty and Pinterest!) and what family life actually looks like (chaos and messy and Survivor!).  Those of us who can’t handle that tension take the war from inside to outside –  and start to judge and project and lash out at others. We defend our circumstances by snarking about people in different circumstances.

I really think that’s how it works – we either learn to let our uncertainty and pain come and go or we don’t – and we dump it on others. So much depends on just learning that pain and confusion are not a sign that anything’s wrong with you or with your life- they are just signs that you’re human.  Nobody’s got it all figured out. NOBODY. We’ve all got pain and confusion and joy and pride and exhaustion surrounding this parenting thing.  Or this LIFE thing, really. Beautiful things are hard – they’re designed that way. I think that’s so we can allow all the hard to bring us together instead of pushing us apart. We should practice more. We can do hard things.


Friendly Fire

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-at-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 lot to say 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 into the toilet, and rubs soap into his eyes. When a confused observer asks what on Earth he’s doing he says, “I WAS KICKIN’ MY ASS! DO YA MIND?”

I understand the act of kicking one’s own ass. I do it all the time.

What I don’t understand is why some people 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 uniforms 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 AND you 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 masking 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 believe you’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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  187 Responses to “Friendly Fire”

  1. […] have GOT to read this blog article. Seriously, go read it, now! It really hit home for me in so many ways and I know it will for so […]

  2. […] The Candles + 30 Things About Almost 30 + So Tired Of Talking About The Mommy Wars + Girls Is Back + Parenthood And The Case Of The Missing Family TV […]

  3. The thing that really gets to me about these angry-lady debates is that the venom is so directed at each other’s decisions, as if those things happen in a vacuum.

    Instead of shaming each other over whether women should work or stay at home, I’d much rather hear an informed and forward-moving conversation about the barriers to work (childcare expenses) and the barriers to time with children (abyssmal maternity/parental leave policies) and barriers to choosing parenthood while working (wage penalties for motherhood)? Plenty of mothers and economists and policy makers have really interesting things to say about how that should/could work, and that would still make interesting television.

    The same goes for other mommy war issues – feeding decisions, schooling decisions, handling behavioral issues, all of it. There are so many smart ways to handle these questions with conversations focused on science and culture and economics and lived experiences. How pathetic that we think the best way to do it is to bring women together essentially for the purpose of belittling and humiliating one another, rather to learn from each other… It’s as if producers think everything has to be the dramatic climax of some terrible reality show just to get our attention.

  4. I got my ass kicked in my daughter’s first grade classroom. Volunteers were scheduled to work a craft for Halloween. With this particular teacher, classroom time was GOLD. When I got there, one of the working moms had shown up early and bullied the teacher into giving her control. It was completed. I mentioned to her that a lot of moms had re-worked their schedules to be there. She let me know that she was a doctor, and that unlike me, she didn’t have the luxury of being at the school all the time. I managed to hold myself together until I found my way to the restroom and sobbed hysterically. She played into every nagging insecurity I have about my decision to stay home (although I am rarely home). I admire her career, not so much her anymore. She was determined to put me in my place, and she did that day. I give my heart and soul to that school. I basically work a part-time job and my payment is thank yous and little hugs. On every other day, it is 100% worth it. On that day I allowed myself to be belittled and I felt like shit under her doctor shoes. I play an important role too, so thank you.

    • “Although I am rarely home.” Exactly. Just because you are not getting paid for your labor does not mean you aren’t doing plenty of work that benefits not only your own family, but also other people. I’m especially disheartened to think of what sort of example she set for the children who watched her treat you that way.

    • Se was right. She didn’t move a hair appointment or yoga class. She likely had to reschedule dozens of patients and/or meetings and/or surgeries to be there. (Depending on the specialty, many physicians are scheduled to see 4-8 patients per hour.) She moved heaven and hell to be there. I don’t think anything she did was remotely unreasonable, you simply lack perspective.

  5. Amen, sister! Amen and Hallelujah for your spot on words!

  6. Mwah!

  7. This is amazing, thank you for a brilliant perspective!

  8. Just……WOW!!!

    Thank you. Loved your thoughts on this!

  9. daughters are watching their mommies and other women, and hopefully they are demonstrating self-care. too many women grow up without learning how to take care of their own needs and run around trying to fix everything for everybody else. a mommy deserves to find out what makes her heart sing..now there is something wonderful to demonstrate to a daughter. a joyful mommy.

  10. Oh my goodness, I love you. You have laid out everything so clearly, so concisely. I left off being a working mom and became a stay-at-home mom because that was the best choice at the time for my growing family. I came to the conclusion only a year or so ago that I am less June Cleaver and more Roseanne Connor, desperately wishing I was Samantha Stephens. But I finally decided I *could not* lie and pretend stay-at-home-motherhood was “calm and pretty and Pinterest!” and stay sane, so I choose to ride the “chaos and messy and Survivor!” and do my best to hold on and direct it, turn it away from the Dark Side and hopefully raise boisterous kids into enthusiastic good-people adults. I found the key for me was carving out ‘me time’ that is completely separate from ‘family time’ and absolutely did not involve grocery shopping. It’s difficult, and I find I have to selfishly and stubbornly insist on it or it gets subsumed, but that (and lots of coffee) is what helps me stay Me *and* stay Mom, and stay sane.

  11. Sometimes I think the mommies arguing vehemently are yelling loudly to try to convince themselves.

    Thanks for another great article. Your writing is beautiful.

  12. i consider myself very lucky to work three and half days a week outside of the home and three and a half days at home with my boys. Despite this I have both conversations with myself. “I’m not engaged enough with the kids when I’m home” & ” I feel terrible dropping my sick kid at Grandmas so I can go to work”. There really is no right choice except to live with the guilt the best way you can.

  13. Just like yourself! Whether at home or at work. Like yourself and appreciate yourself for whatever you are doing and for whatever you’re not doing. Don’t allow others to upset you. We all love our kids. It’s a to-may-to/to-mah-to thing. There’s not an answer to this….it’s just a debate that never ends…..

  14. Appreciated most of your article except the “Are you nuts?” …that is a derogatory comment that refers to a woman’s mental health state when it is not necessary to say. Let’s say our opinion without judgement against another.

    • I am nuts and have no history of mental illness on the books. Disagree that it’s derogatory, but you can have your opinion.

  15. I am not a mother, except to furry, scaly, and feathered children that I’ve rescued over the years. I have three sisters who all have the internal and eternal mommy guilt battle. Let me say thanks for so eloquently sharing what’s been on my heart about the issue for many years.

  16. I’ve read a dozen or so entries of your blog and all I have to say is you ARE AN ANGEL. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

  17. Wow!
    Great Post Glenon. I can really relate to the mommy guilt you are talking about. I am new mom and I am stay at home. I am frequently feeling guilty that I am not taking the best care of my baby staying at home, and working moms are doing better than me. 😛
    Then there is this guilt about not working and my husband having to take the full financial load. But your post eased my guilt a little bit, knowing that all moms feel the same. Thanks for such a wonderful post.

    And about moms attacking moms…I don’t think that will ever come to an end. Its human nature to think that what you do is right and the best thing. But I am sure your post will change a lot of peoples thinking and maybe give some people a different perspective.

    Even in the comments, moms are trying to justify why they work or why they don’t. I don’t think you have to justify your decision to anyone but your self and maybe your better half.

    And yes as much sacrifices as you make to stay at home, you do have to make an equal amount of sacrifices being a working mom. Everything is not related to just money. When I stay at home all day with my baby, at the end of the day I go nuts sometimes and that is a sacrifice I make. And when my nephew comes back home without touching a single piece of lunch in his lunchbox, my sister in law cannot do anything, and that is a sacrifice she makes.

    Whatever choice you make, you make it because its right for you and it makes you happy. Not because it is the right choice.

  18. […] on God answering, pray for those around us in pain, pray for injustice, pray for identity, pray for kindness, pray for safety/health/provision because regardless of whether our God will answer in the way I […]

  19. Happily, I haven’t heard much of this debate recently. As a working mom, I’m grateful for that stay-at-home moms who generously volunteer their time at the school and host my kids for play dates. There’s a role for everyone, people, and we each make the best decision we can based on our individual circumstances. And let’s not forget what the Lin-sational Nicks point guard Jeremy Lin has shown us — when you do things for the glory of God and for his attention alone, everything else falls into place.

  20. Amen, sister!

  21. […] course, then I feel guilty.  Mom guilt is the worst, isn’t it?  Glennon wrote all about it.  She was so right.  If I do, if I don’t.  If I work, if I stay home.  No matter what I […]

  22. Thank you for writing this.

  23. I must say that I’m disappointed by some of the comments here. Most people are making comments that pass judgement on the choices others make. Especially the comments that imply their choice is better for the their children and therefore would be best for all children. The same ones who make comments about highlights, modern conveniences, blackberries, and new cars and imply that these other women could stay home and do without those things. That’s exactly the type of behavior that she was referring to in this post, women making judgements, being jealous, pointing fingers, and thinking that the decision you make is better and would be right for everyone else.

    For the working moms who are on the defensive and don’t seem to be ok with their decision, if it is a financial necessity and you don’t have a choice you might not truly be happy that you’re working deep down and that’s ok too, I understand. You should still be proud that you are doing what must be done to take care of your family, even if it’s not your first choice. You are teaching your kids an important lesson too, life isn’t fair, sometimes we have to make hard decisions and do things that we don’t want to do. For the ones who do enjoy working outside of the home, who have worked hard and put in long hours to build a career should be proud of their accomplishments not ashamed of them. For the stay at home moms who are completely happy with their decision and even those who are a little torn with their decision you are all doing what you think is best and that’s the most important thing. I am sending much love to everyone for choosing to be a mom who cares about her children and especially those to support other women regardless of her choice to work or stay home.

    This is my story, my reality and is not meant to be a defense or judgement of anyone else’s decision. I know that for me, personally, I am a better mom because I work and this is how I know.

    It makes me a happier, calmer, well-balanced person who feels like I’m not missing out on anything because I have a career and a beautiful family. I know that I would feel resentful towards my children and my husband if I was not working. I put 14 years of hard work into my education and career before we decided to have children. If I walked away from that I would be leaving behind a large piece of me and would regret it in the long run because I know myself. The operative word here is “I’, that does not mean that someone else would feel the same way if they made the same decision. For some people, being home with your children full time makes you a happier, calmer and well-balanced person, in which case that’s what you should do if you can afford to make that decision. The most important thing is to know yourself and do what you think is right for you and your family.

    Some of the stay at home moms have made judgmental assumptions about comments like mine “I’m a better mom because I work” or “I would be nuts if I stayed home with my kids all day” both of which apply to me. I’m not saying this because I don’t love my kids or want to spend as much time with them as possible, but because I need the challenge and intellectual stimulation of work to be a happy, well rounded person. I need a productive outlet for that part of my brain that is always on or I feel like it would all back-up and I would explode. My kids are not that outlet for me, they don’t care about these crazy ideas of mine, they just want to play legos or hide and seek. Some may see this as selfish and so be it, but I see it as leading by the example that I want to set for my children. I want them to be happy and confident in who they are and the decisions they make, especially the difficult ones. I have a daughter and a son and I want them both to see it as being “ok” for a mom to work if she chooses that path. I want my daughter to see that she can have a family and a career if she wants, even though it’s not always easy.

    I don’t want my daughter to grow up feeling like I did, that if I made the choice to go to college and have a career that I was choosing not to have children. I almost didn’t have a family because I always felt like I had to give up one to have the other and that is a horribly agonizing decision. I grew up with a stay at home mom and pretty much all of my friends had moms at home too, I knew women who worked, but I didn’t know any women at all who worked AND had children. It wasn’t until I was out of college and settling into my first job that I saw this other type of woman, the one who had children and also worked, somehow she managed to do both. I am thankful to those women who showed me that there was another way, they gave me a choice that I didn’t think I had. I don’t want my daughter to feel like she must choose not to have children if she chooses to work, I want her to see that it’s possible to do both. I want both of my kids to grow up and hopefully have less “work guilt” than I do if they choose to have a career that takes away from some of their family time. I want them to do what makes them feel fulfilled and know that it’s ok to make the choice to be happy in what they do everyday for the overall health of their family, including their children. If I am ok with my choices and confident that I am doing the right thing, I think they will grow up to be confident in their own decisions too. If I am doing what I need to do in order to be a happy person and more pleasant and fun to be around, then everyone will benefit from that decision.

    If I had to rely on my husband financially for 100% of everything I would not feel as secure and independent as I feel right now. This too is a personal decision that I made because I know myself and also based on my own personal life experiences. I know that bad things happen to good people. I need to know that if push came to shove I could take care of my kids, if something happened to my husband I could pay the bills. I need that for me to be a happy and secure person who can sleep at night, not everyone has that same need. I had a friend who had four boys, the oldest was 6 and she stayed home with them, her husband was killed in a car wreck on his way home from work. He had life insurance but not enough to cover everything until the kids were grown because he didn’t expect to die so young. She had to sell their house and move into a small apartment to make the money stretch long enough for her to go to school part time and get a degree so she didn’t have to spend the rest of her life working for minimum wage. My sister was married to a man who after four children and six years of marriage turned into a cheating, controlling, abusive person that he didn’t show signs of when they were first married. They had made the decision when they had their first child that she should stay home with the kids since they wanted a large family. She stayed married to him for five more years after the start of his abuse and hid the truth from everyone (including me) because she didn’t have the financial independence to leave and she had too much pride to ask for help. I have been financially independent from a very young age and could never, ever be in a position to rely 100% on someone else again, that’s just me, I would be a ball of stress everyday.

    My husband has a good job so financially I could afford to give up working but it’s not the right decision for our family. We don’t live a lavish lifestyle, we don’t have a fancy house, we don’t buy new cars, I haven’t bought new clothes in over two years, my hair isn’t highlighted, in fact I haven’t cut it in over six months. We could pay all of our bills with just one of us working and that’s how we want it because you never know what might happen, he could loose his job, my business could go under. We save our money in case we or one of our family members need it because you never know what life will throw at you. We don’t work primarily for the money, although it’s nice to have financial security. We work because we were both raised to value hard work, we enjoy the feeling of a job well done, of feeling like we have used our knowledge and skills to benefit others. We work because we enjoy what we do, it’s part of who we are, what makes us tick.

    I work in part to provide jobs for other moms with office hours that allow them to drop off their kids at school and be home to pick them up from the bus, so they can work and have a family without feeling torn. I run a business from my home which most people would think is the best of both worlds. The reality is that it might be the worst of both worlds in some ways because you never leave work and you never leave home. The mom guilt you would feel while at work is there and the work guilt you would feel while at home is there and they are both competing with each other to be heard. Plus, if the kids destroy the house and I don’t have time to clean it then I have to work all day in the mess and my employees see the carnage. You have the constant battle between doing housework and your job. You think, I should throw in some laundry while I work or run the vacuum while I have a few minutes. When you leave the house and go to the office you can focus on just your job because doing the laundry or running the vacuum is not an option. If you didn’t get around to completely cleaning up after last nights dinner because you decided to play legos instead, no one at work will ever know and you won’t have to look at it until you get home. Like most things it has it’s pros and cons.

    Since I run a business and have employees working at my home full time childcare is a must, it’s not an option for me to manage employees, do my own work and take care of two children. I run the business from home mainly because it’s the most cost effective choice. Is it hard to explain to my son that I have to work when he wants to play, especially when I’m at home? Of course it is but such is life, it can’t always be about having fun, most of the time it’s about being responsible. This is the same even if you stay at home full time, you have things that must be done each day as much as your little ones may want you to play with them. Many times each day we have to do the things we must, rather than the things we want and that’s how I explain it to my children. I don’t worry about them feeling like they aren’t as important as my work because they know that I love them without a doubt. My son who is two and a half, now has the option of going to the Montessori daycare if he wants. Nine times out of ten when he wakes up in the morning and I ask him if he wants to go to school or stay home with mommy he picks school. Why? Because at school he has friends he can play with, they do different fun activities all day long and he never has time to be bored. If he stays home with mommy we will do one or two fun things but not all day long and there aren’t any other kids his age to play with. This definitely helps with the mom guilt of dropping him off at daycare when I know he will have way more fun than being at home and he actually wants to go most days.

    Being a mother is the hardest work I’ve ever done and I work just as hard at that job as I do at running my business. Does that mean I can give 100% to both my family and my job? Not on your life, no one can and if they say they can then they are certainly not being honest with their self assessment. This is where the guilt comes in, however I have found that if I set realistic but achievable expectations for myself for both my work and personal life I have a little less guilt. It’s still there in the back of my mind but not as loud, I can still hear myself think over the noise at least. You have to learn to let some things go, for me this means that I rank things in order of priority. This doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t have to work instead of spending time with my husband or my kids, it just means that if they truly need me that they come first, my customers are people too and most of them understand this.

    1 – My kids (they are my blessing and responsibility, it is my job to make sure they are taken care of)
    2 – My mental and physical well being (if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy)
    3 – My husband (I love him but I think it’s important to love myself more and in turn he loves me for that, ironic huh?)
    4 – Work/Running my business (I love to work, I wish I didn’t sleep, then I could work all night while my kids slept, that would be awesome!)
    5 – Everything else if there’s time, which includes cleaning, dishes and laundry, grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc., etc.

    Is my house a wreck? Often. Do we run out of milk and bread? At least once a month. Do I end up paying bills late? Sometimes. Is my car inspection two months past due? You betcha. Do I skip giving the kids a bath every night? Sure, I tell myself it’s good for their skin to go a day or two without bathing. Do the sheets on my bed get changed weekly? Never, ever. Will any of these things matter ten years from now? I guess it depends on how often I pay my bills late.

  24. Amen!!! Love, positivity, and kindness breed love, positivity, and kindness; judgment and aggression is negative and thus, breeds negativity. While indeed I agree with you on this particular comment, I think this general idea goes far beyond Women, and motherhood. Human beings should all adapt this mindset and acknowledge that they are not perfect, for no one person or thing ever is. They should realize that there is no single point in the life of a human being where one knows all there is to know, for there is always more to learn, to see, to understand, and to do better. Indeed, we all need to encourage one another to acknowledge our own flaws and communicate about them, allowing others insight and experiences to provide us with a newfound perspective that may lead to personal betterment. Of course, not always is an opposing opinion or view point going to be agreed upon. In fact, often times it will be contrary from our own beliefs or ‘ways,’ but that doesnt make it wrong nor should it be grounds for an argument or a fight. Surely, we are all different and thats one of the most beautiful things about life, and particularly, our freedom to be individuals in a country that has a grasp of humane rights. That being said, our given right to free speech, different thoughts, beliefs, and lifestyles should be something we appreciate simply because it’s an option to have versatility in our lives, minds, and thoughts; While we take these seemingly-simple privileges for granted, other women overseas are hardly allowed to speak, don’t have rights and are simply considered lesser beings than Men, or to those in power. Further, aside from embracing differing thoughts, values, or practices; talking about One’s feelings is therapeutic in itself, let’s stop discouraging women (and men), and not just condone, but encourage everyone to speak up and be true to themselves, while feeling safe in knowing that there desire to share their feelings will indeed be beneficial, instead of having to potentially censor their words, or worse, entirely refrain from ever embracing the wonderful outlet of communication due to fear of judgment or slander. More so, in a world of so much chaos and unavoidable drama, why would anyone want to further the weight of burdens intentionally? While I fully agree to this topic and do not promote wrongful judgment, I find it bothersome that this conversation is even necessary to be had. How joyous it would be if our discussions could be based on helpful, kind, selfish, advice; on solutions rather than problems, on love instead of hate; on friendship and acceptance for all individuals rather than stereotyping, preconceived notions, and wrongful judgment; on topics which equally effect us (and our children) as a society and/or species at large, rather than a minor difference in opinion pertaining to an individual or small group of which ultimately is not hurting anyone personally (other than perhaps, arguably, themselves), and certainly shouldn’t be up to anyone else to decide what chose they make about any given topic which is pertaining to their own life, or that of their own family. We should be focusing on redirecting these feelings of disagreement on politics and issues which we individually do have a right to voice our opinion on and vote to change, topics of which go far above and beyond an individual and their own family by touching the lives, whether directly or indirectly, of each and every person in this country, and sometimes, in this planet. Those are the fights worth fighting for. Fight for freedom, for equality, for a significant decrease in federal spending on pointless wars, perhaps redirecting those expenses to more beneficial avenues, such as education, healthcare, and the Betternent of society, especially future generations including, but certainly not limited to, our own children. If we could spend just a small portion of the time and energy voicing or opinions about our needs and desires as a society, indeed we would all be much better off. Surely, while no one should ever be forced to think exactly like any other individual, nor feel discouraged to express their rightful opinion, I am sure we could all agree that this Country, and world, has far greater issues to worry about than the topic of “what moms should be doing.” Alternatively, the need for change in this country is something that should be discussed, loudly and proudly. If one feels the need to share their potentially-controversial opinion, aim it at the country, it’s policies and it’s definitive need for change- change of which does in fact effect you and me, rather than targeting any individual whose lifestyle and choices are irrelevant of your life. If you feel the need to get a little fiesty and demand change, then do it, please! Just do it the right way and make it count for something instead of nothing. With that, I will leave you with a beautifully accurate quote from a musician named Ben Harper; He too, just like many of these ladies, is adamant about letting his voice be heard, though in doing so, he chooses his words very carefully. It’s important, and endlessly helpful, to discuss that which is on your mind or in your heart (especially if it pertains to a topic that is bothersome, hurtful, or confusing to you), whether that feeling be rooted from a (comparatively) minor personal issue at home or a global epidemic; No one should ever feel wrong in their right to free speech and/or self expression; Everyone has the right to vent, and everyone needs to get things off their chest sometimes, however, It is much more useful to partake in conversations with an open-mind and heart. Better yet, please consider doing so barefoot; always putting yourself in other peoples shoes. It’s also important to remember to treat people the way you would want to be treated, and to value our Country’s founding principal of freedom, and understand that everyone goes about things in their own way, whatever works best for them, which surely may not be best for you, but certainly doesn’t make it wrong; If an individual topic is not directly effecting you personally, or those of whom you love, then surely it is not your problem, so don’t make it one. Of course, while that may be so, your opinion or advice may be (directly or indirectly) sought, where surely you can then voice your feelings– even if they are partially or entirely differing from the advice-seeker, and you can do so with respect while maintaining civility and and open mind. If you wanna be assertive, get messy, dramatic, and make a fuss, preach politics and fight for the betterment of laws and standards that are your problem; Fight for something worth fighting for; speak loudly and proudly in support of a righteous cause that will actually, at the end of the day, have been worth while. Express yourself everyday in everyway that makes you happy, and eliminate judgment toward others who are too exerting their beautiful individualism. Before partaking in a conversation in which entails any view or opinion Opposite or different from your own, ask yourself if the matter at hand actually matters to you personally, and If so, why it matters; if it matters to you personally, but doesn’t effect you personally, leave it be; If it matters to you personally and directly effects you, only then should the conversation be worth any of your time, let alone your energy. In the event of needing to share a contradicting emotion, be soft and gracious toward the recipient, while taking the time to ask questions about their reasoning behind their perspective. Remember that not everyone thinks the same way nor shares the same needs; perhaps if you took a moment to understand why they felt the way they do, you might agree that their path is the right road for them to be travelling upon, despite an acknowledgment and admittance that you don’t plan to take the same route. Have some class, ladies. Don’t judge others, because you haven’t walked in their shoes. Surely, no single person could ever, under any circumstance, fully relate to the feelings and emotions any other person holds, as each person thinks so much differently, while their personal perspectives have been molded over the course of their life, thus far, in it entirety, and no one can duplicate the complexities in which equate to such; thus, One cannot fully grasp someone elses thought process and/or life needs, and mustn’t ever assume they have the right to tell another person that their decisions or mentality is incorrect. For any person to feel justified in demanding that their feelings or perspectives override another persons is ignorant and overall, is representing poor taste. If you feel so inclined as to make major decisions and want ultimate control, than go ahead and take charge of your own life. Don’t focus your mind and energy on trying to correct or disagree with others on scenarios that have no effect on you, it’s pointless, and serves no benefit to anyone involved, and certainly doesn’t earn you any respect. If you want your voice to be heard, choose a topic that is inevitably an issue for all of us; release frustration and Demand attention by expressing why you feel a (national) issue, that touches close to home, is hurtful to you AND to everyone else; in this instance it’s okay to maintain dominance and stand your ground; enlighten others and explain to them why a certain issue or bill (or lack thereof) is wrong and is negatively impacting them, all the while, stress the severity of the need to find a solution; or even better, propose the solution. Speak loudly and proudly on any and all topics pertaining to the ultimate betterment of society; preach your view(s) and kindly offer enlightenment, correcting others only in relation to widespread issues only, maintaining a consistent professionalism all the while. Only then will you be taken seriously; only then will your voice truly be heard; only then will you gain respect; only then will your perspectives be considered, and only then, will the suggestions you’ve made exceed ones thoughts and be applied to their life or newfound mentality, thus; only then will you be making a difference. Remember, no one gains friends or support, let alone acknowledgment to an under appreciated idea or problem, by being hurtful or sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong; in fact, such behavior is more than likely to be deemed immature, ignorant, and an outright display of poor character; removing any and all validity from your claims. Fortunately, if you simply desire the debate, or a release of frustration though argumentation, there are reasonable ways to act on those desires without being a (seemingly) narcissistic jerk and rather, just the opposite; in deed, such newfound behaviors will allow you to maintain a much more pleasant character depiction: a grateful, humane, citizen of this Earth.

    “My choice is what I choose to do and if it’s causing no harm, it shouldn’t bother you! Your choice is who You choose to be and If you’re causing no harm than you’re alright with me!” –Ben Harper

  25. So much good in this article.

    It all depends. When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I did it because of my beliefs. But I was a miserable mom. Not sure I added anything for my kids. But at work, I was a miserable worker. It had nothing to do with having kids or being a mom. It had everything to do with who I married, what my job was, and so many other things. Probably depression left over from teen years. I needed to clear that up before I could be good at anything.

    Its too bad that we have to fight ourselves about this. Those who are married should have their husbands as part of the discussion. After all, a marriage is about 2 becoming 1, not about what fulfills 1.

  26. I, too, have been both. As you so beautifully write, “mommy guilt” rears it’s ugly face no matter the decision. And, I’ve never understood women who “put down” other women for their decision in this area. Being a mom is a hard, but rewarding, job. I appreciate all of my supportive, non-judging, mom-friends (both stay-at-home and working out of the home moms). Those “mom-friends” helped me through a 15 month deployment with a 3 year old and newborn.

  27. As I am preparing to go back to work in about 10 days, this post is really resonating with me. Also, my partner, my daughter’s daddy, has been out of work since she was born 4 months ago, and may be going back to work in a few weeks too. It has been wonderful having him home with her, and I think that many of the internal conflicts you describe, traditional with most women, are things that he is struggling with as well. Men don’t attack each other, though it is rather unusual for a dad to stay home with the baby.
    Thank you for your blog!

  28. Loved the post. A lil disappointed at the comments but that is for another day. Would just like to emphasize the point another made which is I work out of absolute necessity, not because I need highlights but because we need health insurance and roof over our head. The point is though, aside from necessity one way or the other (children with ailments that makes staying home a foregone conclusion) it is each lady’s personal decision. We are all valuable and serving our purpose in world. If you aren’t than figure oh what it is and do it! Love and blessings to you all.

  29. I loved (almost) all of the article!!! :) Some people have limited choices, and we should recognize that too–but please don’t drop your child off sick at daycare!! :)

    Women need to stick together! Be positive! :)

  30. AMEN SISTER!!!

  31. I love this article. Very well said and written. I stayed home for 10 years. Sometimes I loved it. Sometimes it was hard. Now I work. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes it’s hard. When my babies were small I contributed to their well-being and that of my family by bein a SAHM. Now that they are older and in school I contribute to their well-being and that of my family by supplementing our income and contributing in the world and community. I absolutely, emphatically DO NOT regret either decision or would ever fault or judge ANY mom for her personal decision. My husband and I both work out details and schedules so that we can both work and not have our kids in day care. It’s an art form I must say. I work in children’s ministry and know parents and kids of both elements. And none of them are perfect. All you SAHM’s, you are doing good in putting your children first to consciously make the best decision for them. But please do not ever think they (or you) have an advantage over others. And all you working moms out there, you are doing good by making the best decision for them. But please do not ever think that they (or you) have any advantages over the other.

  32. THANK YOU for posting this……..I worked outside the home for almost 2yrs and resigned in July to stay home with the kids for a few years (son almost 3 and daughter 18mos). So- I feel like I have some time on “both sides”…….and I really think each person has to do what feels right for her. I completely agree that we should just be supportive of each other instead of trying to justify our own decisions by pointing the finger at others. I am currently seeking “divine intervention” for the answer of “should I go back to work” b/c after 6 months at home, i think I am a more miserable person/mother than I was when working…..working FT and momming was more “stressful” for me……but momming FT is more “exhausting” and I think I am crankier at home….so – the “mommy guilt” is constantly in my head :( ugh!! Will let you know when I find my answer.

  33. Well I really liked this post. I am a SAHM, and I have some very good friends who are working moms, and I really love them. But nothing bugs me more than when some of them tell me they just couldn’t afford not to work. Then they dig in their purse for their blackberry, put their highlighted hair behind their ear and get into their less than 10 year old car. I stay at home. I get one haircut a year, we have one car that is 11 years old, we live in 800 square feet (with 3 kids and a dog), no college funds, and we vacation in the backyard tent. I think I sympathize way more with the friends who say they cannot stay home for sanity reasons. I consider getting a job quite regularly for this reason. But, I’m hoping that staying at home with the kids will pay off in some way, although I continually doubt in which way it will be.

    • I hate it when people feel they need to judge like this – did you ever think the Blackberry is work provided, and that the highlights are a very very very small percentage of their income? Yes, some people can cost cut to stay home, should they choose to do so. Others can’t cost cut quite enough to make it work (if they even wanted to), so are they then not supposed to spend any of their income on a few things for themselves? Really… weird logic.

  34. and in the same breath that you (the commenters) all praise this blog post (and it is indeed well said and beautifully written), you say things like “I am a better mom when I work” and “I would go crazy if I stayed at home” or “I could never go that long without adult interaction.” I’m so tired of these veiled insults! You don’t see at-home moms saying things like “I could never pay someone to raise my child for me” or “I’m a better mom to my kids when I don’t have to be around them all day”. Neither side of those statements should be considered acceptable. In the spirit of this blog post think carefully about what you say and all that it implies.

    • I get these statements from working moms all the time. Well, yes, I too would be more sane, less stressed and more patient at the end of the day if I went to work. But my state of mind is not the point. The point is what’s best for these kids I have. I don’t stay at home because I’m ‘good with kids’, or because I’m an introvert who prefers to be alone. In fact, I think I may not be cut out to be a stay at home mom at all, but I’ve got to keep at this with all I have because I hope it’s the best answer. I would say that staying at home is the best answer for my children, but why would my children be different from anyone else’s?

      • Wow. I can’t afford to stay at home. I have a budget and it is tight and I can not possibly afford to stay home, and I am no less a good mom for it. If I could afford it, I would still work because I am compelled to do the work that I do. And I don’t judge anyone for choosing to stay at home with their kids, for any of the variety of reasons that they have (which sometimes comes down to “I can’t afford TO work” because of daycare costs). But this is the comment that really irks me. The assumption that it’s a choice and not a necessity. I am no less attached to my 3yo son as a working mom (and I was a work-from-home mom for the first 18 months of my son’s life). My son is NO less attached to me. I can read all of his signs. I know when he’s tired, I know when he’s catching a cold, I know when he’s hungry. There is no right way to be a mom, in terms of work. We’re all doing what we can. Besides that, extensive studies in Europe show that there is a benefit to parents returning to work to some extant after 12 months. So, before you throw an opinion out there about what you think is “best,” remember that it’s just your opinion, and it might not be statistically supported but is just what you chose to do because you wanted to. I have no idea what the right answer is, but I’m really happy with what I’ve chosen. And my son is really happy (in fact, as I just tucked him in, he said, “Oh, I’m so happy, Mommy!” which is something he often declares). And I’m away from him 50 hours a week. It’s painful, but my time with him is high-quality. And as my SAHM Italian grandmother told my mom 40 years ago as my mom went back to work, “Ah, don’t worry about it. Ida works, and her kids are fine and they certainly don’t love her any less.”

    • Karen says: You don’t see at-home moms saying things like “I could never pay someone to raise my child for me”.

      I say: uh, yeah, you do see that. Or at least I do. And even though I work full time and DO pay someone to HELP me raise my child, I don’t see a comment like that as a veiled insult. I see it as a poorly worded and a defensive answer to the question of why someone would choose to stay at home. There are just as many poorly worded and defensive answers to the question of why someone would choose to work. Here’s to hoping that articles like these can end the need for everyone to feel so defensive about their choices.

  35. I LOVED this post. I am single mother of two small children. I adopted both my girls from Moldova on my own. And yes… I am crazy. I feel guilty all the time… that I am working too much, not enough, not reading enough stories, allowing them to watch too much TV… blah blah blah.

    Most days, I end up saying… “You know we are all okay… we are doing the best we can”

    Thank you

  36. […] Then I read this post (thanks Julie). This entry was posted in musings. Bookmark the permalink. ← Remembering Papa […]

  37. You wrote this so wonderfully! I have been battling these mixed emotions for the past six years since the birth of my first child to now with three kids. I’ve worked full time, part time, been semi-happily unemployed twice and self-employed. There never is the perfect solution, but I know I’m not the best mommy I can be when I’m at home all day. I am looking to join the full time work force again and it scares me but excites me at the same time.

    So happy I stumbled on your blog this week! I will be linking back to yours from my blog!

    Elle @ SeeMomWorkBlog.com

  38. Beautiful post that verbalized my own inner turmoil at times. Thank you. The only thing I would add is that both stay at home moms and working moms teach not only our daughters how to be women, but they teach our sons a great deal too- about how to value women, working outside the home or choosing to stay at home; in pantsuits or yoga pants; carrying a briefcase or a case of diapers. These are valuable lessons for our sons and daughters.

  39. Just say no to mom-on-mom crime! (Great post as usual)

  40. I too have done both. I was a working mom when my boys were growing up. When I became pregnant again, my boys were 8 & 12. Hubby & I decided that we were in a position for me to stay home full time with the birth of this 3rd son. I worried that the older boys would be jealous. I missed school plays, volunteering at their school, & spending warm, sunny summer days with them while I worked. I would get to do those things with the new baby. Funny enough, they weren’t. They were actually happy that I would finally get to go to school plays & volunteer at school. Now, 3 years later, all 3 boys are the best of friends & they are happy to have me home.

  41. This is what the last 5 years of my mind have sounded like. Only less articulate but sometimes just as funny.

    I cried and laughed while reading it. Most importantly, I’ve felt a surge of relief for someone actually putting my guilt into perfect prose and feeling exactly how I do.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  42. Great post, I wish there was a perfect solution… I really like how you highlight the example working mums give to other young girls, helps a little :)

  43. I’m now not only a mom, but I’m a grandma of 6 beautiful grandchildren from 7 months to 7 years old. I’ve been both, as mom of 2 — I was home sometimes, 1/2 time sometimes, and for fulltime for 7 years while going to college 1/2 time to earn a teaching degree. Another woman, who was in education herself, upon meeting one another for first time suggested I become a teacher after seeing me interact with her children and their neighbor kids. Unemployment was high in the 70s, too–so I went to college while working fulltime–my husband was unemployed as a finish carpenter for most of 6 years with only summer construction some years. He “held down the fort” and did the Mr. Mom thing, being a dad at home–cooking, cleaning, washing, and he volunteered at school and much more!

    Now our kids are in their midish 30s our kids are great parents and great people — we enjoy being with them, and they call and invite us to meet for breakfast or come over for dinner–I guess what I’m trying to say is, things turned out pretty darn good for us! But, did I struggle back when our kids were young? Always–I always felt the struggle of kickin’ my own ass, at work, at college and at home–but everyone not only survived, but we still love one another. But get this, now I kick my own ass over not seeing my grands often enough!

  44. Amen sister! If any one has chosen to work outside the home, then good for her. If any chose to stay at home, the good for her. There is no right or wrong – just what is best for your family & you 😀

  45. I’ve had both sides of mommy guilt working and staying home. I agree why can’t well all get along as woman and realize its just hard to be a mom. I was a huge women rights nut before I had a child and I would look down at those woman who stay at home but now that I have had the opportunity to stay at home I feel so blessed. I want my daughters to be surround by amazing working women and amazing stay at home moms so one day they can make a choice for themselves by seeing all the wonderful examples around them.

  46. So I had a baby two months ago and I have an 11 year old. I have managed to create a situation where I get to work at home. I am finding it DIFFICULT! Before the baby was born, it wasn’t too tough. It’s a whole other deal with a baby. I have been MISSING my office, which is insane because all I wanted when I was there was to be here. I love how Glennon puts everything out there and so echoes my thoughts and feelings. I feel like I could have written all this stuff! And….I use the Liar Liar line ALL THE TIME. So funny, no one ever gets the reference when I quote it, yet here it is. Glennon, I love this site and your writing. Thank you for keeping it real!

    • see, this sounds like the best of both worlds o me in so many ways!! we need me to go back to work, but not only does the idea of leaving every day make me sad… I’d have to make a LOT to make it worth it after daycare!

      I did work at home briefly a few years ago, and holy cow did I go nuts with lack of adult interaction! breaks out of the house would be a must :-)

  47. I LOVE YOU!! Thank you for this post. IT was much needed as I sit at my desk today and work. THANK YOU!

  48. Having been both a working-inside-the-home Mom (stay-at-home) and a working-ouside-of-the-home Mom (minimum wage job after divorce), I felt criticized from all directions all the time. Mothers who put their children in daycare (or brought them to my house “to play” when school was closed) looked down on me and Mothers who stayed home seemed to envy me while I was earning money. I have basically no Social Security since I didn’t pay in long enough and professional children who have other things in their lives. I don’t know what they will do if they decide to have children. One of my reasons for staying home even though the money was tight is that YOU NEVER GET THAT TIME BACK WITH YOUR KIDS. So from my point of view, there are upsides and downsides. I made a choice and did my best and mostly think that parenting was the best job I ever did. Having a supportive spouse would have been a benefit but I didn’t know that at the time.
    Why can’t we just support each other assuming we are doing our best? We get bashed from all sides anyway, let’s stop doing it to ourselves.

  49. Thank you so much for this post, I needed it! I recently – and unexpectedly – gave up my career to stay home with my now four month old baby. It has been a challenge for me to explain my decision to a lot of people because, as you so beautifully described, the pros and cons of both choices are so varied. And in some situations, there simply ISN”T a choice! I just tell everyone that, regardless of what they might think, this is what is right for our family right now. Thank you again, wonderfully written!

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