Feb 042013
 

Receiving Mode Still. I like this one.

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 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 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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  356 Responses to “Friendly Fire”

  1. […] all heard about the dreaded “Mommy Wars”, where stay-at-home and working moms criticize each other for their life choices.  The war has […]

  2. […] @momastery — Author of one of our favorite blog posts about motherhood this year, Friendly Fire. […]

  3. Here is the rest of my post… (there seems to a limit on the number of characters)…

    i.e. I don’t feel I’ve ever suffered from the fact that my mum was working. I also do feel that it’s very important that my daughters know that there all those possibilities open to women now and I’m glad they got to see examples of various working/SAH situations at home, including also the rare species of Stay-at-home dad for a while!

  4. Loved the article! I don’t normally post on forums but this subject has been close to my heart for years and I love how you described the guilt thing, in both cases, I can totally empathise with that!

    I have done both – the working mother thing and the SAHM thing at different times in my life, and to be honest, I have all admiration for women on both sides, and whether they do it out of choice or necessity. This is endlessly debated in Ireland, where I live, where society can still have traditional views about the role of women and where stay at home dads are practically unheard of, and I have never felt that there is a right answer, only a choice that is right for you at a particular point in time. And of course, you should feel blessed if you have that choice that many women in other countries do not enjoy.

    I am currently a SAHM and actually not really enjoying it. I miss the high intellectual stimulation that my job afforded me, I miss the financial independence (not the actual money, but what the money can mean) and most of all, I miss the social interaction which lasts longer than a PTA meeting or a coffee morning with friends. I hate cleaning and cooking, and of course, I can’t justify having a cleaner (even if I could afford it) while I’m staying at home. Mostly, I feel that my life has become duller and I feel there is little to look forward to, work used to bring excitment and open possibilities in my life. And before you ask, I have plenty of outdoors, social and other activities, so I do not just stay at home and clean!

    Of course, there are positive effects on the kids in that I have more time to dedicate to them, particularly to help them with their homework, but FOR ME I don’t feel this really outweighs the “happy mum, happy home” effect. My eldest child has already remarked that I am always looking a bit down these days…
    Anyway, my decision is taken, I will be going back to work in a few months, because the SAHM thing is really not for me and I’m pretty sure I would slowly slip into depression if I didn’t know there is going to be a change on the horizon on this front. My husband is also encouraging me to go back as he knows I’m just not suited to life at home.
    However, this makes me admire SAHM mums even more!

    I do also know though that having a working mother myself was a great example in my life, it was tough for her but she made it work and I know she really enjoyed her job. And I feel I am as well-adjusted as the next person (whatever that means

  5. You know what bothers me, the fact that we as women, as mothers have this GUILT! We all need to be resocialized. I have been a working mom, and I am currently a SAHM. I hate staying at home, I do not feel as if I am self actualizing. I enjoy volunteering at my son’s school and participating actively in his class but I feel limited! Yes I am a mom, but that’s not all I am. It’s even more difficult for me as we recently more to a new state. I do the same thing each day and count the hours for my 1st grader to return from school. When I try to explain to my husband how I feel, he gets defensive and say “am I not providing adequately for you?.” The thing is even if he were a millionaire, I would still want to work, it’s an innate desire in me. Sometimes I wonder why I even went to college. To top it off he is growing in his career and instead of being happy for him , I think I resent him. If one parent has to stay home why it is, more often, the mom? We need to change some of things that are viewed as societal norms. As for women that loves to be SAHM, as long as you are fulfilled then I see no harm in doing so and you should not feel guilty! At the end of our roads, yes we want to say that we were good moms but we also need to be able to say that we lived an happy fulfilled life. Remember we are moms, however, we are dynamic so we can do more and be more if we Choose to or Have to.

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  7. I am so loving the thought provoking idea that we can be both. I tell myself, and my husband, everyday that I can do both. I know my daughter is being taken care of by the best two people – Me and her Father – while my table is set and my bills are paid. The best yet, one day – Hubby and I WILL spend more time together as a result of a two family income.

  8. [...] many fabulous Mum Blogs (and Dad blogs) I found were funny, insightful, topical and entertaining and I located blogging groups in my local area which I look forward to joining [...]

  9. [...] What you do matters less than how you do it. Just do what you do with love. [...]

  10. I loathe mommy blogs for myriad reasons. But something intrigued me about the link I saw to this on Facebook. When I saw your picture I thought to myself, “Great, another high-maintenance, bored mommy blogging!” I apologize deeply for judging you, and all blogging mommies. This is incredibly well-written and so eloquently puts into words what I feel in my heart. You are extremely talented and no doubt a very hard worker. I feel reproached, as I should, and inspired at the same time. Your words relate not only to women everywhere, but to the entire human race; and I believe, to eternity also.

  11. [...] I believe it’s each person’s right to choose what you desire, and one of my favorite bloggers, Momastery, speaks to those points and more in a recent [...]

  12. [...] journaling for myself and I felt there was no need for a post after reading this woman’s: http://momastery.com/blog/2013/02/04/friendly-fire-3/ Well said!  “To be a working mom?” or “To be a stay-at-home mom” that is the question.  [...]

  13. I have been on both sides of the fence as well. I am a Nurse. I have worked my butt of to get my nursing degree and license. I HAVE to keep somewhat active in order to maintain all that I have accomplished. I did it out of necessity. I would LOVE to be a SAHM… really I would! I would simply have to be involved enough in my community to keep myself somewhat active and involved with other adults. I personally feel that ONE parent needs to be home… I feel many of the declines in our society are directly related to lack of parental supervision, etc. But… as I said… sometimes a woman is forced to work out of necessity and that is just the way it is.

    • Ok, I understand what you are saying about one parent staying at home. My problem is, society mandates that it should the mom. I disagree with that, I am not force to work because of my family financial circumstances. In fact, we are doing pretty good on a single income. I want to work for Me,to fulfill and satisfy me and I do not think me working would have an adverse effect on my child.

  14. [...] the issues of stay-at-home moms and “working” moms….check out this blogpost. I recently heard a vicious radio debate between women who believe that mothers should stay home [...]

  15. [...] it has a good title, I’ll click on those shared articles. I’m so very glad that I read this one. It’s a post written by a stay-at-home mom who used to work full time and her thoughts about [...]

  16. [...] our deeply entrenched political system that pits Democrats against Republicans, or the on-going mommy wars. Whenever we face someone who disagrees with our deeply held convictions, we tend to either [...]

  17. Great post! I am both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. I stay at home during the day and I go to work part-time when my husband gets home for a few hours a week. Even though I usually feel like it’s an awesome balance of mommy and professional, I still experience conflicting views. And there is still much that is sacrificed on both ends. What makes the guilt creep in is that I struggle with parenting a lot (why can’t kids play alone and not with me?), but love my job. I actually feel like I’m doing a huge service to women, though, by trudging this part-time-professional, full-time-mommy business, because it’s not as common, and both employers and mom’s need it as an option (in my opinion).

  18. Mommy guilt never ends but I am not sure the looking down at each other ever ends either. I don’t know why it is. I don’t know why people can’t see that all of us have so many different things in our lives that led to our decision one way or the other that they cannot possibly know better than us what we should do. I heard a great example of this the other day. A young lady I know was cutting a clients hair and the client suddenly started talking about babies. Babies, babies, babies. She was pregnant with her 5th baby so babies were on her mind. In the process of talking about babies she worked her way around to the subject of why the stylist didn’t have babies yet. Trying to be polite, the stylist said, “We just aren’t ready yet?” The client proceeded on her diatribe. We are meant to have children. It is why we are here. It is what God wants. That’s why I am having my 5th. You should definitely not take it for granted. Get started now….” and on and on and on she went while the stylist held back the tears and nodded along and tried her best to hold herself together. As it turns out, the stylist wants kids. She is dying for her own baby. But try what may she hasn’t gotten pregnant. When my friend told me this story I wanted to cry for her. I wanted to search the other woman out and beat her senseless. But that is the problem. None of us know. Maybe the only reason that woman was going on and on and on is because she’s pregnant again and needs to believe that it is okay. That this is what is meant for her. Maybe she is scared. Maybe she wasn’t think at all about the stylist. We can’t always know what is going on in someones life. So why judge? Why push? Why add to their guilt?

  19. Amen, sister, you say it so well.

  20. I love this, G. I wrote a piece last year published on the site “The Frisky” about how complicated all these mother roles are. I get extra confused as a lesbian mother!

    http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-05-11/girl-talk-im-lesbian-mom/

  21. Thanks for this commentary. You’re right – this debate is very old. I have been on both sides of the fence, too. The thing that I love about our current situation in North America is that we, as women, have the right to choose what suits us. Some of us have financial obligations that don’t allow us much flexibility but, in general, we’re not being forced to stay hidden from society or work 16 hour days. We have the liberty to find our own equilibrium and many of us have – working from home, job sharing, part-time, flex hours, shared parenting responsibilities with a spouse.
    When I talk to first-time expectant mothers who seem to see the world in black and white, I always tell them to keep their minds open to their own needs. Some of us have to work to satisfy a part of us that playing with Playdoh and making snacks can’t. Some of us need to be with our kids. And some of us are lucky enough to have just what we need of both worlds to help us be fulfilled women and the best moms we can be. The problem is that this equilibrium is different for everyone and it may change over time (as kids grow, they may need you less – or more!) so we always have to be open to what we need and we can’t feel guilt over making a choice or changing our minds. We’re all making the best of our situations.
    Thanks, again, for bringing a middle ground to this debate.

  22. I am on my last day of maternity leave and desperately wish I did not have to return to work, I have thoroughly enjoyed taking care of my family for the last twelve weeks. Thank you for writing such a wonderful and insightful article. It makes the sting a little softer. Thank you

  23. I love how all the focus of this blog entry is about “choice.” Not every woman has a choice to stay at home. Some of us, quite literally, do not have that choice. Some of us are widows. Some of us married a man who earned a good living and then lost his job. Some of us are victims of domestic violence. Yes, some women have the luxury of actually making the choice to stay at home or to work. Some of us don’t. Please, everyone, get over yourself.

  24. Beautifully put! I don’t understand why it has to be so black or white. There isn’t necessarily a right answer to the work/not to work question. If there was, all moms could make an easy choice and quit feeling the guilt you describe so well.

  25. I am a part time sahm… and work part time. I feel like I have the best and worst of both worlds! I loved this post because it points out that we all have a negative voice inside our heads beating ourselves up!

    My seven year old daughter told me that she wants to be an artist, OR a teacher OR a mommy. I smiled and told her that she could be all three. She literally jumped up and down in excitement. :) Love it!

    • Please tell your daughter I’m all three! I studied art, exhibited art, and taught art before having children and now stay home with 2 babies. :) Your encouragement is wonderful!

  26. I am a Mom of 5, all grown up kids. Through the years I tried being a working Mom, it did not work! And yes, the money would have been nice, but I felt staying home was of more benefit to my kids than the money! It was difficult knowing what was right, but I do not regret my decision. As for Moms that work outside the home, I respect them ! It takes a special woman to handle a career and family….every woman has to make a choice that is right for herself and her family. I agree that we do not need to be critical of others choices, but supportive! As women and Moms, we each share a common ground……Love of our family and leaving “Mommy Guilt” behind! We have to, to survive in this world!

  27. Well said. I have been both at certain times – and agree with you. Us moms no matter what seem to have a guilt button on our arms ready to push at a moments notice. Arguing with each other is defeating and ridiculous. We should lift one another up. I have friends that thankfully we help each other out – we step in for one another to help fill whatever gap is there. My friends are amazing and I bet there are more stories like that – that should fill the airwaves besides negative verbal vomit tearing one another down.

  28. Thank you, Glennon, for being a young woman who steps up and takes a stand re: women’s right to and need to choose their own paths. I am so weary of folks insisting on a one-size-fits-all mentality! Who am I to dictate what some other woman “ought” to do with her life? She knows her own heart, talents, needs–emotional, financial, & otherwise. There is room for multiple approaches. Either way, it’s a balancing act, and you’re bound to feel guilty and to question yourself. The best approach is options for women–equal options–and a prayerful heart that listens to what one is being told to do.

  29. [...] and there has been lots written about the mommy wars — real or imagined. But this article, Friendly Fire, really hit home. And I don’t think you have to be a mom to find value in this piece; I know [...]

  30. Thank you, Glennon. This was one of the most important things I have ever read on the subject of motherhood. As a working mom, I carry around a great deal of mommy guilt (and also the teacher guilt and wife guilt). I had no idea that there were SAHM’s who had mommy guilt too.

    I think I constantly need to be reminded about the messages that I send my children. Right now, I’m working on biting my tongue when my five year old is adamant that she doesn’t want to be a mommy. Ever.

    Someday, making that choice will be up to her, and I will need to respect it. And between now and then, I need to make sure that my daughter (and also my son) sees all the different things that women can be, and how the choices that make her happy are the right choices for her.

  31. Was so encouraged and cheered by your clear blog on this important issue. Why should women pit themselves again the “other”? It doesn’t help us accept ourselves as the flawd human beings that we are. And isn’t self-acceptance one of the most potent tools of any kind of mom? To role model for your kids that no one is perfect? Hillary Clinto got it so right… it takes a village!

  32. Hi Glennon- Thank you for writing. This could not be more timely. I think that women do have a difficult decision to make when it comes to working and/or staying at home. We are taught to “dream big” and generally “go for it” but in many ways are not given the adequate support to actually do this once we have a child. Articles like this acknowledge that it isn’t as easy as we’re lead to believe and that it takes some discernment to figure out what works best for each of us and our families.

  33. I applaud this article and the message it sends to women. I have always seen my role in society and a woman’s role and duty in society as the “Soul” of society. As a mother I dedicated my teaching and mothering to instilling values, work ethics, safekeeping and love to my children. I worked when we needed the extra income, but placed my children’s well being above any career choices. It was an easy decision for me – I prefaced each with one question – why did I have children if not to love and care for them. I believe when we can recognize the value women give to society at any level – homemaking, corporate building, professor, care-giver, administrator, lover…we will find balance and strength in humanity once again. A woman does not need limelight to change the world – she just needs to respect how important she is to humanity – then just watch her go.

  34. BRAVO,,,, Love,Love,Love every word and agree oh so much!! This should be broadcast to all women. Everywhere!!! If you are female, how could you not agree!!
    Thank you!

  35. I read something once about how women can have it all, they just can’t have it all at once. So I did the career military thing for 21 years and then retired and had my son. Being a stay at home mom is the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know I am at peace with my choices. And I am doing things my own way (which means kind of old school, no insanely elaborate and large birthday parties, no interest in the PTA etc) Every one has to do what is right for them at this exact moment. Period.

  36. [...] http://momastery.com/blog/2013/02/04/friendly-fire-3/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories Uncategorized [...]

  37. [...] friend shared this blog post on her facebook page & it’s fantastic! The author hits the nail on the head! If you’ve ever [...]

  38. Glennon,

    Thank you. This post is perfectly timed for me, at a moment when Mommy Guilt is at a peak. I’ve been an observer of your words for so long, taking it in, thinking about it, sharing. You move me, G.

    Enjoy your brutiful tour and sharing in the Monkee love you are sure to receive everywhere you go.

    A

  39. I just find it so interesting (and honestly very discouraging) that some women are even using this forum to “judge”. And I think it’s so much a part of the culture we live in that most of the women doing the “judging” don’t even think of it as such. Yes, have your opinion – but some of your words are very hurtful to other Moms here. Just because a woman “chooses” to work or “has” to work doesn’t mean that they “choose” money OVER their children. We can exist in a world that isn’t black and white. We can love our children and select loving caregivers for them while we pursue careers. Or we can love our children and stay home with them. Or maybe a little of both. Or maybe one then the other. But just because someone’s choice (or circumstance) is different than yours doesn’t mean they Love their child less or more.

    • Exactly, women are women’s worst enemy! When a man works, he is taking care of his family, however, when a woman work she prefers money to her child! We are still mentally living in the era that the woman’s place s in the home.

  40. Very well put…I’d love to put a plug in here for a book I read – “Move Over Beyonce, my wife is the most Beautiful Woman in the World”….can be found on Amazon.com ….it speaks on the irreplacibility of a mother…and that no one can do your job as a mother as well as you, no one! Awesome book! That being said, being judgmental and rude about someone else’s choice is pointless.

  41. I think that if we actually loved and approved of ourselves we wouldn’t care what everyone else said. we would not have “mommy guilt”. If there was a true love of the self you would be doing what made you happy and there would be no trying to choose what others want. If you approved of all your decisions then there would be nothing to feel guilty about. We have the right to choose and one of those things that we choose is our emotions. No one can make you feel something unless you already believe what they are saying is true. Do you really believe that you have to read to your kids all day or is a book or two at night good enough. you choose what you feel is right and you decide to do that.People who try to bring you down about your choices are deeply unhappy people who are trying to justify decisions that they them selves are not totally sure of.
    Love and Approve of yourself. teach yourself that you are valuable, that you are worth something, even in yoga pants. If you love work then work if you love staying at home then stay at home and be as busy or quiet as you choose. We do not owe other women an explanation for who we are. If you went to school and you learned something then it is not a waste. even if you are not working in your field. You educated yourself, taught yourself how to study and taught yourself that you are capable of many diverse things. There is a time and a season for everything.
    APPROVE OF YOURSELF. everyone else’s criticism including your own will fall on deaf ears if you love and approve of yourself.

    • Rae: Your comments are by far the best I’ve read. You hit the nail on the head. The battle isn’t with others….it is within. We can’t second guess ourselves, motives, or anything else. “Approve of yourself” is good advice.

  42. I stumbled upon this discussion this morning, and it really made me think.

    I have been a SAHM for nearly 13 years. My Mom was a SAHM. For me, I would never change my choice. It was an arrangement that my husband and I agreed upon before we married.

    However….my sister-in-law and her husband both worked in good-paying jobs for 5 years before having my niece. They then placed their daughter in full-time daycare. Comments have been made by both about the high cost of daycare. When my niece was under a year old, the two of them took a long trip out of the country without her. It was likely expensive. They are now pregnant with their second child. I feel depressed, knowing that one of them could likely stay home, but instead, they will have both children in daycare.

    My point: I am entitled to my opinion, and I would NEVER say anything to them, because no one has asked me. I was asked before the choice was made, and I was honest. Their choices are their own. I don’t think having an opinion is wrong. I think throwing one’s unsolicited opinion around is wrong.

    I’m not talking about families where both parents absolutely have to work. I just don’t understand how people who can afford to be home with their children (mom or dad) feel better about placing them in the care of paid providers from 7 in the morning to 6 at night. But hey, at least they can afford that trip to Europe.

    • Amy C – I think you completely missed the point of the piece. Maybe try reading it again.

      Glennon – thanks for this, it was lovely & thoughtful. Learning not to judge (and to respect other’s choices) is a lifelong process; gentle reminders of this are a gift. Thank you.

    • Oh no, I understood the point of the article. My point is that we all have opinions, but that we don’t need to slam people with them. All of us, though, have an opinion.

      • I thought the point was that no solution is perfect but we should all just support, not judge each other.

        • Several points can be made, and all are valid :)

        • I think I understand what you are saying, Amy. Of course we have an opinion. I lived in near poverty because I really wanted to be home with my children. Why would I have done that if I didn’t think it was important to be with them? My sister-in-law had all of her children in childcare from 6 weeks on, and they are more financially secure than us, and have lived a more ‘comfy’ life in that regard. She values that for herself and her children. We both feel strongly that we did the right thing for our families. And Glennon is so right, think of how strong we could all be if we loved and supported each other in these tough decisions.

          • I completely agree, Karla. I guess this idea that we shouldn’t judge just gets to me. We ALL make judgments, every day, in all manner of areas. I wouldn’t, however, beat others over the head with mine. Including my sister-in-law. Not my business. But to suggest that an ideal world is one in which we don’t make judgments of others is silly and unrealistic.

  43. i loved this ~ thank you ! we each make decisions that are best for us and our families, and like you said, that can change over time. i, too, have been both a working mom and a stay at home mom, there were pieces of each that i loved and would not trade for anything ~ it all depends on where you are in life. i am reading a great book called “unglued” by lisa terkeurst and she does a great job of reminding us that it is really not me against you when conflicts arise, it is all of us against satan, and when we argue amongst ourselves we are doing satan’s job for him and he sits back and watches as we tear one another apart instead of trying to build one another up. it was a great perspective and one that i try to keep in my mind when possible ~ although, i am admittedly human, and it is not typically where my initial thoughts go when i have a beef with someone ! lol !! anyway ~ i adore you and your blog and have found myself crying many times because you have a way of finding those places within my heart that i keep hidden from most people. thank you so much for sharing your journey ! hope to see you on your tour!!

  44. Great post. I am now retired and I both stayed home for at least a year when my children were born (1970′s) – in an age where women were supposed to go back to work after a few months – and I worked, both because I wanted to and had to and yes, it’s never a clear black or white decision. I just can’t believe that this is still a debate. Your last paragraph says it all – let’s treat each other better.

  45. Fantastic post. I’ve worked and stayed home and am currently teaching part time. With three kiddos, I know all about the mommy guilt, and I agree with you; as women, we’re mostly doing the best that we can, and we’re stronger when we have each other’s backs. That goes for the women who aren’t mothers as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  46. Loved this. As women we need to be supportive and respectful of one another’s decisions. I stayed home for the first 10 years of my children’s lives and am now a family NP, working part time. My balanced scheduled allows me to still volunteer, exercise, cook good meals and still earn some much needed income in this very expensive world. For me it is about creating a positive balance and showing my daughters you can still be an awesome mom and have a wonderful career.

  47. Love you Glennon!!! I love that you brought up this very important subject! Why can’t we lift one another up and love each other instead of criticizing each other? Thanks for the great post and a good reminder. Another post I read that talks about how we can be our worst enemies is at http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/12/19/drops-of-awesome/
    I hope we can all learn to be our own cheerleader instead of constantly beating ourselves up!!

  48. Hi Glennon, I am the proud mother of two amazing children under the age of 5. I struggled for many years about the “right” decision……stay at home or work. I am proud to have a BS degree and I had worked in the industry for 11 years. I left a great job with excellent pay to stay at home and raise my children. Since I was afforded the “choice” to stay at home because of my husband’s salary, I took it because all the money and success in the world couldn’t compare to the satistfaction of being home with the children that I brought in to this world. I think this society makes women feel that they have to be this super woman and somehow do it all. I have the utmost respect for the woman that need to work every day to support their families but I also have respect for the woman that are blessed with a choice and choose their children over the money. After all, our careers will be there once our children are of the age to spread their wings and fly.

    • Way to miss the entire point of this article…

      • I did not miss the point of this article. I was merely stating that I had Mommy guilt over whether to stay at home or to work and chose to stay at home. I was stating that I am proud of the decision that I made and no longer feel guilty about it. I also said that I respect those that have to work. My point was that woman should make a choice and be proud of their decision…no matter what they decide. Not sure why my comment touched a nerve with you as others have commented with their own personal story as well.

      • Ironic. I thought the point of the article was to be less judgemental and viscious towards eachother. Your “missing the point” comment flies in the face of that sentiment.

        • Dana is just sharing her own story and her appreciation of the fact that she was able to choose the decision that was best for her and her family. For all of you who are saying that she missed the point because the story was about being less judgemental, Way to be judgemental yourselves! As moms and women we should be supporting each other, but for some reason, we can’t wait to bring each other down.

    • You should read the article again

      • Let’s stop telling people to read the article again, ladies. Everyone will take different things from it, and everyone is entitled to that.

        • I think the reason people are saying that is this: ” I also have respect for the woman [sic] that are blessed with a choice and choose their children over the money.”

          Not all working moms feel like they are choosing money over their children. That sounds judgemental.

          • Yikes! Sorry if I offended anyone.

          • I agree with Mandy…love my kids and even though I can “afford” to stay home I feel fulfilled in my career! I’m sorry, but I was slightly offended as even though I CAN choose it ISN’T between the $ and my kids! A happier Mom is a better Mom.
            p.s. I think trying to be more supportive of fellow mom’s and less judgemental is something we should all be working on.

          • Kuddos to you on loving your career and having it all. Your comment is very ironic..despite the appology some can’t help but still shake a finger. This is the last time I add a comment or a personal experience to a blog site. Cheers Ladies!

    • Moms that work DON’T choose money over their kids, come on now!

  49. I enjoyed your article but could never take on that much guilt, it must be exhusting. My husband and I have made the decision for me to be a stay at home mom and I a the happiest I have ever been, yes we have struggles but I wake up and fall asleep everyday never thinking about the other side (working outside of the home) Really comes down to making a decision and sticking with it if you can and never looking back :)

  50. Just awesome! What a great world we would live in if we could all put that into practice every single day. I’m willing to try. Mommy guilt IS so easy to get wrapped up in and I truly never want to add any more onto someone else.

    Thanks for the reminder! :)

  51. Thanks, Glennon. This is something many people need to read.

  52. Glennon, Have you ever read Maya Angelou’s poem “Human Family”? I feel that the theme of a number of your essays reflect that of the poem and thought I would introduce it to you if you are not already familiar with it. Enjoy!

    Human Family
    by: Maya Angelou

    I note the obvious differences
    in the human family.
    Some of us are serious,
    some thrive on comedy.

    Some declare their lives are lived
    as true profundity,
    and others claim they really live
    the real reality.

    The variety of our skin tones
    can confuse, bemuse, delight,
    brown and pink and beige and purple,
    tan and blue and white.

    I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
    and stopped in every land,
    I’ve seen the wonders of the world
    not yet one common man.

    I know ten thousand women
    called Jane and Mary Jane,
    but I’ve not seen any two
    who really were the same.

    Mirror twins are different
    although their features jibe,
    and lovers think quite different thoughts
    while lying side by side.

    We love and lose in China,
    we weep on England’s moors,
    and laugh and moan in Guinea,
    and thrive on Spanish shores.

    We seek success in Finland,
    are born and die in Maine.
    In minor ways we differ,
    in major we’re the same.

    I note the obvious differences
    between each sort and type,
    but we are more alike, my friends,
    than we are unalike.

    We are more alike, my friends,
    than we are unalike.

    We are more alike, my friends,
    than we are unalike.

  53. I think its also important to remember for a lot of moms there is no “choice”. Working outside of the home is something you have to do so your kids eat & have a home to live in. To say that’s a choice they’re making, and potentially the wrong choice, is a little ridiculous.

    • Thank you – I agree completely. I work outside the home and not by choice, but by necessity.

    • Sometimes it goes the other way too, people think it’s always a choice or luxury to stay home but for me, it would actually cost me more to work with the cost of daycare. I made less. So I stay home (and started my own business from home.)

    • Thank you Mom friend and others who have poitned out that for some of us there is no choice!!!!! If I were afforded the LUXURY to choose I would chose my children. But it is either work or they don’t have a roof over their head. If that’s a “choice”?????

      • Well you CHOOSE to have kids, so I guess we all make our choices in life. (sounds like multiple too)

        You can’t blame other people for your choice to have kids and not being financially stable enough to stay at home.

        • This is an unbelievably rude and condescending comment to make to someone, especially on a site that is supposed to celebrate and be supportive of other women. Do you know the circumstances of many women who “must” work to put food on the table? Some of them may be widows, some of them may have spouses who have disabilities, or have suffered a job loss due to other circumstances (economy, illness, bad luck, wrong choices, etc). Maybe their husbands, try as they may, just do not make enough to live on given the rising cost of living and stagnant wages of the last few decades. Or (gasp), maybe they have been single mommies from the start for whatever reason. My point is- kudos to you for making all of the “right” choices in life as you perceive them. I imagine you will continue to do things perfectly, and all of the unforseen circumstances of your life will be in your favor so that you will never face this “choice”. However, not everyone has lived through your exact set of circumstances, has chosen the exact same things as you, or been blessed with their plans turning out exactly as they planned them (which is the point of the article- women and mommies do not fit in perfect categorized boxes). Also, believe it or not there are many “poor” or working class mommies who love and cherish their children with every being in them, and provide them with love and life lessons that far exceed that which can be be bought with money. All mothers should be celebrated and supported! This kind of judgemental attitude makes me very sad and worried about our society as a whole.

  54. This is beautifully articulated. I never comment on articles, but I am truly moved by this one.

    Agreed on every front. Your daughters are very lucky.

  55. Amazing article! WOW…love this

  56. Women can’t have it all…but we sure do have a lot of choices. Instead of jabbing each other, let’s own the choices we make with great humor and confidence. There is room for many people to make many other choices – and we get to watch each other play the other ones out. We get to cheer each other on when we part ways and take different paths. We get to be uniquely ourselves and that’s the best gift we can give our kids – a parent who is kind to herself and others.

  57. A-To-The-Men

    Amen, Amen and Amen. It’s so much noise.

    Why would men ever need to make us feel bad for our choices when it’s other women who do it so much better. Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. K?

  58. I believe as women, our strength also lies in one another and the beauty that comes from the moment we stop comparing ourselves to each other and begin embracing our uniqueness. I have met such beautiful women in my traveling, and I am beginning to understand how we can be empowered through friendship and acceptance. Thanks for the post and your honest thoughts.
    StudioJema

  59. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!! Very well said.

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