Amid the comments mothers frequently get about how many kids they have or don't have, how they must have it easy as a stay-at-home mom or even mom vs. mom battles about anything you can think of, working mothers are not immune from well-meaning or hurtful comments from others.
Words can hurt and cause guilt, whether they are meant to be cruel or not. As moms, we are all trying to do the best we can for our families in any number of circumstances. No two families are alike. Before making an unjust accusation or statement to working mothers (or any mom for that matter), put yourself in their situation and realize you don't know the whole story or the thoughts, feelings or necessities that accompany it.
"Why did you even have kids?"
"How can you let strangers - someone else raise your child?"
"Do you trust your babysitter?"
"I could never send my kids to daycare!"
These judgmental statements are rude and thoughtless. Working moms may already struggle with the decision or necessity to work and leave their kids. These comments can make them feel guilt and question everything all over again. Not only that, but moms are responsible and do research on babysitters and find someone they trust. Additionally, they still raise their kids even if they don't see them for part of the day. Sending children to school for part of the day is not much different, yet we don't accuse parents of letting the teacher raise their kids.
"Your kids probably think the babysitter is their mom/Your kids don't even know you."
"You're not as bonded to your child."
"That must be hard on you - your kids."
"I bet you really miss your kids."
"I don't know how you do it - I could never leave my kids."
"Too bad you can't just stay home and raise your kids."
Any statement that insinuates that working moms have less of a relationship with their child for any reason should be avoided. The "you must miss your kids" statement is likely said while trying to be sympathetic, but it can still hurt depending on personal situations. Moms who work still spend time with their children. Sporting events, dinnertime, helping with homework, recitals, weekends and many other hours spent not at work are spent with children/family. Working moms DO raise their children, just as working dads do.
"Your husband doesn't make enough so you can stay home?"
"Do you work just to pay for daycare?"
"It's cheaper to stay home than to work."
"You could stay home if you budgeted better."
For one, someone else's finances are none of your business. And two, moms work for different reasons including by choice and out of necessity. Some moms are single, some make a larger income than their spouse, some families need two incomes and some women like to work. Given that everyone has different personal circumstances, it needs to be left up to the family to decide who works or who stays at home, etc.
"Why do you need to relax? Why are you tired?"
"Why do you need a kid-free day?"
"Don't you get 'me-time' at work?"
"It must be nice to go to work and get a break from the kids."
If you think going to work all day and then coming home to take care of the kids, clean the house, make dinner, help with homework, pay the bills and prepare for the next day sounds easy, fun or restful then you must be Wonder Woman. Yes, working mothers may get to interact with adults during the day and don't have little ones crying and making messes all day, but that doesn't make what they do any less difficult. Working is not a break or "me-time." It is work, often coupled with worries about the kids and thinking about all that needs to be done after work.
And what about these rash statements?
"Oh, your husband stays home all day and babysits your kids?"
"You're selfish for working."
To pregnant working moms, "Are you going to stay home after the baby is born?"
To breastfeeding moms, "You have to pump at work? Why don't you just formula feed?"
"Don't worry, you'll love going to work and getting a break from the kids."
A dad is not a babysitter. He is a dad. Sometimes dads stay at home while moms go to work. Parents do what works best for their family situation. This may also require dad to take care of babies who are breastfed and still need mom's milk while mom is gone. Hence, mothers who pump at work. While some mothers choose to formula feed, that is not the right choice for all moms. The choice to go to work is not selfish - it's more self-LESS. Of course, many working moms would love to stay home with their kids, but they have to sacrifice that option to sustain their family.
There are many ways to be a wonderful mother and not all of them require that she stay at home. Whether you're a working mom, a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home dad, you, your spouse or family are the only ones who can make important choices for your family. Make sure to leave judgmental, hurtful or rude comments unsaid (and stop thinking them, too) and try to be kind and understanding. People need to stop shaming mothers who are doing their best. All moms need to be supported and, likewise, ought to support each other. After all, we share a common goal of taking care of and providing for our families the best we can.