Motherhood: an unexpected journey we sometimes plan and prepare to embark on for nine long months without having any idea what we are truly in for. Some of us moms work. Some of us stay at home. All of us judge each other.
Just a little bit.
A little bit is too much. The stay-at-home moms judge the working moms. The working moms judge the stay-at-home moms. Maybe we can't help it. Maybe things will never change. Or maybe, like the Civil War and the Biggie-Tupac feud and the Ice Age, things will change, eventually, but not without some casualties.
I am a teacher and consider myself a working mom during the school year and a stay-at-home mom during summer break. Both staying at home and working are extremely challenging in different ways. Both have made me ugly cry.
As a mom who has experience staying home and experience working, I would like to offer what I have learned and a plea for everyone to give each other a break.
Whether you stay at home or you work, whatever your reasons, please consider giving moms around the globe a little more credit, a little more kindness and a lot less judgement. Both lifestyles bring many positive things to the family. Both bring judgement from others.
I hesitantly admit, while I am working, I feel resentment towards the stay-at-home moms I bump into and, when I am at home, I resent the fact that I never seem to get a break. On more than one occasion, I've found myself thinking: Grrrrrr. That mom over there ... Oops. Nevermind. She's doing the best she can and so am I. Experiencing both sides of the judging has helped me to check myself before I wreck myself.
I want everyone to go easy on me when I make a mom mistake because I am honestly trying extremely, painstakingly hard to do a good job. But, I find myself not going easy on other moms far too often. There are many things I wish I could say to other moms when I feel like I'm being judged, whether I really am or not.
So, here are ten things I am considering printing out and laminating to hold up to other moms when things get rough and I feel those judgy eyes. Those terrifying other-mother eyes.
When I'm a stay-at-home mom:
Please don't judge my appearance
I realize I'm in my workout clothes and it's 7 p.m. No, I have not showered. Not today. Not yesterday. Not even the day before that. I can chase and crawl and climb and grab in these clothes. I know there is a big oatmeal stain on my sleeve and applesauce in my hair. If I had time to wash it out, don't you think I would have?
Please don't judge my mothering
Yes, I am staring at my phone and completely zoning out while my baby chews on the bottom of the playground slide. I just need a minute to reset and chill. Relax. If he bites off a piece of the slide or your child's ear, I will intervene. Otherwise, I need just a MINUTE to myself, okay?
Please don't judge my "free time"
Nap time is not a break. I do not sit in a bath tub full of bubbles and rose petals and sigh in delight during this time. Any encounters I have with the tub involve scrubbing poop with bleach or gathering up cups and rubber ducks. Nap time is the only chance I get take care of every task I have needed to do for the last five hours since the last time sleep finally overtook my little one.
I need to pee, drink water, change the wash, cry for a second, eat a bite of peanut butter and jelly crust, wash some bottles, put the milk back in the fridge, scream into a pillow, pick up a million tiny toy cars and LEGOs and army men, eat a few Cheerios off of the floor and tuck my dang hair behind my dang ear. Nap time is NOT A BREAK, and sleep when the baby sleeps is utter rubbish.
Please don't judge my need to talk
I know I'm being creepy and talking your ear off when I don't know you at all. I'm sorry about my overly friendly smile and enthusiastic nodding. It's been a very long time since I talked to another grown-up person. I need to talk to you. You must be my friend. If you aren't my friend right now, I might start talking to that tree over there. I'm sorry if I say "bye-bye" in a high pitched, sing-songy voice when I leave your presence.
Please don't judge my "easy" life
Being a stay at home mom is really, really, really hard.
When I'm a working mom:
Please don't judge my child
I realize it's 3 p.m. and my child is playing on the playground in footie-pajamas while yours is dressed to the nines with matching shoes and a hat.
I dropped my little one off at the babysitter when it was still dark outside after quickly force-feeding him oatmeal. I did not have time to change his clothes. I felt making sure he got some nourishment before leaving him crying and reaching for me was important. I couldn't spend 20 minutes wrestling him into a bow tie, suspenders and saddle shoes.
When I picked him up a few minutes ago, he wanted to stay outside and play. The park is just a minute away from the sitter and with the morning stress of feeding him, feeding myself, putting on mascara and packing his lunch plus snacks for the day, I didn't remember to pack his fancy park outfit.
Please don't judge my gushing
Yes, I'm staring at my child like he's a magical forest creature from heaven and overly reacting to every sneeze and laugh. I missed him so much all day and want to shower him with more-than-enough love and attention after being away from him for way too long.
I know I seem obsessed with him, but come on. He just said "Ba" and pointed at those kids over there playing soccer. He's a freakin' genius. And who knows how many times he already said "Ba" that I completely missed because I was at work?
Please don't judge my absence
Book clubs and baby showers and bake sales are not really on my radar right now. I understand that for many moms these activities break up the monotony and lend themselves to adult time. I have all the adult time I can handle at work, and then some.
I want kid time. Lots and lots of it. I also want alone time. I need to relax for five minutes a month or I might just lose my mind. These activities are fun but not really restful. My nights and weekends are for laundry, grocery shopping and baby snuggles. I don't have time to bake toast, let alone fifty pink cupcakes for Betsy's baby shower. I'm busy reading "Hop on Pop" for the twentieth time - I'm not interested in "Fifty Shades of Lame." Please don't be offended if I say "No thanks" and RSVP that I'm not coming for the third time this month.
It's not personal. It's survival.
Please don't judge my work
Some moms work because they have no choice. They need the income or the insurance or both to support their families. Some moms work because it gives them a break or an identity. They may feel it makes them a better person and a better mom.
No one works because they love their children any less than those women who choose to stay home.
Please don't tell me you can't imagine leaving your children or that you don't understand why people have children only to have someone else raise them or that you are making sacrifices so you can stay home with your children.
The reason I work is my business. Whether I choose to do it or do it out of necessity, it doesn't help to hear why you think it is best to stay home. I'm glad you do; I'm glad you can; all I ask is that you are glad for me too.
Please don't judge my "easy" life
Being a working mom is really, really, really hard.