Back in August, I wrote a post about Five Things Stay-at-Home Moms Don't Want Working Moms to Know. It was based on my own observations as a housewife gone rogue. Well, I also did time as a working mom before deciding to stay at home to raise my son. So, in the interest of fair play, I'll reveal five things working moms don’t want stay-at-home moms to know:
1. Working moms don’t envy SAHMs. Admit it. You've said to one of the stay-at-home soccer moms at your kids’ soccer game: "I envy you for getting to stay at home." Maybe you were just trying to be nice. Maybe for a split second, you actually thought you envied her. Until your thoughts shifted to that great project you can’t wait to tackle on Monday. You probably didn’t even listen to her reply as you reached for your smart phone to scan your email messages. The truth is, working moms appreciate having something else to think about besides play dates, laundry and runny noses. They have no use for moms groups. Their similarly-situated colleagues provide them with enough support. And, just like stay-at-home moms, they get to meet up with their girlfriends midday for lunchtime gabfests. They believe that they are more well-rounded, successful, and independent thanks to their work. Yes, they realize that they must make sacrifices. But they consider most of these to be minor—nothing a nanny or maid (or grandma) can’t handle. After all, no one can Have It All. So, right or wrong, working moms think that they are better moms than stay-at-home moms because they have a life. But we already knew that.
2. Working moms envy each other instead. Okay, working moms really only envy one person: the working mom who apparently Has It All. Oh, let’s call her Hannah Has-it-All. Hannah has the respect of her fellow colleagues, a comfortable income, a supportive spouse at home, and polite, happy children. Plus, she manages to stay fit and well-groomed every day! No PB&J stains on her shirt. No errant chin hairs. No gray roots. She obviously never misses her hair appointment. Or her spin class. Never late for work, Hannah makes her job (and her life!) look effortless. Remember the Sarah Jessica Parker flick, I Don't Know How She Does It? We all secretly want to believe that it’s a façade, just like in the movie, and that Hannah’s life is actually hectic and falling apart. In reality, Hannah probably works really hard, has really good child care, and is really, really lucky. She’s totally together on all fronts and that makes other working moms feel like they are failures. Even if we all know that Hannah is a freak of nature.
3. So working moms loathe themselves. It happens when you have to miss a soccer game to go on an out-of-town business trip. Or you're exhausted at the end of the day, wondering whether you're trying too hard to Have It All. Or you realize that you forgot to bleach your mustache when your colleagues start staring at your upper lip as they walk by! Or you fail to get the baby weight off. (Apparently, SAHMs aren’t the only one who worry about this!) Or you feel like your children have a closer relationship with the nanny than they do with you. Working moms don't want to be robbed of their “mommy” status.
4. Working moms loathe their spouses too. If you have a spouse, you may resent that he doesn't earn enough income to allow you to quit you job. But, usually, working moms complain that their spouses don't take on an equal share of the work around the house. After all, you work a 9-to-5 job just like he does. So why do you have to be the one to get dinner on the table? Then again, many working moms are fortunate enough to have spouses who recognize that they are a team. These spouses do a lot to keep the household running and participate fully in raising their children. Yet, thanks to societal pressures, some working moms resent that such spouses can also rob them of their "mommy" status. Working moms still want their kids to run to them first to dry their tears when they're hurt.
5. And, naturally, working moms struggle with their choice. Like all good moms, working moms realize that their children are their most important responsibility. Some wish to be role models for them, especially daughters, to show that women can contribute to society beyond their traditional role as mothers. I mean, what's the point of getting straight A's in school if you're only going to use your education to write grocery lists and count lunch money, right? Besides, many working moms actually enjoy working. Then again, some simply must work to earn a living. At the same time, working moms want to be there for their children and take part in all of the joys of parenting.
Thus, you race home exhausted after work to get dinner on the table and read a bedtime story with your children. You might even race out to pick up store-bought cookies for the PTA bake sale. (Trust me, everyone, including your kid, hates those cookies!) And, occasionally, you race home to cry because you were passed over for a promotion—all because you chose to work fewer hours in order to achieve a better work-life balance.