Let me start this post by sharing a personal experience …..
I was leaving the office early one day and bumped into a colleague who wondered why I was leaving so early. I explained that J’s nanny called to say he had a high temperature. He sympathized with me and mentioned how kids need their mothers, and how J just had a high temp because he “needed my warmth”. It didn’t end there lol.
My dear colleague went on to say how he has 4 kids and none of them has been / are being “raised by” nannies. This of course was a man who has a wife whom, I presume, had chosen (or not) to stay at home with his children while he went out to work. My J, meanwhile, was at home. WITH his nanny. WITH a fever of 95.
I just smiled and said nothing. Usually, I would have loved to jump in to defend myself and the millions of other working moms in the universe but I knew he didn’t mean to offend me and definitely didn’t even realize that he had said anything controversial. So I let it slide.
Turned out J didn’t just need my “warmth” he had mild chest infections and needed a Doctor……..Go figure!
Unfortunately, I deal with this issue more often than I would like to, and I bet other women in business and working moms also do. So I thought it would be interesting to (in this safe space) point out the most common misconceptions that I have personally encountered and try to provide some perspective from the viewpoint of a working mom (WM).
- A lot of people assume ALL working moms want to be home and are only working because they have to. Personally, I LOVE being a lawyer, and I LOVE my job (….on Fridays lol jk!) It keeps my brain sharp, utilizes the education and expertise I’ve built over the years, and makes me appreciate the time I spend with my family all the more!!! I work because I want to, and I know I am blessed to have a choice.
Before I had J I knew I was going to be a working mom. I never saw myself as a stay at home mom. The Hubs and I had talked about it severally, and started making necessary arrangements for adequate dependable care for when I had to return back to work. J’s nanny was hired when I was 6 months pregnant, and she stayed with my family overseeing the care of my nieces and nephews for 4 months BEFORE J was born.
Sure it was pretty darn hard at first throwing myself back into work when J was barely 2 months old but because I was leaving him with someone that had been thoroughly interviewed and observed, my major concerns were not about his well-being but missing his company and managing the mommy guilt I felt.
Eventually I adjusted to my new life, we created a very good schedule and routine, and it became totally manageable. There are days that I feel like a supermom who is totally making it work and kicking a**. Yet some other times I feel like I’m flunking in some areas. But every mom has one of those days, even Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHM).
- Now just because I work, doesn’t mean I support the idea that ALL women should work. It is a personal decision that should be made to suit yourself and ultimately your family. Every family is different and therefore not every family will make the same decision.
- Another popular misconception is that kids of working moms are being “raised” by nannies / daycare providers. While I’m beyond thankful for the love, support, and fun that J’s nanny provides him, she CANNOT replace me as a parent. My son is raised by our values, I teach him, put him to bed at night, get him ready for the day when he’s up early, fix his meals, play games with him, pray with him, read to him. My time may be limited BUT I’m IRREPLACEABLE. I can outsource J’s care but I cannot outsource what I mean to him or to my family.
- Another misconception is that being a WM is easy because WMs are away all day: Thing is, I am not “away all day” on vacation. I am actually working all day like other working people. Personally, I have set my own standards in the journey of being a working mom; so that even after a stressful day I return home to balance my household duties; and prioritize my tasks accordingly because of the limited time I have.
At work everyone knows that I work like a crazy woman trying to get everything efficiently completed on time so I can get home on time. The reality is that I have 2 jobs, when I get home I look after J, and the Home. That’s my best job.
5. Ever heard the “I don’t know how you do it but I just can’t imagine leaving my little munchkin at home all day I love her too much”. Seriously? Does this imply that I love J any less? lol. You must know working moms who are your gynecologist, your kids pediatricians, your kids class teachers, the authors of those books your kids love so much, or the baby sitter or nanny you need every once in a while.
Many amazing moms who deeply love their children too are thriving in their careers and excelling at their jobs!!!
6. And then there’s the idea that we are miserable at work because of how much we miss our kids. Yes, I miss J a lot, but it gets easier. It used to be a lot harder. But I’m not miserable at work. Frankly, between all that brainstorming, there is little or no time to think about all the things that could make me miserable.
I can honestly say that I do not regret what I do and I enjoy the daily challenges I face in doing MY job. I take great pride in being a good lawyer and in the career and educational advancements I have made since graduating Law school. I look forward to setting an example for my child(ren) that if you work hard, you will be successful in doing what you love. I would want my daughter to understand that a woman can choose to be an amazing well-grounded homemaker OR she can have a career, participate in activities outside the home, and still be an amazing mom.
- There’s also the misconception that WMs can’t or don’t understand what it’s like to be a SAHM.
Honestly, being away on maternity leave is the longest I have been away from work at a stretch. But I get leave days, which I spend looking after J, and The Hubs. When I take a break from work, J’s nanny goes on leave too. So for the few weeks she’s away I’m largely responsible for looking after J.
For instance, last year – December 2015, I took a break from work for a month. I spent the first 2 weeks in December doing a lot of fun stuff with my extended family members and friends – lunch dates, Christmas parties, birthday parties, night-outs, drinks, fashion shows, store openings. Then I gave J’s nanny time off from the 2nd week to the 1st week in January, 2016 and I spent the rest of the holiday looking after J together with The Hubs. Yes, it was unforgettable because we bonded and enjoyed our time together, but it was also unforgettable because it was HARD work.
Just like some stay at home moms; I looked after my son the entire period. To be honest, I was exhausted a lot and sometimes I felt a bit under-appreciated…but at the same time I also felt important, blessed, and loved. I’m not ashamed to say it, it’s tasking looking after a toddler without help….IT.IS.TASKING!!!
- Another misconception is that for WM, our careers are our top priority. In my case, my family is my top priority. My desire to succeed never trumps my responsibility to my family. While I do get satisfaction from my job, and I believe what I do is important, it does not compare to the love and respect I have for my family.
There are many more misconceptions about working mothers, which I try to overlook. However, what actually bothers me is why Motherhood has become some sort of competition between moms – SAHMs and WMs on who has it worse / better, or who is a better parent.
Why should we have to constantly defend our parenting choices? When we should be seen encouraging and treating each other with respect.
If you are a stay-at-home-mom reading this, please know that I admire your ability to look after your kids all day without expecting any promotion, salary or remuneration. I appreciate that you are a dedicated, constant and qualified figure in the lives of your kids even when it may be exhausting. I respect your choices and I understand how important your role is because I’m also a mother.
Please tell me I’m not alone in this!!! Let’s hear your comments on the misconceptions you have faced as a SAHM or a working mom. And if you want to be featured on the blog to share the misconceptions you face as a SAHM, please e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love & Light,