Working vs. Staying Home: Neither Mother Ever “Clocks Out”

Yesterday, this blog post was all over my facebook, all about stay-at-home moms and what they “actually do all day.” The responses were very polar. The mothers who stay at home were all “yeah! I love this! Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work!” and the working moms were “well, I do a lot, too.”

Both sides are very right. I am not usually one to so openly partake in the stay-at-home moms vs. working moms discussion, but I felt compelled to write about it as I am in the thick of one extreme.

Now, I may have an interesting perspective on this simply because I am a working mother approximately eight months out of the year and I am a stay-at-home mom the other four-ish. Being a teacher lends itself to that. However, I identify more with the working mother side of things simply because during the school year I work so very much. Being a high school theatre teacher and director doesn’t mean I work a typical 9-5, and I wear so many different hats throughout the work day.

The article really got me thinking about how I would compare the two because I’ve lived both of these typical days in the span of just the last few months. I thought, “Well, yes, stay-at-home moms do have hard jobs! I did that the entire summer!” and then I also thought “Am I not as valuable because I’m not in the home eight months out of the year?”

And then I am sitting here thinking about what I physically do at each “job” and what a day in the life is like in both scenarios for me.

A TYPICAL WORK DAY FOR ME ENTAILS:

Getting up around 6:00 a.m. to get ready
Out the door by 6:45
Teach six theatre classes with a measly thirty minute lunch break somewhere in there
Leave school to pick up Kennedy from her mother’s day out program
Arrive home and put Kennedy (who has now fallen asleep in the car) in her crib for a nap, change clothes real fast, grab a drink of water and a small snack
Drive back to my school
Direct play rehearsal with a whole different set of kids from 3:15-5:30ish (and later when we get close to opening night)
Head home and perhaps be home around 6:00
Eat dinner (lately it’s been Greg who’s cooking that), feed Kennedy
Give Kennedy a bath
Put Kennedy to bed
Pack Kennedy’s lunch for the next day
Pack my stuff for the next day
Get on my computer and blog if I’m not wiped out
Watch TV, hang out with Greg (and sometimes not see him at all because he’s got work to finish)
Lay out the next day’s outfit
Take a shower and get ready for bed

Kennedy at RehearsalKennedy at rehearsal with me in January. Last school year I actually brought her to rehearsal with me a few days out of the week!

A TYPICAL SUMMER ENTAILS:

Wake up between 7:00-8:00
Feed Kennedy breakfast (or some days Greg will get up with her and feed her and I sleep in a little bit)
Let her play a little bit while the TV is on while I put some clothes on
Go to the gym, I work out while she plays in the kid area
Come home, eat lunch
Nap time
During nap time, I’ll either blog, watch TV, or nap myself
Play more, maybe run a few errands or do some grocery shopping
Try to clean something up or do some laundry
Walk to the mailbox
Play more
Cook dinner
Feed Kennedy
Give Kennedy a bath
Put Kennedy to bed
Go for a run (if I didn’t go to the gym)
Watch TV / blog / hang out with Greg
Take a shower and get ready for bed
Watch more TV / blog more

IMG_6615One of our days home this past summer

Yes, it appears that being at home is way easier. However, I will not downplay the fact that staying at home does have its unique set of challenges and I have an immense amount of respect for moms who stay home. My child is also a very easy going child without any special needs and not very high maintenance. Not to mention, I only have one child. I know a whole new set of challenges appear when multiple children are in the mix, and I know for a fact it would be much more challenging. But, as it stands, I love being at home and I find it much more easier to do. It’s been very hard on me when school starts up again because I know how much I’ve enjoyed my time with Kennedy and how difficult the school year will be.

I see articles like the aforementioned one and I get upset because I wish I could be a stay-at-home mom twelve months out of the year. I get upset because it makes me feel guilty for not being there for my daughter those eight months. Yesterday I spent a total of two and a half hours with Kennedy. How in the world am I supposed to be proud of that? I know she is having so much fun at her “school”, I am grateful she has a short day away from the home (8:30-2:15), and I am eternally grateful for my husband who is able to work out of the home many days. He picks up so much of the slack, especially when I get close to opening night. But being away is hard on my family, and gives me a lot of guilt. Making lists like the one above furthers this guilt.

I haven’t met many mothers who have stayed home that think they have it worse off than working mothers. I haven’t met many who wish they were working mothers, aside from wanting adult interaction. Most love their jobs of staying at home, even if it is hard work. Of course there are always exceptions. I get the feeling that stay-at-home moms feel like they need to justify what they do to the public to make them feel more valued, when they shouldn’t have to. No mother should have to justify what she does for the good of her family. All this does is bring about yet another mommy war, except this time it’s about who’s working the hardest.

Bottom line, we should not compare being a mother as equivalent of working forty hours a week in the work force. They’re just not the same. Even though I basically just did compare the two, I have to throw my lists of comparisons out the window because it will only make me bitter to those who get to stay home. And it will make the stay-at-home mom think that I look down on them because I may think their day to day activities are “easier” than mine.

Being a mother is so much more than a job, whether it’s in the home or away. Should stay-at-home moms be put on a pedestal? Yes, but so should working mothers. All mothers should be put on a pedestal. (Edited to add: Actually, all parents should be put on a pedestal. I have no idea what I would do if Greg wasn’t around to do what he does as Kennedy’s daddy. He is amazing.) Each mother has her own set of challenges. Each mother has to make decisions for the good of her family. Each mother works hard at something. Each mother has to parent their children, whether it is for two or twelve hours a day. Most importantly, each mother doesn’t ever “clock out” of their role as mom.

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