Working Moms vs. Stay-at-home Moms

I glanced at the calendar today and noticed I had about three weeks before maternity leave was over and I was back to teaching. Yes, February 1st I was due back, awkwardly somewhere in the term with a Literacy Night performance and conferences on the horizon.

I’m at peace with this fact. I may even be a little more than at peace. My mind is drifting towards all things school. A teacher catalog came in my home mail yesterday and I happily browsed it. Besides, when I return, I will be approaching that downhill slope to the end of the year when things really get fun.

Oddly enough I thought I would be dreading this. And perhaps I will, when the time comes to leave my two gems and return to the grind. But at the moment I’m taking it in stride. My husband Layne and I decided we could afford me to take seven weeks unpaid in the grand scope of the full FMLA twelve weeks and by golly, I’ve enjoyed my maternity leave. My second baby has been a dream baby of a sweetheart. So I goof around, play video games, read, play with the girls… and attempt to become the Ultimate Homemaking Goddess. Can’t decide if that would ever be me. Maybe. But at the moment I don’t know how to be the Ultimate Homemaking Goddess.

And maybe I’m just not meant to be a homemaker.

When Layne graduated from college, First Gem was teeny-tiny and a terrible sick and vomiting baby (we think it was reflux). But Layne was off to spend the summer in Missouri with the military. So I moved in with my parents, learned about taking care of an awful baby, and vaguely assumed Layne would get a fairly high-paying job when he returned and I would just be a housewife. Didn’t happen.

Part of me, and I’m just not sure how big this part is, wants to be a homemaker and stay-at-home mom. I won’t lie that I believe firmly that if possible and reasonable a mom should be home with her babies… at least until the kids are in school. The Proclamation to the Family of my LDS faith puts mothers as the primary nurture and the husband as the provider, though we’ve lately been counseled to work as a husband-wife family-caring team, a concept that leaves plenty of room for tweaking matters for each situation.

But stay-at-home moms, oh! They are truly taking on that role of nurturer, they summon the power of Hestia, they beautify with knickknacks and Pinterest realizations! More importantly, they really and truly are there for their kids, providing that stability and spiritual base.

In a Mommy War, I’d go to bat for the stay-at-home moms any day of the week. Even though I’m a working mom.

Even though I’m a working mom who kind of likes being a working mom.

If I had the choice, I probably would pick to stay at home with my girls. Until they were in school, at which point I would go back to school. Unless we really went deep and  I homeschooled.

Yet, I don’t mind working. I enjoy working, in fact. I love the schedule and the business and getting things done, rather than the chaotic lack of schedule when I’m home. I like money.

I’ve actually prayed for us to be in a better financial situation, namely Layne getting a job that would pay enough that I could quit teaching for the time being. And the answer I receive? “Are you sure this is what you want or is what you think you’re supposed to want?”

Intellectually, I have never had a problem with working moms. The position is justifiable, always has been. My brain was happy to put working moms in a place of helping their families and even helping themselves. The whole feminist thing of showing our daughters women can do so much was a bit trite and obvious, but hey, sure.

This last pregnancy with Second Gem, though, I get it. There’s more to the Working Mom bit than there nothing being wrong with it. There are things that are Right.

I look around at my ward and friends and realize the traditional stay-at-home mom position is no longer what it was. I daresay most of the moms in my ward work at least part time. I can’t count the number of housewives with one little business or another. My sister-in-law works from home for her company.  I know moms working on their master’s degrees, one working on a Ph.D, and even a pal running a small farm.

So is it really so wrong for a mom to work? And is it really so hard for a Working Mom to recognize the sheer awesomeness of the Stay-at-home Mom whether or not she’s running a business or getting her law degree?

I look at the those women who stay home and wonder how in the world they can keep their houses so clean and I praise them for the wonder they do in caring for their kids. And I look at me and realize my gems spend much of the day, due to their parents’ schedules, with one parent or another and realize they are doing just fine and hopefully will continue to do so. I put forth effort to create a positive home where they can learn and grow and those girls will always be more important to me than my students. I’ve gone through the question and even guilt of our situation and decided all is right enough.

And I think I understand the debate a little bit more.





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