So, this is my first official post for WMAG! I am excited to be a part of such a useful, supportive, community. Creative writing has always been an interest of mine, but for one reason or another, I held back. No more. I would like to think I am the kind of gal who goes after what she wants; I graduated high school, immediately went on to complete my undergraduate degree, got married, earned a graduate degree in school psychology, had a beautiful, baby girl, and began working full-time. Since my day job only affords me the opportunity to write stuffy psychological reports, I began looking for a creative outlet. Pair my desire to write, with my newfound passion for my daughter, and there you go! By writing for WMAG, I hope to channel some of my creative energy, share my thoughts and opinions about parenthood (and life) with anyone who will read them, and (hopefully) learn some things in the process.
Now, on to my first post: the stay-at-home/working mom “debate.” First, is it even a debate anymore (as to which is “better”)? A recent study published by the Academy of Social Sciences in the U.K. shows that kids’ literacy, math skills, and behavior is not affected whether or not their mother works or stays home during the first years of their lives. Bam, science! No one ever argues about science, right? (Please say you picked up on my sarcasm there). After reading the results of the study, I almost dismissed the entire debate; however, a few days later, while browsing for a “mom group” on meetup.com, I came to find that several groups were exclusively for stay-at-home and/or part-time working moms. I couldn’t, and still can’t, understand the divide. Aren’t we all mothers? Don’t we all prepare meals for our children, play with our children, kiss our children’s boo-boos, and attempt to instill in them morals and values? Instead of focusing on our overwhelming similarities, some still dwell on the few differences we have. I can only think of a few reasons for this. One, feeling like part of a (perceived) homogenous group makes us feel good, or two, separating ourselves from others we believe to be different makes us feel better about the way we do things. I have a difficult time accepting the alternative, that people believe their way (of parenting) is the “right” way for everyone.
Now, here’s where I’m going to go all “Kumbaya” on you. Raising a child is hard, like, “What on earth am I supposed to be doing..? I’ve never been so tired. Who would ever do this more than once?” hard. Given the difficulty of the task, why can’t we just support each other? It’s hard enough without the scrutiny. I have close friends who are stay-at-home moms; they are fabulous ladies who are doing what is right for their families. I also have working mama friends; again, they work because it is right for their families. I will freely admit that I feel guilty some days, for having to work late, for not being able to prepare a home-cooked meal, or for not being able to take my daughter, P, to story time at the library. But, when the waves of guilt begin to crash down, I remind myself why I do what I do- because my family relies on my income to stay afloat, because I want P to grow up knowing her mama pursued her passions, and because it makes me feel good to contribute in a meaningful way outside of my home and family.
Many have argued that women “can’t have it all,” and I agree. There’s always going to be something: guilt about too many hours at the office, regret that you haven’t pursued a passion outside the home, or anxiety that you’re somehow screwing this “parenting thing” up altogether. So, let’s all just sit back, take a breath (try to make it a guilt-free one), and think about this:
Don’t fool yourself that you are going to have it all. You are not. Psychologically, having it all is not even a valid concept. The marvelous thing about human beings is that we are perpetually reaching for the stars. The more we have, the more we want. And for this reason, we never have it all. – Dr. Joyce Brothers