I know a lot of stay-at-home moms and for the most part, I find that we have a mutual respect for the other’s daily challenges. The “mommy wars” have been well documented throughout the years and many moms, including myself, don’t really care for that term. Since the day I became a mom, it has astounded me that women throw daggers at each other for choosing different paths in life.
I can’t say that I have been immune to ever feeling “justified” or “superior” for criticizing someone’s choice of mothering, and let’s be honest we all do it at some point. What I have discovered about myself is that I tend to get critical when faced with judgement. When a SAHM appears to be judging my choice to work, I can rattle off 10 reasons in rapid fire why I am “better” for working. Isn’t that ridiculous? It really is.
I decided to evaluate what it was about the proverbial “nose in the air” from SAHMs that gets me so worked up so that I would have a chance to adjust my negative reaction. What I determined is that there is a small group of SAHMs that believe in righteous pity.
What, you say, is righteous pity? In my opinion, it is a condescending tone taken towards me that reads “don’t you feel like you are wrong for having a career while your baby is raised by someone else?” Yet it is said with sweetness and usually doused with a religious point to justify these feelings.
I don’t think anything gets me more outraged nowadays than another mother thinking they are better than me for not working. Just typing that sentence arises such anger in me that I want to start a bullet pointed list about why I am better off as a human being and a mom for working.
Again, isn’t this ridiculous?
I hate feeling such negative feelings over my path as a mom. I hate feeling negative feelings towards other moms. I have spent a lot of time evaluating my decision to work and in the end I always come to the conclusion that working is part of my identity, it is what makes me, me. Just like being a mom is part of my identity and I am so sick of feeling inferior and like I don’t fit in around these women who pity me.
So, this is my way of saying that even if you pity me, I am not going to judge you. I am going to extend you grace. I am not going to tell you why I am better off for working and the next time you act as if I am lesser than you for not staying home, I choose to walk away from the conversation. Perpetuating the mommy wars isn’t doing anyone any favors!
11 thoughts on “Don’t Pity Me”
I totally feel you on this one. I think there is another group of SAH mamas who are well-meaning, trying to be emotionally supportive, and don’t necessarily FEEL superior, but their approach comes off poorly as they try to bridge the gap, reach out, and find common ground, but they don’t do it very well. I feel like some women staying at home (or working) feel so strongly that they are called to that role that it’s hard to imagine – and effectively support – women who chose something different, even though they really genuinely want to.
I have been both a working mom and a SAH mom, and I can tell you *exactly* why SAH moms come across this way. When I was working, I was criticized for working, but it was never a personal attack against my character. When I was a SAH mom, I was called “lazy,” unsupportive, unproductive, frumpy, and out-of-touch just because I chose to stay home with my children. I felt as though as I was constantly put down, and I very quickly began to put my guard up. I never disclosed I was an at-home mom, unless someone directly asked me. And, surprisingly, men were just as critical as women. SAH moms come off that way because they are defensive. I’m sure you probably don’t see it that way, and it can come across as “holier than thou” sometimes, but I can definitely say that is why they do it. Now when I see a young mother staying home with her child, I’ll say something like, “That’s great!,” and the look of relief on her face says it all. It’s just something to think about. SAH moms aren’t necessarily judging YOU, they are putting up their defenses, so you don’t judge THEM. Or at least that is how I felt during those years when my children were little.
very good point! I will definitely take this into consideration!
I think that if you are a happy person and happy with the choice you made then what others think simply does not matter to you. Do not waste your time and energy on all this. Women need to support each other …but more importantly we need to just believe in our selves. Carry on and be happy and confident in your self and your choices. God bless all moms.
great reminder, Kristin!
It is not always a choice. One way or the other. That is all.
I’ve been watching Parenthood on Netflix lately, and this issue pops up on there frequently. Definitely a “thing” in our cultural zeitgeist (or whatever you want to call it).
I just try really hard to respect each person’s choices and give them the benefit of the doubt that they know better than I do how to live their life.
Susan– that is a show I have been meaning to watch and have not started yet. I think this just gave me a good kick in the butt to do so!
Your feeling of judgment lies only with you. Everyone has an opinion! We react to things based upon how we feel about ourselves. I understand your frustration but some self-evaluation is also required
Gillian- I think you make a great point. I think there are definitely some self-evaluation issues here as well, thank you for pointing that out.
When my oldest kids were little and I went back to work full time to a job I loved, I had a SAHM friend who would always ask about my job in the same tone you’d use to ask someone about a terminal illness. “How is your job (said with a grimace) going?” in this hushed, very morbid tone. I was sad when we inevitably drifted apart but not surprised. It also makes me sad that 15 years later, women are STILL having to justify their choices to each other!