• Shruti

    Heather,

    I am almost at the end of my beautiful pregnancy and I am about to have a daughter. I get only 6 weeks paid time off from work and since we bought a new house – I cannot afford any more time off. My mother is going to be helping out by staying with us for some time. One topic I would like you to discuss – is why are we setting “standards” for everyone to follow. Every child is unique and has different needs. Shouldn’t the mother be the best judge of that? My mom used to work all the time so that she could give us a good education and fufil our wants. I don’t resent it a bit that she had to make that choice. Here I am – 28 years later and I have learnt to do things on my own. I see children whose mothers have been at home with them and they have their own problems and are pretty successful too. Why do we need to worry about it so much. If “X” method works for you – great, it may not work for me so let me figure out what I need to do do. I never commented about which school/college or job you should be taking up or whom you marry to make your life successful – so who am I to judge what works for you where child rearing is concerned. The only part society should be playing is providing support to the mothers who want to make a “choice” – not making those choices for her. Here is where I feel we need to channel our energies. Whether it be asking for additional maternity leave to be with the child or providing support groups for new moms with all their needs. Thanks and good luck with the show. Love your blog

  • ZannieMom

    I agree with you – no matter what choice we make we always feel guilt. I am a SAHM/WAHM to an almost 3 year old. My husband and I run our own ad agency from our home while tending to our daughter. We have no nanny, never hired a babysitter – we have no help, no family, cousins, uncles, aunts etc to watch our child. My family is 1200 miles away and my husbands 300 miles away. The longest I’ve ever spent away from her is 8 hours when I went on a college tour with my brother in another city. Ok, I have a point. There are a lot of moms out there that are SAHM/WAHM that have help – someone that watches their child while they work/enjoy their hobbies. I now having a child have a different view on how women can accomplish more – some have help and some sleep less.

  • http://www.outnumberedonline.com Out-Numbered

    Please ask him what online university he got his doctorate from. Oh and how does he get his head so shiny. That’s all. Good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the mommy wars. In Mommy-land, the battle lines are clear: mommies who work vs. mommies who stay home. But in Office-land, there’s another “mommy war”, and the battle lines are equally clear: mommies vs. not-mommies. Because the not-mommies are bitter that the mommies are leaving early to go see their kids’ soccer games, and leaving the not-mommies to pick up their slack. And the mommies are bitter that the not-mommies leave work and go get a few drinks and take a bubble bath and spend their money on themselves.

    And those of us who work and don’t have kids are always expected to side with the “not-mommies”, because HEY, WE’RE NOT MOMMIES. But me and my polycystic ovaries and my endometriosis and my vulvodynia and my incompetent cervix and my dead baby would give anything to be on the other side. Whether you’re a SAHM or working outside the home, please just realize that your kids are the most amazing gift in the world, and when you’re complaining about what a pain your baby is and how hard he is to take care of, those of us who spent 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments only to end up in the hospital pushing out a dead child, would give up everything we have to be in your situation, even with your mommy-guilt.

  • http://www.missivesfromsuburbia.blogspot.com Missives From Suburbia

    I think the angle you brought up to the producer is brilliant. It is SO different than anything a person could imagine, which is partly why being a SAHM gets so little respect, despite the lip service people pay to it being “The Most Important Job In the Wooooorrrrld” (yes, that’s always how I hear it in my head — filled with sarcasm and overblown).

    To me, the biggest, fattest, juiciest layer of guilt comes from juggling things and people. If I want a clean house, it comes at the expense of time with my kids (and I have a cleaning person every other week, BTW, so I don’t know how other women do it AT ALL). Running errands with kids is time-consuming and… well… it’s stupid. But if you wait until the weekend when the husband is around, then all your family time is sucked up running errands. I don’t know, people. I have help with sitters and cleaners, and I still feel guilty balancing the things that have to get done with the little people who need more than just three square meals and some diaper changes.

    Let’s not even talk about “me” time.

  • ZannieMom

    I agree with you – no matter what choice we make we always feel guilt. I am a SAHM/WAHM to an almost 3 year old. My husband and I run our own ad agency from our home while tending to our daughter. We have no nanny, never hired a babysitter – we have no help, no family, cousins, uncles, aunts etc to watch our child. My family is 1200 miles away and my husbands 300 miles away. The longest I’ve ever spent away from her is 8 hours when I went on a college tour with my brother in another city. Ok, I have a point. There are a lot of moms out there that are SAHM/WAHM that have help – someone that watches their child while they work/enjoy their hobbies. I now having a child have a different view on how women can accomplish more – some have help and some sleep less.

  • Bev

    I haven’t read all the comments so far, so I don’t know if this has been touched on or not. I’ve done both – worked outside the home and stayed at home with my kids – so my opinion is that parents should do what they think is best and do it guilt-free.

    BUT, if you can, I think the best time to stay at home with your kids is (get this) when they’re school-aged. I know that goes against what a lot of parents do – they figure they can go back to work once the kids are in school. I’m of the mind that there is much, MUCH more going on in their lives once they enter school. It means household management during the day when they’re in school, homework help and events in the evenings, and even if you go light on the extra-curricular things, there is always something going on during the weekends.

    A stay at home parent or a parent who works part time can be a presence at the school, which is very nice. You can get to know teachers, other parents, etc. and have a good understanding of what is happening in your kids’ lives for 8 hours a day.

    I have 3 kids – two in elementary school and one in middle school – and believe me: It. Is. Insane. I quit my full time job when my youngest entered Kindergarten and had I not been at home (or at school getting my teaching certification, really,) my household would have been very different and more hectic.

    It’s just something for families to consider. Not just if a parent should stay at home, but also when.

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  • http://piddies.etsy.com Dana

    In reading some of the above comments, the fact that choosing to stay at home is a luxury that many women don’t have is also an incredibly important point. As is the fact that employers in the US make it a difficult choice at best, with limited-to-no maternity coverage and little support for mothers who would like to continue at their job with some leniency while their children are very young.

  • http://www.xanga.com/Bratfink Bratfink

    GodDAMN you got you some brass ones, woman!

    At least you don’t give a shit what people think, you got that going for ya. Half of the people will be behind what you say, half won’t, and the other half won’t shiv a git. [Yeah, I'm weak in math.]

    But I stayed home with my kid for 4 years and the worst thing I felt was that I wasn’t contributing actual CASH to our home. It all boiled down to the money thing.

    Oh, and I breastfed until the kid weaned herself. THAT made me ALL KINDS of popular with my peers.

    The thing that really pisses me off is that even if what I did wasn’t hurting anybody, they got all up in my face anyway. What the fuck is up with THAT?

    Nobody minds their own goddamned business anymore.

    I have no words of wisdom other than knowing that no matter how you fuck up your kids, they are probably going to turn out OK anyway.

    Love ya, kid. Be true to thineself.

  • jlud

    I was really wishing that I would have won the lottery yesterday. If so, I would quit the job that I pretty much love for a job that I truly love. No matter what, working IS the right decision for me and my family. Even if I had $146 million, I would still work – maybe not for “the man”, but in some way that improves people’s quality of life.

    And just one final little thought, I think all y’all who think your way is the best way… boy, oh boy. I hope you expose your children to other, less narrow-minded people than yourselves.

    P.S. Dr. Feel all the way!

  • http://www.reluctantlyworkingmom.com Melissa, ineptworkingmom

    All good comments, but I like #22 – about mother blaming…

    I commented on your natural childbirth (part III) post regarding the negative comments…Why can’t it be okay for us to do things differently from one another but still accept and support one another? There are SO many ways to be a good parent – and no one is perfect. I think when you criticize another’s parenting, it reveals more about you than your target parent.

    It’s not easy being a woman and doing all the things we do. Why do we make it so much harder on ourselves? I really do think it’s heartbreaking how cruel we can be to one another.

  • http://www.kimmama.com Kim

    When six weeks rolled around, I found myself not going back to work. I didn’t quit… I just didn’t return. Then it was 8 weeks, then 10 weeks, then 12. Finally I went in to clean off my desk. “I’m probably not coming back,” I told my boss. He said he knew that was going to happen. I just couldn’t do it! I couldn’t leave my baby at home, not even if Mother Theresa was babysitting him! Ultimately I still deal with a different kind of guilt, the kind that creeps up when you go to check the balance on your checking account and it says you only have $20. Guilt that kicks you in the pants when your husband asks if you can order pizza and you have to tell him NO WE’RE EATING ALDI FROZEN PIZZA BECAUSE WE’RE POOR. (Even though I love Aldi Frozen Pizza.) In the end it all worked out because Mama Bear stormed the internet for work-at-home opportunities and ended up finding a few things that actually worked. *sigh* It’s all worth it – my little guy is so friggin’ cute.

  • Cindy

    Here’s one of my peeves – women that say in one breath that they are a full-time stay at home mom, and then follow it up with, who runs a business from home. I run a business from home, and I consider myself a working mother. You can’t have it both ways, imho.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-14793-Denver-Child-Care-Examiner Nikki

    My big issue with this debate are the people who rag you for going back to work and not staying home with your kids – but if the first 5 years of a child’s brain development are the most important – then I suppose each woman should have some sort of teacher’s certification to be qualified to be a SAHM. Just because we want to be home with our kids, doesn’t make us qualified to prepare them for school, or even to come close to utilizing all that potential brainpower.

    But I suppose the people who are complaining about daycares and preschools don’t really care if our kids are smart or not, only whether or not they got enough mommy time (and mommy had better have that house spotless by the time daddy gets home too. don’t forget about that part.)

    Ugh.

    Hey moms – do what ya gotta do – that’s my motto.

  • Anonymous

    I saw a few people mention this already– what do people think about their own childhood experiences with respect to working/stay at home parents?

    Both of my parents worked full time until I was a teenager. Before I was five, my grandmother took care of me. To be honest, I don’t remember much of life before I was five, so it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference who raised me then. After that, I went to a babysitter, a woman in the neighborhood who took care of about 7-10 other neighborhood children.

    I LOVED my time at the sitter’s. Some of my best childhood memories are from these days. We played video games, tag, red light/green light, etc. until my parents came back around 5 to pick me up.

    And despite both of my parents working, I still have wonderful memories of spending time with them when I was younger. I remember playing games with them, sitting in their laps as they rocked me to sleep, lying in my bed while they read me stories… I don’t feel like my childhood lacked in any way because my parents worked full time.

  • Laurel Lou

    There was a pretty heavy discussion on Dr. Phil a few years ago and when I watched it I had three questions:

    #1 – Why are we still discussing this? Thank you, pioneering feminists, for the choice. I’ll stay home for now, thank you very much.

    #2 – These women who go on the talk show circuit championing stay-at-home mothers – who is staying home with your children when you go on Dr. Phil, Oprah, Today, etc…

    #3 – And to the women who think women who stay home are robbing themselves, their children, society, blah blah blah – do they feel he same way about stay-at-home dads?

    Have fun!

  • http://www.squarerootoftwo.blogspot.com Mona McCowen

    Off topic, but I notice that almost all of your daily photographs have that great depth of field thing going where the background is blurry.

    What method do you use?

  • Chickenpig

    I would hope that you would address the fact that staying at home/ not staying at home for many women isn’t a matter of choice at all. I’m a stay at home mom (God, I hate that term. Whatever happened to Home Maker? At least Home Makers MAKE something…they don’t just STAY somewhere..BLEH) But it wasn’t because I preferred to stay at home with my kids, it was because I couldn’t afford NOT to. I have twins, and the cost of putting them both in pre school, let alone infant or toddler care, would cost more than I made at work plus the cost of gas I saved staying put. Not to mention the cost of formula for 2 babies…there was no way I would have time to pump enough milk for two at work. Thankfully for my husband and I, we bought an inexpensive house and lived carefully within our means before the children came along, so the loss of my income was negligible. For most people, they can’t afford to stay home and have to leave their babies in day care long before they really want to. If this issue was just a matter of choosing which one we all wanted to do that would be easy, but most of us are pushed in a corner which makes us unhappier with our “decisions”.

    ps I totally LOOOve that Sesame Street segment. and I think Dr Phil is a total tool…unfortunately. I won’t be watching.

  • Rebecca

    @sarahr, #326.
    http://www.apa.org/releases/childcare.html
    This article mentions the number of positive interactions that mothers and babies have, in relation to the amount of time a baby spends in daycare. It also says nothing about these kids’ relationships with their fathers. Who knows, maybe Dads are picking up some of the slack. More importantly, this doesn’t say anything about how children fare later in life. O.k., maybe there are fewer positive interactions between mom and baby, but are the kids turning out fine anyway? A more recent, longer running study with a larger sample group seems to suggest that kids will be just fine, even if parents send them to day care.
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/3696270
    Again, this study (showing kids whose mothers work have a small disadvantage in cognitive abilities) is older, ran for a shorter period of time, and had a smaller sample size than the study mentioned in this article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326095141.htm

    But I would much rather debate the relevance of a particular study with you than unsupported beliefs. Keep the data coming!

  • Suzy

    OMG, I’m totally moving to Canada!

  • http://beyondacquara.wordpress.com Lexie

    The whole problem with this mommy debate is that mom and mom alone is held responsible for the entire care of the child, even if she uses some form of child care.

    It is nearly impossible for one human being to have the whole of responsibility for this task. It is completely unfair, too.

    Why are fathers completely left out of this discussion? Fathers and mothers could both work part time and have flexible hours or job share or other solutions if as a culture we expected fathers to have some real responsibility for child care.

    Also, if families use some sort of child care, the child care provider is an integral part of the team that is responsible for the child along with the mother, father, grandparents,teachers and whoever else. Instead of blaming the mother if she stays home (by completely devaluing the work that she does, and not providing her any breaks) or blaming the mother who works (as if her child is being tortured in day care) we need to recognize that it takes more than the mother to raise children. More people need to step up and be valued in the process. This is a team effort. Each family’s team may be a little differently configured, but putting the entire burden on the mother is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  • Sarah Pond

    Hi Heather et all,

    Maybe you should share the secret that all mommies (and a few daddies) figure out PDQ after having a child: Where once upon a time you may have fantasized about having a baby so that you no longer have to work, the reality is that work (i.e. a job) is almost certainly easier than staying home with one or more kids. Moms go to work for a BREAK from the kids.

  • Beth Clark

    Oh boy. I feel guilty everyday. I have to work to support my family. My husband and I got pregnant when we were in college and luckily I graduated at 5 months prego and landed a great job 3 weeks later. My hubby was then 19 year old sophomore. Two years later I am still the breadwinner and stressing about everything. I try my hardest to work out at 5 a.m. everyday because I feel too GUILTY to do it afterwork. My kid goes to day care all day every day and my husband works late during the week so I don’t ever get ‘me time’ whatever that means!
    I have gained like 20 lbs. (thank God I am 6’2″ so it spreads out) but I still feel guilty 90% of the time. I hate asking the in laws to watch Emma, but I never get that time alone. I think it will be better once Brian gets a better job with better hours!
    sorry to vent. But the guilt thing is ridiculous! Moms – stay at home or working full time don’t get enough credit!

    I will tape the show!! Love your blog! :)

  • Traci

    AMEN! To #39: Kate, I’d like to be your friend!

    I feel great about my decision to work. I am a more patient and present mother for the hours I spend in my office moving paperwork, meeting deadlines and creating productivity I have never been able to duplicate at home.

    Certainly, we should be grateful for the ability to CHOOSE how we raise our families and understand that we are gaining NOTHING by the constant judging of other mothers’ decisions.

  • yzarrcch

    The debate about which lifestyle is better will never end because no one lifestyle is best for everyone. You just have to find the lifestyle that fits your personality and live with the guilt…..every mother feels the guilt whether she works at home or works away from home….Guilt, thy name is Mother. Women might as well argue about whether it is better to teach your child to water ski or to snow ski or to not teach your child to ski at all. There is really no “one fits all answer.” The worst answer is to make a choice based on what someone else chooses.

  • Julie

    I had my first child in 1984 when Joan Lunden kept having all these kids and was there in the morning looking all bright and polished and working to her heart’s content. She had it all and did it all. (At least at that time.) I went back to work on a part time schedule…when I was at work I was feeling guilty about my baby, when I was with my daughter, I was thinking about what I had to do at work and the fact that I was so freaking tired all the time. But you know, we were just trying to do our best to build a life for our family. Enough about me, MARLO IS TOO BEAUTIFUL, just like her older sister!

  • Rebecca

    @Jackie, #364
    I’m sorry you found my posting to be alarmist crap. I actually think the quote you posted from the article, “Researchers cautioned that the findings should not be a cause of alarm, since the effects of child care were found to be small.” is 100% in keeping with my summary, “Nannies are more dangerous to infants than child care centers, ***quality of parenting is more important than the amount of time spent in daycare***.”

    My honest hope was that a mom reading this, who might be feeling guilty about taking her kid to day care every day, could let herself off the hook a little bit when she saw that the best data we have right now shows that day care won’t disadvantage her child in a meaningful way. I really am sorry that’s not the message you found in my post. It’s interesting that sarahr, who is vehemently opposed to child care, also disagrees with my post! It really is a no win.

  • http://friedokra4me.blogspot.com Megan

    I kinda hope HE nudges YOU and says, “AHM NUMBER TWENNY SEEYUX.”

    Hey, when are YOU going be on Sesame Street? I think you’ve probably got the star power for it, don’t you? And how much fun would that be for you and your girls?

  • Meghan

    I just wish someone would remember that some of us WANT to stay home, but can’t. It’s not always a choice. I am not CHOOSING to work instead of staying home with my daughter. I am doing so because I feel it’s important to have a roof over our heads and food on the table.

  • http://www.myworkbutterfly.com Bradi Nathan

    What’s to ask anyway… it’s such a personal decision that we, as mothers, make. I used to work in advertising… went back for a month and left soon after. Staying home is by far a MUCH harder job than working. I am now self employed, my kids are 6 and 9 and I have never worked harder (in a traditional sense) in my life. I am from the school of thought that it’s okay to pursue bother personal and professional aspirations… it can be done successfully.

    In fact, I have made it my mission to help mothers return to the work force by giving them the tools and resources to be successful in ALL aspects of their lives. I have also learned, by conducting a national survey/focus groups, that the NUMBER 1 reason for mothers not returning to work is GUILT.

    If, just if, we stick together on this, we can empower and inspire one another.

    Bradi, Co-Founder, MyWorkButterfly.com

  • Lynne

    Heather, this may have been mentioned in the above 800 some posts, so I apologize in advance if that is the case. I really feel like the issue of women judging women – and especially mommie judging is an issue. It’s something that women must get over. When I did stay home full time, I was judged and found myself judging other moms. Working and non.

    Now that I work I know that I am judged and am no longer a part of any real mom group and on the absolute fringes of the parents of my daughter’s friends. This is disturbing and exhausting. Women need to support each other as women, as friends, and as moms.

    That’s all.

  • http://www.racheldirollzack.com Rachel

    LOVE Dr. Feel. Makes me laugh every time.

    Anyway, my biggest issue with being a full-time mom is that my husband (and oh, everyone else) doesn’t understand that THIS IS MY JOB. And I don’t get coffee breaks. I don’t even get a commute, wherein I could be listening to my iPod or reading a book by someone who is less obviously on drugs than Dr. Seuss. I don’t even get to PEE by myself (most days). This job, it never ever ends. I get a couple of hours on the weekends to be utterly by myself, but that means I have to leave the house and I don’t always like to do that. There is never any downtime.

    That said, I am well aware that I am lucky enough to have this option. My temperament is such that I do not play well with others in a work situation, and my first thought upon seeing that positive pregnancy test was “Thank Jeebus, I get to quit my job!” And it’s not been easy, but it’s the best thing for our family. I see where #84 Deb is coming from, but I have to argue that my family is nowhere NEAR the top 5% of the population and we are about as far from well-to-do as you can get before you start hearing banjos. ;-)

    But the sacrifices we have had to make have been worth it. I just wish the vacation plan for this job was a little more flexible.

  • Anonymous

    I worry about kids with SAHPs, especially those overly-doting ones, not being able to create enough of a personal identity separate from their parents’, especially for elementary school aged kids, and especially in the summer. As babies and toddlers it’s different, but as kids get older, they need more and more unstructured or semi-structured peer time in order to learn who they are. I caution parents to make sure that their choices are for their kids, not themselves. You don’t have to enroll our kid in every activity and/or make sure that all their free time is spent with you because it makes you feel good about yourself. Send then to camp or just outside with friends. I’d much rather a SAHP of older children use his or her time to read a book or even watch TV instead of involving themselves with their children every single moment.

  • Anonymous

    Ummm, how can you talk about going back to work, when you work from home?? I know you’re gonna say, “But I still work” you don’t leave the house or have to find babysitters or have guilt about what you are and aren’t doing with your kids, you can take them to school, be there when they get home, basically work around them. That’s great for you, but it doesn’t qualify you for shit. Give me a break. You, representing me??? Oh please, you couldn’t live my life even if you tried, you would need so many medications, that you probably wouldn’t even be able to breastfeed. Oh the tradegy.

  • Rebecca

    @Tiffany, #682
    You probably are a wonderful nanny. The overwhelming majority of nannies never harm their charges. In fact, I was once a nanny and I never harmed the kids I cared for. But the data shows that day care centers are safer, and as a parent, that information is very interesting to me. There is a world of difference between making negative generalizations (that are unsupported by facts) about an entire group of people, and reporting the results of a study that ran for 18 years and analyzed reports of 1,362 fatalities in that time period.
    http://www.gc.cuny.edu/press_information/current_releases/2005/November/Child_Care_Study.htm

  • kfoland

    I am a working mom, paying the majority of our lifestyle bills. Is it easy…no..is it rewarding…not usually. Sometimes when I have that amazing mingling of the minds with a co-worker or client and we go off on a cool tangent and my brain fires up and thinks about the conversation for an hour, wow, that feels good. But at the end of the day, I sell websites so it’s not really my life’s work. But my son is thriving in his particular day care. I miss him terribly during the day. Every morning when I’m commuting through downtown Atlanta traffic I wish I was a stay at home mom. But I’m living with the choices I made. And I think it’s just a choice. And I reserve the right to choose to do something else when I slowly loose my mind during a 6pm conference call with a screaming 16 month old who is hungry and wants him mommy. None of this is easy. Women are hard on each other. It’s ridiculous. Men are hard one women who have kids. It’s life, it’s all a constant challenge. Just tell Dr. Phil to suck it.

  • Suebob

    It’s a good discussion topic, but… You’re going on Dr. Phil? Why, oh why…??! He is ick personified.

  • http://www.ihavehissyfits.com Char

    First of all I remember that Dr. Feel skit on Sesame Street why I watched it I have no damn clue. But it was great, in a weird way of course.

    @JennaJenn – I’m 32 and have still watched episodes of it. Honey you are not alone ;)

    However I went back to work after my son was born and he is now 7 years old and since he started has been in advanced classes and ahead of all the students in his classes in math and english. For those who can stay at home good for them but I myself as a single parent have done an exceptional job at raising my son and am guilt free for going back to work. I think it all depends on how much time, love and attention a parent gives to their child regardless if you are a SAHM or not. Because I’m a working parent does not mean I love my child any less, he has everything he needs and more.

    I can’t wait to see the show and Marlo!

  • Lisa

    Maybe you could talk about how isolating it is to be a SAHM. I’m 11 months into it and I had visions of getting together with my friends at the park while the kids went and played. We’d sit and talk and laugh and enjoy ourselves. Reality is not that delightful. No one can get together, schedules are too hectic, I CAN’T GET ANYONE TO CALL ME BACK. DO I STINK OR WHAT????? It’s hard to be home 24/7 by yourself with no adults to talk to.

  • Laurie

    Dr. Phil is super creepy. Don’t forget you can’t swear on the show. Bottom line on working-mom debate: If momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. If mom likes what she’s doing then everyone wins. No matter whether it’s working inside, outside or upside down. P.S. YOU would make an awesome Sesame Street character!

  • Chriss

    I think you should definitely focus on the stay at home and working mothers dilema. I think it is insane that anyone would think to judge another person based on whether they work outside the home or not.

    As for me- I have been a stay at home mom and working mom both at different times in my life. Both are hard. Both are judged. Kids of working parents are just as well behaved and as capable as children with a stay at home parent. And children with a stay at home parent are just driven and socially well adjusted as kids with parents who work.

  • http://saraplayshouse.com/blog Sara

    I feel most guilty that my college degree is not getting any kind of use. At all. And I feel guilty that I always feel like I have to explain to strangers, “Oh, well, I USED to be a teacher! Swear! I have the certificate to prove it!”
    Because most strangers that I meet in the middle of the day with my kids naturally assume that since I’m home with them, I simply must be uneducated or some type of religious zealot. But when they realize that I actually had a career before, the first question is always, “When are you going back?”
    Answer?
    When I’m good and damn ready.
    Why do I feel the need to justify myself? That’s what I wrestle with most. I stay at home because it’s what I WANT to do right now. It makes me happy. That should be enough, but it never really is.
    Sara–Stay-At-Home Mom raised(very well, thank you) by a working mom.

  • http://4goodor4evil.blogspot.com Greta Wenzel

    I love that people get so excited about being first to post when I didn’t really know you took comments! I always see “comments closed” and I just assumed you were taking a break with the new baby and all!

    Anyway…

    My theory on the subject is this: you do what makes you a better person. Period. You will be a better mother when you are a better person. That choice is yours. Period.

  • beth

    Hi dooce… since i have your ears… er… *eyes* for a moment, I thought I’d ask you to bring up an issue that causes a lot of tension in our household: how hard it is to be a stay-home mom and how EASY some dads may think it is. Like, why the hell am I complaining that I haven’t gotten a shower in three days??! Without bringing up too much personal info, I am a stay-home mom to two children: ages 10 and 8 mos. My 10 year-old will be coming home to be homeschooled after 6 years in our failed public school system. The school system works for some, but not my son.

    Anyway- although my husband and I agreed on the stay-home-mom situation AND the homeschool issue, I get a little ticked off at how awesome it seems to be if you are the DAD of some families. I am not saying this about ALL dads… just the one in MY household and some of the ones who are married to my friends. These dads work their 9 to 5 jobs and then come home and work leisurely in their vegetable gardens or meet a friend for a beer after work. They sit on the computer and laugh the evening away on hulu, or they might go disc-golfing.

    What am* I* doing? Oh, I don’t know… maybe I’m holding the baby all day because she won’t stop crying if I try to put her down to make my son lunch or if I need to start dinner. Maybe I have to pee. Maybe the baby is crying because she’s teething and nothing I do can console her. By the way, I haven’t slept more than 4 hours at a time since my daughter was born in November. I don’t work 9 to 5. I don’t get “off work” at a certain time. I don’t get paid to do what I do. No recognition. No glory. I don’t get to meet my buddy for a beer after ‘work.’ I don’t get much free time, and when my baby is sleeping, I am cleaning. Either that, or I am making dinner. You know the drill…

    When I bring this issue up with my husband, about how I am losing ME time, he asks me if I am done complaining. It’s amazing I haven’t hit him with the frying pan.

    I mean, are you fucking serious???!!!

    Please appeal to any men who might be watching, that even though mothers love their children desperately… we tend to lose a bit of ourselves in the process. Hell yes, it’s worth it, but maybe my husband could put that beer down and hold his daughter *WITHOUT ME ASKING* so I can go to the bathroom. Maybe he could stop watching KINGS on hulu and feed his child dinner *WITHOUT ME ASKING*.

    Maybe he could just try to step into my shoes and see what it’s like to constantly be on the move… cleaning up after the first meal and preparing for the second.

    All I am asking for is some understanding… I just want some men to know that even though we MAY be able to make it look easy… sometimes it always isn’t.

    Thanks Heather.

  • http://iruninheels.typepad.com Lindsey @ I Run in Heels

    Turning 30 tomorrow and what better way to celebrate than seeing Dooce on Dr. Phil? Also, it turns out my match.com date this past Friday night is a sound engineer on the show, so I’ll be seeing him again too. :)

  • Kellibean

    I think something that gets ignored in a lot of these discussions-turned-debates (all too often framed as stay-at-home vs career) is what drives us to talk about it so much. I think we’re all at least a little torn about whatever arrangement we’ve cooked up, and when we’re less than honest about our own misgivings, we’re tempted to judge anyone who’s made a different choice–or made the same choice but is unhappy, or is blowing it, or whatever.

    Another motivation to talk about it so dang much might be a hope that by hearing about others’ experiences, we’ll be able to make better choices for ourselves, and I’m not sure that holds up–there are too many variables and each situation is profoundly unique. What’s more valuable, I think, is to hear what others are doing and what’s working and not working for them about it–which yields insights and strategies for making our own arrangements more satisfying.

    But please, let’s stop applauding or decrying one model or another and agree that it takes diff’rent strokes to move the world. Yes it does.

  • Christine

    I do think it’s important to note that there is no one answer that is correct for everyone. It’s such a personal decision and there needs to be respect for what every mother goes through when she makes that choice for her and her family. I work outside the home and sometimes I do feel judged by SAHM’s. Of course this might be my own maternal guilt and I am imagining being judged? And maybe SAHM’s feel judged by me for not getting a job outside the home. But the truth is I respect very much what SAHM’s do–it is such a demanding job and it completely lacks all the “kudos” that you get working at an office (e.g. praise from the boss, salary, adult company/friends, etc.) When I was home for my maternity leaves I felt so isolated. I knew then that I had to go back to work for my own sanity. And it does contribute to my guilt to know that being with my wonderful children–whom I love more than life–made me feel a little insane when I was at home full time. I was fortunate enough to be able to find a position that does give me a lot of flexibility with my home life, so I feel that I’ve struck a healthy balance which makes me a better mom. And that’s what it’s all about. I’ll have to watch for your segment-sounds interesting.

  • Anonymous

    If I was certain it wouldn’t ruin your career, I would suggest pulling a John Stewart. I say break the cycle and instead of talking about how staying at home allows for this or how working allows for that, discuss what assumptions have to be made about the role of a mother (and father), the role of reproducing in general, and the relationship between family and “society” for this debate to exist at all. That would be freaking amazing.

  • Jeni

    my sister stays at home (by chance). and i work outside the home (not by choice). (my husband is one of the millions of americans w/out employer-sponsored health care and i carry the burden of the benefits.) and my sister reminded me of its devastating affects on children almost daily until her words hurt so much that i quit calling her. in fact, i don’t think that the lexapro was for hormonal baby blues as much as it was for feeling judged and berated daily.

    it ruined our relationship. i can’t relate to her and she can’t relate to me and when we try to meet in the middle there is nothing by judgment.

    our children are now older – mine is three and hers is four. and if you did a side-by-side comparison, i don’t think you could spot the kid who was raised by a stay-at-home mom or the kid who was raised by a working mom. they’re both just healthy, happy kids who absolutely love their moms.