Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Mommy Wars

I am a minority. Not because of my race, gender, disability or sexual preference. Nor due to my nationality, my age or my religion. But I am treated differently and discriminated against just the same.

I am a Working Mom who is also a Christian. To top it off, I am a Catholic mom with only one child. (Stop staring, it's rude.)

I grew up in a very large family of eight children. My mom was always working. Whether she was picking blueberries (with us working right along beside her), working in our garden (Which was the size of half a football field. Seriously.), canning vegetables, running a daycare, operating a fabric store, managing my dad's business or going to college. She worked a lot. It was her nature, her make-up, The way she was created. When Sassy was nine, our mom finished college and began her new career. She retired two years ago.

I have chosen to work outside my home as well. My parents, siblings and most of my friends support my decision, but many people do not. Often, I will hear acquaintances comment that they have chosen to make sacrifices so that are able stay home and raise their children. Sister Seven wrote that she is "called by God to be home with her girls and homeschool them". I think the choice to work or to stay home is a very personal one. But staying home is often considered more honorable, more noble. The option that God would approve of the most. I disagree.

When I first started blurfing (blog surfing for you newbies), it was with the intention of finding a site for women who had a strong faith, loved their family and enjoyed their careers. I couldn't find one. I was surprised and dismayed to find many articles chastising women for "abandoning their children to daycare and public schools".

I emailed Big Mama, Boo Mama (I am their biggest stalker) and other popular bloggers asking for some direction and they were stumped. There are many sites devoted to moms who work from home, but I couldn't find any with moms who are open about their ambitions, career goals and faith.

So, I'll start. My name is Sister Honey Bunch. I am Christian and I love to work. It fulfills me. It makes me happy. It keeps me sane. It provides for my family. It gives us opportunities we wouldn't otherwise have.

When we had Logan, I was 34 and Tom was 39. Because we started our family a bit later than most, we aren't just saving money for Logan's college education. We also are saving for our retirement. And the assisted living facility. So, not only do I want to work, but I really need to work in order for us to achieve our goals.

I often hear the argument that it isn't biblical to work outside the home if you have children. Again, I disagree. If you look at the Proverbs 31 woman, what was she doing?

  • She was being called "blessed" by her children. (I get called in to search for a missing Power Ranger, but whatever.)

  • She was a true partner with her husband. (That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.)

  • She wore beautiful clothing and cared about how she looked. (I am sure she would be a fan of What Not to Wear)

  • She managed her household. (She had servants. Me? I clean my own toilets. And by "me", I mean "Tom".)

  • She volunteered in her community and helped the needy.

  • She was an entrepreneur. The Proverbs 31 woman bought real estate (a field), re-invested her profits, produced goods and sold them.
Please don't think for a second that I'm implying that stay-at-home-moms are just hanging out watching Oprah and munching on cheese and crackers (my activity and snack of choice when I'm home). Most of my sisters stayed home with their kids. I was able to see first-hand just how hard they worked day-in and day-out. And late into the night. Because "a woman's work..."

My issue is with those who think that it is better in God's eyes for the mother to stay home with her children than to have a job.

While having a career is fulfilling for me, it also carries its own challenges. I often suffer from Working Mother's Guilt. My husband and I have to juggle the household duties. I work to make sure my time with my kid is spent wisely. And I also work to make sure he doesn't think that my life should revolve around him when I am home. That's a tough one to balance.

I know from talking with my sisters and girlfriends that staying home has its own concerns. My hope is that we can all accept the choices we each make and recognize that there is not one "right" choice. There is a great article here that discusses this very thing: Women supporting women.

I intend to explore this topic more here at Sisters of a Different Order and would love your feed back. Please email me or leave me a comment about your thoughts on this subject.

What's that? You want to comment? Just click on the itty-bitty words below that say "Gimme Some Sugar". Can you see them? Good. We can't wait to chat with you.


Ashlee said...

Ready for some deep thoughts by Ashlee? :0)
I've done both. I was a working mom. My son was half raised by Mindy, who became his second Mommy and one of my very good friends. When I stopped working after having baby #2 I went insane. Almost literally. I have never NOT worked. Stir crazy comes to mind. Not that the kids didn't keep me busy. Son was in kindergarten and brand new babies {at least mine} don't take care of themselves. But it wasn't the kind of "busy" I was used to. Making the BIG decisions, bossing people around {wait...I still do that...}anyway..you get the idea. I went back to work when daughter was one. For six months...it didn't work out for me. But I loved it. I love being at home too.
I fully agree with you 100% that it's a personal decision. I was raised by a working mom who was raised by a working mom. It's in my DNA to WANT to work. I still want to at times. And, with the volunteering that I do, I still feel like I have a job. I just don't get paid for it. :0) I think that women are blessed if they stay home. I think that women are blessed if they go to work. Just in different ways. Jobs can give you a sense of fulfillment that staying at home just doesn't give you. Not that staying at home isn't fulfilling either. It's just different.
I have a hard time with the "others" as well. I am a Christian woman. You're right...it's been "said" that we aren't "supposed" to work. But I don't think that God is putting a big X over your name because you work. And don't feel bad for having an only child. I have two of them. They are six years apart. One boy, one girl. Two only children. Do you know how many times I've been told that I'm "supposed" to have another one? Apparently they've recieved "inspiration" that I have not. :0)
So, don't feel alone! I plan on going back to work in a few years. I wouldn't be able to sit at home when daughter went to school. Oprah's not THAT great.
I loved your post by the way!

Jen said...

Great post! I want to WANT to stay home when I have kids. My husband wants me to stay home. I think it would be a great idea, but I just don't know if I'm cut out for it. I really love working outside the home--it's a huge part of my identity.

I leave the subject really open now because I have no idea how I'll feel when I actually HAVE children. Maybe I'll take one look at my new baby and never want to leave him/her--even for 8 hours a day. Then again, maybe I'll spend two weeks at home (like my friend Kelly) and decide that staying home is NOT FOR ME and I need to go back to work. Time will tell...

It's sad that women judge each other for making these choices. I think we'd all be better off if we could practice loving our neighbors and accepting their choices.

mom of 2 said...

I can't stand the "holier than thou" attitude women get about this subject. It truly is sickening! I don't know why people need to pick others apart. Instead we, as women, should be building each other up and empowering each other. We are all different, our families and situations are different and even the economies where we live is different, which leads us all to make different choices. I don't think it makes one women's decision right and another's wrong. I think we all do what is best for our families. I'm sorry there are people out there who make you feel badly for your decisions!!

I read this passage that Jesus said just this morning in John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

And that's all I have to say about that! lol I'll be looking forward to reading more posts on the subject!

Sister Sassy said...

Amen ladies! I don't suffer from the mother guilt except on the days my daycare lady suggests my kids are sick because I feed them junk. GRRRR!

But I'm with you- to each their own. My best friend has always wanted to stay home and she's an excellent mom and loves it, I sucked at it and was useless. I'm a horrible house keeper and I crave adult companionship.

But truly, we have so many stresses in our lives and so much pressure that we should be supporting each other from all sides. I read a post yesterday from a doctor turned stay home mom and the flack she got for making that choice. We all just need to support each other as long as we are doing it because it is the best choice for us. If it's instances where the choice to stay home or work is forced upon someone by their church or their family then I think that is different.

As long as you are being true to your heart that is what matters.

Natalie said...

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!! I am one of a few girlfriends that are 'working moms' and have a very strong relationship with Christ. I tried it for 3mths and went stir-crazy! I have been in arguments with other women that believe I am doing my children a dis-service by allowing 'someone else' to raise them. WHATEVAH!! I'm a contagiously happy mommy when I'm working and making money (and I do a pretty darn good job) and taking the stress off my DH who works crazy hours, but generally picks our children up every day from school/daycare, etc ... YOU ARE AWESOME!!! Thank for you for the fantastic post.

A&EMom said...

I am a stay at home Mom and my Mother was/is a career woman. My choice is not a reflection of hers. Her career is important to her and she enjoys and excels at it. I've never been on the career track and the work I love (besides mothering my girls) doesn't pay enough to cover child care. We all make the choice that's right for our life, our children, our marriage, our situation. Why don't we women understand that if we want respect for our choices, we must respect the different choice of another?

Thanks for your thoughtful post!

Ashlee said...

Umm...this has nothing to do with your post. :0)

I'm tagging you again. Sorry! More work..I know. check out the blog for details.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Ashlee, don't you just love it when God tells someone else your business and not you? Now go conceive that third baby! :)

Jen, you really do need to be open about it. I have a friend who chose to stay home after having a very successful career. She had to look at her new gig like it was phase II of her career life. She treated it just like a job-structure and all otherwise she would go nuts. Remember the whole being open to whatever happens when you sit down and write your birth plan too. :)

Sassy's head was halfway into the oven when she decided it was time to return to the workforce.

No, Natalie. Thank YOU.

A&E Mom~Exactly. What is right for your mom or sisters or friends may not be the best choice for you.

Ashlee~ We've got your tag. Oh yes we do.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I HATE the mommy wars. We each have to make the decision that's right for us and right for our families. Period. If we're trying to be good moms and lead good lives then that should be enough. Period.

And I second the fact that choices are also made about numbers of children. I wanted more. I didn't get them. Too bad. I'm blessed I have the one I have. My dear friend (who, btw, is also Catholic and also works outside the home) grew up in a large family and for that reason wanted a small one. And she's happy and so are her kids.

Great post. BTW... here's a great blog by a Christian mom who works outside the home...


She's on vacation with her family this week, but she's a working actress and mother of a small girl and is very, very connected to her faith.

I believe this is also true of (not the actress part - she's a nurse):


I think both these women are wonderful!

saintseester said...

Um. Catholic, check. Working Mom, check. "Only" two kids (the second one was a complete surprise), check. Age 32 when first baby came into my life, check. Need to work because I would go insane (not to mention become obsolete in my field), check.

We have an awful lot in common, dear. I think I am sleep blogging or something. Because I could write your posts. Except for that bit about Tom. I don't know any Toms.

Elizabeth said...

Catholic. Yup.
I have 3 kids.
I work full time.
I even write about it:
Career and Kids

Sister 7 said...

I am of course on the other side. I am a stay-at-home mom and I get the opposite side of what you get. I have women say to me all the time "how can you stay home all day" "Don't you want to do something important with your life?". My answer to those to questions is 1) some days are easier then other days to be home all day 2)I am doing something important in life, raising my girls to love God and Do his will for them in their lives.
Each women has to make her choice. My friend Jamie was a full fledged career women, but after she had her first child she wanted to try and stay home. Like me she likes it most days (except when the kids are sick) but there are other days she wonders if she should go back to work. I used to feel like I needed to do something outside the home, especially when my kids were babies (I don't do well with babies). But as they got older it got easier to be home with them and more fun. And now that I am homeschooling them people think I am even crazier. God will guide you through his Word what is right. We should support each other whichever route they choose.

Christine said...

It makes me sad when motherhood gets put into a one-size-fits-all, guilt inducing package. (That's not to imply I am a liberal, anything goes mom LOL!) I just don't understand why stay home moms would judge work outside of the home moms, and so on. I'm a SAHM, and know my way isn't the only way and it's not for everyone. I hope you are able to follow the Lord's leading, and not let anyone put you into their box.

Sister Sassy said...

I found this article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702043.html

that says the mommy wars is created by the media and lives in our minds which probably isn't the case BUT I was reminded about how back in the days of slavery the rich plantation owners "the man" essentially made sure to orchestrate situations that would pit the poor white and the black slaves against each other because if they united... well then who would have the power. I'm such a "the man is out to get us" type so I think to myself...

maybe, just maybe the old men smoking around their table in that boardroom somewhere is trying to keep us divided so we won't take over the world. Because we all know the world would be a better place if women ruled.

and I'm paranoid too...

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Jen of A2eatwrite-thanks for sharing those links. They are now in my google reader so I can keep up with them.

Saint Seester--Could you possible be Sister Eight? We do have a lot in common?

Elizabeth--Love your site!

Sister Seven--I love you.

Christine--I agree. Moms should never make other moms feel guilty about stuff like this.

Sassy-I am going to have that stupid Helen Reddy song in my head all night long. I hope you do too. Maybe I'll call and sing it to you on my way home.

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Oops! Saint Seester can't be Sister Eight-that's Sassy's spot in the family line-up. You must be number nine!

Accountable said...

I can't add anything new to the mix. While I was on maternity leave with both my kids I did get stir crazy and even worked from home a bit.

I too am Catholic. My sister is a SAHM and I don't know how she does it. If I were a SAHM, I'm not sure my kids would get enough stimulation from me that the get their daycares.

Nicole @ Life In Progress said...

I found you from a comment on BooMama & I loved this post. I am a SAHM. For reasons I won't bore you with, me staying home was the right choice for our family. And in most ways it was what I wanted, but leaving my job was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I didn't just LOVE the work, but being a "career-woman" was a big part my identity. And believe me, for those first few months, there were days when I thought, "Seriously, this is what I do now?"

I think it's great that you've made the choice that is best for your family. There is no judgement from this SAHM.

Also, I have never really heard or considered the argument that is isn't biblical to work outside the home. To me that is simply ridiculous & I feel certain you could find plenty of biblical evidence to the contrary.

Frankly, I think anyone who tries to make you feel guilty is probably suffering from some big insecurities in their own life. We women are notorious for feeling like we're not living up to a million imaginary & unattainable standards. We compare ourselves to others & try to make rationalizations to make ourselves feel better about the way we're doing it.

The think is point is: there is no ONE way to do it. And we need to give ourselves and everyone around us a big, fat break from all the guilt & pressure.

The Nester said...

I love that you LOVE your work! I know that's exactly how God made you! I think the very fact that some feel led to work and some feel led to stay home says that we women are so intentional and listening to where He leads. Who am I to say what He desires for you?

You go girl!
And I agree that there is a real need for women who are working, Christian, mothers to come together for support. I'm glad that you are taking the lead.
I stay home with my boys and yes, there are sacrifices both ways but, I only hope that I have never, ever made anyone feel less than.

Sister Sassy said...

Honey Bunch, you've been trying to give my spot away since I was born. Telling me I was adopted and such- I doubt Saint Seester would let you boss HER around!

janethesane said...

First of all...thanks for stopping by my blog :)

Now the question at hand...for me I would love to be a SAHM. It is something I hope will happen someday. I would even love to homeschool my little one. I know not every woman feels that way though and I am not about to judge anyone else. It is interesting how often I've seen this theme come up lately. Whether it is about work, breastfeeding, vegetarianism, tv watching, vaccination, etc many women passionately defend a position, usually based on the choices she has made. Too often this comes out like an attack on the opposite camp. It is a woman thing. It would be rare to see men argue about something like this. Women make it so personal. Why is that?

Katharine said...

Sister Honey Bunch.
I just found your blog from a comment on another blog and I love what you have to say. I am a Christian with four children (four college tuitions? hello?) and the wife of a pastor. I've been mostly SAH, but have worked part-time (VERY part-time) since our oldest was 3. Now my youngest is just 2, and I am struggling with these issues. I love staying home and I love taking care of our home (in the big picture sense...I don't love picking up legos all day or wiping pee off the toilet all day...boys). But I also feel that I need to earn some income and use my skillz, just like that Prov. 31 woman. I mean, NEED to earn some income. I'm trying working from home right now, but really struggle with the amount of self-discipline that is necessary to really succeed. I don't have any answers for myself (and most certainly not for anyone else), but I really appreciate your post and your thought and I'm so glad to join the discussion. Thanks, sistah!!!

tired mom said...

Well HB I have to tell you that I have experienced alot of judgement and shunning but not because I went to work but because I stayed home. I have a bachelors in biology and chemistry and masters in biology. But I always knew I wanted to stay home when I had my kids. However one thing I didn't anticipate was how I would be treated. I was very judged by many women, friends, ex-coworkers who thought I was nuts for "wasting" my education. They suddenly didn't know what to talk to me about. We suddenly had nothing in common. When I would go to events with my husbands work (wich was the same field I worked in for many years) I was treated like I had no brains. I was asked about kids and good recipies. At first it hurt. But now I just ignore it. The funny thing is God is truly in charge. I have all this biology education and it has come in handy being a mom. My one son has CP and autism so I am a speech therapist, occupational therapist and a physical therapist. If we pray about our decisions then we are doing His will, be it working or staying at home with our children.

HighHopes said...

Do I ever know what you are talking about here. I am a working mom and a Catholic with only 1 child too. Apparently I haven't been fruitful enough by some standards within my church community and people do comment. My response is well I wasn't blessed any further and I guess that God figured I had the biggest blessing I was ever going to need. I also follow the Church's teachings regarding birth control. So go figure.

I am a working mom and worked when my daughter was a toddler. I worked 8:30 to 3:30 and we had a nanny/granny who came in and watched her. Its not about quantity in my books its about quality of time I spend with her. I know some parents who spend a lot of time with their kids and there is no quality to it. When I get home from work, all of my time is devoted to her and still is 10 years later. I still work because frankly with the economy the way it is we wouldn't be doing well if I didn't. My daughter is in school fulltime, and I pick her up 30 minutes after she is finished.

I know some really great SAHM I think it is great that they are able to do this. But don't judge me for being a working mom. I am a darn good mom and I put all of my energy into doing so. I hate it when people judge working moms. Some people stop judging working moms if they single parents because it is a necessity to provide for their children.

What about all of the women who during the 1st and 2nd World Wars, who went to work because most of the workforce was at war. Did that make those women bad mothers? NO not in my books. What about the women who worked because their husband was hurt or injured and couldn't provide for them? What about the women during the great depression who worked to help support their families?

If you ask me every mom is a working mom, its just the semantics of it, most are working when they are home with their kids doing housework etc. Running the household, its still a job.

As for schooling my daughter at home, I am not equipped to do it, nor do I have the expertise and training to give her a good education. Its not like training a puppy after all. I am preparing her for the future, and it is best the professionals do this with my guidance, back-up and participation. I could go on and on justifying my position, but really I don't have to and you know what some people will never understand.

Beck said...

Have you read Bub and Pie? (http://bubandpie.blogspot.com/) She's a Christian, a mother, AND a university professor, so she might be the sort of blog you're looking for.

Brother Jimmy Eat World said...

Good Post HB! Not much for me to say on the subject, except I am soooooo glad that Sister Sassy is back in the working world, thats where she belongs, in order to keep her from throwing her head into a hot oven ;)

Andrea said...

This so speaks to me; and particularly the point about there being no one "right" choice. I've chosen to work PT outside the home and have had the great fortune to have an employer who has been very flexible as my desire to work has changed with each childe (I have 2 girls). Thanks for voicing this.