That woman you saw sobbing in her car stopped at the traffic lights this morning… her heart just broke when she reluctantly relinquished care of her crying baby and distressed toddler to a child minder in order to go to work and earn barely enough money to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
She cried the whole way to work. She can’t help but feel that as a working mom she’s missing out on a lot. Too much. It crushes her to think that someone else is experiencing all the special moments with her children while she toils away at a job she doesn’t enjoy. Every day she carries around with her enormous working mom guilt about not spending enough time with her young children. This isn’t good parenting she thinks to herself. It doesn’t feel right. She hates being away from her children, but financial constraints dictate that can’t stay home with them. She has no choice.
Sadly, this all too common scenario is played out in many thousands of minivans, SUVs and sedans morning after miserable morning. With house prices and the general cost of living now being so high, in most families, both parents need to work in order to make ends meet.
Women used to be trapped in the home. Fast forward two generations and now they are trapped in the workplace.
Some want-to-be supermoms choose to work, and are fine with putting their children into care to carry on advancing their rewarding career. But for working moms forced into the workforce out of financial need, putting their kids in care to go to work spells daily devastation.
When it comes to the stay at home moms vs working moms debate, many commentators argue that one parent ought to stay at home as working mothers (and fathers) have less time for good parenting.
With regard to mothers who work out of desire rather than necessity, some critics go as far as saying women who work full-time with children at home are the most selfish people on the planet, arguing that if you can’t be there for your children, you shouldn’t have them.
Harsh comments like this are the reason working moms are always fending off guilt… worrying that they aren’t spending enough time with their kids… concerned that child care is screwing them up… hoping that they won’t someday wind up complaining to a therapist that their mommy didn’t pay enough attention to them.
As a work at home mother, I was fortunate to escape the trauma of being forced to leave my daughter at child care, but I have still gone through the gamut of guilt over not being able to spend as much time with her as I would like. This is especially true during the school holidays when she begs me to play a game with her or take her to the park, etc.
However, one of the greatest luxuries working from home grants me is the flexibility that allows me to attend special events at my daughter’s school, such as sports days, plays, mother’s day morning teas and volunteering as a reading group helper.
I am especially grateful for this privilege when I see how upset some of the other kids get when their working mothers aren’t there to watch them. It breaks my heart every single time. So I make a point of giving them a pat on the back or a hug and telling them what a great job they did.
These days too many mothers are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to working and doing what’s best for our kids. One parent really ought to be able to stay at home with their children if they desire to do so, and it saddens me that this is becoming an increasingly impossible scenario for families to enact due to financial pressures.
On the flip side, I do believe that you can have two parents working and delivering good parenting to their children. Each family has their own unique way of surviving and thriving.
What’s your position on the stay at home moms vs working moms debate? Do you think two parents working equals a lack of time for good parenting? Are you suffering with working mom guilt?