But we can’t, simply because it doesn’t exist.
So, we categorize. There are working moms, stay at home moms and work at home moms. And instead of seeing these categories as strategic ways they keep up with everything that needs to be done, we treat them as labels. We create stereotypes.
Working moms are always guilty, because they chose their careers over watching over their kids. It’s miserable. Stay at home moms are always lonely and have no help. It’s miserable. We haven’t worked out a stereotype for work at home moms as it’s fairly new, but when we do, I bet it’s still going to be miserable. There have been several proposals though, like: they don’t really work, it’s just a hobby; they can’t do both, they’re awful mothers AND career women; they can’t make up their minds.
Because it’s impossible to reach motherhood Utopia, people are encouraging the misconception that motherhood is a life lived in misery and suffering, because becoming a working or stay at home mom is deciding which misery you prefer.
The truth is, if you’re an average mother, these choices are brought about by circumstance. We know it needs to be done, so we make the best out of every situation we are given. We are not limited by classifications, and we are humans, not vying for martyrdom. We do not relish in suffering. Working moms are not the perfect workers who never have chitchat at work just because they feel guilt over not being at home with their kids. The stay at home mom is not someone who will never yell at her husband for not throwing the garbage out because he just got home from work, and because everything in the house is her job.
And if some moms are lucky enough to have the choice between working, staying at home or working from home, they should not feel judged or pitied. Mothers are not a special kind of class who should be able to do it all or feel guilty for the rest of their lives. Those are impossible standards no one can attain, so don’t push it. Some moms are beginning to believe it.
I already had a two year old when I graduated from college, and had to work two jobs just to keep up with his growing needs. That meant being away from home for 12 or more hours, and I was berated by people for not being there to tuck my son in bed. My sister decided to stay at home when her daughter turned three, and everyone criticized her for not being able to put her college degree to good use. The world simply cannot stop convincing us how miserable being a mother was.
The world should know better.
My sister and I are lucky enough to enjoy the best of both worlds and work from home, but I’m not claiming this is the holy grail of motherhood. Nothing is.
I’m still not the president of the PTA, I still miss on some school programs, and there are still some movies I haven’t watched with my son because I had to work. There are still some training and seminars I cannot go to, deals I wasn’t able to close as fast as I wanted because I had to go pick up my son’s card at school. I still wish there were more hours for sleep. I still want, ask for help, feel disappointed and yell. That doesn’t mean I should be miserable just because you say I don’t live the Disney version of motherhood. Because while you were busy ranting about what a perfect mother should be, moms were enjoying the giggles of their toddler, laughing at the shapes their baby’s hair makes, or proudly reveling at their 3rd grader’s project.
Whether you’re a working mom, stay at home mom or work from home mom, being a modern mother has the same level of difficulties, only different presentations. But even before those classifications, before the absurd saint-like standards, it has always had the same uncomplicated and simple joys that make it all worth it.
(This article was originally posted in Wailings of a WHAM)