Working moms vs. Stay at home moms... Aaah, this old debate again? Working moms get to shop at Ann Taylor and experience something called a "lunch hour"! SAHMs get their own acronym and don't have to iron! Ever!
As a SAHM, I also enjoy the generally happy faces of approval that society grants me. I notice this particularly at the pediatrician's office, when the nurse asks if my child attends daycare. I reply "no" and usually I am met with a sigh of relief. One nurse even snuck in an "oh, good." What, I wonder, do you say to working moms who reply "yes" to that question?!
Well mommies, here's a doozy for you. Tonight at the dinner table, the following conversation happened:
My 4-year old son told my 2-year old daughter: "When you grow up, you will be a mommy."
Her reply: "I want to be a lawyer like daddy."
My son then said, "Only boys can be lawyers."
Punch. In. The. Gut.
To add salt to the wound, my daughter followed up with, "Yeah. Mommies don't work."
Double punch. I wanted to crawl under the table into a ball. But I didn't. I saw an opportunity here to educate both of my children about mommies and daddies and work and careers and equality and... and... And I think they eventually tuned me out.
My kids do not know that I earned both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, worked for 7 years, and supported my husband and paid the rent through his law school. Their Mommy wears a ponytail every day, buys animal crackers for this week's play date, and picks up Daddy's dry cleaning.
I do try very hard to set a good example for all of my children, but particularly for my daughter as I am her female role model. I tell her that Mommy exercises to get stronger, in order foster positive body image. She cheers me on during my work outs, saying "You are getting stronger, Mommy!" I tell her that she and I have girl power that helps us be brave and strong and fight our fears. I read with her, and each of us gets our own books at the library -- including "big grown up books" for Mommy. I know these are all good examples for her to see. But at 2 years old, all she knows is a daddy who wears nice clothes and goes to work, sometimes on "airplane trips" to be a lawyer. And Mommy stays home with her, brings her to the grocery store, cooks dinner, cleans the house, does the laundry... you know the list.
And I have told her many times that she can be anything she wants to be. Of course I would love for her to be a mommy, a SAHM if she chooses. But I DEFINITELY want her to have a career, a passion, something for herself that sucks us dry financially for 4-10 years of schooling.
Hearing these words hurt. A lot. However, I have to remind myself that I may not show her a mommy who goes off to work every day in an office like Daddy does, but I do show her a mommy who does her best. Who works hard. Who sacrifices. Who misses working but treasures her time at home. Who made a choice. And who should probably wear comfy pants less often.