In my last blog, I wrote about the “mommy wars”, which pit working moms against stay-at-home moms in the fight to decided whose choice is right. It is a war in which many women choose not to fight but unfortunately are drafted, forced to choose sides. However, I previously didn’t mention on which side I stand. That is because I have the rare privilege of being able to do both.
I have two young sons and I am a writer but because my husband and I both work from home; we co-parent and rotate workdays, which allows me to cross the battle lines. As an infiltrator to both sides, I will tell you what I have learned about both choices and myself.
For many years, I worked as an assistant editor. So I remember well what it was like to get up early and work an eight-hour day. I remember crazy co-workers and tyrannical bosses. I remember office politics and water cooler gossip. I remember the stresses of deadlines and the pressure of performance. I remember the disappointments and the rewards.
After a few unsatisfactory years of doing what I didn’t love, I decided to do what I did love—write. After years at home in front of a computer, I wrote and published my first novel. Soon after, I had my first child. And for a long time I stayed immersed in him, not writing. So I know what it is like to wear more spit-up than perfume, to function on four hours of sleep, to not shower until the end of the day, to feel strangely attracted to the Wiggle in the blue shirt.
And now I do both. I have a career and I feel the challenges of self-motivation, self-doubt and little money. I have children and I feel the challenges of exhaustion, self-doubt and no money. So who am I? A stay-at-home mom or a working mom? Shouldn’t matter, right? But it does. And since I am able to stealthily be both let me tell you what I have learned about the one while being the other.
As a working mom, you feel guilty, especially when your child, with big round eyes, asks if you’re working again. You feel selfish, especially when you enjoy your work. You feel the quick passage of time and wonder what you’ve missed. You constantly question if you made the right choice.
As a stay-at-home mom, you feel guilty, especially when you feel as though you can never be or do enough. You feel selfish, especially when you wonder whether not starting or putting your career on hold was the right decision. You feel the quick passage of time and wonder what you’ve missed. You constantly question if you made the right choice.
And what did I learn about me? I learned that I am damned lucky to be able to do both. I learned that it doesn’t matter on which side I stand or any other woman for that matter because we all question our choice. We all want our children to be healthy and happy and our careers to be a success. We all just want a good life.
Most importantly, I learned that in life you must find your voice and learn how to use it. For me, I discovered my voice when I heard my son’s for the first time and realized that I am more than the label in which some want to contain me. I am a working mom, I am a stay-at-home mom, I am a wife, I am a writer, I am a woman who just tries to do her best every day.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International