Yeah, I’m going there.
First of all, I have been many types of mothers: A full-time working mom, a part-time working mom, a full-time work-from-home mom and currently a stay-at-home mom.
I’m far from an authority from the subject but I have so to speak been there, and as my own editor, I have decided, that’s good enough.
Disclaimer: Please don’t take offence that I’m writing this from a mom’s POV. I can’t speak on behalf of dads even though some of the things here may apply to a father as well. Just do the gender switch in your head. Thanks.
Full Time Working Mom
You spend time away from your children. You don’t have to be distracted at work unless you allow yourself to be. No one will come bother you every 5 minutes seeking your attention or approval when you don’t have either to spare. You contact them, their sitter or your mom, whenever you have time to spare and care. You’re in control of how you spend your time.
You have your own income to use. You can buy that bag or shoes or lipstick you want without needing to ask anyone for sponsorship. You don’t have to answer to anyone questioning your spending habits. It’s a privilege you don’t realise you have until it’s gone.
You will feel mother’s guilt. No matter what it is that you do, some people will give you a tough time because you aren’t attached to the hip to your kids. Are you spending enough time with your children? Do you help with homework? Do you send them for karate lessons, violin lessons, enrichment classes, tuition so they can keep up with the rest of the class? Why not? #urghleavemealone
You spend time away from your children. You miss their first steps, their first words, their first crush, their first disappointment, all inside stories you could make references to when they are older (What was I like, mom? You were an angel in everything #coverstory). But the good news is that doesn’t make you less of a mom. If you make the effort to spend quality time with your kids, however short that time is, that’s what your children will turn into their childhood memories.
You have your own income to use. This also means that you have to chip in when it comes to spending money on the children. Their tuition classes, birthday gifts for classmates, get-ups for school performances. Children are expensive. You just don’t realise how expensive they are until you start keeping track (which you totally should).
You will feel mother’s guilt. No matter what it is that you do, some people will give you a tough time because how dare you want time away from your children? They are angels. You had them, you have to take real good care of them. Are you making them homemade lunches for school and feeding them superfoods in every meal? Are you personally baking cookies and cakes for them to sell the school sale? Do you send them for karate lessons, violin lessons, enrichment classes, tuition so they can keep up with the rest of the class? Why not? #urghleavemealone
You have all the time in the world. You can wake up whenever you like, sleep whenever you like, go out for tea with friends whenever you like because you are not tied down by any work schedule, opening or closing hours, or any company policy that prohibits you from leaving your workplace before your break time starts.
Your kids are your best friends. You are there for their firsts, 100ths and beyond. You can soothe them when they are sick or sad or disappointed or upset. You are there to remind them of what is important in life and how a drawback does not mean it is the end of the world. You keep them in check so they do not lose their way. And they do the same for you as well.
Your patience will be tested. After being around kids for a long time, you will develop a patience level for saints. You have the liberty to push everything else aside and sit down with them to ask, “Are you okay? Do you need my help with anything? I’m here for you.” And you have the freedom to wait for them to answer you and sometimes they will take a while to reply you. You will learn that patience is just practiced waiting.
You have all the time in the world. But you are constantly tired because since people think you have all the time in the world, you don’t need (or deserve) breaks. You can go anywhere but you have to schedule that around your child’s drop-off and pick-up time. The things you do must always be done within a “window of opportunity” instead of something done in leisure.
Your best friends are your kids. You’ll develop children talk, watch children shows, sing children songs. You will know everything about your children’s TV show hosts, when they are coming to a theatre near you so you can get tickets. You will learn about how expensive children merchandise are. And you will lose touch on everything else grown-up if you don’t actively keep your grown-up side relevant.
Your patience will be tested. You will develop zero patience for things you have told them a thousand times. After a soft warning, a hard warning, a threat, the death stare, your kids will get the cue to do or not do something as per your command. This may extend to your spouse as well. It is good to be patient, but it isn’t good to be a pushover. Reserve energy for when you need to act, but always remember to act when the situation calls for it.
As you can see, it’s neck-and-neck between the two groups in this so-not-exhaustive list. As much as people want to pit working moms versus non-working moms, all moms are constantly trying to make things work while trying to not fall apart themselves. Sometimes motherhood feels suffocating and rewarding at the same time. Tell me you feel it too.
Let’s be frank here. Whether you work or not as a mom is never really a choice. It is a necessity that we drop the apron and go out to work, as it is a necessity to lose the work pass and stay at home to raise our kids.
Moms are a Jill of all trades. More often than not, many moms feel like they were pushed into a corner and the decision is taken out of their hands. I think we need to recognise the fact that we have this amazing ability to switch between the two and still continue nailing this mother role. And we deserve a pat on the back for just rolling with it.
Personal thought: it matters little if you work or not, if you stay home or not. You carry a responsibility that only fellow mothers could empathise with. Stop pitting yourself against a mother from the other team and give your role your best shot.