Stepping into motherhood, I was completely unprepared for some issues that come with motherhood. One of these was the “battle” between stay-at-home moms vs. working moms. I started being asked, “Will you be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom?”
Of course, I had heard the terms a million times. But I never fully understood the context until I became a mother myself. And what I have come to believe is that, as a mom, whether you are staying at home or leaving the house, you are doing a job that no one else can do as well as you. You are raising your little human.
One question that has recently come up in conversations I’ve heard is, should mothers who work outside the home be called “career moms” or “working moms”? The idea behind the question, it seems, is that since all moms are working (and hard!), shouldn’t those that work outside the home be called “career moms”? The term “career mom” is something I had never even thought of. But now, I feel as though I would prefer to be called a “career mom” over a “working mom.” It more accurately describes what I actually do: I am a hard-working mom who also has a career.
During my pregnancy, many different questions arose. Will you go back to work? How will you manage to balance everything? Will you take the whole year off? Don’t you want to stay at home with your child? You’ll never get this time back. Take all the time you need! I had the sense that many people felt that if I decided to stay home with my baby, it would be easy to give up all that I had worked to achieve. And while I admire and respect other women who choose to give up their careers to raise their kids, that wasn’t necessarily what I wanted. Was I wrong to feel that way? And did that make those mothers less hard-working than I was? No, not at all.
When you are a woman with a career and a baby, you have two choices: continue to follow your chosen career path and figure out how to balance work and motherhood, or leave your career and stay at home with your children full-time. Most women who choose to balance a career and motherhood do so because they believe they can do both and do them well. However, when people encounter a “career mom,” they think of the time a mother loses with her child. They imagine she is being forced to leave the house to help provide for the family and assume her family suffers from it. While some women do need to go back to their careers because their family depends on the income, not being able to balance their roles or that their family suffers because of it could not be further from the truth. Moms can do both and do them well.
The reality is that these mothers don’t just have a “job.” They are not “just working.” All moms are working. These moms, however, are continuing their careers. Her career and family expectations are very separate entities. And they can succeed at having both in their lives! I have watched women run businesses, change lives, and be amazing mothers—all at the same time. The term “working mom” simply does not capture the reality of a mom who also has a career.
On the other hand, what happens to your career if you choose to become a stay-at-home mom? When it comes down to it, the answer is quite simple. You are making a career change. If you stay at home to raise a child, it should be recognized that you are not “giving up your job.” You are simply heading in another direction in your career!
Being a stay-at-home mom is just as meaningful and challenging as being a mom with an outside-the-home career. It may mean that your bonuses are kisses and hugs from your child instead of a paycheck! What society does not put enough emphasis on is the importance of what a stay-at-home mom’s career entails. There are schedules, expectations, chaos, and stress. But no paycheck. It is just as much of a job as if you were answering to a boss. Except now, your boss is a tiny human whose demands and expectations are just as high (if not higher!) as any other boss you’ve had in the past. And you’re on the job 24/7. It’s hard work being a mom.
I wish the adjective before mom (stay at home, working, or career) would simply disappear. We don’t refer to a father as a working or career dad. Typically our husbands/child’s father has a career AND is a dad. No one seems to want to make a big deal of that!
Mothers have so much pressure to do it all. Whether we are working, raising a household, scheduling, etc. Whether we leave the house or stay in the house or work from the house, we are all working! The working part of motherhood should be implied. Whether we leave our career job for the day to come home to our job as a mother or stay at home as our new career, we deserve to be celebrated and rewarded for our job.
Women should be proud of being a mother, having a career, or doing both. No matter what label society wants to slap on it, we are all hard-working moms.