I have been on both sides of the great motherhood coin.
I was once the stay-at-home mom (SAHM) who worked from home at night, or on Sundays strictly part-time, but I was mostly home. I didn't miss a day with my daughter, and now, I am a working single mother who uses after care and, sometimes, before care. From managing the home front full-time to working 9-to-5 or later full-time, I have done it all. I can tell you the pros and cons of both situations. I can wax poetic on the battles I had as an SAHM, versus the battles I have now as a working parent.
No matter which side of the coin you are on, parenting is a hard job.
I have never understood why other women feel the need to make anyone else's parenting choice — whether it to be at home or to work — their business. No one's situation is the same, and for many of us, our situations change and develop as our kids grow. As mothers, we have seasons in our lives in which we have to decide how to prioritize our time, money, and lives based around our kids' unique developmental needs.
So bottom line, how does putting someone else down for her choice or comparing your situation to someone else's make anything any better?
Thanks to my SAHM friend, my life and my daughter's life are better.
What I have learned as time goes on is that we need each other — the working moms and the SAHMs. I've also learned in my working, single-parent lifestyle that my SAHM friends are the ones who have made life easier for me. Thanks to my SAHM friends — and even acquaintances — my life and my daughter's life are better.
I think of numerous times in which my SAHM friends watched my daughter so I could go to work. When her school was closed. When I couldn't afford the babysitter. When I couldn't afford to put my child in camp. When I had an interview I needed to rush to. When I was sick and couldn't care for my child. There they were: my SAHM friends, helping me. Even though they were plenty busy with their own children and daily lives, they took my child anywhere from a day or three, and at the early hours of morning into the late evening.
Because they were home tending to their children, they were able to be a part of my village, my network. Thanks to them, I got to work while my daughter was well-cared for. And now, there are many times my daughter will ask when she can go to my friends' homes and stay all day while I work. This tells me that she felt loved and safe when in their care. What parent could ask for anything more?
I think of the numerous times in which my SAHM friends watched my kiddo and then had food on the table for me when I came to pick her up. I would walk in the door and see my daughter, tired and happily worn from the day, yet not in the least ready to leave because she was having "too much fun." On the table would be dinner. Sometimes we all ate together, sometimes I ate alone because everyone had already finished. Either way, someone cared for my daughter all day, and then cared for me on top of that. It always made my day better.
Because they were home and kind to me and my daughter, my night was easier. I was fed. My child was fed. Life was better because of my village. Because of these women, my daughter and I got a little more comfort.
I appreciate these ladies so much because they remind me that my daughter and I are not alone.
So often I walk away from these great experiences and wonder if my friends' spouses appreciate my friends the way I do. Because of these women, children are raised, bellies are full, homes are running, and the family goes on. The working spouse leaves the home each day feeling confident that the kids are taken care of. That the home will not fall apart. That a meal will be there at the end of day. That they can earn a paycheck thanks to the support of that SAHM.
Maybe I just appreciate these things all the more because I do everything on my own. Because the show starts and ends with me in this house each day. Or maybe I appreciate these ladies so much because they remind me that my daughter and I are not alone. That family exists outside of the four walls of your home.
And that kindness is still all around.