It wasn’t my plan to become a stay-at-home mom. I had my first baby and intended to keep working full time. I looked at daycares, picked one out and put down a deposit. I did go back to work full time, but it felt too soon, and I wanted to spend more time with my baby. After a bit of freaking out I decided to see if my job was willing to give me a flexible, part time schedule. You see six weeks of maternity leave is a joke, daycare is expensive and many families are forced to make tough choices.
My company was accommodating and I switched to a part time schedule which worked for my family. Another baby came along, and I was a part time working mother of two having the best of both worlds. When my second baby was around seven months old, my company was acquired, leading to my new gig as a full time stay-at-home mom. Sometimes I get treated differently as a stay-at-home parent than I did when I was working. I feel I can speak from experience having been: a full time working mom, part time working mom and now a stay at home mom.
While I hate to perpetuate the idea of mommy wars, there are no doubt strong opinions on working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. And, of course. don’t forget men — many fathers are choosing to stay at home these days too. I am sure they are also recipients of this treatment.
Here are a few ways I have been treated which surprised me. Maybe if you think about it, you have treated someone this way without even realizing it.
1. Please do not feel the need to remind me it may be harder to find a job in the future.
I received this handy advice from more than one friend after I left my job. One mentioned my career field needs women, imploring me to get back to it before too much time has passed. Another told me she knows many women who regret taking time off and found it hard to get back into the work force. While this may be true, what is the point of reminding me of this right after I left my job?!
2. It hurts when you assume I am not a feminist and I do not want to work.
I am 100 percent a feminist. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men. Can I be a feminist and still stay home with my children at this point in our lives? Well, yes, actually I can. I have worked many years and while I am home with my children I am pursuing other passions which may lead to career opportunities down the road. I am enjoying this time and not taking anything for granted. I have interacted with women who believe staying at home is not setting a good example for our children. That being a stay at home mom is somehow betraying years of feminists who came before us. But isn’t it about each woman having her own choice?
3. Please do not question my finances and ask if I am worried about paying for college or retirement.
Yes, this has happened. And yes, I worry about these things, but I am sure working parents do as well. Would you ask a working mother these questions? I am planning for my children, and myself thank you.
4. Please do not treat me as if I am judging you.
With all the “mommy wars” and other debates raging between parents, it’s easy to believe if someone has made a choice for themselves, they are judging your different choice. I am not, I swear. There are times I envy working parents, wishing I could escape my hellions and be around adults all day. Sometimes I envy the duel income and imagine what I could do with some extra cash. I am not judging you. I am too busy analyzing my own choices to wonder if you are spending enough time with your children. I definitely do not believe you should be doing what I am doing.
5. When you tell me how “lucky” I am to stay home and say things such as, “I don’t know how you do it,” it does not always sound like a compliment.
Is it a compliment? I am not sure. I do believe I am fortunate, but it’s not luck. We make sacrifices, and have thought out the cost vs benefit for me to stay home currently. And, I have heard “I don’t know how you do it,” oh so many times. Usually while you talk about how you need the mental stimulation, passion and time away that working brings to you. Does that mean I don’t? Maybe we all find it in different ways, which is more than okay.
This post originally appeared on Breastfeeding Needs. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.