I noticed something interesting recently. I live in a let’s-be-friends urban community that throws barbeques on Labor Day and has hayrides for Halloween. Everyone comes out, brings the kids, eats burgers, and meets the neighbors. Yet I find that when you’re toting a baby and go up to another mom toting a baby, inevitably one of the first questions asked is, “Do you work?” And paradoxically, both sides cringe in response.
It’s like the stay-at-home moms are afraid of being judged for not working outside the home and delaying their careers, while simultaneously the working moms brace themselves to defend their choice to earn some money and provide for the little ones. No one wins, yet you still see fear and judgment in everyone’s eyes.
Maybe I notice this more because I work from home. I straddle the line. So when I give my answer, I see the stay-at-home moms sigh with relief that I’m home all day and I see the working moms relax knowing I spend time chained to a computer too.
You know what the men do while we’re having this conversation? Drink beer. They discuss who has the longest commute and “do you know this guy who works at a company sort of connected to your company?”
Why do women do this to themselves? Why do we feel guilty if we go back to work, earn money, and leave our kids in the care professionals who teach them the ABCs and Spanish numerals? Why do we feel guilty if we stay home, record every milestone, make organic baby food, and read books to them on a blanket in the park?
Motherhood 101: Kids = Guilt. No matter what you do.