Although “Stay At Home Moms” and “Non Stay At Home Moms” are often portrayed as two opposite groups of women and as comfortable around each other as two strange lions in the jungle, here are five things we actually have in common.
1. We envy each other’s virtual reality... which isn’t actually reality.
In my head: You serve fresh, hot cooked breakfasts with organic ingredients, help dress your children in clothing fit for a GAP ad that were of course laid out the night before, walk your children to the bus stop while holding their hands, then head to the gym for a nice leisurely workout.
In your head: I get to leave the house in beautiful work clothes, speak in big words all day, use the restroom completely by myself without tiny hands clawing underneath the door, and get to leave all “home” worries behind to focus solely on work.
Although the use of restroom facilities in complete privacy is true and not to be underrated, what my days actually look like are very different from what you envision. The same way that your day is very different from what I envision.
In my reality: I haven’t worn mascara in more than two weeks, much less high heels, and while I’m trying to take someone’s spleen out my nanny is calling to tell me we ran out of formula and my husband is texting to find out whether or not his dry cleaning is in the trunk of my car.
In your reality: Your kid is crying because they don’t like the clothes you picked out, during breakfast they spill milk on the only outfit the two of you have agreed upon, and the only gym you will see today is your home gym… aka your laundry room.
Here’s the thing – our lives, however different, both have challenges, ups and downs, pros and cons. We allow what we think the other person’s life is like to form opinions, ideas, and sometimes prejudice. Quite frankly we know very little about each other’s lives – except that, with almost 100 percent certainty, I can say we both worry about being the best moms we can be.
2. We both dread the “What do you do?” question.
For you, the thoughts might be “Oh, great – now they think I’m not interesting, or only want to talk about my kids, or don’t have my own life.” For us, the thoughts are, “Oh, great ― now they think I never spend time with my kids, or am a “part-time” mother, or always serve McDonald’s for dinner.”
OK, so admittedly, breakfast for dinner is common in my house and when witnesses are present I try to pass off Froot Loops as multicolored, multigrain Cheerios. Let’s be real here ladies, we all “work” and none of us like to be defined simply by whether or not we receive a paycheck for that work.
3. The “I don’t know how you do it” statement, which typically follows #2, is also uniformly despised.
What does this statement mean, anyways? Does this mean you don’t know how I am able to leave my children every day and I don’t know how you don’t? Or is this supposed to be a statement of support? Like, “Oh my goodness what you do is so incredible I wish I could do it ”? Or does it mean, “Wow, I would never want to do what you do so I literally don’t know how you live your life.” Whatever the tone or intent, this statement further divides that which shouldn’t be divided at all.
4. We would like to be friends.
The assumption is that I have a “But, what do you do all day?” attitude, and you have a holier-than-thou “I am a full time mother” attitude. But these are our own insecurities talking, not each other. Our inner monologues when we meet more commonly sound like, “She seems cool...I hope she finds me interesting… How does she keep her floors so clean?! ... Her highlights are amazing… Geez, I hope my kid doesn’t act like an &*! at this party...”
And lest not we forget – although we are all mothers, we are all also individuals. We all have individual desires, interests, and hobbies that make us unique and complimentary. Our kids get so much of our time and attention, let’s talk about ourselves!
I love learning what you think of the latest book you read, how you set up a craft room in your house, the amazing concealer you recently bought, or which wine is the best for self-consolation at the end of a crappy day.
Having kids is great and all, but trying to identify ourselves solely as mothers is a restriction we don’t deserve. Yes we can connect as mothers, but connecting as women allows us to like each other for who we actually are.
5. We need each other.
Unless I undergo a very dramatic career change, I am going to miss soccer games and won’t be able to be in charge of the annual school fundraiser or the President of the PTA. But you can or will be.
And those roles, that commitment of your time, makes my son’s school, sports, and life better. You may be the mom who cheers my son’s goal at the soccer game I am yet, again, unable to make. But I also may be the mom at the hospital taking care of your injured child, your husband, or your parent. This is how it is supposed to be.
We all have different strengths, skills, and personalities to create this virtual village required to raise our children. We need moms who stay at home and we need moms who don’t.
Now let’s all put our virtual realities and insecurities away, and try to raise some kids who aren’t a-holes.