Act #171: Stop with the guilt trips.
As if I'm not already guilt-ridden for making the decision six years ago to shove my 12-week old baby into the arms of total strangers. As if I don't already wake up at 4:45 a.m. every morning just to have some uninterrupted personal time that doesn't impact the daily routine of the rest of the family. Social media has been relentlessly unforgiving this week in helping to remind working mothers like me that we are indeed the sole cause of the decline of the moral fabric of society. That we are single-handedly responsible for everything ranging from overall unhappiness, to unfulfilled childhoods, to failed marriages.
Take this fine blog piece for example: http://dontmarrycareerwomen.wordpress.com/. The author's main point is this - don't marry a career woman because "research" shows that you you'll probably get divorced, she'll cheat, you won't have kids, and even if you do, she'll be unhappy. Your house will be dirty. If she makes more than you, you'll both be unhappy, and you'll fall ill. Doom followed by gloom.
Well, I've had it. But before I go off on my rant, let me first point out, that I respect whatever personal choices families make to balance child care and income needs. Some of my best friends are stay-at-home moms who are brilliant, intelligent, incredibly fulfilled, and work just as hard as I do for the well-beings of their families. I wish I could say that I knew some stay-at-home dads who also fit that profile.
Let me then tell you, that I personally would be a pathetic reason for a human being if I stayed home with my child full-time (like most working moms I know, I would however love to live in a society that supported more of a work-life balance.) While I'd relish in the chance to work less weekly hours, contributing my skillset to the world and contributing financially to my home, are the two main factors that make my family (and our overall quality of life) better. How so, you ask?
#1: Giving power back to my husband.
Ironically, I've given power back to my husband. I mean this with utmost seriousness. When I met this man, he did not know how to fry an egg. He had never changed a diaper in his life. He would rather donate a kidney than clean a toilet. He went from the arms of his mother to the arms of his first wife. Both who, with all good intentions, showed love by taking care of some of his most basic needs. Seven years later, my husband is empowered to do all those things and so much more. He is an equal and contributing partner in our family and you'd have to ask him, but I dare say he wouldn't have it any other way.
#2: A deterrent for infidelity and divorce.
Talk about cheating and divorce. I'll tell you what would make me cheat! If I spent every second of the day tending to the needs of everyone else around me, and my bread-winning husband came back home each night with that expectation. Can't think of a quicker way to throw me into the arms of a high school boyfriend that I reconnected with on Facebook, when my kids were down for a nap. And as for divorce? As a working mom, I literally don't have time to even ponder divorce as a viable option for conflict resolution. Yes, the scheduling can be stressful at times, but not as much as having to split up property or work out shared custody of your child, people.
#3: Model civic responsibility for my kid.
I get to show my kid day in and day out, that I can change the world...and someday, he can too. I work as the director of a rape crisis center, or in a 5-year old's mind, My mommy helps to end violence. There's nothing more powerful than teaching by doing, and leaving no question in my child's mind, that making the world a better place is not only a possibility, but a responsibility.
#4: The money sure doesn't hurt.
Who are we kidding folks, it takes a double income (at least) to manage these things: Lego camp, prescription meds for your aging parents, the occasional memory-making family vacation, health insurance for a family of three, and the remote prospect of a sufficient college fund 12 years from now. I won't lie, it takes every ounce of the double income to do these things - and this is already after mom has given up designer shoes and all unrealistic notions of annual exotic romantic get-aways.
#5: You're welcome, future daughter-in-law.
If my son grows up straight, and if he chooses to marry, he will have no preconceived notions about the limitations of a woman....or of himself. And maybe, just maybe, 15 years from now if and when he gets married, the point of this blog will sound completely and utterly absurd to him.