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May 05, 2011

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Kim

I guess I was blessed with the innate understanding that to take the best care of my children that I could, I had to work. I made it to some school events. Missed other events. Volunteered in the classroom by having my daughters bring home papers that needed to be corrected in their backpacks. I'd do that after they were in bed and back it would go to the teacher in the morning.

Women only feel the guilt because, somehow, we are always feeling that there's this huge competition between all women and we must win! How many women will not leave the house without doing their hair and makeup? Why is that? The only people you should worry about impressing with your good looks already love you. The rest of the world, really, could care less about you.

My husband says this thing is because women don't play team sports much. He's funny that way, but I still find him an adorable stud muffin.

I leave you, whoever you are, with the challenge to not judge other women. No one can really know who the good parents are just by those outward signs. Well, unless the signs are bruising and blood. But good parents work outside the home and stay at home with their kids. They use cloth diapers and disposable diapers. The have a family bed and they have master bedrooms that the children are not allowed to enter at any time. Bottle fed and breast fed babies thrive.

So stop with both the guilt trips and the judging and just love your kids and everyone will be OK. And when stuff gets hard, that's why God invented therapists.

Kim W.

I often feel out-of-place at my boys' school too, and felt doubly so when I lived in the city for a year. It's not so bad here in a small town, since I know many of the parents outside of school. You know what gives me anxiety? Not knowing the other kids' names. And when other parents spend more time with my kids than I ever have (or will) in the classroom.

The flipside is that some of those parents are envious of my job/career. And after all these years, it turns out that I can carve a little time out of my week and teach some tech classes to the 6-8th graders at the school. I might have missed most of the early years of my oldest boy's school days, but I'm going to take part now, and it feels really good.

Siera

If you want to read about working parent guilt hop on over to http://talesfromthedadside.blogspot.com.

There are only some times that I can go to bed with wet hair in a pony tail after swimming and wake up to the right type of curl. The rare days I do, I rock those curls.

I am starting to feel out of the stay-at-home-mom loop. My son is in daycare and I go to school. I am pretty sure I will be going back to work soon and I don't even want to think about it.

Mary @ Tips & Treasures

I think alot of these roles are changing, just very slowly. More and more Dads are staying home while the Moms work. And more Dads are jumping into the co-parent role even if they work. Dads are actually helping out around the house and taking care of their kids along with the Moms. Sure, it's still not the typical or the norm family situation, but I think it's getting there.

And it's funny that you mention looking around the room at all the stay at home Moms and you feel like you're the only working Mom. At my daughter's school (we're in NJ), I think I'm one of the only stay at home Moms, while most of the other Moms work.

Crystal

I have always worked outside the home. My kids (are fabulous) and a product of daycare/pre-school and elementary school.

Here's my story. I live in Utah (land of the Mormons and central hub of "stay at home" moms). I left my husband a few years ago. Yup, packed very little of my shit (my clothes and few changes of clothing for the kids-and nothing else) and left my million dollar home on the east bench. My oldest was in 4th grade, so I allowed him to keep his father's address (who live next door to his mother-yes its on ACRES, but it still feels somewhat "compound" like). Then, when My Middle started school, we choose to let him go to the same elementary. My daughter starts in the fall, and again, same school.
So, not only do I work outside of the home, but everyone knows me as the "mom who ABANDONED her children". Yes, there is a sorted tale about that! Did I also mention that my ex works for the same school district that my children attend?!?!
What makes me feel less comfortable at their schools (when I schedule a vacay day so I can "help" with a party or such) is that I feel like the gossiping women are always watching what I do, what I am wearing, how I move. How did I fix this? I let them see the real me. I am funny (HILARIOUS), whitty and quite amazing with children (hell, my career centers around children). I also NEVER EVER EVER acted ashamed or regretful about my decisions (I know you got this one PINNED already). Because, the fact of the matter is I would leave again in a heartbeat. It made me (and my ex by his own admission) much better parents.

My kids are amazing and I wish I could say that it has everything to do with the countless hours I spend volunteering and making sure each and every whim is catered to. The truth is, I try to make at least 30 min a day with each of them truly count. That means with my youngest, we dance (Thanks to you). We put on music and act like crazy ladies. My middle-its legos or playing capture the flag outside. And my oldest, its after the little ones are down, we chat or just snuggle in my bed and "be".

We eat dinner as a family EVERY DAMN NIGHT I HAVE THEM!! We play a game called "high-low" every night at dinner (each person takes a turn saying what their best and worst part of the day is). The key is, making time to make sure your kids realize that they are important to you. There is now way you or I will ever be able to feel "no guilt" from raising our kids. The trick is, to remember all those little awesome things we do to make the kids remember something from their child hood. My little lady always says "i love the way we dance every night". Or middle guy saying "i love that you get sweaty running with me momma". Those are the things that will keep guilt at bay.


OH,and the hair?? My hubby calls me "beetlejuice" when I have worn my natural curls the day before! Hell, he says it with love, and a little catch in his smile, that I love him that much more!!

LizP

I know how you feel. I have been to my son's kindergarten class during the day ... never. I drop him off in the morning on my way to work (the most awesome 4 minutes of my day!) and that's the extent of my time spent at his school besides the evening event at the beginning of the year and the parent conference. I can't afford to feel guilty.

Amber

That thing that you don't wanna talk about? I haven't been, either. It's nothing anyone can help with. If things become less happy again over the weekend, I leave Monday.

Michelle Lussier

Seriously, if you want to see misplaced parenting stigma, being on the "wrong" side of a nasty custody battle will truly drive it home. My husband was the primary caregiver before the divorce. My husband was the victim of DV at his ex wife's hands. My husband has been dragged through the mud, railroaded, labeled a deadbeat, and now gets very limited time with his children because in the family courtroom the vagina rules. It's.... very alarming. He's been told that kids belong with their mothers, and listened while drug addicted prostitutes argued with the judge that they should have their kids, and that it isn't fair that they're "being treated like a father"

le sigh

kheatherg

I have been on both sides of the fence, working full time, being a stay at home parent and as a matter of fact, im working part time now. In every instance, i never knew the other parents in my sons class. I've never done play-dates or anything like that. My son plays with the neighbors kids, cousins and friends children when we go to dinner at their house or vice-versa. I've gone to the parties at his school and volunteered WHEN I COULD at his school. In giving you some back ground, i want to say, I feel totally comfy at my kiddo's school. Of course i know the teacher but my son also makes me feel comfortable.

I have to wonder Amanda, (and im not being judgemental here, just trying to give you another point of view) if your not all that comfortable because you feel like your not doing your best with Genoa. Maybe thats where the guilt stems from. In your post, you said that even genoa was shy. (I'm taking that to mean she was Hesitant? But hell, i could be wrong!) Maybe she's not sure where you stand as a parent so she was a bit skiddish.

I guess what i got out of your post was that you were uncomfy because your not at her school as much as you would like to be. I can understand that, but you come off as a very secure person, secure in what you do, so maybe you were uncomfy because when it comes to Genoa, your insecure? Maybe you feel like you should be more involved in general? AGAIN, i'm no damn therapist or writer so not only may i be saying this wrong but i could be so off base that i need to sit down and shut up. It would just bother the hell out of me that my own daughter was initially shy around ME.

That was just my initial thoughts after reading this post and sometimes i just feel the need to share. Would you ask the haters to not sharpen their teeth on me please. I've already had a long week. xoxoxo

Amanda P. Westmont

You bring up an interesting question, Heather. Genoa isn't shy around me at all, but when we're in public or around strangers, she withdraws and freezes up a little. I was honestly expecting her to be more exuberant and happy to see me, like she always is when I get the opportunity to pick her up from school, but she was already acting reserved. Maybe she just found it weird that I was at her school, but I think it had less to do with me and more to do with the fact that the class was full of moms and several of them were already sitting at her table when I got there (even though I got there right on time!).

I think my guilt just stems from the fact that I WAS at the school all the time when Alex was in preschool and I'm not there for Genoa. Which is odd because I generally feel closer and like I'm more connected with Genoa than I am with Alex. Mostly that's just the boy/girl thing and the fact that I get more time home alone with Genoa while Alex is at school. He's more independent.

I guess my whole point is that I KNOW I shouldn't feel guilty about it because the circumstances are out of my control, but I still do anyway.

Nell

Wow oh wow! Great post. I am so on board with you on this one.
I grew up in a home with a working mom. She was a school teacher so she kind of got the best of both worlds. Summer was stay at home mom and winter she got to work. We were very much the minority in our church family. For awhile we were actually the only kids who went to school and my mom the only mother who worked outside the home.
I work full time and have my daughter week on week off. I know about guilt. I take vacation days when she is with me to do things and help out at school if they need it. I am always a little uncomfortable there but it is also the place I spent 13 years (K thru 12th) and it is kind of a Back to the Future event for me every time I walk in there. Not bad, just weird!
I so agree the courts/systems are very screwed up in the matter of gender. I think women as a whole, not just in the matter of parenting, are ruled by their vaginas! It is unfortunate but I suffer "mommy guilt" not only with my kid but my job, my hubby, etc. It is frustrating but it is also a work in progress!
Good luck and thanks for the post!!
ps - Read Joel's Pentecostal post this AM and anxiously awaiting yours (no pressure, no guilt!). Love the Religion Project!!

sherry

Thank for this post. I've been at home since my oldest was born in 2002. I've done some freelance at-home work but I was here. She's in grade three now and I've spent the first years of her school life volunteering. It started with just chaperoning field trips but the past two years have seen me so heavily involved that everyone up there knows who I am and I'm there at least once a week doing something.

However, we're moving this summer and not only my address is changing. I'm going back to work full-time outside the home. My husband will be working part-time in order to do the drop-off and pick-up but I will be gone 9-5 (plus commute time).

I'm already nervous and worried but the worst part is that in contrast, my youngest starts kindergarten in the fall and I won't be there like I have been for her sister. It's very hard to deal with even though I know logically that this is the best thing for all of us. I plan to use my personal obligation days to take time off for field trips and whatnot but it certainly won't be the same.

I'm glad you're talking about it; I think I should too. I think I see a blog post in my future!

(PS I read "Gravy" last week and have reviewed it on Goodreads and Amazon; I really enjoyed it!)

Sally

I think a lot of the mommy-wars issues and feelings of guilt are things we bring on ourselves. Women today are full of the "shoulds." I should be present more. I should stay calm when my child is hysterical. I should feed them only healthy, organic food. I should provide a good example of a woman with a career. I should stay home. The shoulds go on and on and on, and lots of them cancel each other out. The only thing I "should" be doing is the best I can given any particular situation. All the other "shoulds" are BS.

Logically, I know that I'm not judging the other mothers who do things differently than I do, so why do I assume they're judging me? I assume that every mother made a thoughtful and careful decision about what they're doing, so why don't I trust that they'll think the same thing about me? I think we could heal a lot of the rifts just by giving ourselves the same benefit of the doubt that we give other.

lolismum

I am a career woman, too. Worked until the day my water broke with both pregnancies, and went to work after 9 weeks of each of my children's birth. But I nursed and pumped for 2 years with each of them. Have had a full time nanny since they were born. I get them ready for school every day, but their nanny takes them in and picks them up. When I walked into my little one's preschool a couple of weeks ago to pick her up (the poor nanny had the flu), one of the teacher's said, "You are X's mom? I have never met you." I used to feel guilty and out of place just like you did, and you are new to this, you will get used to it and find it less burdensome. My mother was completely dependent on my dad for 30+ years and when he left her out in the cold, I took over all of that financial responsibility. I never ever want to be in my mother's place and I don't want my children to bear the emotional/financial burdens I had to bear. I love my job, I worked hard for it, I trained for it for 2 decades, it provides a really comfortable living standard for all of us and every minute I am not working is pretty much spent with my kids, playing, dancing, riding, snuggling, reading. Every night, we have dinner together. Life is full of constraints, as long as you put your children first even when you face those constraints, whether it is time or money or both, you cannot go wrong.

Charlie Kilian

Right on. You're exactly right. Dads don't feel the pressure, and Moms do. And that ain't right.

Sara

I know how you feel. Boy howdy, do I know how you feel! Ethan started daycare at the tender young age of 8 weeks. It tore me apart to put him in daycare. Six years later? It still sucks a lot of the time. I reek of mom-guilt...but it comes with the territory of being a single mom. What really sucks though, is that I doubt Ethan's dad doesn't feel an ounce of guilt over the fact that he's never even met his son.

Sara

Also? I LOVE the hair!!

obabe

i got all riled up when i read 'fathers day brunch', because at our kids preschool (only for ages 2-4/5, we go to a different private school from K up) theres a mothers day brunch (my 2 year olds was today, 5 years olds friday), they do DAD'S NIGHT for the dads. because, you know, THEY WORK. and none of the mothers do, so theyre totally free from 9:15-10 on weekdays.
hmph.

ICED BORSCHT

We're pretty non-traditional in that, despite having a penis, I do a lot of the traditional "mom" stuff like schedule dentist appointments; doctor's visits; extracurricular activities, play time at the park, etc. And I do all that while working longer days than the one to whom I'm betrothed. So I dunno.

The world is insane. That's all I can really ever conclude.

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