“I create an environment where my children can thrive, and I guess you just can’t do that because you work all the time.” Those were her words, and this is what they did to me.
Mom-shaming isn’t new. We have all read the Facebook posts and articles that go back and forth about the differences between the way we school our children, what they eat, how we discipline them, and how many activities we sign them up for each summer. It is not uncommon to see the working-mom versus the stay-at-home mom debate either. Most of the time you see moms comparing their lives with the other side, and being envious of those who get to leave for work each day/stay home all day. You know, the grass is greener and all that. But I have never actually been confronted with someone actually shaming me. I have always seen it play out online, wondering how people can be so mean to someone they don’t even know.
I am in a weird spot as a “working mom” because I don’t actually leave the house to work. I work from home, 100% of the time. I still have kids at home so I’m not as productive as I probably could be, but I have built this career from the ground up. And being a military spouse, it is imperative that I have something I can take with me each and every time we move. Working remotely seems to work best for our lifestyle and my own personal goals.
I do work, but I confine those hours mostly to the wee early morning hours and to when my kids are at preschool. Many days it spills over to their time at home with me, but I still do the stay-at-home mom thing where I take them to the park in the middle of the day or run errands. However, I am the only mom like this here- every single one of my neighbors on my street of 10 houses has a stay-at-home, non-working mom. In fact, this is common for most of my neighboorhood. I see them outside, chatting together from my office window while their little ones play in the cul-de-sac. I watch them walk by my house, taking their kids to the park. I see them go for walks around the neighborhood together while the kids are in school. And it never bothered me that the invite was never extended to my kids, or me, because I was working and they knew that. Until it was made clear that some looked down on me for my decision to work.
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One particular neighbor, kindly yet condescendingly told me that my work from home distracted me from being a good mother. “I create an environment where my children can thrive,” she said, “And obviously you just can’t do that because you work all the time.” Yes. You read what she said right.
It was the first time I had ever felt shame from someone else in being a working mom. It was the first time I realized others were judging me for my decision to work. Sure, I have those “mom guilt” moments where I criticize myself and wonder if I’m doing the right things by my kids, but I never considered that others would look at me and think that I was a bad mom because I worked, especially since I work from home.
In my eyes, I had created a balance. Not a perfect one, because there never really is a perfect one, but a balance nonetheless. I work and pursue my personal goals and aspirations, but I am also able to do the middle of the day dentist and doctor appointments. I am able to make school performances and Easter egg hunts. I homeschool twice a week and take my kids to the park at 10 o’clock in the morning. I thought I was doing things right- both for my kids and for me- but her word made me doubt myself.
Related: I’m Glad I Have Mom Guilt
I wondered, “Do people see me as a bad mom? Do the kids see me as a bad mom?”
The short answer is no.
But also, yes.
Ok, there is no short answer.
Some people will see me as making a poor decision by working from home. Others won’t bat an eye. Some days my kids get upset when I say, “I can’t take you to the park right now; I have a conference call,” and some days they ask me to help them make videos or spend hours upstairs writing stories because they see me do it. I am happy in my life and I love working. I also love that I get to be home with my kids. If others don’t like it or think it’s wrong, then “Bye, Felicia.”
In the end, I can’t worry about what other people think of me. It’s cliche, yes, but I can’t. After all, I work all the time, so I really don’t have the capacity to worry about anyone else, right?