Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Does It Have To Be Either Or ???

I have been reading lately about the stay at home Mom vs. the working Mom. Since I’ve been both I felt I might be able to help with the discussion.   
Both are hard work. 
When the kids were little, I stayed home and it was like I was a freaking day camp counselor.  Monday was library story hour, Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d head to the pool for swim lessons, Wednesday was Dreher Zoo for kids’ days and Fridays we went to the beach.  Occasionally we would head out to one of the many parks in the area and have a picnic. 
We’d head home for lunch and the kids would nap while I did the needed house work.  My sister once gave me a plaque that said, ‘My house is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy.’  Then came play time. Daniel would play computer games and the girls usually played dress up or Barbie.  At 4:00, I would start supper.  I always had family dinners at 5:30 just like Mom.  I loved those times, with Kirk listening as the kids told about their day.
As each kid went off to school, the schedules changed a little, but it was basically busy mornings and working afternoons.  I got involved in PTA, was a room Mom, and volunteered for field tips.  It was my job.  I didn’t get performance assessments, I didn’t get raises or bonuses, but I got hugs and kisses and I was there to kiss boo boos and hug hurts away.
When the kids went to middle school, I went to work.  I worked at a Barnes and Noble in the morning so I would be home in the afternoon for dinner and bedtime.  The juggling involved was sometimes overwhelming.  Get home, make dinner, spend time with family while doing household chores, read the kids a book before bed and then hugs and kisses before falling into my own bed, completely exhausted.
High school came and they needed me less so I took a job at an unfurnished furniture store.  It was small and family run; I felt it was a great fit.  I still rushed out the door at 4 to be home in time for dinner and evenings with family.  With an early quitting time, I was able to make the tennis matches, drama productions and softball games followed by family dinner at the local sports bar.
When the older kids went to college, I quit working and decided to volunteer at Quantum House in West Palm Beach.  It is much like a Ronald McDonald House, where families stay while their children are hospitalized.  I was there for six months when they offered me a job.  And I loved it.  Helping families in need somehow fulfilled that part of being a Mother that I missed.  I set the routine.  Sundays I would cook meals for the week.  Spaghetti sauce and stews would be put into the freezer.  Laundry, ironing and outfits were hung for the week. 
Then we lost four children in one month.  They ranged in age from 2 to 16 years of age.  I would come home crying.  By this time each of our kids had graduated from college and Kirk said we didn’t need the extra money so if I wanted to stay home we’d be okay.  I thought long and hard before deciding to once again work at home. 
Someone once asked me what I do all day.    I say I write every morning and then I make sure everything is taken care of so when Kirk gets home we can just enjoy our life.  Lawn care, deliveries, dinner, laundry, family gatherings, and a whole assortment of jobs and chores make up my day. 
I have lived both sides of this issue and each is equally hard.  We women live with enough guilt about our decisions to have to defend them constantly to the press, to our families and to each other.  We need to support one another, stop pointing fingers, and stop reading those ridiculous studies that say one way is better than the other. 
 Maybe the men who execute these studies should take the money they invested in them and divide it up among women with families so they can take a two week all expenses paid vacation. It would be a better use of the money, because seriously we women don’t care; we are all working and are just too damn tired.

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