Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stay at Home vs Working Girl (no, not THAT kind of working girl, perv)

OH lordy.

It all started this morning on Facebook when a friend of mine mentioned that he did the cover for the March issue of the prairie dog, and i so i wandered over to check it out and also read the cover article - which touches on feminism and Stay-at-Home parenting...

As a result of the first friend's update another friend of mine stated in her status update that she was a member of the Opt-Out generation, referring to that article:

“There’s been this great anxiety around what the media is calling the Opt-Out Generation,” she explains. “We have all these women who’ve benefitted from feminism or benefitted from the women’s movement, and benefitted from changes in American social institutions and cultural institutions. Benefitted from it in terms of being able to go to school, go to university, be successful, get great jobs. There they are in their mid-30s and they’re lawyers and they’re doctors, and then they try to manage that with family. And a lot of women are choosing family."

Now, i just think it's unfair that if a woman chooses to stay at home, she gets labeled 'opting out'. It just sounds so derogatory... like they're letting the rest of us down. So i said as much to her;

i hate that SAHM's are considered "Opt Out"... it has such a derogatory tone, when i personally think that if you can do it financially, there's nothing better for you and your kids than to stay at home. at least for the beginning stages. Kudos to you, madam
and we had a lovely conversation, as she was just beginning to make the move from all the time at home to beginning a part time job - and how it can be tricky to balance the guilt of wanting some 'me time' and not being with the kids 24/7. So i offered up my experiences leaving Chewie at daycare and how i still feel the guilt, and the mixed emotions, and it's been almost a year! it was nice.

unfortunatley, as is wont to happen on public forums such as facebook - someone had to jump in and hijack the conversation - and it became this all out war of sorts... the SAHM vs the Women Who Chose Careers... it left a bad taste in my mouth.

It felt a little like getting my wrist slapped for being such a bad mother for putting my kid in daycare...

she said, and i quote:
i'm a SAHM and I wouldn't trade it for the world. To think of someone else raising my babies, just make me quiver. I think that if you're gonna have a baby (with a few exceptions) you should be fully prepared to stay home and take care of it. mother or father. having a child is a responsibility, and to many people have their babies and then toss them over to a daycare and then down the line wonder where they went wrong!
So according to this woman, having my child in daycare makes me an irresponsible parent who 'tossed' my kid in some daycare, and because of this he will inevitably have problems in the future... well, to that i say: WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW!? actually, i said it a little more eloquently than that... luckily. but this is my blog, so the eff word stays.

it really just steamed my dumpling.

i talked about this a little in my previous post about owning my parenting stylez - WHY do women feel the need to act and or feel superior to other women, especially regarding parenting?? i know that we all have strong feelings about our parenting styles, because we all love our children. But there has to be some allowance that other people's styles are okay too!

My financial situation dictates that in order for us to keep our mortgage paid, our utilities paid, food in our cupboards and, most importantly, our awesome health benefits (mine are better than b-rad's) i need to continue to work. When someone has the sheer audacity to imply that i'm an irresponsible parent because of this fact, is pure and utter bullshit. I do not love Chewie any less than SAHM's love their kids because he is in daycare.

Please don't get me wrong, though. There is nothing i would love more than to be able to spend my days with my little guy, but for right now, i can't. Why this person felt the need to barge in and call me down, i don't know. Maybe she secretly wishes she wasn't a SAHM and is trying to make herself feel better? i'll never know, because she's just some random person who, after i post this, will have no other effect on my life...whatsoever.

What about you guys?? have you run into this problem before?? how did you deal with it. I Can't we all just agree that we're all just doing the best we can? Afterall, i don't remember pushing a "How To" Manual out with the placenta - but then Chewie was early, maybe that happens in the 8/9th month??


michelle said...

Lordy, Lordy,

Im so not looking forward to the world of "Mom" culture. Oh you know what Im talking about, the other moms, giving unwanted advice, judging your pareting style, being competitive about your childs developmental milestones, all the while acting as though you are all united in some global "Mommy fraternity".

Everytime I hear some story about the catty 'mom battles' Im preparing myself to lay some smackdown verbal or otherwise on some poor misguided woman in front of her child. It all seems like there is some big group of women who de-evolve back to the cliquey high school mentality of putting on appearances and trying hard to prove to the world you "cool".

Dont let them get to you, no ones family is the same, so no ones parenting choices or styles will be the same either. Be an inndividual and be happy in the knowledge your doing YOUR best for YOUR child.

Mother of 1 said...

first I am a SAHM I don't think I "opt out" I just voice my feminism in a different way.

That being said I have great respect for mothers who chose to go back to work as I don't feel I would be able to do it juggle a career and my family without feeling like I would loose it. I also have the same respect for moms who chose to stay at home because well I know it can be hard some days - well many days.

I strongly believe that each mother and father needs to do what feels right for them and their family's cultural values and beliefs - their is not a right or wrong thing to do in this situation.

Anonymous said...

Well, here is an old grandma kicking in her two cents worth. First thing to remember, all kids are different and have different requirements and pose different difficulties to the "science" OF raising kids. No, they do NOT come with manuals (Lord I wish they did).
So, I stayed home with mine except for the odd contract job to make some money for Christmas. Did it make a difference? I don't think it impacted her in a positive way or a negative way, it was just "the way it was". However, she was a difficult child to raise and I don't think I would have survived trying to work full time and deal with her. So basically, I stayed home for my own sanity. She survived, I survived, the marriage survived. If I had to do it again, based on the results, I think I would work full time. At least I would have come out of it all with a career and a better pension and I do not believe that she would have turned out any differently. My nerves probably would suffer and I would probably feel guilty (but then women feel guilty about everything anyway). My advice? I don't have any advice. With kids, husbands and life you just have to feel your way along and hope you are making the right decisions. Well, maybe I do have a LITTLE advice. Don't worry about what other people say or think. They are not living your life. YOU ARE!!!!

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

Haven't even read the comments above, or much of your post after that ignorant judgmental woman's idiot statement. Good lord that pisses me off!!!! And I have NO desire to be a full time mama, it would drive me up the wall. I have worked hard to have an awesome, challenging, high-paying job with fantastic benefits that is close to home and daycare. Ideally it would be part-time, but I have enough flexibility and time off that my daughter is hardly ever in daycare five days a week. We are lucky in so many ways, and I do not feel at all like someone else is raising Megan. I am 100% confident that Brad and I are the strongest influences in her life, and that we have been lucky enough to find daycare that enhances the lessons we can teach her, and exposes her to different experiences than we would even consider.

And we are going to have another kid. And send that one to daycare too. And they will both be rock stars some day, just like Chewie because they have parents who love and support them, and provide consistency and model positive relationships.

Megan would love it if I was with her 24/7 but I honestly believe that would not be the best thing for either of us. You are not at all irresponsible for having Chewie in daycare...each parent has to make tough decisions, that is what parenting is all about. Who the hell is that woman to judge you??!?!!
Sorry, totally hijacked the comments here. I just may have strong feelings about this!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! You are worked up over this. You know, the older I get the more I realize that it is a waste of my precious time and energy to get worked up over what other people think. It has taken me quite a while but now I just say, "you are certainly welcome to your opinion my dear, as am I, and until you have walked a mile in my shoes, please save your judgemental comments for someone who gives a damn". That generally creates a little cone of silence during which I can make my escape.

i am the diva said...

yeah, it seems to be the consensus that this woman is kind of a nutbar. Whatevs, she's lame. i'm fairly confident that she smells bad, too. :)

@Michelle, don't worry - you're time of being judged for everything you do is coming. tee hee. But i'm sure you'll handle it well, with all the strength and fervor that i know you have!! i'm just really trying to see these moments as a reminder to NOT be those women. god help me if i ever become this woman.

@Mother of 1
Agreed, every family needs to make these decision based on what that family needs... and for that woman to put out a blanket judgment that all families who choose daycare are irresponsible is pretty ignorant. I certainly do object to anyone calling a SAHM a memeber of the "opt-out" generation... because we have the choice to stay home now - something we didn't have not so many years ago. That's feminism! thanks for commenting!!

You raise a good point re:work experience and pension... I think the flavour here is, again, that no two women are the same, and no two families are the same, and no two children are the same... and parents need to take that into consideration when deciding SAHM vs Working Girl. THanks for your comments!!

@Surprised Surburban Wife,
HEAR HEAR!! i was happy to see you weigh in, mostly cuz i knew you and i would have similar opinions... both of us having our kids in daycare! I have to say, though, that as a plus for daycare that i see in my child compared to some of the kids i know who are at home, is that Chewie has fantastic social skills already. He spends all day with other children, something he wouldn't get on a consistent basis if he was home with me. Maybe Megan and Chewie should start a rock band? That'd be killer. Chewie's wicked cool on the drums!!

@mybabyjohn part 2
I'm going to use that from now on, "you are certainly welcome to your opinion my dear, as am I, and until you have walked a mile in my shoes, please save your judgmental comments for someone who gives a damn". perfect!

Paul Dechene said...

Hi Diva et al,

I'm the Stay-at-home-dad who wrote that prairie dog article you're referencing at the beginning.

I hope no one got the impression that either Michelle (source of the quote) or I were endorsing that labeling of SAHMs as part of an Opt Out generation. Michelle's point (assuming I understand her correctly) is that the "Opt Out" label is troubling and largely a construct of media and pundits -- and that the people who use it have their own agendas and don't really understand how women's choices are constrained where having and raising children are concerned.

All in all, I was just trying to point out that me personally, I was really happy to have the option to stay at home with my daughter -- and I got to make that choice thanks to feminism.

Ironically, after all that, now my daughter is saying she wants to be in daycare. She's super extroverted and likes the idea of being around kids her own age all day. So, now I'm feeling a touch of guilt for staying at home and wondering if maybe, for her, going with childcare from the get-go might have been the better option.

So, I don't know, I think it's futile trying to come up with a hard and fast rule on which childcare route is best. And, I don't know if it matters all that much. I reckon, we're going to screw our kids up one way or another anyway. Either we'll keep them at home when they wanted daycare, or enroll them in piano when what they really needed was hockey, or we'll let them watch movies they're clearly too young for. (Spirited Away is a great flick, but as I have learned, not good for a three year old. Or rather, not good for mine. Not good at all, poor kid.)

Anyway, sorry to blab on. Thanks a lot for reading the article. And, by the way, wasn't that another brilliant cover by Dakota?

i am the diva said...

Wow! thanks for commenting Paul. I think that your point came across in the article that it's a Shame SAHMs are being considered "opt-outs" - and that really does cause some anxiety in the feminist moms out there... But we never had a choice before. There was only one way - and that's they my grandma did it: Staying at home and raising her 7 children. I remember her telling me about how she had to really work hard to convince my late grandfather to allow her to get her drivers license because it was getting too difficult to lug all the kids around on the bus. It's like an episode of Mad Men, a show which my dear old grandma doesn't like too much because: "I already lived through the 60s" and once was enough for her.

And i think that being a Stay at Home Dad is just kickass. I'm pretty sure B-rad would love to stay home with Chewie, if he could - unfortunately in the middle class, men generally get paid more than women.... so even if i was way more gung ho about work, B-rad would have to continue working because he makes more than me.

I think that it's always about doing what's best for your family. And where my blog post went south was when strangers give their two cents and condemn you for not choosing the same path they did.

and also, Dakota is kickass.

Anonymous said...

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