Short answer: being a working mom is NOT a moral question and it makes me crazy crazy when people say it is.
Full disclosure: I’m not a working mom. I primarily take care of our three kids. I make their meals and clean them up. I drive them to activities. I read with them and help them nap (protest nap). I semi-tidy the house. I would consider myself a simple stay-at-home mom. I wrote a few years back on how I came to the decision to be at home, as a lawyer.
I do work in the cracks and creaks between their busy days. I write this blog and sometimes get paid to write elsewhere. I sew organic baby clothing and sell it (when I’m not on hiatus like right now). I serve as Managing and Content Editor for Blessed is She, Catholic women’s ministry. I co-author a series of scripture studies called Waiting in the Word. These are semi-paid activities. Like a billion moms out there, I volunteer lots too in spare moments. I get to MC galas like the Radiance Gala for the Guiding Star Project and conferences like Finding Your Fiat next week in Illinois! I get to talk occasionally on SiriusXM Catholic radio with Jen Fulwiler. I get to do lots of non-mom related activities. And some weeks I do nothing but violin practice and baseball in the backyard. There’s a balance.
But when a woman in casual conversation praises me for giving my daughter the great example of “not working as a lawyer to show her what’s best” aka: being an at-home mom, I get really really defensive of the working moms in my life.
Being a working mom, a mom who helps support her family’s income or completely supports her family’s income, is great, if that’s what works for you. It is NOT a moral question of whether or not moms should work outside the home. These are not questions of right and wrong. These are questions of what’s best for you and your family.
Then I hear this a lot: well, she *has* to work, so it’s okay that she’s away from her children (gasp) for so many hours a day.
Like the need for the income excuses the wrongfulness of the action.
Again, not a moral question. I have friends who work because they find it more fulfilling than staying at home. There. I said it. And I consider that to be a valid reason to work. I prefer staying at home to working! Does that make me lazy or a non-contributor to my family? Nope.
For my friends who have to work, for my friends who like to work, for my friends who wish they could do something else than they’re doing, please, please know that you have an ally in me. And anyone questioning your commitment to your children based on the hours you spend with them during the day is not only rude but completely incorrect in presuming there’s a moral way to parent in this regard.
So to the lady who spoke so brazenly to me about my purported example given to my daughter, I can only say (now that I’ve recovered my breath) that I’m glad to teach my sons and daughter that making sacrifices for your family and making choices for your family depend on what’s best for you and your family. And that if she wants to be a working mother and an astronaut or a barista, more power to her. I’ll babysit her kids while she colonizes Mars or whips up hot cocoas (hopefully for me).