Stay-At-Home Vs. Working Mothers: Is One Job Harder Than The Other?
As Generation-Y embarks, or is about to embark, on having children, a familiar debate has emerged once again.
The “mommy wars” were a new concept to me, prior to having my two children. Basically, it is the never-ending debate between working mothers and stay-at-home-mothers (SAHM), and which is position is better, harder, more important, etc.
The few men who have waded into this topic have been destroyed by mothers on both sides, in the infamous “daddy wars” that erupted after a Matt Walsh article a year ago, or so.
At that point, I started looking into the debate, and could not believe what I found: nearly 10,000 comments, almost all of which were negative, leveled at one side or the other.
The comments on these posts ranged from supportive (while slamming the other side), to downright anonymous Internet trash where people went ballistic about the stance that a commentor was taking.
Everyone seemed to immediately look at the scoreboard, trying to figure out if working mothers or SAHM’s had a harder job, which I thought was very interesting.
There were basically four groups of people who were commenting:
1. Working Mothers: “How can staying at home possibly be harder than going to work AND raising a child?”
2. Stay-At-Home-Mothers: “I hate when people look down on my decision to stay home with my children, this is the hardest job I could possibly imagine.”
3. Angry Single People: “Every time I see SAHMs, they are relaxing and barely watching their kids while I am working my ass off.”
4. Appreciative Working Fathers: “SAHM is a critical job in our family, and I don’t know what I would do without her.”
I fall into the fourth category. I am a working father who is fortunate enough to have the type of job where my wife has the option to stay home with our children if she decides she wants to.
I wanted my wife to stay at home; though I left the decision up to her because I wanted our children to have the very best childhood possible. I have never met a better person to raise my family than the woman I married.
That being said, she began her own small business and contributes to our family’s income in a meaningful way, while saving us a lot of money in childcare costs. So, I have had the chance to see a little bit of both sides of having a wife who stays at home, and a wife who needs to juggle work life while balancing the non-stop needs of our children.
On the SAHM side, she deals with dirty diapers, temper tantrums, bruises, bumps, messes, emergencies and downright disasters.
Does she get to sleep in a little longer than me in the morning, and take an occasional nap during the day? Sure. She did after the first baby, only because we were lucky enough to have a baby who was a good sleeper. However, both of those very occasional privileges were lost after baby number two was born.
Does a working mother have to put in eight to 10 hours before coming home to take care of the kids for the last few hours before she has to go to bed? Yes, and coming from a working father, I can tell you that such a job description is not easy.
I am sure it only gets harder when you toss breastfeeding and much-needed mothering time into the mix.
SAHMs never get a day off and rarely get a few hours to themselves. A working mother generally has to spend her days off being a SAHM, so there is no downtime there, either.
I work 60 hours a week in a very stressful job, but I have never had to change diapers while I recovered from a C-Section, or constantly breastfeed one kid while teaching the other kid to name his body parts in two different languages.
Everyone has a hard job, and there are no envious positions in the world of parenting, so how about we stop keeping score? Is my wife’s job harder than the women who work full-time? Who really cares?
It takes all kinds of people to make this world turn, and I can be just as proud of the single mother supporting her kid by pouring my coffee at McDonald's, as I can of the working mother who has climbed the corporate ladder when the odds were not in her favor.
I am just as proud of my wife, who is spending her mid-20s making sure that my children and future children grow up to be amazing people. How many people in their mid-20s have a job that important?
Life is not a contest and raising kids is not an easy job, but neither is being a working mother.
There are no easy jobs worth doing, period. Maybe the only thing Hillary Clinton and I will ever agree on is that it takes a village to raise a child. That village consists of working mothers, SAHMs, working dads, SAHFs and even working single people.
The only thing that village does not have is a scoreboard, and that is how it should be.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It