I could nearly fund my children's future education if I received money every time I've heard a woman say, "I wish I could afford to stay at home full time." Sometimes you can recognize a few working women making this statement to avoid judgment from the stay-at-home parenting world (and they shouldn't feel this way). However, a majority of these women truly prefer to be at home, and are spending days trapped in a work "cell" and feeling committed for life.
First and foremost, I would like to stress that I am not going to join the pros or cons of either side of this debate. I have been both a working mother and a stay-at-home mother. I think they both have their advantages and disadvantages. I have equally loved and loathed both on any given day!
When I was working in sales and marketing, I loved the ability to meet new people, to negotiate, to close deals, to be given a task, a goal, a deadline, and to be able to start and finish a project. The hardest transition to full time "mommy" world for me is that no task or project ever seems complete. I make the meal and it's quickly eaten. I make and clean up after another meal, and another meal only to be greeted by requests for many impromptu snacks. I do the laundry, and it's worn, becomes dirty and needs to be done again. I wash the dishes, the floor, clean the house, and within a matter of hours my hard work is all undone. This applies to the bigger projects as well, like reorganizing cupboards, closets, and drawers, although at least this usually buys me a few days of pride and satisfaction, rather than just a few hours.
However, even though my tasks may never seem accomplished, my house never as clean as I feel it is suppose to be, there are days when I am playing with my children, laughing, hugging, holding them and I think I would have missed moment. Everyday they grow and change and it becomes harder to remember what they were like the month prior, nonetheless a year prior. For this I am thankful for an opportunity to have these special "mommy" moments.
I think that we as women have such strong bonds and influence on each other in friendships and in family relationships. We need to use that influence and stop debating each other over who is right and who is wrong in the stay-at-home or work debate and just accept that we each have our own "right".
For women who desperately yearn to be home with their children, we need to fight for employers and businesses to create better work at home opportunities so that if money is an issue, and a dual income is necessary, it doesn't have to be at the cost of our desired family life. After carrying a child inside of us for nine months and giving birth, we have earned the right to spend every waking moment with him or her is we so desire.
For women who truly enjoy and thrive in a work atmosphere, I say then don't feel guilty. I am taking pleasure in a hiatus right now, but I sincerely enjoyed working as well. Women have labored a long, hard time to pave the way for the success were seeing in today's culture and you needn't give that up to become a mother if working makes you happy. The popular saying that relates to families "if Mom is happy, we're all happy" couldn't be more true!
I will emphasize that as a working Mother or parent, you do need to set boundaries with your employer, and let them know that your family is as important as your career. When I was working, I fought for and demanded a part-time flexible schedule that worked for my family.
Except for the occasional project, I made it a priority to leave the office on time everyday, making it understood by my boss and coworkers that this was my schedule and I would not impress anyone with late night office departures.
Coincidently, in every office I have worked in, it is often those who consistently spent most of their day accomplishing very little, that ended up burning the "midnight" oil. I spent my days working smart and efficiently, and felt no guilt at my "on time" departure routine. So don't feel pressured to stay late, because it looks good in the eyes of your coworkers. My bosses always knew how hard I worked, and none of them blinked an eye when I left for the day.
So ladies, instead of debating each other, let's use our influence, our power, our minds, and our hearts, to help each other do what is right for one another; even if our "right" may be different from someone else's. We all need to work together in order to continue to make a difference. Together, we can make certain that work choices, family flexible schedules, and genuine work from home opportunities are available to us so we can support our families both financially and emotionally.
We may not always agree when it comes to various parenting issues, but I am certain as parents we can unanimously agree that we all love our children.
Tina Frazer is the Founder of Let's Be Friends.net, a friendship website for women. Let's Be Friends.net promotes and encourages new friendships among women of all ages* and stages of life who share similar interests, lifestyles, and values. Our mission at Let's Be Friends.net is to reintroduce friendship as a priority in women's lives. For more information about Let's Be Friends.net visit http://www.letsbefriends.net
*Members must be at least 18 years old.