Whether you’re managing kids or clients, it’s all hard work.
After two measly months of being a stay-at-home-mom, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the job.
Before taking time off from work, I imagined I would spend my days frolicking in the park with my son, keeping the house in tip-top shape and cooking three homemade meals a day. In all of my copious spare time, I would volunteer at the library, grab brunch with friends and finally go to the gym every day. Since I wasn’t pulling in a paycheck, I would be the best darn wife, mother and neighbor in the world.
I can hear you laughing now.
The reality, of course, was far different. While my son and I did have plenty of fun in the park and attending art classes together, that was about the only way my stay-at-home fantasy life lived up to my expectations. It turns out it’s much harder to cook and clean when you have a toddler tearing toilet paper off the roll, smearing strawberries on your freshly-mopped floors and ingeniously hiding Hot Wheels just where your husband is bound to step on them the second he gets home from work.
The crucial lesson I learned? Whether you’re managing kids or clients, it’s all hard work.
And yet, it seems we moms can’t stop debating who has it harder, working moms or stay-at-home moms. It’s the longest-running battle in the Mommy Wars, and unfortunately, a truce doesn’t appear likely.
Just look at the latest shot fired: A mom in the U.K. took to the country’s popular parenting site Mumsnet to opine that stay-at-home moms have an “easier life.”
“I read lots of articles—one today on Facebook—which talk about how SAHMs ‘work’ at home doing a hundred domestic chores,” she wrote. “However, I work full time and still have to do the exact same number of domestic chores. I just have less time to do them.”
Of course, other commenters jumped into the fray to defend stay-at-home moms, and the war was on.
As a full-time working mom myself who squeezes in housework on the weekend and evenings, I understand her frustration, but comments like these are counterproductive in one huge way: They keep women pointing the finger at each other, when we should be fighting another foe entirely: Men. As in, the man. (And yes, sometimes specific men, too—the ones who don’t pull their weight at home.)
Who is The Man in this instance? The Man is our entire political, social and economic system, which devalues the work that often falls on women. Taking care of children, cooking healthy meals, maintaining a clean living space and volunteering in your community are extremely worthy occupations. If everyone agreed that these tasks are highly valuable, it would be far easier to achieve things like paid family leave, breastfeeding accommodations at work and universal childcare. And to close the wage gap, too.
Not to mention, if the work is deemed valuable, it will inevitably be more attractive to men, which means more men will stay home to take care of the kids.
Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.