It’s not a secret that moms have to work hard to not openly judge other moms. You see a parent disciplining a child in a way that you’re not comfortable with and immediately you’re thinking about that technique and what sort of mother would do such a thing and how you would never in your lifetime even consider….etc…. Judging is insanely easy to do, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s happened to me just like any other mother, although normally I never express the random thoughts.
In fact, if you’re thinking that YOU’VE never judged another mother, I’m incredibly proud of you although I’d ask you to look a little deeper to be sure – nothing pops to mind when you hear of a mother spanking her child? One opting to feed formula? A mother choosing circumcision? A mom pulling a child out of school to homeschool? Or letting their child run around a restaurant while she has another glass of wine? A mother handing fries to a toddler? It happens. Admit it.
How we parent our children isn’t really the topic here, but the judging is. I’ve read more forums with moms chatting and comments from mothers than I can remember, and the judging is rampart – especially when moms don’t realize its happening. And - shock of all shocks – work-at-home moms are just as judgmental as the rest of them. Let me give you a sampling of some things I’ve heard and maybe even a few that have passed through my own mind.
“Yeah, but she has older children. It’s so much easier to work and parent older kids!”
Lies! I teach older kids. I have classrooms full of teenagers who have serious issues at home and even the great teenagers I’ve worked with over the years have some tough times. Parenting older kids is just as tough as parenting babies, although less labor intensive I would think. Personally I haven’t parented a teenager yet, but I’ve seen first-hand what they are capable of. The myth of the baby playing happily by your feet grows up into the myth of the teenager who comes right how to do homework quietly at the kitchen table. It happens – just never to you!
While it might be nice to have some time when your kids are in school to work without worrying about childcare, the evenings and weekends that I enjoy using at least are already filling up with later bedtimes, more school activities and more wrestling matches that need to be broken up. There’s never an easy time to be a work-at-home parent. Although I’m holding out hope that there are easier times!
“Hah! What does she know – she only has one baby!”
Think about your pregnancy – did you ever feel a bit superior to those around you who “just didn’t know what it was like to be pregnant?” And when that baby arrived, you were taken aback for a minute and then realized “nobody but a mother can understand how challenging having a baby can be!” Guess what? Nobody but a mother of more than one child can understand how much MORE challenging that can be. When it comes to work-at-home moms, there is a marked difference between how a mother of one operates and a mother of more than one operates.
The mother of one can split her attention from time to time between baby and work – perhaps working while the baby plays contentedly on the floor for a few minutes or pops healthy freshly prepared snacks into her mouth. The mother of two or more already has her attention split – and then some. If a mother of two or three little ones manages to do more than read an email or two at a mealtime or while the kids are “playing”/attacking each other/stealing toys from each other/shouting for mom/spilling each other’s milk/whining/trying to coax each other into climbing into the fireplace/whatever, she is definitely my personal hero. Older kids – maybe – but give me a household of boys who will let you work in peace and quiet, and I’ll be suitably impressed.
Of course this isn’t all of the nasty things we say in our mind about each other. In the next installment we’ll tackle one of the ugliest things other work-at-home moms think and say to each other. You may have already guessed it – your childcare choices.