When You're Mommy Shamed For Working

A few days ago a reader asked me for some advice about going back to work postpartum. I haven't written many posts about being a working mom, but I did write a post almost a year ago on Austin Moms Blog about my decision to continue working after I had Walt and Whitney.  I headed to AMB to find the post, and I made the horrible decision to re-read the comments section that started quite a battle online (specifically Facebook). You can read the post here and the ridiculous Facebook comments here.

Oh goodness, it got me all stirred up again. Most of the comments made me feel guilty and selfish for working, but then I had working moms and even stay at home moms stick up for me.

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Photo: Laura Morsman Photography

Women were saying the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Comments that make a shaming statement and then say...but "It's up to you" or "It's different for everyone" are the worse. INSERT EYE ROLL. The three comments below really aren't that bad, but I wanted to show you a few from the post.

- "It would affect your relationship (negatively) with your employer and coworkers if they needed a full time employee and you only showed up part-time. Your dedication and allegiance to them would affect their dedication and allegiance to you." Soooo you're saying my kids won't love me if I work?

- "It is right that one’s career will be essentially gone in 6 years. So will the childhoods of one’s children. It is what it is. Which one will you be able to live with giving away? That answer will be different for everyone."

- "Too bad for the kids." 
 This ANONYMOUS comment was the icing on the negative cake;

- "How can people say, “it’s what’s best for my family” NO it’s what’s best for you. Children need their parents and if you have the means to be with them while they are young then you should because YOU are their mother. If you don’t want to deal with your own children then you shouldn’t of had them. We live in such a selfish generation. Parenting should not be optional. Of course most moms have to work to provide for their family but this is not the case here. Parenting is a sacrafice. How will your adult children feel? Their mother chose to be away from them because the thought of dealing with them all day seemed hard and she liked her job? Get your head out of your butts people."
I'm pretty sure this same person bashed me on the AMB Facebook page saying "If you don't like your F*$&% kids, don't F*$#%@# have them!" Ummm....are you kidding me? You're telling me I have to like my kids 24/7? I LOVE my kids but I definitely don't like them ALL the time, and if you do well you're CRAZY.

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The truth is comments questioning how much I love my children and how cared for my children are really hurt. It hurts deep down in my inner being. Being a mother is my greatest blessing and accomplishment in life. The top of my resume should read - Raised three children.  When I let negative feelings creep in, I remind myself that my mother worked full-time my ENTIRE life, and I have NEVER questioned if she loved me. I NEVER felt like I missed out on time with her, and I NEVER questioned her choice to work. I looked up to her and still do to this day. She raised three wonderful children and we are all well-balanced and emotionally stable. To those haters who think children of working moms will one day be hovering in a corner yelling, "WHY MOM? WHY DID YOU SEND ME TO DAYCARE!" Yeah, that doesn't happen.

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When I originally wrote my post, I didn't got in to great detail of why I was choosing to go back to work.  I hit the high points and called it a day. I had no idea how many people would read it, but after I was bashed I kind of wished I had written a bit more of why I made my choice. There are SO many reasons that I factored in to my final decision to work; debt, sanity (for myself and my marriage), our family future, my children's financial future and more. I thankfully had three months of maternity leave with Walt & Whitney, and as hard as it was to leave them I handled it well and have continued to enjoy working. Don't get me wrong...I would love a part-time job, where I can be home with all three of my kids a few days a week, but stable part time jobs are hard to come by. I've considered taking blogging more seriously, but it's not bringing in enough and honestly I don't know if I want to work for myself. I really like a steady paycheck, and being able to shut my computer off at 4:30pm and not check it till 8am the next morning. I know many working moms don't have that luxury.

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The grass is always greener on the other side, right? Some days I wish I was a stay at home mom, and some Sunday afternoons I think Monday can't come soon enough! All I know is that everyone needs to chill the $%*@ out and let families make their own decisions. If you are the type of person that takes the time to shame a mother online, well I hope we don't meet in person one day. You need to find some self confidence. And why aren't men getting any of the heat? We don't question if men love their children when they provide for them? We don't say, your kids won't love you when you're older because you didn't stay home.

All in all I've learned that mean people (moms in particular which is the worst part) are going to make you question if you made the right decision to work or not work. You're going to question if you're a good mom, and then you need to SNAP yourself out of it and say screw them! Only you know what's best for your children.

Have you every been mommy shamed for working or choosing to stay at home? How did you handle it?


Unknown said...

I know I don't fully get it all yet, but I do know that I was raised by a working mother, who went to school frequently as well to continue her education and excel. My sister and I are the women we are today because we had a fantastic example of a women who was determined to reach her goals, including the ones that didn't directly benefit her children. My mom fcompleted her Doctorate a year ago in May. I cried tears of pride for her! The same day my sister finished her Masters, the prior year I had completed my Masters. Without my mothers example my sister and I may never have reached for such big goals in life.
As this baby is about to have a birthday any day now (hopefully soon, 37 weeks and I'm at my limit) I don't have a choice as to if I work. We need both incomes in this crazy oilfield economy we live in. But I do know that to give my children their needs and some of their wants I will have to work. Jesse, I have known you a pretty good while, I would never question you or Alex, y'all are phenomenal parents and people. And truthfully I think I would go a bit crazy home alone in the middle of no where with a baby. It may be considered selfish, but when you think about it, "back in the day" it was more normal for women to gather in homes together with their babies to cook, quilt, chat. We need interaction with other adults.
I know that's a lot but I hope it all comes across like I intend. So enjoy reading everything, and I look forward to joining you in the sisterhood of motherhood.

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

It OUTRAGES me to see women tearing each other down. I'm so sorry, friend. You are doing an amazing job.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! I'm a working mother myself and know that when I'm away I miss my daughter but also very much love my job. I think you said it best about those who take the time out of their lives/day just to bash someone else's choices - like obviously you have too much time on your hands! Thank you for posting! I wish you nothing but the best!

Sharon McMillan said...

Hi Jesse:

Just found your blog and had to give you a big hug - one working, blogging mom to another. Not that you need my insight I just want to say your mindset and approach is shared by many of us.

When my kids were toddlers in the 1990's I was torn between wanting to stay home with them, be a full-time work at home "online" blogging mom (it had just started then) or continue building my marketing career.

I did a little of both. I submitted a proposal to my boss for me to work at home during the summer and he accepted. I loved enjoying my babes at home that summer but the weird cold/shoulder feelings I got from peers at work was stressing me out, so in the fall I went back to commuting to the office in the city from our rural home.

My career continued to thrive as did my kids through another year in daycare and then when we left the U.S. to return to my hometown in Canada, my retired parents helped watch our kids before and after school.

Things ultimately work out if you follow your gut/heart/conscience. Sounds like you are a terrific mom and just as importantly, a talented, fulfilled woman doing your thing in your chosen career. Kudos!