I was reading another blog today, one that I like quite a bit and her post today was about stay at home parents, actually stay at home mothers (because that's where a baby belongs).
I started to comment on her post, but decided against it. I'm tired and sick and not looking for an argument. If I commented on there it would lead to other people vehemently disagreeing with me and listing a million reasons why and I'm not looking to start anything, especially not on someone elses space.
I don't disagree with what she was saying, which was in essence that everyone makes a choice and choosing to stay home with your kids is a choice not chance. That she's sacrificed and lived on less and didn't have it easy so that she could stay home. That staying home isn't lucky (and other commenters agree) that it boils down to wanting it enough.
That last part gets me. I want it. I want to stay home so bad it hurts. There are days I can feel the desire to have more babies and stay home and be with them in every inch of my body. In every fiber of my being. I want that more than anything.
And we are where we are today because of sacrifice. Because of scrimping and saving and pinching pennies and making choices.
But lucky? Yes, in part. Any mother or father who is able to stay home with their child, even while sacrificing in other areas is lucky.
When I had my oldest, I had just turned 18. Without going into too much personal detail the father left when I was 5 months pregnant. And then he came back. And then left. And came back. And we played this toxic game for almost 3 years. In the end I left him for good and it was several more years before he paid child support and became a real father to our son. As a side note, we have a fantastic relationship now. But then, I had no choice but to work. Who would support us? I was a single teen parent. I worked at a minimum wage job for a couple of years, then went to college. I had to move back home to do that and luckily I had my parents home to move to. Not everyone has that. It wasn't easy living at home, and that came with it's own sacrifices - some that I'm still feeling almost a decade later. But I had somewhere to go.
I spent two years going to school full time and working full time so that someday, I could be there for my son. I was up at 6 each morning to bring him to his aunts so I could go to school - would pick him up on my lunch break and drive 45 minutes to bring him to a wonderful home daycare that he was at for almost 5 years. I would pick him up at 10 after work and drive back home and be up till 2 or 3 doing homework. Fridays and Saturdays I had no school or work and those were our days. It was one of the hardest, lowest points in my life. There was no other choice. There was no place to scrimp and save as a teen mom making 6 dollars an hour. Welfare wouldn't even help me. They advised to me drop out of college and work two minimum wage jobs. If I was going to be spending that time away from my son, it wasn't going to be to continue a cycle of poverty, it was going to be to make our lives better.
Several years went by and I had my second child just as I was finishing college. My (now) husband and I worked opposite shifts for two years to avoid daycare. We saw each other for a half hour a day and were barely bringing in 25k combined. Those were also some hard years, though better than when I was a single mom balancing it all on my own.
Now, another several years later he is a full time student and I am working full time. One of us is always home (though our kids are school age so it is easier now), and we get by on less than 25k a year still. And that's with me, the mom, working full time. I hate every single second of it.
Everyone, every parent, in some way makes sacrifices. And if your sacrifice is simply money then yes, I would consider you lucky. Some parents sacrifice money, time and their own emotional well being. Some parents truly have nothing left to sacrifice.
We are already cooking from scratch, growing food, preserving food, shopping thrift stores, pinching pennies.
I do 100% understand where her heart is and where her post came from. And I don't disagree (fully) with it. But it is hurtful (to parents like me) to assume that if a parent really wanted to be home, they'd dig a little deeper or try a littler harder. That somehow those parents just don't want it bad enough. As bad as she did. Some of us are already scraping bottom.
And I do count us among the lucky ones. We're in school and/or at work, we're surviving on pennies but we've made it work. But not always, and just barely. So even though we make our sacrifices (like me working so my husband can finish school and we don't have to use daycare) we are still lucky, because we can make those sacrifices. We have those options. We have extended family and their support. We're a two parent household. I know all too well that not everyone has that. That some parents really have no other choice.
Her post was meant to be encouraging. And it was, to parents struggling similarly. And it's not her words that make me defensive, really. It's me. It's my natural defenses I guess, after struggling so hard for so long - to have their be the insinuation that it just wasn't enough. It is hurtful and insulting to me and to parents like me. Like my struggles aren't quite enough or we just aren't trying hard enough because I'm not doing what I really want to do (which is of course, stay home).
I know it's an old argument. One that will never go away. Like politics and welfare and abortion. There are always going to be different sides. We'll never all agree.
But this isn't the first time and it won't be the last time that I get the sense that motherhood is a competition. Not necessarily from this woman's post alone. But from the comments on the post and also what I've seen in the last few years in mommy groups online.
Mothers are always finding ways to tear each other down, to show how their choices or their ways are superior. And some ways are superior, and some are better - they just are. I can't and won't deny that. But I see so much judgment in mommy topics. So many pointing fingers and smug smiles. Even after all these years of seeing it, it still saddens me I guess.