Working Moms: Who are We?
I grew up with two ideals of moms. Working moms and the ever familiar abbreviation, SAHM (Stay at Home Mom). You either had a mom who worked or your mom stayed at home. It was as simple as that.
As I grew up and quickly found myself in the world of careers, bills, insurance (otherwise known as adulting), I realized that working would be my defining contribution. I thrived on it!
I loved the every day routine, the schedules, the meetings, filling out my planner; I loved feeling important. I felt like I was contributing to something bigger than myself. A cog in the wheel of the corporate ladder made me feel like I was finally achieving what we were taught to become. I was married, had a home, friends, a career. This was who I was.
Then I found out we were going to have a baby. We didn’t think we could have children and this news made me feel so excited but also fearful for what I had found my identity in, my job. I knew, I just KNEW I needed to be a “working” mom.
In order to be the kind of mom that would be good for my children; I felt that I needed to continue working in whatever capacity that would continue to give me purpose. I needed challenges and projects, schedules and meetings, and the high I got when I would fill a week out in my planner with all my to-do’s and the after effect of getting to cross them off!
Being a working mom vs. a SAHM made me feel self important and like I was choosing a “side”. It was an “Us vs. Them” side; powerful, hardworking, an “I can do it all” side. I was so, completely wrapped up in my identity of being someone who held a position, I almost missed out on something so important. Just being a mom.
Shortly after I found out we were going to have a baby, I also found myself without a job. It devastated me. I had quit a job in order to start my own business but felt like the timing wasn’t right so I took a breather from dreaming and began to search in the corporate world again.
Man, oh man, was the timing not right, and I look back on this so often with thanks because starting a business while trying to grow a tiny human would have done me in completely.
I so desperately wanted a job because without one, I felt so insignificant. I would constantly tell my husband, “my college education is going to waste!”. I felt like I had failed. Each month would pass, and as I got closer to my due date, my hopes of landing a new job grew smaller.
I had, had so many phone interviews, face to face interviews, and “it’s down to you and one other”, only to lose the position at the very last round. At last, I gave in. I gave in to all my insecurities, my feelings of loss, and my identity in the corporate world.
But a funny thing happened. I became a mom; a stay at home mom. My ideals didn’t change over night but slowly I began to realize something. Something I wish I had realized a lot earlier because it would have saved me some self reflection and a lot of soul searching.
All moms are working moms.
Why in the world do we need to define and label moms as working vs stay at home, because from where I am sitting or standing, or folding, or washing…one label does not negate the other from hard work. There should be no “us vs. them” mentality when it comes to where a mother chooses to be, or where she has to be in regards to her circumstances. One label does not give us more of a concrete identity or importance and honestly, we shouldn’t be finding our identity in either!
Whether you have a job or your planner is filled with errands to keep your household running smoothly, you are a WORKING human. We, as moms, manage, schedule, create, resolve conflict, learn new skills, budget, estimate, plan. We all work to give our children and partners a place to feel comfortable, loved, respected, and sometimes on little to no sleep.
We work tirelessly. We WORK everyday, all day at being moms. And that is something to be proud of.
Not the paycheck. Not the accolades. Not even the promotions matter more than the most important job we have, raising our children.
If you are curious as if I ever did go back and get a job, yes I did. I followed my dream and opened a boutique with a fellow friend of mine, who is also a mom. But it no longer became about working; it became about following a dream while being a mom.
I wanted to show my son that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to but that is not where I find my identity these days. I am now a working mom who just happens to have a job. And that’s all it is, a job. But I will continue working, and working hard at being a mom.
So mama, if you are struggling like I did in where your purpose lies, know this. A job doesn’t give you purpose; it may give you some qualifications, but it doesn’t define who you are. And mama who stays at home all day with her tiny humans, being a “SAHM” isn’t your definition either. Your identity is in who you want to be.
It isn’t an “us vs. them” world anymore. Let’s stop the comparisons we place on each other and let us support and encourage each other as we raise our tribe no matter where we tend to spend our time during the day. In the end we are all mamas. Hard working women who wake up day after day ready to take on the world.