Last week a study came out which showed that working moms have sicker kids than stay-at-home moms. Almost immediately, the stay-at-home moms turned the study into a 500-page scrapbook project which they used to pummel working moms with. Then working moms retaliated by sending their secretaries out to staple all of the stay-at-home moms' nostrils shut. Or at least, I suspect that’s the kind of “mommy-war” bullshit that the media probably expected would happen.
In real life, however, almost everyone ignored the study because both the stay-at-home moms and the working moms were too damn busy to waste their time criticizing the personal decisions of fellow mothers. In fact, pretty much the only people who paid attention to this at all were the mothers-who-are-way-too-concerned-about-what-everyone-else-is-doing-because-it-distracts-them-from-all-the-shit-they’re-personally-failing-at.
Still, there are some new mothers who have fallen for the ridiculous idea that mothers are at war with each other, and who feel conflicted about making the decision to go back to work or to stay at home after having children, so I’m going to give you the lowdown of both options so you can decide for yourself.
The PROS of being a stay-at-home mom: You don’t have to shower until noon. If your child is under 6 months old, you can watch zombie movies and The Big Lebowski all day and they totally won’t care. Pajamas are your new uniform. You’re always home to sign for packages. You get to see all the cool things your kid does all day. Your kid isn’t exposed to the petri-dish of germs that is daycare. You feel like Donna Reed. You don’t have to deal with that bitch at work anymore. Your partner thinks you’re amazing. You have the quiet satisfaction of doing what’s right for your children.
The CONS of being a stay-at-home mom: You don’t have time to shower ever. If your child is over 6 months old, you have to watch really shitty kids TV all the time and you have weird sex dreams about Thomas the Train. All of your pajamas have bodily fluids on them. And not the good kind. You accidentally show your boobs to the mailman/cable guy/next door neighbor. You realize that your kid is boring and/or an asshole and you can never escape from them. You want to knife Donna Reed for making it look so easy. You irrationally shout, “STAY-AT-HOME MOMS ARE WORKING MOMS” every time you read an article like this and then you shake your head and wonder how you got like this. You feel so lonely that you actually start to miss that bitch at work. Your partner wants to rest after a long day of work and they don’t understand that you need to rest too and they say something like, “Why? What did you do all day? This house is a wreck” and then you have to go to jail for stabbing them in the shoulder. You find that prison is a pleasant break from being a stay-at-home mom. You secretly worry that you’re making the wrong decision.
The PROS of being a working mom: You get to escape from the insanity of motherhood for eight hours a day. You have more disposable income that you can spend on family vacations and classes. You can afford to put your child in a Portuguese-immersion daycare that will give him a huge advantage in school. You have an experienced nanny/child-care provider to give you advice and help raise your child. You can belt out that “I can bring home the bacon” song and totally mean it. You are able to keep up an active social life, which makes you a happier, more focused mom when you're home. You have the quiet satisfaction of having both a successful career and family.
The CONS of being a working mom: You miss eight hours a day of your child’s life. You spend your entire paycheck on concerts to see The Wiggles. Your child is fluent in a language you can’t even speak. You have a nanny/childcare provider who is constantly telling you how to raise your child and occasionally your child calls her “mommy.” When “Cat’s in the Cradle” comes on the radio, you fall to pieces and everyone in your office hears you crying the ugly cry. Your kid is sick every other week from all the germs at daycare and your boss makes you feel like shit for missing work to take care of her. You end up using all your vacation days getting thrown up on in the pediatrician’s office. Everyone in your house gets lice. Twice. You’re so exhausted that you can’t accomplish anything and you feel like you’re failing as a parent and as an employee. You secretly worry that you’re making the wrong decision.
In the end, only one universal truth remains: You’re going to doubt yourself no matter what you do, but whatever decision you make is probably the best one for your particular family. Also, eventually everyone gets lice. That’s another universal truth but not necessarily one anyone ever talks about.
PS: If you’re a working mom still pissed off about the sick-kid study, then you need to take a deep breath and calm the hell down. Yes, the study implies that children of working moms are four times more likely to be poisoned but that doesn’t mean you’re the one poisoning them. Honestly, who has the time? I barely have time to cook dinner at night, much less plan a poisoning. My guess is that your children are being poisoned by stay-at-home moms who are retaliating after having discovered that you are secretly encouraging your sick children to lick all the playground equipment just to level the sick-kid playing field. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them.
PPS: Dear media: The paragraph right above this one? That’s how you start a mommy-war. Fucking amateurs.