Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Battle of the Moms

When our oldest daughter was in preschool, I became friendly with one of the moms. We spent a considerable amount of time together with our daughters and I considered her a friend. One day, at lunch with several mother-daughter duos, someone asked my friend what she did for a living. Without hesitation, she said, "I'm a full time mom". In what may have been the most childish move in my adult life, I distanced myself from her that day, without confronting her. I was so offended! I am and have always been a working mom and couldn't bear to be friends with anyone who thought I was anything less than a full time mom. In hindsight, I can admit that she probably didn't think that of me at all and had I confronted her, she'd have been full of the most sincere apologies. She may well have admitted to feeling insecure about her decision to be a stay at home mom, just as many working moms feel insecure about their decision to work. Of course, many stay at home moms and an equal number of working moms are exactly where they want to be. As long as your children are your clear priority, it's hard to imagine that either life choice is a bad one. Certainly, neither one is inherently wrong.

The thing is, whether you stay at home, work from the home or work outside the home, the challenge is maintaining a healthy life balance and stretching each day a few extra hours in order to get everything done. These are the consistent challenges we all face. Between those challenges and the fact that we love our children and (hopefully) put them first and want desperately to do right by them, we probably all have more in common than that which sets us apart. At the end of the day, being a mom is the most difficult and by far the most rewarding job that anyone could ever take on. I have to be honest, though, I wonder if I'll feel ever so slightly punched in the gut if any of our children should choose the stay at home mom route. While I believe that each person has the right to make the choice that's best for them, provided they have the financial means that allow them to make a choice, it's got to be tough to reconcile yourself to a decision made by your grown up children that implicitly critiques a core element of their own upbringing.

That said, whether you stay at home or you work outside of the home, there are times you need to separate from your child. This can be hard for both parties. The best treatment for moms may well be a nice cold chardonnay, a robust cabernet or a spicy margarita. For kids, though, there's nothing like a kissing hand.  Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand was a favorite around our household a few years ago. There was a time our kids wouldn't go out unless their hands were covered in kisses they could rest on their cheeks if they got sad. Try it ... it works both ways!

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