To Work or Not To Work?

To Work or Not To Work?

Apparently (note the sarcasm) there is this incessant debate amongst women, more specifically Stay At Home Moms vs. Working Moms about whether a mother's place is in her home, taking care of her children, or at the office, building a career. A few days ago, I got into a pretty heated argument with a friend who felt that I was neglecting my daughter by choosing to go to school so that I could begin working. And by heated, I mean an all out, no-holds-barred verbal assault. Needless to say, I think it will be quite a while before we are even allowed within 20 yards of each other.

To tell you the truth, before I became a mother, I was completely oblivious to this never ending debate. However, now that I have crossed that threshold into motherhood, I’ve found myself thrown directly into the center of the fiery topic. Again. Again. And again.

 It used to be that I would go home for family events and the topic of discussion would be my future career goals. Flash forward three years and one daughter later, and the topic of discussion has now transformed to "what type of job is James looking for?" In fact, I've basically found myself completely excluded from any conversation pertaining to career decisions, unless the people I'm speaking to are unaware that I am a mother. Never mind the fact that I am still the same highly motivated career-oriented woman that I was 2 years ago. Only now I'm highly motivated while I'm changing diapers and teaching Jasmine her ABC's.



The few times that my career is mentioned, it normally comes attached to a statement like "I could never leave my baby at home all day while I'm at work." My response (because I have heard this on more than one occasion) is typically, "I'm sorry...that you feel that way, but babies gotta eat." (Note: this only works if you do a slight pause after the “I’m sorry”, that way they feel as if you’re apologizing, right before you cram it back in their faces).

Now it's not that I don't trust that James is doing an excellent job taking care of our home, because he is, it's that I don't feel he should not have to do it, alone. Right now this country is going through a very unstable time financially. Those who have great jobs and the education to match are not guaranteed that they will have those same jobs tomorrow. It's sad, but it's life.  I choose to deal with it by recognizing that if we want Jasmine to have the best upbringing we can possibly give her, both of us need to work towards that. (Note: I am not saying that Stay At Home Moms do not contribute to their household).

I just watched Good Deeds last weekend (another great movie by Tyler Perry) and this movie introduces you to a mother struggling to keep things together for her and her daughter. They're homeless, she has a horrible job, the IRS is withholding her pay; she basically can't seem to catch a break. There's this one scene (spoiler alert) where Perry's character asks Newton if she had always intended to be a janitor. To which she replies no, she was in nursing school, getting ready to finish, when her husband, who was in the army, was killed in Iraq. Sadly, because of this she was left destitute with no other means for supporting herself and her child.

 Now this is an extreme example, because anyone who is in the military, or affiliated with the military, knows that should something happen to your spouse while on active duty, there are things in place to ensure that you will be taken care of. (Unless you choose to live it up like you're Paris Hilton every night. Which if you're doing that shortly after your spouse dies while deployed, you need to be slapped. In the face. Repeatedly. With a chair). Point is, something happened to the main breadwinner, and as a result, they faced very difficult circumstances. I hope that nothing happens to James, but should something happen, I can rest assured that I will be in the position to support my daughter.  


I'm not trying to tell another woman how to run her home. At the end of the day, we are all mothers, and instead of tearing each other down, we need to support each other. Every family has a different set of circumstances. Every parent tries to lead their children in the best direction they can.  As a child, my parents instilled in me the value of hard work and a good education, and I have every intention of doing the same to my daughter. I was lucky enough to find an amazing man, whom I truly love and want to spend the rest of my days with. A strong, smart and supportive man. I pray that my daughter finds the same. However, it was hard for me to find a great guy in 2008, I can only imagine how tough it will be for her in about 25 years. So I will do everything I can possibly do to ensure that she understand how to support and take care of herself.

Basically what I’ve learned from this fiasco is that the next time someone tries to tear me down for attempting to raise my child in a manner in which James and I have decided is right for us, I will recognize that there is something, whether it be self-esteem issues or a incomplete understanding of our family dynamic, lacking in themselves and continue on with my day. My daughter is too important and too special for me to waste time and energy defending the way James and I choose to parent her.

Any questions???

-Reese

7 comments :

  1. Reese, As I read your post, it seemed clear by your own words, "tear me down," that you felt attacked and judged. As a mom of two boys, now nineteen and seventeen, I can only offer you a bit of advice from years of watching so many women make this choice: don't get into this debate. It is so touchy, and you need to remember, whenever you're feeling defensive, you can stop the conversation. You don't owe anyone an explanation of such a personal, family decision. Also, I'm curious why this friend triggered so many intentse feelings. Do you think you might have been wanting her approval? Leslie (aka Gwen Moss blog)

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  2. Thanks Leslie. It's true, I was a bit miffed at those accusations that I was neglecting my daughter. Especially when my mother, who worked while me and my sister were young, did such a fantastic job at raising the two of us and balancing her career. It's not the first time I've heard it, and as you are probably all too familiar with, it will not be the last. I think one of the reasons I got so bent out of shape about the conversation is because this "friend" to put it lightly, isn't really in the position to point fingers at me. I'm not seeking her approval so much as I am thrown off by her audacity. Thank you for reaching out to me. It's always good to know people are there.

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  3. I have always said that everyone should do what is best for their family. All families are different and have different situations that they are living with. Some women have to work, some want to and that okay. Some women want to stay home or go back to school and that's okay too. As long as your child is well taken care of and everyone is happy and healthy that's all that matters. Women kill thinking that one is better than the other. There are certainly pros and cons to both lifestyles. What matters most is making sure that we are good parents, regardless of where you are from 8 to 5, and that your child feels loved. I decided to take time off from my career when I had my daughter. It was the right thing for me. You are in no way neglecting your child by going back to school. That's ridiculous.

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  4. Thanks Tia. It's a bit ironic, but most of the women who have so passionately defended me are stay at home moms. I think it has less to do with being a stay at home mom vs a working mom, and more to do with being rational.

    Btw, your hair is gorgeous and your daughter is precious :) Thanks for swinging by and sounding off. I just happened to stumble upon your blog the other day, so I'm looking forward to getting to know you and your adorable family a little better.

    -Reese

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  5. I love this post and am glad I stopped by. I ofteetimes feel guilty when I am around stay at home moms. I just look at it as something I am doing for my daughter not necessarily for the money but so she can see that a Black woman can THRIVE in a male dominated field and make six figures doing it. I want her to see it and I want to be the one showing her. not pointing to someone else in a magazine.

    Rachelle aka StrappedMommy.com

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  6. You go! It's true that you shouldn't have to constantly defend this situation--it seems like fashions of motherhood come and go, and right now, "stay at home" moms are in, and working moms are out. I do want to be a stay at home mom (someday, in the future, when we have kids), because I want to homeschool my kids since I'm a geek like that. But I also believe I should have the ability and the education I need to get a job if I need one. Right now we're working towards doing what we need to do to be a one-income family in this economy--my husband is going back to school for a master's while working full time. Basically,every option and every way of taking care of a family will require commitment and hard work, and unfortunately you experience backlash because being a working mom isn't in style. Maybe in a few years when I have a baby, being a stay at home mom won't be in style!

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  7. In our situation I went back to work while my husband stayed at home. It's what was best for our situation and honestly I wouldn't change it for anything. Our son is so attached to his father and to me as well. We have such a great balance between us. It works. I wish people would stop trying to convince others that their views are the end all be all. Everyone has a the right to their own opinion but no need to make someone else feel like crap because of their choice. Its all what each aren't thinks works best for them and their child.
    I wrote about this in one of my blog posts, check it out.

    http://www.theempoweredmomma.com/2012/03/bringing-life-into-this-world-means.html

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