Recently, I overhead a group of women sharing war stories about their experiences with child care. The stories ranged from the horrific intoxicated nanny to complaints about the unbelievably high cost of child care and capped with this unexpected question: “Why would you decide to have kids if you weren’t going to raise them?”
As someone who wasn’t exactly welcomed to participate in this group (i.e. I was lurking in on a conversation that I hadn’t been invited to!) I chose not to say anything. Instead I started thinking from the perspective of a mom. How would I feel if I wanted to stay at home with my kids but I couldn’t afford to? Or how would I react to a statement like this if I was a working mom with professional goals and I liked it that way? Or even more, what would I say if I was a mom who was staying at home with my kids and I desperately wished that I could be back in the working world again?
I’m not even a mom yet, but I could already feel the pain from this statement for moms in all categories. And I seriously questioned why the world has to be so hard on moms. Why does a mom get judged if she works, but a dad is expected to work, never judged for going off to work and leaving his kids to be raised by someone else? Why is it that working moms are more likely to drop off and pick up at daycare or school, and take time off from work when the child is sick or to take kids to appointments or attend meetings for their kids? Why is the world so hard on moms, setting what seems like unrealistic expectations, and then judging them when they don’t—or can’t—meet those expectations?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to this. I can’t give you a special link to a research article that shows how to solve this problem or exactly why it exists. The answers are much more complicated than that, and we may never know the true answers.
What are your thoughts? How would you have responded to this woman who judged the working mom? Would you have agreed with her? Or would you have disagreed, passionately explaining that your desire (or need) to work has nothing to do with your ability to be a mom?