Working Mothers at Home – Part 1

“For the idle mother, it is not a choice between ‘going back to work’ or ‘staying at home’. She explores that vast and rich territory between those two barren poles.”
-Tom Hodgkinson, The Idle Parent

I have this image in my head – our former weekday morning shenanigans during that precious hour before we left the house… We would glance at the clock every five minutes to ensure we were on schedule. However, there would always (and I mean always) be a glitch: the Bear would refuse to wear matching clothes; or the toaster would be jammed which in turn set off the smoke detector; or the Bear would have a melt down because I said ‘no’ to bringing markers in the car; or MJ would leave ironing his shirt to the morning frenzy rather than do it the night before. And in a complete whirlwind of raised voices, exhaustion, and suppressed outbursts, we would finally leave the house. MJ and I would go to work, and the Bear would start her eight-hour day of daycare. I can’t imagine doing that with two children.

It’s time to really slow down.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am not returning to my previous job. But, as Hodgkinson so aptly puts it, neither am I choosing to ‘stay at home’ with the Bear and Banana.

Dualistic viewpoints such as the ‘working Mom’ vs. the ‘stay-at-home-Mom’ are limiting, reductive, and hurtful. When we add these adjectives to the role of motherhood, it makes mothers believe that they can only be one of two things. They believe that there are pros and cons to each ‘side’ and debate the virtues of each. The ‘Mommy Wars’ are a pointless exercise since mothering is complex and filled with a zillion shades of gray. There is no right or wrong answer to how we independently approach our role as mothers.

For our family, the decision for me not to return to full-time work was largely about our slow it down philosophy. Don’t think that it is because I’m sentimental about my children being preschoolers. And it is certainly not a belief that I will somehow do a better job of taking care of the girls than a nanny or daycare staff. It is more about restoring sanity to our household. It is about embracing the reality that it can take hours to get out of the house if we are all to have matching socks, our teeth brushed, and a decent amount of caffeine running through parental veins.

2 Responses to “Working Mothers at Home – Part 1”

  1. 1 Mama Tortoise October 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the comment, hereticsanonymous. Isn’t it interesting that what we are presented with on a day-to-day basis somehow becomes our truths?

  2. 2 hereticsanonymous October 22, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Yes, false dichotomies are so often presented to us that we start believing them to be true.

    “decent amount of caffeine running through parental veins” — nice writing!

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