Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Gentle Readers,

If there's a phrase in this world that I hate, just absolutely cannot stand, it is "working mothers."

Obviously, the words are intended to mean a woman who is a parent and works outside of the home. But show me any woman who has children, and I'll show you a working mother. I absolutely abhor the implication that the woman who stays at home with her children does not work. By God, the hardest work I ever did was staying at home with my kids.

Up to my elbows in diaper shit while another kid had a temperature of 102, was barfing, and needed to go to the doctor -- but I wasn't working?

Let's see . . . what's the opposite of work? I was relaxing while I served as caregiver, chauffeur, nurse, cook, teacher, and I volunteered at church and at my children's schools. Oh, of course it wasn't work because having children is nothing but a 24-hour, seven day per week blessing.

I loved my kids; I still love my kids and they aren't kids anymore. They have thanked me for staying at home with them. But the price I paid psychologically and with my career was devastating. I could never catch up with moms who did not stay at home with their children, and when we went to a social gathering I could see eyes glaze over when people learned what I did. Oh you stay at home . . . how nice . . . now pardon me while I wander away to talk to someone interesting who actually works.

Working mother my ass. We all work, except for a privileged famous and/or wealthy few who have multiple nannies and ignore their children. And shame on them.

I think it's a good thing for a woman to keep up with her career. I wish I had. But I have always worked.

Infinities of love,



  1. I agree with you. The work at home is a *lot* harder than the work at the office, for many, perhaps most, people.
    I feel guilty, but I will admit that there were days when my kids were young and very demanding and diapers and spit up and crying spells and feeding and bathing kids occupied every waking hour at home, when I actually felt like my office job was an oasis of quiet calm and, yes, provided an opportunity to relax that I just didn't get at home. In those days, I *loved* going to my office!
    That said, I think the phrase "working mother" isn't intended to belittle moms who work at home. It was coined as shorthand for "moms who work to raise kids at home and also have a job outside the home," which is pretty long and awkward to say. I like to think that the "mother" part is intended to cover the never-ending hard work all moms (well, except for those wealthy, nanny-hiring delegators you mentioned) do when they are home with their kids, and the "working" part covers the fact that these particular moms get to go to work every day at their offices (or factory lines or fast food counters, or whatever) for a while.
    Their office (or fast food or factory or whatever) jobs might be hard, too, but it is a different kind of difficulty.
    I also think that, for some moms (especially single moms), who are trying to balance an office job with raising kids, they *do* have to work harder, if not longer hours, than stay at home moms, especially stay at home moms of school-age kids or kids who are in day care (some stay at home moms put their kids in day care anyway, for the socialization and pre-school experience).
    The moms who work outside the home may have fewer diapers to change in a day because the day care workers do those, but they also have less time during school hours to accomplish all the stuff that stay at home moms do -- laundry, bill-paying, house-cleaning, yard work, etc. -- so they work all day at their office / factory job, and then come home and they still have to do all the stuff stay-at-home moms do after school, like help with homework and drive kids to various school functions and other activities. And then they still have to find time to do the laundry and clean the house and pay the bills... It can be pretty hard to cram all that stuff into a few hours at night, instead of spreading it out through the course of a full day - especially a full day when the kids are all in school (I'm not talking about those days when everyone is home vomiting! That is by far the hardest work day, especially when mom is one of the ones vomiting!).
    I also think most stay at home moms (and probably stay at home dads, too) do a lot more things for their kids and the community, in part because they are available and have time for it and in part because they are usually caring and giving people -- things like volunteering and putting in extra carpool time and being the house that hosts the neighbor kids after school. The world would be a far worse place without these contributions. And it is awful that society doesn't recognize the value of these contributions. And it is even more awful that women who contribute in these ways are then held back and discriminated against when they want to re-enter the workforce outside the home.
    In short, while I agree that no one's choice (to work outside the home, or to work at home with the kids) should be belittled, and no one should be discriminated against or treated badly for choosing as their primary occupation the raising of great kids, I do think the phrase "working mom" is a fair description and a reasonable shorthand for the entire concept of holding a job outside the home while also working at home to raise your kids.
    Sorry. I think my comment is longer than your post.... maybe I should have just written my own blog post about this!

  2. I have to think about this. I might want to discuss it more later.



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