Has anyone noticed that at some point in time, women – specifically those who have borne children - started drawing lines in the sand? On one side of the line were the good mothers, on the other side, the bad. Not only were we drawing the lines ourselves, we were all too quick to throw each other to the other side, to call names, to roll eyes, to shame and degrade, to feel better about ourselves for being better, smarter mothers.
Don’t pretend you haven’t done it, and I will go ahead and admit right now that I’ve done it, too. What line did you draw in the sand? Breastfeeding versus formula? Organic, homemade meals versus fast food? Public school versus homeschooling? Disposable diapers versus cloth diapers? Working mom versus stay at home mom?
Let’s stop right there…ah, the working mom! What the hell does that mean any way? I have been offended a time or two by the term, thinking it assumed that if you didn’t work at a paying job outside the home, you were not, in fact, working. We all know better. We know staying at home with our children is work – often mind-numbing, back-breaking, no bathroom break work.
I was, once upon a time, a stay-at-home mom. And I am still a stay-at-home mom. But in the last two years, I started my own business, so now I work outside of the home, inside my home, all around my damn home. I work when I’m with my clients, I work when I’m with my kids. I work when I’m reading The Little House on the Prairie for the 672nd time. I work when I’m meal-planning and folding laundry. I work when I’m taking pictures, paying taxes, and yes, I even work when I’m on Facebook, too. How do I put a price tag on what I do, what my worth is work? Are any of these tasks more important than another, and does doing them make me a better mother to my children?
I admit that at some point, when my business got busier, when it seemed things were taking off and I realized that I really was going to make a go of it, I had this ugly conversation with myself: “Brandi, you are a working mom.” I shuddered. I was scared. I probably even shed a few dramatic tears. I felt guilty for finding joy and fulfillment in something other than my children, and for a while, I failed miserably at organizing our family life in a way that encompassed my work. The stay-at-home mom and the working mom battled it out in my head, and honestly, still do most days. As with all things in life, it’s just a balancing act.
I think that we, as mothers, would be easier on ourselves, if we, as mothers, were easier on each other. If we could agree to be different, to acknowledge that there is no one right way to mother, to parent, to love, to provide. If we could support and encourage and raise each other up, instead of judging and finger-pointing and blaming. Let’s call a truce, mothers of the modern world. At the heart of the decisions we make is our love for children, and if nothing else, that is something we all have in common.
Brandi Lee is a stay-at-home mother of two boys by day and recently turned working mom and photographer on nights and weekends, or whenever her children are asleep or not looking. Her life B.C. (before children) gave her fulfillment as a high school English teacher, and she finds that photography fills that same place in her heart, one of personal connections with people. Her ultimate goal is to balance work with family time, to be both a provider and nurturer, but she would settle for a trip to the bathroom by herself and an uninterrupted train of thought. Brandi's visual storytelling can be viewed at Balee Images and a monthly guest author at Parenting Without A Parachute.