In many ways, my digital village is a lot like a small town. When I first started blogging with Today’s Parent four years ago, I quickly found an online tribe of other stay-at-home moms who commiserated about the ups and downs of leaving the workforce to raise children. It was reassuring (and often sad) to hear from moms who either regretted staying home or felt a loss of their identity. It made me feel less alone in my struggles. Unfortunately, the flip side of sharing my feelings publicly about being a housewife was that it often ignited a debate pitting working moms against stay-at-home moms—a debate that I never intended to initiate and one that brought out the worst in people. I received the following comment to one of my blog posts:
“What did you think having kids was going to be? A walk in the park? All happy Facebook updates? Buckle up lady cuz it seems as if you are not emotionally or mentally equipped to be raising children. What you want and how you want it, is a distant memory. Be lucky your husband lets you stay home, be lucky he makes enough so you can stay home. Count your blessings lady or else you will end up just another spoiled suburban mom with such a hard life on Prozac. This is all of your doing, am I supposed to feel bad? Live with it and make it work, you don’t like being home, get a part time job. Life is what you make it lady and complaining that your ‘job’ of raising your children is ‘unfair’ and ‘hard’ makes me want to laugh.”
And if you think that it’s only strangers who believe stay-at-home moms have it easy, when Today’s Parent editor-in-chief Sasha Emmons wrote about why she chooses to work rather than stay home, some commenters told her that her choice was wrong and selfish:
“This article makes me so sad. The reasons the author gave for choosing time at work over time with her children is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine handing my three-month-old over to someone else (likely a stranger) for the majority of my waking hours so I can do something I “enjoy.” Actions speak louder than words. If you choose to spend more time with your job than your child, you are saying you prefer your job. The reason your child absorbs any message you don’t want her to be receiving is because you have allowed that to happen. I hope your child enjoys her ‘nice’ house and shoes, because you are teaching her that those things are more important than spending time with you on a daily basis.”
This is why the stay-at-home mom versus working mom debate will never go away: because some parents can’t think of a kind way to disagree with someone who lives their life differently. It isn’t to say that we can’t have discussions around the pros and cons of each, but when comments turn cruel and target someone personally, it’s no longer a conversation but an attack. Maybe I was raised differently (“if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”), or maybe it’s because I’ve been both a working parent and a stay-at-home mom, but I have empathy and respect for all you mothers out there. And you should as well.
Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.