Beyond the Mommy-Wars Bumpersticker: The Many Shades of Mommies

I have never met a woman who has “never worked a day in her life.”

But here are women I do know:

A mom with a high-powered job and a husband with a high-powered job who works her Blackberry like a crazy person while driving her sons to soccer, plays, and school events. Always tired, usually happy.

A mom who trained as a lawyer and regrets the school debt that keeps her in the office and out of her home.

A mom who married while still in college, had her first child immediately, teaches music out of her home and loves every minute with her children, regretting nothing.

A mom who wistfully wishes she had gone on to law school but at the time really, really wanted a family and doesn’t regret the choice even though she wishes she could have done both.

A mom who juggles travel and stress of a high powered career while her husband stays home and cares for the children, and who alternates between being sad about missing mommy moments and being joyful at her career.

An immigrant who works hard jobs to support her children so they can go to school and grow up in America.

A mom who left a good, impressive job when her second daughter was born and never looked back.

A mom who misses working but stays home because no one can care for her autistic daughter the way she can.

A woman who married because she got pregnant young and, despite what all the tut-tutters predicted, has a blissful marriage and lovely family, even if she never quite finished school.

A mom who is trained in the medical field and who makes more working two days a week than most of us can working full time, somehow hitting the sweet spot.

A woman who never met Mr. Right and never had children and whose successful career is, in part, a byproduct of that fact, who would do things differently if she had a second chance.

A woman who had a fantastic and exciting career, married late, struggled with infertility, and adopted, leaving her career with joyful glee to dive into motherhood with wild abandon.

A single mom who would have been a stay-at-home mom happily if her husband hadn’t left to start a new family with someone else.

A widowed mother whose insurance pays for her children’s home and education, plus her own advanced degree studies, but who would give anything to have her husband back.

A mom who writes and parents in a maddening whirlwind and always feels like a failure, except when she feels like a million bucks. (Ok, that one is me.)

Life is about choices, yes. But the wild thing is that we don’t know where those choices will lead. Sometimes we regret the choices we made even if we made them in good faith at the time. Sometimes we don’t even when people said we would. Sometimes life steps in and makes our choices for us.

I don’t think I know one woman, working or not, who would say the way she did life is the only right way to do life.

It’s all a bit much to reduce to a political bumper-sticker, don’t you think?

photo by omninate on Flickr Commons

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • Tara Edelschick

    Thanks, Rebecca. “No more Mommy Wars!” Pass it on.

  • kristen

    Every mom does the best she can with her own situation. Some women don’t have the luxury of staying home and must work. Some do have it, and chose to work anyway. And some moms stay home. Instead of comparing choices to make ourselves feel better, it’s time to “know ourself” and stop the negative loop guilt tape and change the message to “you are not other moms, you are “name here” and this situation works best for me. Accepting your decision and being kind to yourself is so important. This will work much better and have a healthier effect on one’s family life in my humble opinion.

  • http://writingaboutanythingiwantto.wordpress.com Angel Firestone

    It would be wonderful if we could just embrace motherhood in any shape or form. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Argie

    Lot to think about! Good article. I have three “stay at home” daughter-in-laws. I am amazed at all they do. One, whose husband is a dentist, home schools, trains a dog, along with six children, does an amazing job of running a taxi service, serving as an on the spot therapist, guiding the crying child to learn a lesson from a scary experience, teaching that faith is as important as hope. Yes, seeing that the tasks of running a house is done; learning to be responsible for your stewardship as children. You mow the lawn, you clean the dog poo, someone do this or that. Another daughter-in-law had a son with MPS and died at age 15. She changed his soiled pants for 15 year, cleaned the house, tended two other children, volunteered for the Cancer fund raising. She had a child with Cancer. This lady is active in her church and she and husband give of themselves everyday of their lives. Another daughter-in-law, who like the others are college graduates, does the chore of balancing the budget, buying the gas, planting the garden, getting her six children involved in the daily work of running a home. Encouraging the talents, to be developed and teaching piano to children so they can teach their younger brothers and sisters, to share with the community. Volunteering in the community to share others in need. These ladies are stay-at-home moms who are working mothers. I am graeful!

  • http://MillenniumMayor Benjamin “Frank’ Venti

    My Wife Martha for 57 years was a SAHM and now is a SAHGM. Although she says she wouldn’t change that at all, I would not trade with her, because without a doubt, a SAHM has one of the hardest, toughest jobs on earth.
    Blessings and hooray for working and stay at home Moms !!!

  • Laura

    Thanks, Rebecca! I missed this one last week – I guess I was busy working…as a mom and at my job outside the home! You sum it up perfectly. I’ve never understood the mommy wars and the judgment from both sides. Why are there even “sides”? Each person’s story is different. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

    • Rebecca Cusey

      It’s such a strange mix of finances, circumstances, desire, and belief. I always tell my kids “you don’t know the whole story” when other kids are unkind to them. Mommies should keep that in mind too, I think. Thanks for reading, Laura.


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