It tends to be the same old story...the stay at home mother induces guilt in the working mother, or the working mother induces guilt in the stay at home mother. One accuses the other or feels threatened or jealous and both sides start to defend. Staying at home or being at work are BOTH privileges and sacrifices. It all depends on the circumstances. For one mom at home who can't find a good job with some benefits and safety, being at work seems like the privilege. For another mom who is at work but wants to be home, being at HOME seems like the privilege. Each ONE is a privilege in differing ways. Being an at home parent or a working parent are both sacrifices.
In the world of mothers specifically (although it happens with some fathers too) I have often heard the working moms complain about how much more they have to do and talk about "those moms" who "get to stay home." I have been a working mom briefly and I get that idea to a point, yet not completely. It is circumstantial. Single parenting is DEFINITELY tougher than double parenting but working parenting? It depends on who is taking care of the child during, it depends on the job, it depends who pulls their weight at home after work and it depends on the perspective of the parent. Some women/men NEED to work outside the home because it gives them purpose and worth. They don't just want to, they HAVE to, to be the best version of themselves. They deserve applause for listening to their soul and honouring themselves to be the best for those around them. I have also heard stay at home moms complain about the "go getter" working moms. It shouldn't matter whether working makes them feel better or if working is needed for a time period or forever because their wage is worth more than the husband's or whatever. It is circumstantial. The same concept goes for the working at home parent. Some mothers/fathers want to be home with all their might, and they serve the world and their families this way the best because they are the best versions of themselves being at home. Work outside the home comes with sacrifices just like work inside the home comes with sacrifices.
I love working inside the home, but it was very tough the early years. My husband can testify as he was home for four months while I did school, that it was the toughest four months of his working career. He often remarked that he did not know how I did it...how I stayed home all day, got to all the appointments, kept house, kept kids healthy and stable and emotionally cared for, kept up with people who needed me, traded with other at home moms and took charge of all financial accounts ect. He worked construction and in all his years of construction, staying at home full time was the toughest job he had ever done. He thought he knew what a stay at home parent was like by being home on weekends and evenings and helping with various activities but it's not the same. I often hear that working moms do BOTH jobs equally...While some may ALMOST do that to some extent, it is actually impossible due to time restraints. Working parents couldn't possibly accomplish all the nuances of staying at home parents and do BOTH excellently because that investment all day is also made into their job. Something has to give. That is not bad and it is not good. It's neutral because it simply is the paradox of time and place. It's life. I could never accomplish what they do at their jobs and do what I do all day at home either. Something would have to give on my end too. When did we start expecting parents to be super heroes and be EVERYTHING to their children?
I admire working parents for what they do, but I would not say I am more privileged then them. I chose. I made an active CHOICE and my husband and I made sacrifices to get here. My gifts are better used at home and I have no illusions that I would do better working outside the home. In a sense this is a privilege because I am NOT a single parent, but that again is circumstantial. I have to invest long hours into making my marriage healthy, so while to some in circumstances where the spouse turned out to be skum, I can understand I may look privileged and we ALL are in some way to some extent, but it goes the other way too. Keeping and choosing the love of my life came with both sacrifices and privilege...the privilege of CHOICE that each human being should have and unfortunately some do not. My husband and I saw my gifts, saw his gifts, looked at our children's personalities and made a conscious decision to make ONE income work for us. In today's North American world that is virtually unheard of, if one wants the mortgage, the school bills, the dream career, or the "living the dream life." We had to sacrifice to be in this "privileged" circumstance. We made a ton of sacrifices because this is what we wanted. We cut our dreams and focused on what we could have. We cut our budget to second hand stuff. We downsized what we could and I found ways to trade needs with other stay at home moms to cut costs. We cut vacations to day trips and home vacations at our house. I am always brainstorming ways to make our money stretch and enable me to be at home, homeschooling my kids. We also assessed our budget with a professional and found that me working would be LESS financially stable for us at a forty hour minimum wage job than me staying at home and getting government child tax at our wage amount, and saving on school bills, and saving on all the other minor details that would have cost for me to work. It was a sacrifice and a TON of work but this is what we wanted. We made it work for us. Many working parents do the same whether they are working inside the home or out of it. They chose whether they realize it or not.
I don't appreciate working mothers/fathers who say that staying at home mothers are privileged anymore than I appreciate staying at home mothers/fathers who claim it is God's desire for the working moms to be at home. BOTH working and home working are privileges and BOTH working and home working are sacrifices. In each category there will be struggle. In each category their will be beauty. Children will turn out in any category depending on environment, personality and general love. What is important for the mothers or fathers who stay home or who work, is to go with their gifts, believe in their gifts and not envy the other choice. Some say it is not a choice to work or not a choice to stay home, but in North America there is typically a choice factor. There are many ways to think creatively and live the life wanted whether it is moving to a cheaper location, finding a cheaper method to school, finding family to support and living with them for awhile, quitting school, quitting the dream job, going out into the world to get a job wanted, making a network, going back to school, leaving family, or moving to an upscale location for better opportunities. It may be opposing choices but made with the same thought and heart.
While I agree that in the lowest of the low tax bracket there may not be a lot of choice (this is coming from someone who lives below the poverty line- I don't even mean my tax bracket as there ARE ways to make it work even though it IS hard...there will always be someone worse off or better off than you) they still have their dignity to a degree to make a choice to find a way of living that honours their soul or aid that can help. (Obviously I am excluding desperate human conditions, mental differences that do not allow this sort of choice, and homelessness.) All parents have to make a choice about what makes them the best human being to take care of another human being...and make the sacrifices it takes to follow that choice. It's not about who is more privileged. It's about who has listened to their heart and bravely followed it into working outside the home or inside. It's about changing when the soul asks to sacrifice for the change. It's about taking in personality for both the parent and child along with needs. Parenting is tough choices and tough work. Parenting is also about being an advocate for self and for the other people involved in the family. It's about asking yourself, your spouse (or partner or ...) and your children what their needs are and discerning those from the wants. It's about allowing mess in some areas for beauty in others. There is no perfect parenting style and in general there is none that is more privileged. It all depends on the person involved and the community that one makes within that.
Parenting is sacrifice and privilege all rolled into one, regardless of what type of vocation is involved to keep the family fed, warm and loved. Since Mother's day is coming up I want to honour Mothers specifically for making their choices, whatever they are, and finding ways to honour their soul AND their children's. Mothering is tough work and takes resolve and dedication. It's about showing up. Mothers: thanks for taking on both the privilege and the sacrifice of motherhood. Don't let any person change the resolve you have for your one precious life. It is your precious choice and it comes down to YOU sticking with what honours your soul the most with compassion and grace. As my sister in law wrote; "May each mother find grace." What a beautiful thought going into this weekend: Grace in any vocation while being a mother in all things.