The following story, “The Internal Battle Between SAHM and Working Mom” by Alyssa Shelasky was originally published on Boomdash.
I never know where I fit in.
I’m a working mom, who works around-the-clock, from home. But I also don’t have a nanny, so most domestic responsibilities are on me—which often makes me feel like a desperate housewife of the Valium and vacuum cleaner variety. So basically I’m a fulltime-working-mom-housewife. Who wouldn’t change it for the world, blah, blah, blah, dark chocolate.
For the record, I realize that all of us have some sort of grueling, atrocious work-life-guilt mash-up. I’m not so special. There’s a reason every human with a brain and beating heart agrees that motherhood is the hardest job of all.
(For clarity’s sake, even though it’s actually only more confusing: I’m also a Single Mom by Choice…who has a wonderful boyfriend… with whom we live…who I’m now co-parenting with. So I’m not even a single mom anymore, even though those are my people. Yeah, don’t get me started on the identity crisis there!)
Combative relationships between Working Moms and Stay at Home Moms are real. I try not to engage, because I don’t have the stomach for the online Mom mafia, and because I don’t even know whose corner to stand in.
Plus, it’s a battle I’m already exhausted by, as it lives inside my own head. On any given day, these are the conversations I have with myself…
Dear Housewife Me, I know the nicer term is Stay-at-Home Mom, but let’s be real, you are a wife to the house. I feel really, really bad for you. I feel worse for the house—it’s stuck with you, stewing, hating the mop and the chalk and the juice; and let’s discuss the dishes. Are they in heat? How do they breed so quickly? I feel horrible for you, Housewife Me, you’d rather be doing so many other things besides Googling vinaigrette recipes and “How to get turquoise play-dough out of the new neon pink rug.” You'd kill for a daytime movie that wasn’t Moana, a subway ride to nowhere, or a random conversation with a sexy stranger, and yet here you are. Folding laundry. Hoping for a playdate with a Mom who has a drinking problem. Wondering how to hide zucchini in chocolate. Sneaking an eyebrow pluck or deodorant swipe, if you're lucky, ya rebel.
Dear Working Mom Me, you are fierce and the future is female, but I feel really, really bad for you. You have 40-minutes to do four days of work, and you do it, like a beautiful badass, but the outcome is kind of embarrassing. Your work blows. This drive of yours, it used to make you feel so high-powered; now it makes you feel so low-functioning. You stick your kid in front of Moana just so you can do emails, have a Skype meeting, send over the budget and still feel broke. You’re two-timing your family with your work, and two-timing your work with your family, and some days you’re ready to quit everyone, screw everything, and flip houses upstate. But ugggh—who has the energy for that?
Then I snap out of it. As we all do. It only takes the sound of my two-year old’s wee, little creature voice; her questions, “Mama…where’d the soap/birdie/kitty/baby/bike/lolly go?” Her soft, sweet hands dragging me to the bank/potty/library/tomatoes. Her naked bum. Her perfect punim.
And I think: Dear both of you ladies. Basta. Enough. I don’t feel bad for either of you. You have everything. You have the line where the sky meets the sea….and it calls you…and no one knows, how far it goes. (Damn you, Moana!). This is exactly the life you wanted. Now go make lunch, go get paid, and go pray for an epic nap for both of you.