Let’s be honest. Parents judge. Even when we don’t realize it. One topic where I see strong opinions is around the stay at home vs. working mom.
I realize that reading about the choice to stay home and not work may induce eye rolling when so many women are working at jobs where they aren’t paid adequately or working two jobs to make ends meet. I am fortunate that I have been in an economic position where I had a choice to work or stay at home with my kids. I know most parents are not in that same situation.
My life before kids looked quite different. I finished law school, spent time lobbying on Capitol Hill, and worked as a political consultant to help people I believed in get elected to office. Then, my kids were born and I took some time off. “Off”, as in, I didn’t go to an office everyday. My house was my office. With my kids, day-to-day operations included making their food, shuttling them to classes, play dates, and appointments. The company mission was generally working to make sure I was raising little people who were kind, safe, happy and healthy. I felt incredibly lucky to have this opportunity to spend this time with my kids and at the same time, completely guilty I wasn’t using my education to build a career or contribute to my household income.
At times, I felt a divide between my stay-at-home mom-self and the outside world, I became very aware when those who I was speaking to lost interest and seemed to put up an imaginary do not disturb sign after realizing I didn’t earn a paycheck. Now and then, if their interest hadn’t totally waned, they might say, “Well, that’s an important job...too.” I truly feel that it is an important job, but somehow it felt like they were being disingenuous when they’d say so to me.
Even in 2019, working vs. being staying at home is still an uncomfortable topic for moms. I have one friend who was cornered at a college alumni event for choosing to stay home to raise her kids by women who had worked so hard to break the glass ceiling. Another friend who works at a high-powered job wants to spend more time with her daughter, yet feels compelled to say she’s working from home instead of chaperoning a field trip.
It hasn’t been easy for me to spend less time with my kids, but they remind me every day of why I went back to work - to help families in the same boat as us - educating and assisting them to navigate eye issues with confidence. I can't drop everything for them the way I used to, but they are seeing me fulfill my dream and hopefully setting an example for them to find theirs.