The mommy wars need to stop. Staying home or going to work are not always choices. Staying at home with my son is a beautiful, exhausting, wonderful, and stressful gift that my family has chosen. What do I mean by that? I think that forget, or we don’t take into account that some women choose to stay home with their children. And that choice should be honored. But we also need to remember that the choice to stay home is not always available for all families.
When I was pregnant with my son we thought I would stay home with him for about six months and then start looking for daycares and that I would be back to work full time by the time he was one year old. It seems reasonable. The messaging is there for someone like me, and most of the women I know went back to work eventually after having children. When my son was three or four months old my husband bought me Cubs vs Nationals tickets because he’s awesome, and my sister in law offered to babysit him. And I was miserable with worry. I spent more time staring at my phone than paying attention to the game. When my son was two months old we moved from Virginia to Maryland. This is important because when we started to look at daycares, those prices made my eyes water. I would be going to work and using almost all of that money for daycare.
So, we as a couple made a choice, that I would stay home with our son. And the moment I become unhappy that we will then reevaluate the situation. With COVID and all of that, I am glad to be home with him more than ever. But the truth of the matter is, that this article isn’t about how being a stay at home mother is a feminist choice and those who judge stay at home moms are jerks and should stop. Although that previous statement is true. The truth is that I have a choice. Not all stay at home moms or working moms have choices.
Pretending that when every pregnant person sitting there thinking about child care that they are sitting there with two equal and valid choices is a lie. My family has chosen for me to stay home and we have tightened our bootstraps. But we are fine economically, but there are families where if both parents don’t work or there is only one parent, that there wouldn’t be food on the table. It isn’t a choice. We like to pretend that every pregnancy is a choice, I mean with the access to contraceptives and condoms in this country right?
A box of twelve condoms cost eight dollars at my local Target. I am thirty-five years old, and the nearest Planned Parenthood is 45 minutes away if the traffic is good. Now birth control should be free unless you work for a company that has applied for an exception to the contraceptive mandate. Or you, like me, choose not to take contraceptives because of religious reasons or because they make you feel like crap. Not all pregnancies are planned out perfectly, and not everyone believes that abortion is a personal option, and not everyone in this country has easy access to a safe abortion.
All I am saying is that my choice to be a stay at home mother is a choice that my family made for personal and economic reasons, but we need to stop talking about the mommy wars between the stay at home and working moms and pretend that every woman is in either group because she chose to be there. Choices only exist for those who have the means to equally weigh each option. And we need to remember that whatever parenthood looks like for anyone that each parent should be honored for raising their child the best way that they know how.