It isn't about the labels. At the end of the day, we are all just moms, doing all that we can in the best way that we can.
As moms, we are more than familiar with all the labels. Working mom, stay-at-home mom. Work-at-home mom. Tiger mom. Helicopter mom. Pinterest mom. Crunchy mom.
How about just "mom"?
I don't know about you, but I'm saddened and tired from all the labels laced with judgment. As moms, we already place so much natural pressure on ourselves, simply from our innate instinct to pour ourselves out for our children. And in today's modern culture and environment, it's even harder to protect our kids and raise them into healthy, functioning adults. Who has energy to deal with all the external pressure on top of all of that? And from no less than other fellow moms?
There was a chart that went viral back in December, comparing working moms to stay-at-home moms. While it was biased and oversimplified, it nonetheless struck a chord with me, albeit a negative one.
As a mom with a professional career, I'll admit, there are aspects on the left side that have some elements of truth to it. Yes, I am away for several hours. I do come home exhausted each day. My weekends do involve grocery shopping.
But what this heartless (it felt that way) chart doesn't capture, is everything else that goes on behind the scenes:
- I spend every waking hour that I can pouring into my kids. We read, we play, we learn, we laugh, we sing, and we dance.
- My kids in fact do eat fresh, healthy food from scratch that is nutritious and delicious every night. We invest in planning and prepping it in advance, so it's a faster cooking process the next day.
- I take my kids to school every day and pick them up every opportunity that I can, because there's nothing sweeter than that moment they run into your arms.
- I volunteer as much as I can (even serving as the room parent) despite working full-time. Not to overcompensate for working, but simply because I love being involved and a part of their day.
- When my kids were infants, I carried a hospital grade pump to and from work every day for 8 months, pumping every couple hours, so my children could have 100% breastmilk for 14+ months*.
- I researched, interviewed, and spent countless hours searching for and then training the best nannies or sitters I could find and afford. It matters who we entrust with our kids during those hours.
- I rarely take a lunch break, and I log back on to work at night (after cleaning the house and while the laundry is running), so I can leave the office on time and protect those sacred hours with my kids every evening.
- I spend every hour at work missing their sweet faces. But I work hard, because my advancement helps to provide greater opportunities for my kids that they otherwise would miss out on, including funding the expensive out-of-pocket medical treatment and special school accommodations my son needs.
- I work hard because I want to model for them a good work ethic and what it can look like to try hard, and to affect and change the world around them.
- And I also work hard because I do enjoy my profession. And I want my kids to grow up with a tangible vision that they can contribute and lovingly serve their family, community, and society with their unique God-given calling, gifts and passions - however that may look.
I say all these things, not to pat myself on the back, but to illustrate that there's a lot of heart that goes into every decision and action I take as a mom that isn't simply captured in a diagram, phrase, or hashtag.
And I believe it is that way for EVERY mom.
Yes, mothering is personal. We may not all agree. We may parent in very different ways. But we are all moms.
And as moms, we are part of a unique club. We are the ones who have that special privilege of knowing that mama-bear force of love for our kids. In fact, it's the strength of that love that makes this topic feel so personal, that makes us feel we need validation that our way is the way.
But I hope that we can remember that the decisions we make are not a reflection of whether we are better or lesser moms. We love our kids. And that at the end of the day, we are all doing all that we can in the best way we can.
So here's to forgoing the labels. It's not about who's a working mom, SAHM mom, an Amazon mom, or a Pinterest mom. Very simply, we are all just 24/7 moms. And we're all out here loving and mom-ming together - with all of our hearts.
*This is not a statement about breast- or formula-fed, as I'm a firm believer in "fed is best". This example is here simply to give one illustration of the lengths a mama can go through, that we are still mothering even in the workplace and aren't just leaving it all at home.