For those of you that follow me on Instagram (Stressedandblessedmama), you might have seen that I ended up in the Emergency Room this weekend. I’m fine now! Totally fine. Here’s what happened though; my son turned 5 months old this past Saturday and I have these sweet monthly stickers to put on his onesie each month that I take a picture of him wearing. I did this with my daughter too and I love it, I get to fill up a frame that shows birth through a year and it’s a little tradition our family does. Well I was leaning over, trying to get the right shot, with the perfect amount of light, while making sure he didn’t face plant on the couch AND while babbling in a high pitched voice to get him to smile (Instagram pictures look beautiful, but my word, sometimes there’s a lot of work that goes behind them! Real talk!) Anyway, when I leaned back up I felt a spasm shoot up my back and it got stiff and tight. Fast forward to mid day where I was completely hunched over, grasping my husband’s arm because I couldn’t stand up straighter than a curled over 90 degree angle. I’m 30, but I felt like I was 80 and needed a walker. The ER people literally came running out of the ER with a wheel chair for me.
So now we’re in an ER triage room and waiting for the doctor. A front desk person came back for my insurance information as she tried initially running it through my name. I explained that I was on my husband’s insurance. She looked at me briefly and then turned to my husband and said “Good for you! YOU sure know how to take care of your family huh?” And proceeded to talk to him about how good his job must be and what a hard worker he probably is. I must admit, I was rather peeved. That’s putting it lightly. I was starting to get pissed. 1) yes, he does have a good job and he takes care of his family, however, I take care of our family too! Just because I don’t bring a paycheck home doesn’t mean I’m lounging around the house shoveling bon bons down my throat and watching soap operas all day! And 2) I didn’t tell her that I was a SAHM (stay at home mom), she just jumped to that conclusion; which happened to be correct. But when I was working full time I was on my own insurance and “took care of myself”, if that’s even a metric to measure that by.
Now I honestly don’t want to get into the whole “who has it harder, stay at home moms or working moms” because I don’t think anyone should focus on that; it’s not a contest. We all work hard and try our best. We all sometimes feel guilty over something. I know for me personally, I really suffered from guilt for years that I wasn’t pulling my own weight because I am a stay at home mom. I resigned from my Human Resources Generalist job in March of 2014. It was extremely hard to do. Why? Because I had kicked my own ass throughout grade school, high school and college to get good grades. My mom still tells me how I’d stay up and worry at night because of my grades. After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English, I got a job in Human Resources and continued my education by receiving my Certification of Human Resources Management through UCLA’s Extension school; between work, life, moving and planning a wedding, this took me almost 4 years to achieve. So when my husband and I decided it was best for our family for me to be a stay at home mom, I was overjoyed, but I also felt like I had lost a huge part of my identity.
Without work, I would feel guilty as my husband got up early each morning and come home late from his job while I stayed home with our daughter. I’d try to find useful things to do around the house. One day I reorganized our entire spice cabinet. Another day I finally put away all our “moving piles” that we had put off for months since the move. But that was when my daughter was a tiny baby and would sleep all the time. The guilt soon began to diminish as she got older and needed me more. Or when I would wake up every one to two hours for an entire year (give or take a few good weeks of quality sleep here and there) because she wanted to breastfeed back to sleep. The guilt is so hard because sometimes I would feel like I was useless, or a joke, or like I had thrown all of my education away. If you have ever felt this way, please do not waste another second doing so.
I believe that working moms love their children just as much as stay at home moms. We all work SO hard. We all sometimes suffer from guilt and worries and fears. So as much as I wanted to turn to that woman and say “Guess what? My husband and I actually feel like our jobs are equally hard! I feel for him if he leaves the house at 7am and has an afternoon meeting that goes long and gets home at 7pm, and he feels bad for me that I haven’t had a break from “my job” because I am with our children 24/7. I am with them when I use the restroom. I am with them when I shower (usually my toddler is banging on the door telling me to hurry up). I am with them when I sleep (I seriously think our baby spends more time in our bed breastfeeding than in his co-sleeper crib sleeping, yay for teething and sleep regressions). I am with them all the time, unless someone specifically tells me “I’ve got the kids, you go do something for yourself” or I unless I make a point of it and ask myself. And that is fine! That is how OUR family works, and we’re fine with that. So do I wish that that woman had then turned me to me and said something like “Wow you’re taking care of the family too! Home all day and night with a 5 month old baby and a 2 year old.” She didn’t, and that’s ok. Because this is real life. I don’t need some stranger to pat me on the back for the choices that our family has made. Anyways, I just wanted to share this with all of you. If any of you working mamas are feeling like you wish you were home with the children more, I feel for you. If any of you stay at home mamas are wondering if you’re pulling your own weight for your family because you don’t bring home a pay check, I feel for you. We are all just doing our very best, so let’s not make snap judgements about each other. It would just be so nice to acknowledge that we are just giving it our all, and that we all love our children and are working hard, no matter what our official job title is.