mommy wars

Mommy Wars: For Which Side Do We Work-From-Home Mothers Battle?

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My brother’s kids have dual citizenship (United States and Canada) and I like to tease them by asking which side they’d fight for should our countries go to war. I wonder the same thing in the all-important Mommy War being waged across the land. See, ever since I’ve been a mother, I’ve worked. But I’m a writer and that means that I do that work from home. My husband, also a journalist, and I have arranged it so that I can be home with our kids.

So am I working mom or a stay-at-home mom? Are those even the right terms to use? I don’t know. I’ve cobbled together contract work, reporting gigs and freelance jobs and each week I work more than I did when I was a full-time reporter at a newspaper, well over 40 hours a week. So there’s no way around the fact that I’m a working mother.

On the other hand, I’m literally a stay-at-home mother who is here in the house with them at all times (unless I need to go cover an assignment). We have had periods of time where we’ve had no child care and periods of time where I’ve had someone come in for half the day. I’ve never had full-time childcare and, in fact, I get so much out of my time with my children that I’d rather lose the jobs and serve cereal for dinner than not get that quality time with them.

In any case, I realize my situation is unique but the important question lingers: with which battalion should I register? I’m not sure either one would have me. Sure, I work my butt off, but not in that whole clickety-clack heels and power suit and commute downtown to the office and, you know, brush your hair each day way. I don’t have the schedule, uniform or pressure of a typical working mother. And while I like to think of myself as a stay-at-home mother, the fact is that all the other stay-at-home mothers strike me as people who get much more out of their days with their children, and are definitely more fully involved in their children’s day-to-day activities. This is probably because they haven’t just thrown their kids into a closed room with a bucket of Legos and told them to be quiet while mommy calls the senator.

I fear that neither side in the War of Mothers will have me. Or maybe I am Switzerland. Ooh, or maybe I can broker a peace agreement.

Here’s my call to set down arms: If your little bundles of joys are being raised properly and you’re satisfied with your work (whether that’s in the home or out of it or something in between), that’s all that matters — not where you come down on the cultural divide.