Trading Places Was Not For Me
My sister and I have enjoyed a close relationship for our entire life. As we started our families, I was a working mother, she was a stay-at-home mother. I didn’t particularly want to work, but I had significantly higher earnings than my favorite boy toy. She loved staying at home with her children, something she wanted for many years. It truly fulfilled her.
We were always puzzled at the rancor and hostilities between working mothers and those who stayed home. We never entertained thoughts about trading places – both of us were happy, it worked for us, and we never felt that one way or the other was a right answer. It was simply a different answer for living our own lives.
One of the great joys in my life was my child visiting my sister and brother-in-law each year as she was growing up. She’d go for several weeks at a time and got to enjoy having a real stay-at-home mother versus her stay-at-home father. She became one of my sister’s children for a short period – the oldest daughter – going to swimming lessons, vacation bible school, and the park.
I often took a week of my precious vacation to see my sister and her family and spend time with my daughter while having fun. I didn’t do Disney World or the Wisconsin Dells – I went to my sister. I have so many good pictures from those years, but here is one of my sister with her son and my daughter (my niece was not yet born). I don’t remember now, but I think the tooth fairy did have to make a visit to my sister’s house that summer.
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dogear6 View All →
I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.
Wow, I’m catching up on your blogs and you’re a very insightful writer. I am the oldest of four and I’m the only one without children. It’s interesting because the divides aren’t just between those mothers that stay at home and those that work, but also between those that are mothers and those that aren’t. I am sure, there’s nothing that compares to motherhood. Yet those of us that haven’t had that opportunity shouldn’t be shunned because of it.
Jean Marie – you raise a really good point. I've seen that also. People find it hard to accept that their way is not the right way for others. My husband and I have really struggled with that, especially with our family who has been vocal about the choices we made.
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Because I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since my daughter was born 25 years ago, only within the last 8 years or so have I felt on an equal footing, more or less, with career moms. In social circumstances I would always feel inadequate surrounded by vibrant, career types. When asked “What do you do?” I felt rather meek when I replied “Oh, I’m just a housewife'” or some other similar remark. That seemed to end all conversation, unless my words fell upon sympathetic ears.
The divide, as you call it, may be because the achilles heel for both moms are exposed when they confront one another. Career moms may feel a twinge of guilt at not being physically present 24/7 in their children’s lives; stay-at-home moms may feel personally challenged by a mom still engaged in the professional world. And then again, conversation can be awkward if one only talks about her children, while the other prefers to talk about her job.
…you’re right…best be accepting…one of the other. :)
You're right about that – I've been caught on it too. It was always interesting to have someone decide to look down their nose at me because they didn't know I was in fact working outside the home. I always felt it was possible to have polite conversation with anyone – with minimal effort, there was always something in common.
I’m glad that you brought this topic up. I did sense a divide between stay-at-home moms and working moms. I stayed at home. It’s difficult for women these days, I think, although opportunities are greater. I think you had the secret: being happy with your own choice and allowing others theirs.
It always puzzled my sister that there was such a divide – not every woman had the opportunity to stay home. Why others felt so free to judge it really amazed me.