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Tired of hearing about the Mommy Wars? Me too—and I'm
convinced that there's a lot less of this stuff brewing under the surface than
mainstream media would like us to believe. But I've noticed lately that I find
myself making excuses for the parenting choices I've made. What the heck?
I've been a parent for almost 21 years now (gulp) and I have
no regrets about most of the parenting decisions I've made along the way. Sure,
there was that lousy attempt at making my own baby food (messy) and a brief
period where I thought "quiet time" was optional (it wasn't). But being a
parent means making decisions both big and small, every single day. Decisions
about work/life issues really shouldn't be up for public debate, any more than
Coke vs. Pepsi should cause major dissension between BFFs (it's Coke, btw).
When I was a new mom, I almost always had to explain that I
had chosen to stay home with my son, at least for the immediate future. And
even now, when I meet new people and the topic turns to jobs or parenthood,
there's always that point in the conversation where I feel that excuses are
necessary. Somehow I always feel obligated to make excuses or explain the
period of time I was a SAHM, like saying, "We saved money ahead of time so
I could stay home" or "We sure didn't take many awesome
The end game in parenting should be the same for all moms: to raise confident, intelligent, kind, capable and self-sufficient young adults. How we get there is up to us.
While I've been a SAHM, a part-time employee, a freelancer, a
WAHM and a full-time employee during my time as a mom, I have to admit that I
make my lamest excuses over the time I spent at home raising my kids. I'm not sure why, because I loved that time
in my life—as exhausting and all-encompassing as it was. But I also loved each
and every "phase" of my work/mom life because it worked for us at that time.
What have I learned about work/life balance along the way
that I wish I'd known back then?
1. You raise your kids on a timeline
Decisions you make about housing, schooling, work/life issues, discipline
methods, bedtimes and house rules are not absolutes—they are fluid, changing as
the needs of your family changes. What works for you when you have three kids
under the age of 5 may not work when they are tweens and teens. You can't
really make a decision as the mother of a newborn that will still be right when
he's 12. Sure, it might work out that way, but most likely your work/life
situation will change along the way.
2. My choices don't equal your choices
Boom. They just don't. The end game in parenting should be the same for all
moms: to raise confident, intelligent, kind, capable and self-sufficient young
adults. How we get there is up to us. And I'm telling you from 21 years down
the road that you will get there, regardless of whether you are a SAHM for life
or a corporate VP. Making the choices that work best for your family makes you
the best parent for your kids.
Your kids get sick? So did mine. Problems with breastfeeding/teething/potty
training/teachers/karate instructors/playground bullies/teenage angst/college
applications? Same. Put a bunch of moms in a room together and you will find they
have more in common than not. I've noticed even 21 years later that I can
still quickly find common ground with the mother of a newborn, a 4-year-old or
Being a parent goes way
beyond my choice to work outside the home or stay home with my kids for a
while. So I'm done making excuses.