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It's Not You, It's Me

Photograph by Getty Images

Since becoming a working mom five years ago, the emotional roller coaster I’ve been on has ebbed and flowed with ferocity. And it’s taken me a long time to not allow the mommy wars drama to infiltrate my mind. I’m better at waving off the judgments that are thrust upon me. Experience has taught me that. And really, I’ve just got no time to add to my own self-imposed mom guilt, which is a normal side effect of becoming a parent, whether working or not.

Last month, though, I had an epiphany as I received criticism on my post 10 Things Not To Say to A Working Mom. Alongside fist pumps in solidarity from the mom community, some individuals took what I had to say as offensive. Somehow my desire to empower myself, and other working moms alike, turned into a mommy war where my words were taken as an attack on the stay-at-home mom. This baffled me. And then it hit me. I can say with confidence that what’s rooted in this mommy war debacle and what can solve it all is one statement: It’s not you, it’s me.

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My words were for me. They were to help me own my role as working mom. They weren’t for SAHMs to read and internalize as an attack against them. And they surely weren’t for working moms who’d rather not work to become offended because they can’t fathom believing as I do. I can’t take responsibility for how others take my words as I try to advocate for the working mom, and I surely can’t be offended when individuals criticize me. I’ve found that their disbelief and shock with my views as a happy working parent has nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing!

And it’s made me look at a comment sitting in limbo, waiting for approval, on Liberating Working Moms (LWM), the working mom community I’ve strived to build around positivity and respect.

This comment is on a post about who raises your child, which the working mom community reverberates that of course we do! Yet this woman, who is also a working mom, couldn’t support us, and her comments were angry and scathing. And now I can read her words with new light as I know my new mantra to be true: It’s not you, it’s me. I can no longer be offended by her words.

She wrote, “I don’t think it takes a village. I think the village messes up kids who need direct attention. I’m a single mom and WISH I could stay home till my kid was at least 3. I don’t think any kid under that age is really wanting to separate nor is it at all beneficial.”

With my newfound understanding of “It’s not you, it’s me,” I was able to read this comment in a different way. I can’t take her words personally. And no working mom should. Of course she doesn’t believe in the village. How could she when she feels forced into her working mom role? Rooted in her words are emotions that have nothing to do with me. It only gives me compassion for her, knowing that there is no way she could relate to what the contributors of LWM are trying to get across to our readers.

It’s not you who has to walk in my shoes. It’s not you who has to be in my head. It’s me.

She went on to say, “I’m not happy having to work a 50 hour week. Sadly my husband was not a provider. … He never really wanted a child I don’t think. It’s sad. But let me stress if I Wanted to work I’d say it. I wouldn’t lie and act like I had to. I resent working moms who don’t know what HAVE TO WORK means.”

Can you feel the rage in her words? She’s unhappy with her situation and decided to lash out on the working moms of the world. She “resents” working moms who don’t have to work — those who choose or even enjoy working. I feel like this just sets me up, and any other empowered working mom to be the victim of her working mom shaming. And really, there’s no point in trying to even rationalize with her. I just feel sorry for her. I wish she was in a better place, and perhaps didn’t feel the need to take it out on other moms.

If only she could adopt my new mantra, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I’m not the one she’s angry at. I’m not purposefully degrading her beliefs and desires as a mom as she so desperately wishes not to have to work. I now know not to take words against the working mom to heart, and I hope that one day she can grasp that the working moms in the world aren’t trying to fight with the SAHMs, or those who vehemently wish they could be SAHMs. We’re just trying to be true to ourselves.

She goes on to close with, “It’s modern lunacy to be offended when someone asks who’s raising your kids. Maybe they should say who is with (sic) your kids but it’s the same question. Why not answer “they’re (sic) in day care but I don’t feel that’s the most important influence on them…”

She calls working moms being offended at the question, “Who’s raising your children,” as lunacy. But it’s not lunacy for me, and it’s not lunacy for other working moms. It’s just lunacy for her. It’s not you, it’s me.

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So I’m at peace right now. I’m empowered as a working mom and refuse to let naysayers into my head. Criticize all you want, but perhaps look more deeply at yourself to see what the root of all your angst against the working mom, SAHM, WAHM or any type of mom really is. Because it can’t possibly be me. It’s not you who has to walk in my shoes. It’s not you who has to be in my head. It’s me. And likewise I will never pretend to know what it’s like to walk in your shoes — so don’t think that my goal in life is to judge those who do or say differently as me. But I will have grace for you and not judge you back. That’s the least I can do.

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