Finally, an Answer to the Age-Old DebateDawn Meehan
There’s a certain debate about who has it harder, stay-at-home moms or working moms. “They” say there is no answer to this debate. No one will ever agree on which position is more difficult. This has been going on since caveman days. When a stay-at-home cavemom’s cavehusband came home, she’d complain,”I spent the whole day cleaning, Mister! Do you have any idea how hard it is to sweep the dirt out of this cave when the floor is made of, you know, dirt? And here you come and plop this saber tooth tiger on the floor while you sit down and prop your feet up on a rock because you ‘had a tough day’! You don’t even know what a tough day is, you troglodyte! Do you know hard it is to watch junior and change his loin cloth and keep him in the cave so the pterodactyls don’t carry him off like his brother? And he didn’t eat one bite of the mammoth stew I slaved over! He spit it out and it hit the wall and when I scrubbed it off, the cave drawings came off too and it took me two hours to draw new ones!”
Meanwhile, the working cavemom came home from a hard day at the caveoffice. All she wanted to do was read her stone mail and sip a prehistoric martini while watching Hunting with the Stars for a few minutes. But did she get to do that? Oh no. She had to clean up all the messes that her kids left and she had to butcher a saber-tooth and complain that her lazy cavehusband never does a thing as she picks up his animal hide tunics strewn all over the floor.
Seriously, that’s how it went down in olden times. Ask any paleantologist. It’s historically accurate.
Now I’m here to solve this debate once and for all. I’ve been on both sides of this equation, and I can say with 100% certainty that it is much harder (and suckier) to be a working mom. There’s nothing to debate. Now, I’m not saying that being a sahm is a picnic. I did that for nearly seventeen years. Especially when the kids are young, it’s a tough, thankless job. The only other people who can understand what it’s like are other stay-at-home parents.
However, there are no words to describe how hard it is to be a working parent. Brooklyn was sick last week and I had to stay home with her. My next paycheck will be cut in half because of it. My bills, however, will not. I wouldn’t wish the overwhelming guilt that floods a working parent when they have to choose their child or their job, on anyone. It sucks.
Coming home to find your mail scattered about the garage floor, Kool-Aid spilled on half of it can make the vein on the side of your neck do funny things. Walking inside to find dirty dishes, papers, a bowl of scooped-out pumpkin goo, and clean, folded laundry on the floor can make the most composed parent lose it. Discovering you missed one child’s conference and learning another child is failing a class because they’re not doing their homework will undoubtedly make any parent feel like a failure. Being bombarded by, “Mom, someone called for you… Mom, I need some posterboard for a project that’s due tomorrow… Mom, can I go to Kenzie’s house? Mom, my tooth is wiggly… Mom, I think I’m getting sick now too… Mom, the nurse said there’s head lice in my classroom… Mom, I need a new outfit… Mom, can I have $50 to get a yearbook… Mom, my computer isn’t working… Mom, can you take me to the store… Mom, what’s for dinner… Mom, there’s water coming out of the toilet upstairs… Mom, Mom, Mom!” can make even the best of parents crumble to their knees/drink excessively/go to bed for the rest of the week.
And it’s never-ending. You can never, ever, ever get caught up. Ever. Working parents are always two steps behind. You get the laundry done, and there are dishes to be washed and bills to be paid. You help your kids with their homework, and there are students’ papers to grade. You go to the grocery store, and there are phone calls to make, errands to run, bathrooms to clean, and a lawn that needs to be mowed.
Going to the bank or the post office, or making doctor or dentist appointments is a big deal when you’re a working parent. You have to get things done during very limited windows of time, or you have to take time off work which means less pay which means you drown in bills a little bit faster.
So, I’m sorry, sahms. I love you and I respect you and I know your job isn’t a walk in the park because I’ve been there and done that, but the working moms have it tougher, hands down. I admit that this is coming from a single mom of six kids. Perhaps if I was married (and my job provided extra income instead of my kids’ bread and butter, literally), I would feel a little differently. Perhaps if I had another adult around the house to help out even just a little bit, I’d have a different perspective. And perhaps if I only had two or three kids, I’d think differently. But as it is, I stand by my assessment that working moms have it much, much harder. No need to thank me for settling this age-old debate. It’s what I do. You know, when I’m not working or screaming at my kids to pick up after themselves, that is.