It’s Impossible to Compare One Mom to Another, So Let’s Just Not


I try not to add fuel to unnecessary fires, but there’s an ongoing battle that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around: the so-called “mommy wars.” Specifically, the battle of working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. I realize we all just need to vent a little and we’re all searching for validation that we’ve made the right choice in life, but why must we do so at the expense of others? Why so endlessly and consistently? The relentless conversation on the topic adds no value to daily life. This is a war that can’t be won. One that shouldn’t be won.

In no other profession do we challenge and judge each others’ roles and decisions so openly and blatantly across the board. We don’t say, “I’m a better marketing guru than you are a doctor,” or “My job as an accountant is harder and more stressful than your job as a pharmacist.” We don’t say things like, “My job as X at company A is way harder than your job as X at company B, so please feel sorry for me!” It wouldn’t make any sense. Those aren’t things you can compare and measure or stack against each other. There aren’t articles flying out of every Internet orifice suggesting life in one career is harder than another. Surely it’s out there and there are differences between jobs, but it’s not a fire that’s fueled with hatred or even passion on a daily basis.

We don’t compare minute details of other avenues of professional life, so why must we constantly toss kindle on the ever-smoldering working or stay-at-home mom fire? These are things that can’t be compared across the board, yet we keep trying and trying, with no side scoring a victorious outcome because such a thing doesn’t exist.

The daily ins and outs of the life of a stay-at-home mom of one angelic, easy child is vastly different than that of a stay-at-home mom of four rebellious kids under 4.

The life of a mom who homeschools her children while teaching group exercise classes and co-running a brick and mortar business is vastly different than a mom who’s on her own for a year due to her husband’s military deployment.

A mom with family and friends and lots of help nearby has a different life than one who’s alone in a new city.

The same way a mom who works 40 hours a week in an office and then comes home and cooks dinner, helps with homework, and plans birthday parties is vastly different than a mom who works three, 12-hour night shifts a week and stays home with the kids during the day.

Or a mom who works part-time but has a kid in full-time daycare in order to take care of the rest of life or a mom who works weekends.

Or, or, or …

They’re all different. All of our lives are different. We’ve been handed different cards to play and at times we’re all playing different games. What about moms who stay at home and work at home — where do they fall in this never-ending scrimmage? Which hand are they supposed to play? I can’t possibly list all the different examples of work-life situations moms (and dads) have these days, so why are we trying to settle a score that can’t ever come out even?

The thing is, the same thing that makes all of our lives so vastly different is exactly what makes them the same. We’re all trying to be good parents.

We’re doing the best we can for our families and our own lives. The details of our daily lives are varied because we all have different situations, desires, and ways of doing things. Rating, comparing, and scrutinizing the details is impossible because they’re incomparable, yet we continue to do so — day in and day out. We get so caught up in complaining and trying to win the imaginary war that we forget what would truly make life difficult.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying to decide who has it the hardest and start simply understanding and supporting each other for the place that we’re each in. You’re a mom. Life can be difficult, and crazy, and chaotic. It doesn’t need a descriptor or a modifier of what you do or why it’s hard. We focus so much on the hard parts that we forget about all the beauty, joy, and fun that fills all the in-between moments. Maybe if we talked about that as much as we talked about who has it harder, we’d all be a little bit happier in our jobs — whatever they may be.

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

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