Pant Suits, Sweatpants and Mean Girls

Arguably one of the more heated topics in the world of parenting today is whether or not one spouse stays at home and cares for the children while the other works. It’s right up there with the over or under toilet paper debate. Is there a right or wrong answer? One thing is for sure, no matter which way you choose to spend your days, or hang your roll, everyone has an opinion about it…

If you’re looking for a strong stance for either lifestyle choice in this article be prepared to be disappointed because I’m more like Switzerland in this dispute. Where I do take a strong stance is the judgment being passed from each side to the other. I recently read an article online about a mother’s decision to stay at home and the struggles she faced doing so. I scanned through the comment section and people were ruthless in their attacks on being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) versus a working mom.

Being a SAHM myself, I couldn’t help but be offended when some women said SAHMs were wealthy, anti-feminist, setting a bad example for their children or must somehow be scamming the welfare system. Working parents had it just as bad and were called selfish, part-time parents, careless and carefree…Having shared a cubicle with working parents, I know this to be completely untrue. It was a shocking ping-pong of insults in a forum I would think should be free from name calling and harsh, hasty judgment.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves the move Mean Girls. If you haven’t seen it, you must because it’s hilarious. There is a part in the movie where all of the girls are sequestered in the gym to put an end to the “girl on girl crime” that’s been happening. Tina Fey asks all the sophomore girls to close their eyes and raise their hands if they’ve ever felt victimized by the school’s most notorious “mean girl,” Regina George. All girls raise their hands. The same goes for moms out there interacting with each other on the web. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by Regina Geo…Wait. Sorry. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally attacked because of your lifestyle choice by a stranger on the internet. Ah ha! As Ms. Norbury would say, there’s been some mom-on-mom crime out there.

I’m new to this motherhood thing. I was excited to join the legions of women out there, working or not, navigating their way through parenthood. The internet is such a wonderful tool to get help and support from people experiencing similar challenges as well as to learn about other lifestyle choices; especially on the topic of parenting, which is so complex and personal. I found it disheartening that a simple article meant to share an experience was followed by a verbal fistfight equivalent to that of sophomore girls…Where was Tina Fey to point out that women should build each other up, not tear each other down?

Whether you wear sweatpants to work and have a 10 second commute or wear a tailored suit and battle rush hour traffic there is one thing all parents have in common: we all judge ourselves CONSTANTLY. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think it takes a parent to raise a child and a village to support a parent. Where is the sense of community and comradery?

At the end of the day every parent, no matter where or how they spend 9am-5pm, is doing what they feel is best for their families. People will have their opinions and share them willingly. However, maybe we can all remember to think before we speak and use empathy when interacting with others in person or online. And if you ever find yourself embroiled in a heated debate online over co-sleeping or public breastfeeding just remember that opinions are like dirty diapers: you’ll deal with a lot of them as a parent, but they all belong in the trash.

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