Saturday, October 29, 2011

It takes a village

I feel the need to address an issue that really bothers me.  It's controversial but that has never held me back from writing my truths.

That little whisper of tension that seems to just exist, sort of like a line of division between the WAHM (work at home mom) and the WOHM (work outside the home mom).  I have created new acronyms for the purpose of this blog because, yes, I believe that in both instances work is the operative word.

I may not directly experience the WAHM's successes/struggles, but I certainly understand that what they do at home with their children is hard work.  It's real work, with value and honour.  I do not for one second believe that what they do is sit around all day mixing martinis and watching the soaps.  They volunteer their time whether it be in a school our out in the community.  Many are entrepreneurs with their own businesses, like daycare or catering, which is amazing and should be celebrated! 

I am a WOHM.  I would have loved to stay home with my son.  He is the sweetest, most caring  4 year old I know.  He is sensitive, rambunctious, and truly is the love of my life.  Having said that, I know, down to the tips of my toes that I would not have been happy in that situation.  I have worked hard to get to the job/career that I have and I decided even before I had him, that I would continue to work.  He loved going to daycare and he loves going to school.  He is in a full day JK program and he is thriving.  He has made friends, they call themselves the "brothers" and has already been to one birthday party which he is still talking about.  My work outside the home is stressful.  I come home with headaches, muscle aches, but regardless of that, it's the best part of my day because I get to see his beautiful face and find out how his day has been.  His development has in no way been compromised because I decided to work outside the home instead of work at home.  I have never shirked my responsibilities as a mother and have never taken advantage of a caregiver's time by being careless about pick up times or what have you.  I have asked for flexibility for reasons completely outside of my control.  This is not the same thing as taking advantage.   

While I'm at it, I also want to congratulate the WAHD (work at home dad's) out there.  There are so many more now than there used to be and I think it's great that our generation is breaking and making new traditions.  Many dad's have home offices where they can do freelance work, or run their own businesses, or just look after the kidlets.  I admire their courage for breaking away from our society's notion of gender roles.

So many other mentions could be made, single parents, grandparents raising their grandkids, foster parents, same-sex parents, the list goes on and on.

I think we all need to remember that we are all doing the best we can for our family and doing what works for us.  Different choices come with different pros and cons, but no choice is any better or any worse than another.  Parenting is parenting no matter which family variant you have.   

The African proverb (My reading attributes it to Nigeria's Igbo and Yoruba regions) says it best:

"It takes a village to raise a child."      

1 comment:

  1. Well said, my friend. I recently had someone on Facebook raise this issue and I agreed with her statements of "let's all just get along" right up until she said that she wanted to raise her daughter herself rather than have someone else do it for her. She's a SAHM (or WAHM as you've called it - and I agree, that's a better acronym) but I don't agree that my childcare provider is raising my son. She is *definitely* helping, and his teachers will help when he starts school, but that responsibility ultimately falls on me and Matt. My mom always worked outside the home and she was a far greater influence on my life than any daycare provider or teacher I had.

    It was at that point that I withdrew from the discussion because I have no desire to get into an argument over something I know I can't convince someone else about. The discussion started out sounding as if there was common ground. It deteriorated right back to the issue you talk about here and I found that incredibly discouraging.

    Maybe one day parenthood won't always be a us vs. them fight on every issue. Wouldn't that be nice if we could all co-exist without being critical of each other's choices?