Battle of the Moms
In the left corner, wearing a tailored skirt suit, Manolo Blahniks, and jewellery is Career Mom. In the right corner, in yoga pants, a T-shirt with a conspicuous stain, flip flops, and not a stitch of makeup is At-home Mom. Both of whom weighing in at… Well, they’d rather not say. And the oven mitts are off…
Both women have dark circles under their eyes, since the last time they got a decent night’s sleep was, well, neither of them can actually remember when, but it damn well wasn’t in this calendar year. Career Mom wishes she could lounge around all day in Lululemon yoga pants, while At-home Mom envies the silky feel of nylons on shaven legs. Hell, she even envies the silky shaven legs. Career Mom imagines nuzzling her child, blowing bubbles, and splashing in the splash pad. She imagines countless lazy days spent lolling in sundrenched parks, while At-home Mom imagines gossiping with a colleague over dim sum. She imagines her boss congratulating her on yet another “stellar” presentation.
Both moms covet what they haven’t got, and occasionally feel contempt for one another. Career Mom assumes life at home is easy street. After all, there are play dates and plenty of naps in which to tackle all the chores she herself has to do after she leaves the office. There is ample time to read the dusty stack of novels by her bedside. Ample time to try out that Gordon
Ramsay recipe she’s been meaning to try since Christmas. If only she could afford to stay at home! The kids would be happier because she would be happier. And her husband, it goes without saying. Of course initially he’d sympathize about the premature death of her career (“I know how hard you worked to get where you are, hon.”). But secretly he’d be tickled twelve shades of pink when she whipped a batch of freshly baked cookies from the oven.
For her part, At-home Mom daydreams about the chemical smell of the photocopier. Sometimes she actually dreams about photocopying and about having an office cubicle. All. To. Herself. What neither mom realizes is that her fantasies are just that – and that in her neighbour’s yard the grass is always golfers green, impeccably mown, and devoid of a single dandelion. Career
Mom fails to see the tedium at the bottom of every endless load of dirty laundry, or the hateful glares of strangers when her child screams blue murder at the checkout, again. Not to mention the sinking feeling that comes when someone asks for the five hundredth time what she, “does for a living”, and she must justify why not so long ago she traded in her brain for babies.
At-home Mom forgets that even though Career Mom gets to have actual conversations with actual adults every day (without traces of sticky tot substances in her hair), some of those said adults throw worse tantrums than her child. Some of those adults are downright mean and selfish, having never learned to play nice. What At-home Mom doesn’t realize is that since she went back to work, Career Mom’s days never seem to have enough hours in them. Although she runs around with all the grace of a decapitated chicken, most days she feels like she’s doing a half-assed job both at work and at home.
At-home Mom and Career Mom have more in common than they care to admit. Both feel so guilty it’s a wonder they can breathe without assistance. Both lose precious sleep worrying about their kids and questioning whether they are good mothers, whatever that is. Regardless of which side of the ring you’re on, one thing is for certain – these days it’s hard enough being a woman, let alone a mother. Motherhood is not a competition. It’s not about who has it harder, or who’s the better mother. It’s high time for Career Mom and At-home Mom to stop the infighting and start salvaging what little energy is left at the end of each long day, and putting it where it rightfully belongs: on the kids.
Julie’s blog, littlegreen1.com, is a stretch marks-and-all account of pregnancy and first-time motherhood. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two-year-old son, Jackson.