Mom Competition: Why It Sucks (The Stay at Home Mom Vs. Work Outside the Home Mom Debate)

There have been several blogs written recently about who does it better: the stay at home mom or the working mom.  Who is more important to society?  Is a mom being neglectful if they do this, this and this.  Is a mom babying a child if they do this.  Breastfeeding, formula feeding, jarred baby food, homemade baby food, co-sleep, Ferber method, and the list goes on and on and on and ON.  Veteran moms are overwhelmed and new moms are overwhelmed.  In the mommy world, it makes it very difficult to breathe.

As a mom, from the minute we wake up to the minute we lay our heads on our pillow we are bombarded with messages on how we should raise our children.  From the Today Show  to Parenthood to Maury Povich, everyone has an opinion.  Even the Pampers and Toll House commercials think they know the best way we should raise our children.

And then there are other moms.  You meet them at the play ground, at the mall, in the grocery store, at church and in the blasted social networks.  From the young 20 somethings to an elderly 80 something, everyone knows what you should be doing for your child.   And they judge you if you aren't doing it their way.  Sizing up women based on their appearance, judging what they feed their kids and how they discipline.  I personally can be just as guilty of this as the next person.  And for a second I feel superior, but ultimately I realize any judging I do comes out of insecurities I have about my own parenting. Insecurities I have about myself. 

35 Weeks Pregnant
When my husband and I discovered we were pregnant I assumed that I would return to work after my maternity leave was over.  I don't even remember how the discussion started, but at one point my husband told me he would like me to consider working at home.  There wasn't much hesitation before I said, "Why not?"  Up to that point I thought I would be a work outside of the home mom, but after that point I knew that I had made the right decision for me and my family.  Especially after I met my daughter, who definitely takes up a lot of energy.  That coupled with having a chronic medical condition, I don't think I could handle the stress of going to work every day and raising a child.  My husband has told me he has no idea how I stay at home every day.  We have had to make A LOT of sacrifices for me to stay at home, but the longer I have been here (almost two and a half years), I have realized that I can live without the things that I thought I needed before in order to do this. 

This was a decision my husband and I made for ourselves and our child.  It was no one else's. 

Just a few days old
Alexandria, 5 months old
A friend of mine found out she was pregnant about a year and a half ago.  She said that it seemed like all of the moms at our church were stay at home moms.  I started rattling off names of moms who worked full time or had part time jobs.  I told her that the decision was between her, her husband and God on whether she should stay at home or not.  Because she is excellent at what she does and has a passion to change people's lives, she decided to return to the workforce.  That was her decision to make.  Not anyone else's.

People might judge me for my decision to stay at home.  People might judge my friend for returning to the workforce.  Our decisions do not mean that we love our children any more or any less.  Let's face it, some people are wired differently.  This is not a bad thing.  Imagine how boring life would be if we were all the same.  There are also a lot of women do not have a choice on whether they work outside of the home or not.  I am very fortunate to have a partner who has stood by me to help me raise our child, but not everyone has that and not everyone wants that.  There are single moms out there busting their butts to make ends meet and would love to be able to spend more time with their children.  I know a woman who would quit her job at the drop of the hat, but can't because she has a severe medical condition and needs the medical insurance.

So, that brings me back to my original statement about the blogs written by dads who are defending their stay at home mom wives.  The one that recently sparked controversy was, "You're a stay at home mom, what do you do all day?"  Being a stay at home mom, I can identify with some of the writer's frustrations with the questions that the other women asked him about his wife's occupation.  And I say occupation because being a stay at home mom is an occupation.  And personally, one the most stressful, most challenging jobs I have ever had (and I used to work as a team lead in a call center).  However, I did not appreciate the tone of the blog and the derogatory comments the writer made (whether directly or indirectly) about women who work outside of the home.  Based on this blog there was another blog written to assess the accuracy of the dad's claims and also some of the responses it received.  Leslie Morgan Steiner told Yahoo Shine, "My conclusion from 'Mommy Wars' is that we are all better off when we champion moms in whatever decision they make."  Another woman, Tammy Gold says, "Judgment comes, a lot of times, from secret frustration, like maybe the working mom feels guilty that she’s not staying home. And when one feels bad, sadly, sometimes the only way to feel good is to bring another person down.”  Walsh even seemed to come around (whether these were his views before or after the blog, it is hard to tell), "“I guess the extreme reaction on both sides reveals how hurt and damaged a lot of us are by the scorn and ridicule from the outside world,” Walsh tells Shine. “I think most of us parents are just trying to love our kids and provide for them as best we can, and we should all be respected for it.”"

I wish this was what Walsh had said in his original post.  Most moms are trying to do the best by their kids.  And honestly, most moms tend to beat themselves up already for the parenting decisions they make before someone at the grocery store looks at them with disdain because their child is having a tantrum.  They don't need someone else to beat them up for it too.  They don't need other moms sizing them up for how many activities their kids are in, whether or not they choose to send their kids to preschool, or whether they let them have a cookie (or two) at Kroger so they can shop in peace.  And they definitely don't need other dads judging the either.  This my job is harder than your job or my wife is better than your wife competition has to stop before we destroy ourselves.  Because ultimately this is what it will do.  And that is why it sucks. 

My charge to you, mom or dad, is to be compassionate instead of competitive.  If you see someone struggling with their child in a store give them a smile and tell them that you have been there.  If someone tells you they are a stay at home mom or work outside of the home tell them that is wonderful and ask them what they enjoy most about it.  Don't belittle people for their choices.  Support and love each other.  And for goodness sakes hold the door open for anyone with strollers, carrying children, or for that matter, anyone who breathes.   A pretty smart guy said once, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul and your mind and love your neighbor as yourself."  Treat others the same way you would want to be treated.  You don't know where they have been and you don't know where they are going.  The only right we have as a parent when looking on another parent is to love. 

Alexandria, 2 years and 3 months old.


  1. Dorothy you write so beautifully. I am not a parent yet, but I appreciate your insights and the overall message. I really enjoy reading your blog!

  2. Thank you Therese. I believe this message can strongly apply to non parents as well. It just really surprised me to find it in the parent world shortly after we found out we were pregnant.


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