Are You a "Weekend" Mother?

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

Good god, sometimes I don’t know whether I can take the mommy wars anymore.

 

The latest salvo: invention, by stay-at-home moms, of the derogatory term "weekend mother" to describe women who work for pay outside their homes from Monday through Friday (or some other period).

 

The implication being that working moms can not give as much love and attention to their children as stay-at-home mothers.

 

"They're not there," one stay-at-home mother said of working mothers. "Most of the working moms I know, all they have time for is dinner and bath time. They're not really spending time with their kids."

 

Oh dear.

 

The debate raged on Facebook about this moniker and then was picked up by newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee. Writer (and mom) Niesha Lofing wrote in her own defense:

 

"The ‘weekend mother’ label certainly hit a pressure point in my brain. I thought good parents were the ones who engaged in their children's development – whether they stay at home with them or not."

 

Shout it from the laptop, Niesha! For the record, The American Association of Pediatrics has said that a child's development is influenced more by the emotional health of the family and quality of child care than by whether mom spends all day child-rearing. I know stay-at-home moms who are so nuts I wouldn’t leave a child with them for 30 minutes. And working moms who bump pediatrician appointments in favor of a pedicure. Your employment status is irrelevant to how good a mom you are. Most of the 80 million moms in this country are darn good caregivers, no matter where you find us between 9 am and 5 pm. The vast majority of mothers are working moms who have to work to support their families – only about six million of the country’s 80 million moms stay at home fulltime. And all moms work, whether we get paid or not – the label "working mom" is just as silly as "stay-at-home mom."

SolsMama
08.18.10

As a mother who only works a double (10-10) one day a week, I can say that on that one day of work I miss my daughter so much (although at the end of the day it is a nice little break from her!)! That said, I can't imagine other mothers WANTING to spend so much time away from their children unless need be, like helping your family survive! It's just wrong for any mother to call out any other mother for what they have to do to help their family, especially right now in this economy! And why is it anyone elses business!! They form all these opinions on other peoples lives but no one family is cookie-cutter. I have many mommy friends, some work & some stay at home.. One of the SAHM's has a flipping Nanny and tells me "you need to get a nanny, girl" when I can't go out for a late lunch because my little monster is sleeping! Yet, the working moms I know would drop EVERYTHING to get a little extra time with their babes! I am technically a stay-at-home and I respect the women who have to work, or even work because they love to work, it's YOUR life and YOUR family, do what ya gotta do girl!

platinum
08.13.10

I came across this whole website today when I read this article in Yahoo.com...don't know why I didn't come across this as I feel so strongly about this issue. I wanted to share my story about my own stay at home mother. My mother ended up being a stay at home not because of any particular desire on her part but because she didn’t get a job. She somehow scraped through college to get a degree and applied for a lot of jobs – nobody wanted to hire her (can’t blame the employers). So she turned bitter and started saying that all working women are bad people who don’t cook food for their husbands and children and that they are going to work because they want to have affairs with other men (!!). Even as a little girl, in my eyes, working women were happier, more independent and supported their daughters in whatever they wanted to do, while my mother was bitter, unhappy, and was taking out all her frustrations on me plus trying to nip off at the bud any ambitions I might have to be a successful career woman. Even now she calls me to tell me that I am no good and would make comments about how bad a wife and mother I might be and enquire about how my husband tolerates it (!). I dread those calls and I haven’t ever enjoyed 5 mts of quality time with my stay at home mother. All through my childhood, whenever my mother made bad remarks about working women, I wouldn’t say anything against it as I know the verbal abuse that is going to follow if I said anything – however, I admired those working women and every time I saw them going to work, I wanted to be them when I grow up (I still admire them). I remember thinking that if I did my homework and studied well, I would become smart and I will get a good job. I strongly believe that work (any type or form) makes your mind and brain engaged and keeps you mentally healthy. I have also found that working women are more generous and kind to their children than stay at home moms (probably due to guilt). Also, working women are busy and have peers to compete with and talk about things, where as my SAHM would pick up fights with me just so that she can win this fight where I always give in. In addition, stay at home moms are depended on someone else for their own survival and livelihood. My mother was always aware about that and so she made extra effort to manipulate my dad so that he doesn’t think that she was any less (my dad for some reason, was sometimes attracted to working women, who seemed more carefree and intelligent …and a double income is not something he could sneer at…..and on those occasions I got an extra dose of abuse from you know who)……sigh!!.. Btw, when you get into an airplane next time, listen carefully to what they say on using oxygen masks – they give a special instruction to mothers – “first wear your mask and make sure you can breathe before you wear it for your children”. That means if you can’t breathe properly, you won’t be able to do a good job of securing the oxygen mask for your child. That is true on the ground as well – first stand on your own feet and then take care of your children, otherwise you will be incapable of taking care of them. This is a standard advice given to mothers who come to WIC program – give up abusive behaviors and abusive relationships and be self sufficient and self reliant, which is what makes a good mother (I did an internship there for a month when I was a student). This doesn’t mean all stay at home mothers are like my mother. I know several women who are happy and content to be a SAHM and they keep themselves engaged with hobbies and other things and they rarely criticize working women. If the SAHM is doing a good job taking care of her children and is satisfied and happy with her choice, she wouldn’t point her finger at working mothers and the reverse is true as well. As a working mother, I am happy and feel incredibly lucky to be this successful in my career - I have a PhD and I have a full time job –good salary and flexible time (all that focus on my homework paid off ) and I am also proud that I am doing a good job raising my twin sons - I provide them home care using babysitters, while I sit in the next room in front of my laptop and do as much work as I can from home, before getting to my office. And my husband does the same. We do household chores together and my toddlers eat home cooked meals, often with at least one of us. I now don’t hate my mother, but I feel very sorry for her……..Here is quote from our first lady Michele Obama –“I am happy when I feel good about myself” and so here is my 2 cents - you are a good mother when you are happy and feel good about yourself. Do not deprive your children of that if you want them to remember you as a happy and content parent. So do what makes you happy – be that staying at home or going to work.

oc
08.05.10

"And how come, once again, men get a pass in the debate about what makes a good parent? I don’t see any nasty articles (except my own) written about 'Weekend Dads.'"
Take a look at the branding of this website: "Mommy" and "Motherhood". Why not "Parents" and "Parenthood"? Fathers get a pass in the debate because in general they are not yet recognized as equals to mothers.

geekymummy
08.05.10

hear hear. I already know that I'm the worlds worst mum. And the worlds best mum. Depending on my mood of the moment. I don't think I"d feel differently, or be a different or better mum, if I stayed home.

vicki7178
08.04.10

Thank you Leslie! I am thankful to have a network of Working Moms and SAHM in my social network and when you get us all in a room, we are all in awe at each other and how we do what we do. It just goes to show that the decision to work or stay at home is individual and we should come together as MOMS, regardless of our working status.

leslie morgan s...
08.04.10

Leslie Morgan Steiner

So good to know there is support out there. The longer I am a mom the more I see it. There are only a few, unfortunately very vocal, moms who are so mean-spirited and judgmental. They do hurt when you are vulnerable, sadly. Ironically my anthology MOMMY WARS explores how there really is no war between moms -- we are all just doing our best.

Be On Purpose
08.04.10

Ms. Steiner,
Respectfully:
As an African American woman (with healthy ethnic self-respect, and cultural competence) I continue to be amazed at the endless mommy wars in the often times white middle class community.
My foremothers (the generation with old school values) believed in community. Everyone in your village raises the child. It was not considered abnormal, neglectful, or abusive to delegate parental duties to community. Having a working mother or a single mother was no excuse to have disrespectful, ill mannered, coddled, and self-serving children. Home-training, home cooked meals, church, and discipline were the order of the day ON TOP of working (and back then black women performed physical labor jobs right alongside black and white men).
White scholars, actuaries, and parent/family/marriage experts spent decades analyzing my community as if we are a pack of rats: dismissing our coping skills as black women, wives, and mothers as dysfunctional. Now I see a reverse trend where white middle class women are fighting for universal child care, education, and more rights in the workplace. The very same things black women had to rely on within our communities while simultaneously being attacked. The universal child care was your neighborhood babysitter network. The universal education was the school, church, and private clubs. More rights in the work place was our struggle for civil rights. Many of my people never dealt with our lack of ethnic self-respect, and caved into profound self-hatred believing these so called experts during the time.
I’m simply blown away…

Be On Purpose
08.04.10

Ms. Steiner,

Respectfully:

As an African American woman (with healthy ethnic self-respect, and cultural competence) I continue to be amazed at the endless mommy wars in the often times white middle class community.
My foremothers (the generation with old school values) believed in community. Everyone in your village raises the child. It was not considered abnormal, neglectful, or abusive to delegate parental duties to community. Having a working mother or a single mother was no excuse to have disrespectful, ill mannered, coddled, and self-serving children. Home-training, home cooked meals, church, and discipline were the order of the day ON TOP of working (and back then black women performed physical labor jobs right alongside black and white men).

White scholars, actuaries, and parent/family/marriage experts spent decades analyzing my community as if we are a pack of rats: dismissing our coping skills as black women, wives, and mothers as dysfunctional. Now I see a reverse trend where white middle class women are fighting for universal child care, education, and more rights in the workplace. The very same things black women had to rely on within our communities while simultaneously being attacked. The universal child care was your neighborhood babysitter network. The universal education was the school, church, and private clubs. More rights in the work place was our struggle for civil rights. Many of my people never dealt with our lack of ethnic self-respect, and caved into profound self-hatred believing these so called experts during the time.

I’m simply blown away…

tvtrace
08.04.10

Thank God for Mommytrackd and writers like you!

As a mom who stayed at home when my daughter was a baby, worked her ass off at her job and done everything else in between I can tell you there's no one right way to parent. Period.

There are excellent working moms. And lousy ones. There are great stay-at-home-moms and horrible ones.

And if you find yourself swearing or rolling your eyes at what I just wrote...just remember this:
"Your employment status is irrelevant to how good a mom you are." So true.

So, to all the mean girls out there, think before you speak, ladies. Think before you speak. If you are truly happy being a stay at home mom then you would be truly happy for other moms as well regardless of whether they work outside the home or not.

Tracy
http://themoxiereport.blogspot.com

jenniblood
08.04.10

An attack on others indicates an insecurity on part of the attacker. The bigger the attack –the more insecure the attacker is. I know wonderful parents who have paying jobs and wonderful parents who do not. I also know some parents who really could work on their skills in both situations too! Ultimately children (all of us for that matter) need one key thing- unconditional love. That is something they will feel 24 7 365 regardless of their "face time" with the folks. It is what will give them the confidence to tackle their bad days and the joy in their good days no matter whom they are spending it with.
And I like how KRIVERA put it. We make the our choices in the best interest of OUR OWN families-which are all different. There will always be bullies, It is a shame that they are missing out on the camaraderie they could be experiencing with other moms working or not.