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."

mrsncook
08.03.10

Oh for goodness sake! So what if they work? There are working moms who give more attention to their children than some stay at home moms. (I.e. SAHM sits on the couch watching tv with doors/windows closed while children under 5 years old play outside unsupervised.) Why should anyone be guilted? Every time I hear about these supposed wars, I shake my head and scream inside, "Celebrate the similarities! Celebrate the similarities!"

I love being a SAHM, because I have a lot of time and pack a lot of quality in it, but sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I would love to have a little time away from the kids once in a while, more money, and adult conversation. I have the luxury of doing what I want when I want, not having to cram all of my housework into a few hours in the evenings, and time to watch a tv show in the afternoon. But I also have children "MOM! MOM! MOM!"-ing me to death some days. lol

The point is that each person, each family, has to make the choice that's right for them. No one else can decide for them. And the study that says working moms have a neutral effect on their children is interesting. Neutral is not negative and not positive, so working moms have no negative and not positive influence? I know some working moms who manage to pack a lot of influence in their time with their children. It's all quality, so who cares if the mom works or not as long as she's a good mom.

narumichan
08.03.10

Leslie, great article... I was thinking about why moms tear each other apart, and dads just skip out on all of this drama. The more I think of it, though, the more it comes down to: mean girls not growing up. As pre-teens and teens, females are much more brutal to other females specifically. Boys tend to compare less, tend to be more easy going, while girls start at a young age tearing each other apart. This trend does not stop with the onset of adulthood- maturity has always been optional, you know ;)

The answer? Be a woman who is comfortable with yourself, don't apologize for doing what is right for you. Hopefully your example will rub off on someone, and the trickle-down effect will silence the stupid mommy wars in 100 years. I've always said: If you have so few problems that my life choices became one of them, you need some real problems.

mostlyfitmom
08.03.10

You said it, Leslie. I too wish women were better at supporting each other. Unfortunately, it often seems to me that insecurity drives some (many?) women into putting down the choices made by others so that they feel better about the track they've chosen for themselves. If something works for your situation, then you should do it. There's enough guilt going around without having to face judgment by your peers.

It also ticks me off that men seem to get off so lightly with respect to "weekend parenting." However, as someone married to a man who is very involved with his kids, I know there are challenges that he faces more than I usually do, especially with regard to wanting/needing to take time off for "kid stuff." Just seems like our society hasn't quite faced the reality that a lot of households are dual income (or single parent).

elizyo01
08.03.10

Oh man, that is so hurtful to call working mom's "weekend moms". I really dislike anyone that thinks they are better than another, but when it comes to mom, I SUPER dislike it. As you stated, we need each other! I've always said a mom's worst enemy are other mothers. Its sad.

WMW
08.03.10

Great article. I'm so tired of the concept of "mommy wars". What's right for my family may not be right for your family. Get over it and quit judging.

Michi
08.03.10

This "war" makes me want to scream. My sister was happy in her role as a home daycare provider. Their original plan had been for her to stay home with the kids but her husband had just started a business and she felt she should bring in some extra cash.
Then, as happened to many in the economy, his business failed. He was unable to get a job so she went back to work as a nurse.
It hurts her enough that she isn't where she wants and intended to be. She works nights to increase the time she can spend with her children, and if someone were to dismiss her as a "weekend mom" she'd cry for days.
So why do people feel the need to do that to others. It's like the high school mean girls all over again.

mfelter
08.02.10

Leslie - this is very well said and I'm so appreciative of your articles like this. Whether we have outside jobs or not does not equate to whether we are "better" mothers than other women - whatever that might even mean. That argument is very simple-minded and ignores the wonderfully-broad spectrum of motherly love we all have for our children. For goodness sake, moms, can't we all just get along???

krivera
08.02.10

Amen! Love this post and wish women everywhere could be more supportive of the choices we make in the best interest of our families.