I’m frequently seeing two themes on several blogs I regularly read: stay-at-home vs work-out-of-home moms and stepparents (mostly stepmoms since they are woman-oriented blogs) that dislike/hate their stepkids. Both of these issues bug me to no end.
Do I think it’s in the best interest for small kids to be looked after by a family member? In most cases, yes. I hated that Peanut started daycare at 3 months old, but that was out of financial necessity. Sure, Hubby and I could move back into one of the shitty county trailers, live on one income, and panic every time a severe thunderstorm warning came up (which is nearly every day in the rainy season and often means tornadoes) and have to evacuate during hurricane warnings, figure out what to do with the pets, etc. But honestly, I think our home is a safer, more secure place to raise a child. In order to pay the mortgage, utilities, groceries, and bills, it requires two paychecks. I’m sick of the insinuation that I’m a bad, greedy, heartless, or selfish mom because Peanut goes to daycare. Sure, it’s not a perfect arrangement, but it works for us. Peanut is learning to socialize. He has friends that he’s happy to see each day. He loves the playground and several of his teachers. I’m an introvert and I doubt I’d be comfortable at any of the local Mommy groups if I was a SAHM. (When I did try to make contact with one group during my part-time days to ask if they’d be willing to do any get-togethers in the afternoon so I could attend, no one bothered to reply.) Honestly, I’m not sure I could cope with being a full-time at home Mom and Peanut would get little interaction with other kids. My dream would be to work part-time and have Peanut in daycare part-time, but it’s not in the cards for us.
It’s also a classist assumption. Yes, Hubby and I could survive on one income if we drastically changed our lifestyle and sold our home. But that’s not the case for many families. What about single moms? Or two-income families that live at/below poverty level? Are they selfish because they have the gall to be poor and have children?
On the flip-side, SAHMs get a lot of flak, too. I don’t for a second feel that SAH moms are anti-feminist, wasting their brains/talents, or any of the other judgmental claptrap that gets thrown around. Feminism is all about women having the right to choose how they live their lives rather than having barefoot, pregnant, and kitchen as the default. Ironically, I’ve seen admissions from SAH moms who spend much of their time online or watching TV. That brings out my judgmental side. Is a checked-out SAH mom truly better than an engaged childcare provider?
The whole “I can’t stand my stepkids” deal raises my hackles. I realize blended families aren’t easy and stepparents deal with a lot of shit. The bottom line, though, is they chose to marry a partner with children, the children didn’t choose to have their parents separate and remarry. I thank my lucky stars that my stepmom is the awesome woman she is. If she had been nasty, my life would have been hell. It was hard enough being one of the few kids in my parochial school with divorced parents. I dealt with that crap daily: not enough money for afterschool activites/no rides home since Mom was at work, never the expensive, cool clothes, Mom never could come to any daytime activities or be a room mother, spending every other weekend at Dad’s – he lived in another town and I had no friends there. I was already insecure around my dad and stepmom and felt like an outsider at their house. I knew they loved me, but it never was my home. If Stepmom had indicated in any way that she didn’t like me, I would have been crushed.