I’m going to tell you a story. It’s true. A working mom and a stay at home mom started talking … and they didn’t stop. Seriously. Hours went by, and these two could NOT shut their mouths. They have been best friends since they were ten, and even though they live very different lives hundreds of miles apart, they both ended up having daughters within weeks of each other. That’s where the similarities end.
Mom One gave birth early at record speed and alone, nearly dying from complications right after. Her daughter had a NICU stay, but is now a healthy girl!
Today, this mom has a crazy schedule to memorize. She gets up, gets her kids ready on her own, and drives over icy mountains in the dark to work. She works on her feet, in the ER, even when she’s pregnant out to here.
Before that, she worked in the bumping back of an ambulance. She has a complicated network of babysitters. And now, she’s got two babies to juggle through that maze while she’s down to one pair of hands because her husband left when she was pregnant with their second child.
When she gets off a twelve hour shift, she often picks up her kids and jumps straight into being mom all day because that’s the life when you’re suddenly a single mom. It’s never really bedtime. But sometimes, she gets to help other people become moms, and comfort worried moms, and show her daughter what it is to be independent and helpful in the world.
Mom Two is me. We adopted. It was something we always wanted to do, so when we didn’t get and stay pregnant, instead of spending time and money on that, we went with adoption. And it was amazing. I stay home with our girl and have ever since we brought her home from the hospital.
As hard as it is to work 14 hour days — usually without weekends — I prefer it. Despite the fact I went to college and law school on scholarship and passed the bar, health complications from an autoimmune disease render me unable to work a high stress, normal houred job outside the home. I take pills daily and a shot weekly and drive hours on the regular to see the best specialists. Even daily tasks can be hard. In the last five years, I’ve been in the ER and then hospital twice suddenly and seriously. But maybe I’m lucky because I get to put everything into raising my daughter.
I still find time to use my education to help others, pro bono, and keep my skills current. Tutoring kids to improve their English is my current favorite. I’m a writer, an artist, and a performer as well. Most people say I take in too many animals. I plan toddler crafts and send board emails with a live human being crawling on me like a jungle gym. I’m also a military wife. Even though my husband is awesome, it brings its own challenges, so sometimes I just need to talk.
So we talk. Almost every day. And it’s never a competition on who has it harder or who is doing a better job. We talk about parenting. When we’re at the ends of our ropes, we try to figure out what to try. We talk about the mistakes we’re not making and what we’re doing right. Then, we talk about what we can do better. We talk about guys, and politics, and religion, and stupid videos, and dogs, and food, and appliances, and vacations. Having a friend going through being a first time mom at the same time is amazing support. Having a best friend experiencing opposite challenges can honestly be even better.
Here’s Why I’m Grateful For Our Differences
I always thankful for what I have.
Even on days when I’m feeling like a failure, completely not valued by society because I don’t have a W2, I know I never have to worry about fighting anyone on her schedule or exposing her to foods she doesn’t need. Even when I’m lonely and at the same time can’t take any more human contact, I’m lucky too. I sleep sometimes, and I’m not missing any of those little moments she won’t remember. Although I might be giving up something I work hard at, I’m gaining something too – something so important.
I know you can’t judge a mom by different choices when their kids and world are totally different.
Here’s the thing. We make a lot of different choices, but our reasons are always the same and we’re always trying. In fact, most of the time, in her situation with her kids I’d make the same decisions. Like, if I missed my kids all day, I’d sleep closer to them too and maybe keep them up a little later.
Hearing someone completely different validate my choices actually helps more than meeting up with people who do things the same as me.
I feel energized when we get off the phone. Is it OK if I let her cry a little while? Yes, it is. And on another day when she calls me in tears because she has to step outside to escape the constant, sleep deprived screaming, I say, “Well, if they’re crying they are still breathing.”
I’m not a fan of the phrase, “whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right.” Frankly, abuse and neglect are things I see, and most of those parents will swear they are good. The ones of us who question, who worry, who ask their friends if it’s OK, that’s how you know you’re doing it well. It’s not so much what you do, because every mom, every kid, and every situation is different. It’s more why you do it.
Talking to Someone is Helpful.
It’s what people don’t talk about that hurts. So, whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, no matter who you talk to, find someone you can talk to … and don’t stop.