I was just reading something written by a working mother about how much she used to hate hearing, “I don’t know how you do it,” because she felt like it was a judgment, like what the person is really saying is, “oh, I don’t know how you could do THAT.” Oddly enough, I’ve read pieces written by stay-at-home and homeschooling mothers who say the same thing. Mommy wars are alive and well, but how much is really real, and how much is just in our head?
I try not to get defensive when people make comments about my lifestyle choices. Oh, it wasn’t always that way. I’ve made so many out-there choices that it’s been hard not to wait on the edge of my seat for someone to start a fight. But nowadays I figure, “hey, we’ve made it this far, I must not totally suck at this whole living/ raising kids thing.”
But here’s what got me thinking… Why are “I don’t know how you do it” fighting words?
Here’s the thing, I genuinely DON’T know how you do it, whatever it is you’re doing. I have a friend who balances multiple projects AND volunteers AND homeschools her daughter, and I have no idea how she does it.
My dentist runs her own practice and raises her three young children and somehow finds time to go to local elementary schools teaching children about the importance of good oral health. I don’t know how she does that.
My mother worked full-time, earned her college degree, and managed to make it to all of my and my brother’s school functions. How is it even possible to do that? I am a full-time mother who stays home and spends her days with two elementary-aged boys. I imagine a whole lot of people don’t know how I do that.
So, for a moment, I declare this spot a judgment free zone. Let’s just be honest and talk about how we do things. I’ll start:
I wake up in the morning and rarely take a shower before I start my day, but I have been making an effort to put a bra on. Some days are so awesome. The kids, who are two years apart, play like best friends. They laugh and create imaginary worlds and entertain themselves until I have to pull them out of it to do math and reading, then we spend an afternoon reading books and painting pictures.
Other days suck. The kids seem to wake up arguing. They’re mad at each other and, because I made the person they’re mad at, they’re mad at me, too. Those days, it’s best to hurry through lessons then get ourselves to a park or museum, anything to distract them from each other.
I have spent countless hours researching homeschooling and various curricula, trying to make the best choices for our family. The internet makes the information easy to find, but it’s still a lot to sift through. For me the best choices are a combination of what fits their learning styles and interests, what fits our budget, and what makes my life easier. Frankly, there are some subjects I have found I hate teaching (ahem, math). Luckily I’ve found computer programs that will do that part for me so I can focus on what I’m better at.
Between outside classes, field trips, play dates, home education responsibilities, and the regular household maintenance responsibilities we all have, I stay pretty busy. My schedule is more flexible than an out of the house job, which my bohemian spirit loves, but there is definitely still a list of stuff I have to get done every single day. Sometimes, I don’t get dinner made or the dishes done. I try really, really hard, but sometimes I’m just not good at everything, and we have to go out for pizza. Then there are other times when the whole thing seems to be falling apart and I have to call a grandma and say, “please come get a child.”
My life is not always easy, but it’s not always hard. At this point, I have no desire to work outside the home, except on my own terms, with my children. But just because I don’t want to work doesn’t mean I give a flying flip if another mother wants to, or has to. I really don’t. I love you, I respect you, and because of that I am letting you know right now, your decisions are your own.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter if you go to work or stay home, or if you breast or bottle feed, or how you choose your children’s education. We can all be good parents and good people. It’s time we all chill the heck out and stop judging others. And, more importantly, stop judging ourselves.