Comparative Essay: Mothers With A Divided Heart


Kathy O\'Reilly April 3, 1997 Comparative Essay

The importance of raising children to be productive members of a rapidly
evolving, achievement oriented society, is paramount to the success of the
family and the global economy. At the same time, the stresses of every day
individual economic and personal fulfillment needs are a significant counter
force. This force works against the available time and effort required for
mothers to successfully nurture their young. It has resulted in societal "Mommy
Wars", pitting the working mom against the stay-at-home mom, in a battle over
which model offers the clearest path to nurturing success. Bridging the gap
requires each to accept that there is not one right choice for every family and
to understand and respect each individual decision. All moms have one thing in
common: they make sacrifices to do what is best for their families. To a
working mom, this means not spending as much time with her children, and for
stay-at-home moms, this means not getting much time to herself. Being home or
not with the children is not as important as creating an environment where the
children can thrive and feel loved.

Stay-at-home moms are often viewed as "soap-opera-watching couch potatoes" with
no ambition. Rather than being praised for their decision to stay home, they
often feel they need to defend it. Society talks so much about family values,
yet gives little respect or value to stay-at-home moms who raise the families.
In addition, stay-at-home moms find it challenging to provide a social setting
for their children when being at home all day is the only stimulation they have.
Furthermore, the strain of not bringing in money for a better standard of living
can lead to self-doubt and isolation. That feeling of insecurity can be put to
rest, however, with the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing that the child is
being well taken care of. Stay-at-home moms have the opportunity to become
more involved in the children\'s school activities as well. This can be
important to both because it shows interest in the child and that leads to
higher self-esteem for the child. This way of living is beneficial for the
children as well because there is only one set of rules to follow. The
children feel a constant unconditional love from their own parents that is
unlike any other love. Children can thrive with a routine and rely on the
stability they feel when they have mom to count on "being there" all the time.
Staying home to raise a family is healthy for the family to grow together and to
support each other\'s roles.

Family support is important, however, working moms are often viewed as deserting
their children in order to have nicer cars and homes. They are said to "want it
all." Yet at times, they are denied "it all" in the work place specifically
because they are moms. Working moms experience the stress of being pulled in so
many directions, it is like living with a divided heart. The pressure of
economics that force many single mothers into the workplace makes the choice a
limited one and creates a sense of guilt. The guilt about not "being there" for
the children and the fear that they are not being well taken care of adds to the
stressful decisions working moms need to make. The guilt multiplies when there
is a feeling of selfishness wanting to pursue a career and wanting "more" for
the children and the family. In spite of these drawbacks, working moms have
many benefits. They have the luxury of learning and growing every day
independent of their families. The mental satisfaction of knowing that they
contribute to the success of their company is very satisfying. It is rewarding
to know the children are learning how to play, share and laugh with others.
Working moms are so anxious to see their children after a day at work, it
creates a sense of bonding when they get home. Moms and kids have the evenings
to really focus on each other and learn about each other. They are also pulling
their own weight with an income of their own, and this builds personal self-
confidence which is healthy for the whole family. Financially, it is easier to
provide a larger home and a higher education for the children. The advantages
to the children lie in the social skills they acquire being in different
settings and interacting with other people. If the children are in a daycare
setting, they can learn how to adapt to change,