Sheryl Jesin

Ditch the guilt?


I recently wrote a blog post about the guilt I feel as a working mom.  Imagine my surprise when I came across an article in Friday’s Globe and Mail about the very same topic.  Leah McLaren’s article “Ditch the guilt, working moms:  The kids are alright” states that there is no need for moms to feel guilty for going back to work, because their kids will turn out just fine.

McLaren’s article has led to a flurry of comments, many from stay at home moms who are insulted by certain parts of the article, such as “Women who do nothing but parent may be more attentive, sure. Less able to make small talk at a cocktail parties, absolutely.”

I was a stay at home mom for 20 months when my son was born and I wouldn’t trade the time I had with him for anything.  Was I bored?  Not in the slightest! Did I think my brain was going to mush and that I was wasting my education?  No!  I found parenting my son to be an intensely demanding job that required a lot of thought, and my education and career had prepared me well for such hard work.   Did I think that I was suddenly incapable of making small talk at a party? Certainly not!  I still enjoyed keeping up with current events and personal interests while at home with Dylan, and both of these provided me with a variety of topics to discuss at parties.

Another part of McLaren’s article that I disagree with is as follows:

Sure, your three-year-old would prefer it if you sat on the floor playing Lego with him all day, but he’d also prefer to eat nothing but Froot Loops. That’s the thing about three-year-olds: They don’t actually know what’s good for them. And they certainly don’t know what’s good for you.

Sorry Leah, but you are wrong again.   My son actually enjoys a wide variety of foods, and has never tasted a Fruit Loop in his life.  Even if he had one, I am certain he wouldn’t eat them all day long.  From birth, I have respected and validated his needs regarding food – he was exclusively breastfed on demand for 6 months, and was then given complimentary, healthy, whole foods.   As a result, he is able to regulate his food intake and knows when he is full.  He actually does know what is good for him.  Furthermore, he even does know when something is good for me.  The moments we spend together playing lego on the floor, or hide and seek, or falling asleep together for a nap or at night may often be his idea, but they bring us both joy.

The working mom vs stay at home mom debate can never come to an end because it is so intensely personal.   There is no one choice that is right for everyone.  Each woman is entitled to create her own balance regarding work.  While working moms shouldn’t be made to feel bad for leaving their kids, stay at home moms shouldn’t be ridiculed for wasting their education.  We are lucky to live at a time and in a society where women are free to do as they please with regards to work.   Let’s support each other!

2 thoughts on “Ditch the guilt?

  1. Oh yikes – I’m glad I didn’t read her article, but your response is lovely! You’re so right – the decision of whether to work or stay at home is so personal, no one woman’s decision can be true for another woman. Our situations and personalities are too unique!

  2. I agree with Dionna, I am very glad I didn’t have to read that article!

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