Dear working mums,
I'm aware you spend your days in a competitive environment. You're often surrounded by young co-workers who are a constant reminder that someone is biting at your heels and there are deadlines to meet and pressures at work — and then you race home and your children need you also.
It's never ending. I get it.
What I don't get is why, in my experience, you also feel you're in competition with us, the stay-at-home mums who made a different decision than you. Not a better or worse decision, just the right decision for us and a different one to you.
A journalist recently wrote about me with the headline, "This Is the Reason Women Should Never Give Up Their Jobs." Reading it, I couldn't help but wonder why she felt the need to try and make me, and thousands of other stay-at-home mums in Australia, feel like we had made a bad decision, when we know we have not? Not for us.
We are not in competition with you. We sympathise for you, but we are not in competition.
When I return home after the morning of getting my children to activities or school, I clean up the morning madness. Sometimes I think of working mothers who often return home at the end of a long day and face those long-left cereal bowls and breakfast remnants, unmade beds and laundry strewn around the house. I think of them because I was a working mother for a long time before I made the decision that was right for my family — a decision supported wholeheartedly by my husband. A decision I know I was fortunate enough to be able to make.
After school, as I take my children to and from activities, of which there are many, and return home with them to help them with their homework and to cook dinner, I again sometimes think of the working mums out there.
I respect all working mums for the decision you made that was right for you. I only wish there was that same respect returned to stay-at-home mums.
We made a decision that is different to yours. It doesn't mean, as I've realised some people think, that I'm watching daytime soaps all day. I help at the school canteen weekly because I know many working mums can't. I'm home, so I do it for you and for my children. I volunteer at the uniform shop, again because I can and working mums can't. I do these things to give back to the community I live in, because I can.
Stay-at-home mums support each other. We don't lunch every day, if that's what you think. We are busy, we stay informed, we fulfil the needs of our family.
Next time a working mum rolls her eyes at your stay-at-home status, hold your head high. Their decision is not superior to ours and there's no competition as to who made the better choice when it comes to parenting. We all make the decision that works for us and I guarantee you I don't know any unhappy stay-at-home mums.
It's such a shame that the biggest critics of women seem to be other women. Such a damn shame. If you did read the article I referenced earlier, I can guarantee you I did not write the Facebook post after drinking a bottle of red, as was suggested. That was my first glass in the photo. I'd just poured it, to celebrate something that played a huge role in my life for so long. There was no malice intended and I certainly didn't expect to be picked to pieces for it.
The media showed no interest in this stay-at-home mum for 11 years, so kicking me now when I'm going through one of the hardest times of mine and my children's lives seems very cruel indeed.
When will judgements from other women stop?
I hope it's soon, so my daughter can make her own decision when she has a family and not feel like it's a competition. Wouldn't it be wonderful for daughters to make the decision for themselves and not be judged for it?