You’re scrolling through your social media feed and see an article that captures your attention. The title instantly informs you that it’s about mothers who work outside the home, and therefore not necessarily relevant to you, but you feel compelled to read it anyway. Midway through the article your brow is furrowed and you’re feeling defensive. And when you finish it, if you can tolerate getting to the end of it, you’re already clicking the angry emoji and preparing to offer your opinion as to why this article is so damn insulting.
Now before you begin that process with this article, I want to offer a disclaimer: this post was not intended to upset or criticize you. In fact, the inspiration behind it stems from the anxiety I personally feel anytime I, an occasional freelance writer for workingmother.com, publish anything. Am I offending mothers who don’t work outside the home? Will my own SAHM friends badmouth me behind my back? How will my words be perceived by a non-working mother? So to combat both the angry stay-at-home reader as well as my own inner voice, I’m inclined to defend the brand that gives me a platform.
The label Working Mother does not aim to offend mothers who stay home. Look, I might not be home with my children all day, but I am acutely aware of how much work SAHMs do every day. No one at Working Mother is trying to paint a picture that employed mothers are the only ones doing any real labor, whereas the mothers at home eat bonbons and watch soap operas all day. We are moms too, and we comprehend just how much work it is to keep a human being alive, let alone fed, dressed and entertained. But the concise Working Mother title just has a nicer ring to it than, say, “Mothers Who Receive Monetary Compensation for the Work They Do Outside of Parenting.”
The target audience of Working Mother is, well, working mothers. Despite sharing many common experiences and thoughts, working mothers and SAHMs have their own struggles and triumphs unique to them. Working Mother’s core mission from its inception in the 1970s has been to address those topics for this specific group of mothers. If you were a cat owner, for example, you wouldn’t really expect to find relevant material within Dogster magazine, now would you? The same logic should apply to Working Mother. If you are looking for content that appeals to all mothers, regardless of employment status, you’ll have better luck and less resentment if you check out Scary Mommy or Parents or Café Mom or PopSugar Moms or Babble or all those other sites that aren’t dedicated to working moms.
There are very few resources available for working mothers. Like most first-time moms, I relied heavily on books, articles and websites to help me navigate parenthood. Most of the books and articles I read offered the same tips that were easy enough to follow while I was home on maternity leave. Keep baby on a strict schedule, check. Have napping environment dark, cool and quiet, check. Put baby down as soon as sleepy signs are spotted, check. Nap when the baby naps, check. Once I returned to work, however, I had a hard time finding articles that related to my new routine. What’s an appropriate bedtime for baby when both parents get home at 6 p.m.? (Whatever works for you!) What are the secrets to functioning in the office on little to no sleep every night? (Coffee, lots of coffee.) How do I balance work, home, family and self without having a nervous breakdown? (Still waiting for the answer on this!) Working Mother strives to answer these questions by offering tips and strategies that would otherwise be difficult to discover.
All mothers deserve a judgment-free zone. Whether it’s real or perceived, from an outsider or from within, most mothers have felt mom guilt at one point or another, and working mothers are certainly no exception. Just as you might feel guilty for not contributing to your family’s income (you shouldn’t) or feel lonely without other grown-ups around, working mothers have their own set of fears and doubts. It’s comforting to read stories about others like you. Working moms need a place where we can express our frustrations at not being able to “have it all,” chuckle at how many of us dash to sign up first to bring napkins to the school party, and complain about how few dads refer to themselves as “working fathers.”
Working Mother articles are meant to support mothers who work, not insult mothers who stay home. A few years ago, I had a conversation with a SAHM friend of mine. She confessed she was upset after I shared this article about a study that declared that working mothers are more likely to raise successful daughters. I felt awful; making my friend worry that her daughter wouldn’t be as successful as mine was not my objective when I shared that post. After apologizing, I tried to describe to her how I’m constantly concerned about the repercussions of my working and that I’m not a good mom because my daughter is “being raised” by others. I explained that the article felt like someone was giving me a big hug and reminding me that I was doing a good job after all. That it helped quiet my working mom guilt (for now, anyway). That I, in no way, believed that her daughter would be a failure because she chose to stay home with her.
And I told her what I’m telling you, stay-at-home-mom readers of Working Mother: how these Working Mother articles were all about me, and not at all about her.