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‘Stay-at-home mom’ not a dirty phrase

This past week, I was invited to a friend’s home for a candle party. When I arrived, the home was perfect. Candles lit, snacks that looked like they were prepared by Martha Stewart and a crystal punch bowl with floating edible flowers. An intriguing fragrance filled the room, and when I asked where the aroma was coming from, the hostess just smiled, as if it was a family secret she wasn’t willing to share.

I happened to be one of the first there, so I watched as each guest entered her home. Their faces were all the same – each as impressed as I was. After all the guests arrived and had found a comfortable place to sit, the hostess told us to help ourselves to the food and enjoy the punch. She then started the introductions.

“Mary, this is Gina. Gina has three children and her son is serving in Iraq. She has two daughters and she is a stay-at-home mom.” The moment she said stay-at-home, Mary said, “Oh, you’re a stay-at-home mom? Me, too.”



Our hostess was about to introduce Mary to another woman when the woman, who was extending her hand, pulled it back sharply and said, “You didn’t tell me this was going to be a get together for the ‘stay-at-home mom!’ I work for a living.” Silence fell over the room as the guests waited to see what was going to be said next.

The hostess replied, “No, this is just a candle party. We are here to have a nice evening.” As I looked around at the guests, I could see the evening had already been changed. The chatter had stopped and there was a certain heaviness that now occupied all of us. What were we to say next?




Mary looked over at me, and I actually got up and moved to the other side of the room. I felt that if there was going to be an uprising, we had better increase our numbers. Our hostess finished the introductions and the party continued.

As the evening began to wind down, Mary walked over to the woman who had once extended her hand and apologized for upsetting her. The woman smiled and said, “I’m sorry, but there are days I wish I could stay home.” Mary said, “I understand; there are days I wish I could go to work.” The conversation ended. Both had said their peace.

Several days have passed since the candle party, and I haven’t stopped thinking about what was said between those two women. These past few days, wherever I’ve gone, be it the DMV, grocery store or gas station, I would ask these questions of women: “Do you have children? If so, are you a stay-at-home mom or a working mom?”

If they were a stay-at-home mom, I then asked this question: “What do you think working women think about stay-at-home moms?” These are the few of their answers.

“They think I have free time during the day.”

“They think I’m not educated.”

“They shy away from me.”

“They think I watch television during the day and make cookies.”

“They think I’m not qualified to do anything but watch children.”

If they were a working mom, I then asked this question: “What do you think stay-at-home moms think about working moms?” These are a few of their answers.

“They think they’re better mothers.”

“They think I enjoy leaving my children.”

“They think if I sold my car I could stay home.”

“They think I don’t want to be home. I do.”

“I like to work. They shouldn’t make me feel guilty about that. I’m still a great mom.”

Hearing what they said has made things clearer for me. I now believe I understand the battle. The battle is not with each other but with our “self.” We wake up each morning and wonder if we’re doing the right thing.

I can honestly write that I’ve been both at different times in my life. I’ve been the working mom and the stay-at-home mom, but each time my day changed, my heart never did. Everything that we do as women, whether from our home or out, is for our family.

Sometimes we tend to judge more the circumstances of others and not appreciate what we, ourselves, have. I know I’ve judged others at different times while trying to find the path that was right for me. I’m very sorry if I ever offended anyone or said something that would make him or her feel less then who they are.

I truly believe, after this past week, we need to unite as parents and join our homes together. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and see that a working mom could use your help – help her out. If you’re a working mom and see that a stay-at-home mom could use your help – help her out. If you ever feel insecure about parenting, ask your children what they think of you. You’ll find that love is the best cure for what ails you.

Our world has become so politically separated that I believe Abraham Lincoln knew what he was talking about when he said, “In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Let me know if your house leans. I’ll come over and help you hold it up.

ooo

Gina Gippner is a Penn Valley resident and mother of three. She can be reached via e-mail at justmom@nci-services.com or computer chat at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/justmom/

Her column appears every other Tuesday, alternating with Mike Drummond’s column from Clear Creek Ranch.


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