The In-Betweeners

This topic hit me about a month ago while talking to another In-Betweener and I’ve hesitated on putting my thoughts together and posting about it. Some of you are NOT going to like this one. Remember, it’s one girl’s opinion.

As most of you know, there is a never-ending battle (whether you agree with it or not) between stay at home moms (SAHM) and work outside of the home moms (WOHM). Go to any mommy message board and it can be brutal. Both sides can be extremely opinionated about the other and the choices women make today. However, I have noticed that the WOHMs typically HAVE to work in order to provide the basics – the house, the cars, and the food on the table. (Could they downgrade to cheaper apartment living and drive older cars? Sure. But that’s not the point I’m going to make. I’m talking about the women that don’t work just for the “extras” as I’ll describe in a moment.)

So I think I’m an In-Betweener. I don’t HAVE to work. (Although Andy may disagree!) If we chose to, I know we could make it on one salary. Would we give up A LOT? Yep. But I’d have to admit the things we’d give up would be niceties, the “extras”. Cable (we get all the channels). Dinners out. Housecleaning. The ability to host things we absolutely love like cookouts with friends, our Annual Wade Picnic and our Annual Holiday Open House. The ability to support multiple local charities. Vacations. Swim Lessons. Photography classes. And we’d give up material purchases/projects we’ve been able to do over the past couple of years – a new master closet, the treadmill, the front porch, and the patio for example. And selfishly, I enjoy dinner out with the girls once a month, a facial/manicure/pedicure a couple times a year and lunch out with co-workers every couple of weeks. Those things would probably go as well or really be downgraded.

Do I spend frivolously? Absolutely not. Those that know me well, know I am a frugal person and I don’t buy anything that’s not on sale and 99% of the time I have a coupon. So I don’t work to throw money away. Remember, I’m married to a finance/accounting guy…we budget every penny and account for every dollar spent. That’s a whole other post topic.

But as an In-Betweener, neither the SAHM nor the WOHM really understands me. The SAHM questions “Why not stay at home with your kids? Isn’t it worth it? Do you really need the extras? Aren’t you missing out? Do you want someone else to raise your kids?” etc. The WOHM sometimes resents me. Some don’t have a choice and given the choice, they’d be home in a heartbeat so they can’t understand why that’s not my choice. The career-driven WOHM wishes I would just stay home. To them, I only give enough now to be above average. I no longer over-achieve for super-duper star. I don’t come in early and I don’t stay late. I no longer work through lunches – that’s my errand time. I’m tired at my desk everyday, and no, I’m not as productive as I used to be. And some days (most lately!) my kids are sick and I’m not there (but then I’m at my computer catching up on work during naps and at night). And I’m no longer worrying about climbing that career ladder anymore. I just want a job where I can contribute to something by doing great work that interests me and get my mind away from diapers, toddler speak, Dora, and sweat pants. I want a reason to shower and adults to converse with.

As I’ve met more moms over the past 2 years I’ve run into more In-Betweeners and we put so much guilt on ourselves (like all moms, right?). Why do we sometimes enjoy dropping our kids at a daycare and going to work? Are we selfish? Are we too materialistic? Are we not “mommy-enough”? Are PB&J play dates at the park not good enough for us? (Eileen that one was for you!) If you think I don’t ask myself these questions EVERY DAY, you are wrong. EVERY DAY I wonder if I’m making the right choice by choosing to continue to work. EVERY DAY I mentally put together the Pro/Con list of our work/daycare decision. EVERY DAY I wonder how it is affecting my girls. EVERY DAY I wonder what we will do with work/daycare if we are blessed with another child. EVERY DAY.

And I’m sure if you are a mom, you do the same thing about your situation no matter what it is. The best thing we can do is support each other’s decision and NOT judge each others’. Being a mom is hard enough (although the rewards totally make up for it) – having to defend your decisions shouldn’t be added to that. We are already questioning ourselves daily. We all strive for balance. What works for me, may not work for you. For now, I’m an In-Betweener.

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