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What’s the Difference Between Working Moms and Stay at Home Moms?

by Deborah Cruz

Over the years, I’ve been asked multiple times if I am a working Mom or a Stay-at-home mom? First off, whether we work out of the home or in the home; part-time, full-time or job share, even if we are stay-at-home Moms, don’t we all work? Aren’t we all working moms? ( Sidebar: The term working mom sounds like we’re hookers with kids. I hate that term.) Don’t we all spend every single day of our lives, selflessly working our asses off for other people?

Working Moms, Say what?

I’ve never met a Mom who doesn’t work. Even if we don’t have a job that pays us, we work our respective tails off. And if we do have a job outside our family duties, we just work our tails off in a different way. But let’s make no bones about it. If you have kids, you are always working. What else would you call cooking, cleaning, wiping asses, wiping noses, telling stories, fighting boogie men, wash laundry, washing dishes, washing babies,laughing at ridiculous knock-knock jokes, making bottles, changing diapers, reading books, instilling morals, teaching respect, self-confidence, bestowing unconditional love when you have nothing left to give, calming fears, cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night, kissing boo-boos, being a cheerleader, a coach, a chauffeur, a dream come truer, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker..and that was just Tuesday!

READ ALSO: The One Thing All Moms Have in Common

There’s this big misconception that Stay-at-Home moms lie around on the couch eating bonbons all day, watching stories while organic meals magically appear on the table as children frolic in silence …without beating up their sibling. Yeah, because that EVER happens. I’ve been a stay-at-home Mom for a good part of the past 6 years and not once in that time have I ever had a free moment to sit around and watch stories or eat bonbons. In my dreams, maybe.

Want to know the real difference between stay-at-home moms and work outside of the home moms? I don’t get paid for the asses I wipe and kiss, you do. I never get a break or a lunch in peace, you do. We both work our butts off but you get a commute time to decompress, I don’t. My point is we all work ourselves to the point of exhaustion to do the best we can for our family and we all need a damn vacation. I’d like to sit on an island somewhere, in silence with nothing but the waves crashing the shore, the sun on my face, a fruity drink in my hand and maybe even some of those mythical bonbons I keep hearing so much about.

READ ALSO: Working Mom Guilt

Entire debates are had over this topic. Tears are shed. Women are torn as to whether they should work out of the home or stay-at-home? Hours on end are spent making the decision that will have the greatest effect on the child, the least impact on the budget and the least likelihood of ending in therapy. Much guilt is incurred and it holds us hostage. It is no easy decision but in the end, the joke is on us. Fight one another as we may, each and every one of us who has ever birthed and loved a child are working Moms.

What’s the Difference Between Working Moms and Stay at Home Moms?


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Alison@Mama Wants This 2011/08/10 - 6:18 am

Well said! I’m so sick of the debates about stay at home moms versus ‘working’ moms. We are all just doing our best. Thank you for saying it as it is!

Truthful Mommy 2011/08/10 - 8:20 am

We are all just working our butts off! Perhaps in different ways but we are all doing our best and putting forth a lot of effort. I don’t there is such a thing in existence as a “lazy” mom:) It’s impossibility!

Penelope 2011/08/10 - 7:33 am

Moms with jobs outside the home just get to kiss asses for a paycheck for those eight or so hours, then they have to come home and do all of the things the mom who has a job inside the home (“stay-at-home mom”) got to do all day. And those lunch breaks and coffee breaks? Spent running errands, arranging childcare and doctor’s visits, figuring out how to pay for orthodontia, etc., etc. Not to denigrate the stay at homes, but it is not apples to apples on the workload. Each side has its advantages and disadvantages (I don’t want to be a stay at home now that my daughter is in school full-time, but I sure would like to be a part-time stay at home and be there for her when she gets off the bus.) And don’t get me started on SINGLE moms – ain’t nobody got a tougher row to hoe in the mom world.

Truthful Mommy 2011/08/10 - 8:18 am

I think all Moms work.I’ve been Stay at Home, brief stint as work out of home, part time, full time, work at home and commuter marriage so I single mothered 5 days of the week for almost 2 years. It’s ALL really hard work, no matter how you slice it. Being responsible for raising children and loving them unconditionally is a full time job in itself, when you add anything to it..you work. I was not being condescending about the commute , lunch or breaks or paychecks…that doesn’t make the work any easier. I was only trying to illustrate that we all work, a lot and it’s hard and exhausting. XO

JDaniel4's Mom 2011/08/10 - 8:38 am

I think I work as hard now as I did when I worked outside the house even with a little helper.

Penelope 2011/08/10 - 9:10 am

@Truthful Mommy, I think we agree that all moms work, I would never argue that even one bit! I was a stay at home for ten months when my daughter was new, then part-time outside the house. Her dad always worked nights so I was pretty much doing most of it except on his days off when he helped too. I’ve worked full-time outside the house for the past eight years now. So I understand the differences and similarities between the situations. I do have to express some concern over your statement that since you have a commuter marriage you single mothered 5 days a week for two years. I understand that you had to take care of the kids and the house by yourself for most of each week during that time, but – and this is the huge but that separates the single moms from the moms whose husbands work far away – you always had that paycheck (or if he was out of work and looking, that potential for the paycheck) that the husband brings even if he is not there. Single moms have no one else to bring home the bacon, there is no other option for them (unless they have an incredible alimony and child support agreement, which isn’t common I don’t think). The constant pressure to pay all of the bills, raise your kids right, and keep your job and your sanity (yes, I know we all fight for it but please concede just a little bit that single moms with normal, poor, or nonexistent support arrangements have a teensy bit tougher fight for it), compounds to the nth power when one is a single mom. My best friend has been a single mom for seven years, she has a beautiful daughter and they live in a tiny house, but she gets almost no child support. I see the struggles she goes through on a daily basis just to keep things going, and have watched her smile through her teeth when our married friends say they are “single moms” while their husbands travel. It’s just not the same, but they don’t get it. Just please understand that when you say you are a single mom while your husband is far away, you are insulting the women who have to do it ALL on their own, 24/7/365. All moms are working moms, but there are definitely different levels of work depending on circumstances.

Andrea 2011/08/10 - 11:42 am

A mom is a mom is a mom. We all bust our butts for our families and our children and ourselves as best we can, however we can and/or have to. Amen to that.

Nicole 2011/08/10 - 10:04 pm

Meh.. really, so over this debate.

I am a mother with a career (also, hate the term), but even more, I hate the circle this topic goes around, and around, and around, in.

jess 2011/08/19 - 2:24 pm

Amen sister! Being home with the kids is hard ass work. It’s so much more than just feeding them lunch. There’s entertaining, teaching, refereeing fights, house work, cooking errands. Getting out of the house to go work is like a relax time for me. Ok maybe not that far, but you get it.

At the end of the day each mama kicks just as much ass as the next. No one is better than the other for the choices or money she makes.

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