Tasneem Vali invites us to analyze the pros and cons of ‘working moms’ and ‘stay-at-home moms’

“Oh! You work full time?”

“Yes, I am a project manager for the Children’s Memorial Hospital.”

“You are missing out on your child’s most precious moments: his first step, his first words…”

“Actually, when I hear them, they are the first for me, I am not missing out. By working, I am providing better economic conditions for him.”

“That is just an excuse; you can cut down on luxuries to spend time with your child.”

This is a typical tug of war conversation between a working mom and a non-working mom (in the traditional sense, because I think that the term ‘non-working mom’ is an oxymoron). At the impending birth of my son, I suffered through countless hours of back and forth debate, whether I should quit my job or not. Eventually, I decided that my working would provide more opportunities for Bilal, my son, in the increasingly competitive world. Now, facing the birth of my second child, I am a work-from-home mom. This change of circumstances led me to analyze, which mother is better.

Basically, moms can be categorized into five groups:

  1. Working moms due to necessity;
  2. Working moms due to boredom or a feeling of inadequacy for letting go of their high profile careers;
  3. Work-from-home moms who, utilizing technology, work from their homes, and take care of their children 24/7 as well;
  4. Stay-at-home moms, who believe that they are the only ones able to provide the best care for their children and;
  5. Stay-at-home moms, with busy social lives, they hire nannies to take care of their children.

Most working moms (WM) feel that stay-at-home moms (SHM) are dull – they cannot cut it out in the big, bad corporate world and spend most of their time in beauty parlors and gyms. Conversely, most (SHM) moms feel that (WM) are robbing their children – they give their best to the workplace and have no time left for being good mothers.

The Quran (Luqman 31:14) instructs children to be good to their parents. There is also a Hadeeth in Sahih Al-Bukhari, where Abu Hurairah (rta) narrates: “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘O Prophet! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man said: ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man further said: ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man asked for the fourth time: ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your father.'”

The logical deduction would be that a mother sacrifices much more for her child. What does ‘sacrifice’ entail? Does it mean spending 24/7 with your children, even though all you do is scream at them? Or does it mean spending quality time with them? How are we to decide? According to Heidi Murkoff, author of children’s guides, the answer is simple – the real parenting expert is YOU. Only you can decide, what is best for your child.

Ralph Gardner (New York Metro.com) writes: “Motherhood, for all its joys, has become a flash point for envy, resentment, and guilt. ‘Everybody struggles, and everybody envies what the other has,’ says the (SHM) of a 9- and a 14-year-old. ‘The (WM) wishes she had more free time to be available to her child, and may be have a coffee after the drop-off. And the (SHM) would maybe like to have something that’s a reflection of her as an individual – a label that says she’s a capable, creative person, who knows about more than just baby formula or after-school programs.'”

Keeping this in mind, every mom should understand that her counterpart (WM or SHM) is making the best of a situation not completely in her control. For example, if one mother quits her job, her family cannot survive, as her paycheck pays the school fees and food bills. What about a (SHM), whose husband is an ambassador, she has hired a nanny to take care of her four-year-old, because she has to plan special events and elaborate dinners, a must for her husband’s career. Should she hire a special events coordinator and spend time with her child instead? The real question is – what do you do, when you spend time with your children? Do you read to them, talk, and listen to them? Or do you just yell at them, your favorite word being ‘no’? Before you go pointing fingers at others, be sure you are giving your 110% to your children.

As kids grow up, they look to their parents as role models. I loved to tell my friends and teachers that my mom was a physician – I got envious looks. But, truth be told, I envied my friend’s life – her mom was at home, when she came from school. She had hot chocolate-chip cookies for breakfast, and her mom was always around to listen to her. She told me she would have loved to afford swimming and ice-skating lessons and to have her mom show her, how all the hospital equipment works. Most of all, she would have loved the prestige of having a mom that people respect! I guess there are pros and cons to everything; it is how you face them that make the experience positive.

Every mom needs her personal time. The (WM) gets it at work – the achievement that she is a viable human being. The (SHM) usually volunteers at charity events, helps at school, and thus makes a difference in the community. The new work from home mom (WHM), a creation of the Information Superhighway, I think has it all. She is empowered, she calls the shots, how much work she does and when she does it; quality time for family as well. We should learn to appreciate each other’s qualities. Those of us blessed with being able to spend more time with our kids – let’s cherish this opportunity, instead of wasting it on useless criticism.