There's a difference between being a working mom and a wannabe.
I was idly scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across a picture of a friend. It appeared she recently began selling Jamberry online and her status had the hashtag #WorkingMom. I happen to know this woman has stayed home with her children since they were babies, babies who recently started middle school.
I'm not a proponent of dividing women on issues that come with motherhood. I despise all of the political correctness of today, and the worry that if we say the "wrong" thing to someone we inadvertently offend. I've always lived by the motto "To each her own," but seeing this status and the carelessness with which "working mom" was used made me come unglued.
Since my youngest child was born I've juggled a full-time career, kid's appointments, activities, housework, meals and a million other daily tasks. I'm not special. Every working mother I know lives this every single day.
We miss choir concerts and volunteer opportunities in classrooms. We aren't always there to pick up our children from the bus stop or help them with homework after school. We juggle and rearrange and rationalize.
For most of my working life, I've been the breadwinner for my family. I don't have the option not to work, though if I did I'm uncertain my choice to work would have differed. I enjoy having a career, the challenge and fact that it's something all my own.
I thought back to moments when my daughter stood crying, tiny heels dug into the rug next to our front door, begging me not to go to the airport again. Days when I lied and said a family member passed away rather than admit that my child was sick yet again and I had to leave work early.
I recall frantic phone calls from other working moms crying hysterically because they got stuck in traffic and missed a Parent's Night at school. Or their husband called them because their son had a 104 fever and she was 600 miles away preparing for a presentation.
I recall the 20 times, every single day, that none of us feel like we're doing enough, at work or at home.
I couldn't help but feel a little protective of a title for which I've sacrificed so much.
That woman's #workingmom hashtag suggests that she understands all of my challenges in an intimate way. She's saying she's one of us. But the reality is she cannot comprehend what it's like any more than I can understand all of the frustrations and idiosyncrasies that come with being a stay-at-home mother.
I'm not a #SingleMom because my husband is out of town for the weekend. I wouldn't fathom comparing lives with other women because I have zero experience in their world. It's not a competition.
So listen, stay-at-home mom: You're probably excited to be starting a new venture. Maybe you feel, after all the time you've devoted selflessly to your children, that you get to try something new. Maybe, because you've never worked outside the home, the thought of being a #WorkingMom is enticing. Or maybe I'm being overly sensitive and need to check myself.
Words, for better or worse, impact people. On occasion, they can stick in your gut. Please remember all of us working moms out there who have to leave their kids every day. Women who try — and fail — to divide up their time and energy so few things fall through the cracks.
In return, I'll be your first customer and support you any way I can. I know we're both doing the best we can with the choices we've made.