Over the course of the past couple days I have seen a number of things on my Facebook feed referencing the realities of what it is like to be a woman. More specifically, the contrast of being a working mother versus a stay-at-home mother. Or a single woman versus a married woman with children. And for some reason the question of who has it worse seems to arise. I am not sure why this question seems to be asked so frequently. I don’t really even want to hypothesize too much. It could be a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side” or just simply being envious of a life that isn’t yours, not being content with your own life.
Personally, I am guilty of this in my own life. No, I’m not saying I have it worse than a woman, or that I would rather be a woman. I’m saying that after getting married, or especially after having my son I would look to my single friends with envy. They had so much FREEDOM. They could practically do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. I would think, Man…that would be nice.
But how selfish is that!? As I think those things, and covet the single life, I forget what a blessing it is to be married. So many of those single people (but not all) would also LOVE to be married. But they are single. They would gladly give up some of that freedom to have a life partner.
As I go out to the plaza in my neighborhood with my son (I’m a stay-at-home dad), or out to eat, I envy those who stroll past with just their wife. No strollers. No whining or crying kid. Just them. And I catch myself thinking, Wow! That would be SO nice. To just be here with my wife. Not having to worry about taking care of a baby. So much freedom!
But how selfish is that!? As I think those things, and covet the childless life, I forget what a blessing it is to have children. So many couples (but not all) would LOVE to have children. But they for some reason don’t have any or can’t have any. They would gladly give up some of that freedom to have a child.
I’m not really sure how I got on that tangent. What I originally started writing to say is that women, both single and married, both in-the-work-force moms and stay-at-home moms, are my heroes.
Women historically have had it much worse than men. Inequality, injustice, and sexism is just a reality for them. Some fight it more than others, yet no matter what seem to be criticized for what they believe. Women are incredibly under the microscope at all moments, being challenged and pigeon-holed and stereotyped for nearly every decision they make or are a part of. They put up with a lot.
I believe that women have an incredible amount of pressure put on them to live into or up to a certain expectation given to them by the cultures they are a part of. This includes their own national culture, their socio-economic culture, their racial culture, and their religious and family culture. There are pressures and expectations on every side, and it seems to me that no matter what decision a woman makes she often feels guilty for the life she lives, or perhaps has to explain herself to those with different expectations. If she isn’t married, why not? If she is married without kids, when are the kids coming? If she works while having children, how could she do that? If she stays home, why would she give up a promising career? Women seem to live in a constant “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” state. No wonder depression numbers are so considerably higher for women than men!
Women have it bad enough to be challenged by society in general, and by men, but when the comparisons and contrasts of “Who has it worse?” or “Who has it easier?” enter the picture…it’s just unnecessary.
My greatest influences, role models, and mentors have all been women. Women are the ones who have inspired me the most. (And this is especially true of my own mother and my wife.)
Women don’t need any more pressure. They’ve been beaten down enough! I want to support and thank the women that I come in contact with. I hope you do the same.
Let’s love better. Let’s love well.
Thank you. You are my heroes.
Here are some of the comments that I am referencing from Facebook. I will leave their names anonymous.
Woman one: A wonderful mother with three children who works to help provide for her family. She wrote this as a response to a blog post by Matt Walsh criticizing how we treat stay-at-home moms.
“I have got to stop reading these things. The myth that working moms enjoy manicures and coffee breaks and conversations is pretty short-sided, too. I work to be a partner with my husband to house, cloth and feed our kids. Thanks to our government and our society, my hard-working husband’s income doesn’t cut it. When a family pays HUNDREDS of dollars a month for health insurance…HUNDREDS of dollars for public education, etc. it doesn’t go nearly far enough. We are SO grateful for the jobs that pay the bills, but honestly, if I have to hear one more time how noble it is that women put their whole lives into raising their babies, I think I’ll go postal. Guess what? ALL moms are moms 24/7/365. I don’t sip lattes at work. I WORK and pay our bills, and arrange teacher conferences, and meal plan and make grocery lists and field texts from my kids about school and their lives all while I eat pb&j from my lunchbox in 30 minutes. I suck up a tear every time I leave home in the dark and come home to crabby, tired kids who gave their best fun and hugs to my (wonderful) sister. ALL parents deserve respect, not just the stay-at-home ones. Ugh! Now, excuse me while I remove the paper jam from the printer because it ate the print job I was waiting on while reading this. Livin’ the dream, huh?”
Woman Two: A wonderful single woman who inspires me with her compassion and her passion.
“Today my spiritual director said (unprompted) she believes single women work harder than married women with children – we have no one to help with daily tasks and we’re driven by the belief that since we aren’t supporting a husband or children we must work/serve harder to prove our usefulness and value to society. I have NEVER heard a married woman say anything other than how lucky I am to be single, how I get to do anything I want, how much “me” time I have, how hard marriage is, how Jesus is my husband, how common it is for women to have children at 50 if I just have more faith…ugh. I don’t know if it’s harder but it is indeed hard and I am so very thankful to have a married woman affirm this instead of shaming me about not being grateful for my circumstances!”
Both of these comments received many comments and will probably continue to have more. But it seems the overwhelming response is that all women’s lives have their challenges. There have been a number of other posts that I have seen on Facebook referencing this topic. But it seems that most agree that we shouldn’t have to compare and contrast and try to decide who has it worse and who has it better.
Let’s be kind to one another. Support one another. And love well.