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Guilty Moms And Dr Phil

Later today I’ll see the Dr. Phil show that I taped back in August, some of you have already seen it. I’d like to address a few quick questions while my sick son is still asleep. There seem to be some recurring themes, so let’s just get it all out there.

She’s so judgmental! Doesn’t she read the bible? No, I’m Jewish, that’s not my book. We’re cool with using judgment, discretion, and our best thinking caps.

You don’t know my situation, I have to work. Well, I said very specifically that we needed to support women who have to work. My mother was one of them, my stepmother too. The reality is that many women have need to go back to work right now because this is a horrendous economy. Still, I was able to stay at home when my husband earned $11 an hour and we live in Los Angeles. Clipping coupons and shopping at thrift stores were de rigeur. It can be done. You don’t have to choose this path, I only ask that you acknowledge the path exists.

Staying at home is boring. Yes, it can be. I’m very sorry about that, there’s not much I can do to help there. Perhaps start a blog?

I cannot believe the attorney Cindy Teele and Executive Producer Carla Pennington took the stage along with Anita Pepper. Isn’t that unusual for broadcast television? Yes.

Here’s Dr Phil’s blog post. I know it makes for good television, but let’s remember that Robin McGraw stayed home and raised her kids. No one brought in a crew to criticize her.

72 thoughts on “Guilty Moms And Dr Phil”

  1. The show aired this morning in Ohio, Jess! I thought you articulated your position extremely well (and your hair looked marvelous!)

    One thing I have come to realize about you is that you’re a no-holds-barred woman – you speak your truth, from your heart. While you are certainly opinionated and judgmental, I admire the fact you make no apologies for who you are and what you believe in. I’d much rather hear someone’s feelings straight up than have them talk shit behind my back. More people should take note, myself included, and stop trying to be so damned diplomatic all the time. Feelings get hurt, it’s a fact of life. Deal with it and move on.

    If women have the choice, I feel it’s in their kids’ best interest for them to be at home. If single-parent moms have to work, and many of them do, I believe it’s a community effort and we should be there to help them out and provide emotional support and encouragement.

    The thing I have a problem with is married women who are forced to work (or make the choice) simply because their lifestyle is excessive and they feel a constant need to buy, buy, buy! THAT is selfish! And, I think their kids would much rather have them around than all the ‘stuff’!

    One more thing – only boring people get bored – and there’s always something that needs to be done. Being a stay-at-home mom is a lot of things, boring isn’t one of them!

  2. I was in that audience on the Working Moms side. I choose to work and I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t miss my children’s milestones. If my daughter giggles for the first time at daycare, she is also going to do it for me later, when I get home from work. Our wonderful daycare provider is not raising my children for me, she is simply caring for them for part of their day. They thrive under her expert care in ways I doubt they would at home with me all day. They are appropriately bonded and attached to me and their father. And I am certainly a much happier person for being able to use my talents on daily basis in a way that makes us a lot of money that gives us opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have.

    One thing that I posted about when Sarah Palin first appeared and was getting so much heat for her choices about work and family, is that some women CAN do it all. Some women are more capable than others when it comes to balancing their lives. Some women can simply do more than others can.

    One thing you asked during the show was something like, “You wouldn’t outsource making love to your husband, so why would you outsource mothering your children?” I laughed when you said that because, honestly, if I could get a girl in to take care of the blowjobs, I would.

      1. Now that’s not really fair, is it? I love being a wife and mother and I love having a career. You feel that two of those things suffer because of the third, and I don’t. I respect your views, I just don’t agree with them.

        I don’t outsource the loving of my family to someone else. My love isn’t exclusive. The more people who love my children, the better.

        1. Yes, it’s fair. What if your husband’s friends read that? Would they be able to make eye contact with you? With him?

          I agree with you that more people loving your child is better, but I’d disagree about how the time ought to be divvied up. If you feel good about your decision then clearly it’s the right thing for you. I’m not willing to concede that it’s the right thing for your child.

          1. We just watched the show also. I agree, even if it’s right for mom, doesn’t make it right for the kids. And as for the comment about the “expert care” the day care provider gives, BUH-LO-NEE!!!! No one else on earth is an expert at being mommy to my kids but me!! I don’t care how many hundreds or thousands of kids they have taken care of. They haven’t been Lance’s mommy or Addysyn’s mommy and Lance and Addysyn CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE! TRUST ME!!

      2. “I’m sorry you don’t enjoy marriage or parenthood”?


        Working outside the home means I don’t enjoy marriage or parenthood? Really? I just always thought it meant that I willingly removed a segment of the maternal guilt trip I will be able to place on my daughter one day, i.e., I gave up my CAREER for you . . . I sacrificed my LIFE to stay at home for you . . . I put everything on HOLD for you.

        And this is the THANKS I get?!?!

        In all seriousness, are you serious with this comment?

        Because I also would never willingly choose to stay at home with my daughter all day. Ever. And I think I am raising a VERY happy child who knows she is adored by her parents, her daycare providers, and other family and friends.

        1. Caroline,

          I read your reply to Jessica’s post and the first thought that came to mind was wondering if you don’t sometimes miss the little things during the day that you’re missing because you don’t “want” to stay home with her all day? I’m TRYING not to pass judgment because the world I live in at this point in time is on the peripheral of the SAHM and the working mom – because of medical and psychiatric care I am receiving my almost 4 y/o daughter is in Montessori 2-3 days a week …I just know from the days I don’t have her and she comes home and shares all of these new experiences and discoveries with me, that I feel AWFUL that I can’t be the one guiding her in the journey of discovery that she’s taking. Yes, she LOVES going to school and adores her teachers and friends. However, it’s time I’m not with her and catching these little moments of “Awwww so that’s how that works!” And I’m missing her eyes light up with joy at the fact that she can now count to 20 in French and can speak simple sentences to me (this floored me the other day!) in sign language.

          I know that deep inside it’s a selfish desire to be the SOLE person who bestows this knowledge on her and wants to swallow these moments of her childhood, whole, and not share them with anyone else, but having said that, I miss even the smallest “firsts” that were not with me, but yet a group of women (who I love, I really do!) who were not the ones who birthed this beautiful child and have nursed her ills, her little worries and are not the ones who kiss her goodnight and wish her sweet dreams and then awake to her standing there placing the sweetest kisses on my cheek!

          Now that I’ve said all those flowery and prosaic words about motherhood, I will admit that I don’t know your background or your own family situation, but something just struck me about the words you used, “I would never willingly choose to stay at home with my daughter all day. Ever.” It was almost like I just took a glancing blow after I read that. And years from now, would you be willing to show your daughter those words? Can you explain to her, so that she understands and is not hurt, the context in which you meant them?

          I will admit that it’s not easy, every single day. Its frustrating and at times monotonous, and sometimes when it’s been a long day, we both end up in tears. My husband would probably even echo these sentiments despite him working outside the home. I’m just saying that he knows it’s not easy – to be home all day where your only company is an exuberant three year old. Maybe it’s more frustrating for me right now because I’m in poor health and suffer from sometimes debilitating depression. The bottom line though? The bottom line is that I guess I feel like this child is a blessing and it’s my job to make sure she makes it through this life, a whole, happy, healthy, self confident young person who reflects that love that she’s been shown throughout her childhood, back onto the world around her. I think that in the end, she needs me to be there for her to do that.

          But that’s what works for ME.

          I’m sorry Jessica, and Caroline…I tried not to be judgmental, honestly I did.

          1. Audrey,

            Honestly, I am past being judge for working outside the home. I don’t think it is my place to tell another woman how best to raise her family, and I expect the same for myself. All of us are doing the best we can to raise happy, wholesome, well-balanced and productive members of society. Not one of us, whether we stay at home with the children, or whether we choose to work outside the home, aspires to raise a psychopath.

            But I’ll address a couple of points you made:

            “I will admit that I don’t know your background or your own family situation . . . .”

            Then ask. I am the third daughter (out of 5) of a high school dropout who raised five children while working three jobs. I am the first to graduate from high school, and the only one to obtain my college degree. I also have a master’s and am currently an attorney practicing in Little Rock, Arkansas. I want my daughter to know about that part of my history, because I accomplished something no one in my family ever had. It was hard. I did all of that so that, if I ever had a family, I wouldn’t have to struggle the same way my mother did, so that I wouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck, or worry about the lights being shut off. I worked to better myself so that my potential family would have a better life.

            “Would you be willing to show your daughter those words? Can you explain to her, so that she understands and is not hurt, the context in which you meant them?”

            I hope to raise a child who would know EXACTLY what I meant when I wrote those words, and why, and that she has the same choice available to her, if she so chooses. I hope to raise a child who will know, without a doubt, that had I stayed at home with her, she would not have gotten the better me. I would have longed for the career I had always worked for. I would crave adult time. I would obsess about the fact that my sole companion was her . . . a person who will gain independence, leave home, and leave me wondering what to do next.

            She doesn’t get that person. She gets someone who drops her off at 8:30 in the morning, knowing that I will miss her terribly, but someone who shuts the computer off at 5:30 on the dot, leaving all work at the office most days, so I can go home and devote ALL of my time to her. I don’t spend those evenings cooking dinner and trying to run a home. My husband and I work it out so that the evenings are ALL CATE’S. Most importantly, unlike many stay at home moms, I don’t get frustrated with my role as her mother very often at all. I don’t find being her mother to be monotonous. I have never once cried in connection with being her mom. I’m not frustrated, lonely, isolated, depressed. As a result, she doesn’t get exposed to frustration, those feelings of loneliness, the sense of isolation, or depression (and I firmly believe children pick up on such things).

            I work. I love my job.

            I am a mother, and I love every single moment I have with her, with absolute abandon.

            I, too, view my daughter as a blessing and take my role in her life very seriously . . . so seriously, in fact, that I make sure that the time we have together is spent embedding in every corner of her spirit that I treasure her, that there is no part of her existence that depresses me or makes me feel like my life is monotonous because of the time I spend with her.

            I’m self-aware enough to know that I would not be the same person she gets to know if I were at the house all the time with her.

            And at the same time, I don’t WANT to raise a daughter who believes that her only purpose is to stay at home and raise children when she has a family one day. When people advocate that position, it takes away the spirit of independence and freedom of options that women have fought so hard to gain. Regardless of whether I were to say, “It’s up to you, of course,” the underlying tone is one of judgment . . . that any woman who makes that choice is deficient. That’s not how I was raised, and that’s not how I want my daughter to be raised, because what if she DOES have to work outside the home. What if she got a divorce or, god forbid, her spouse died? Not only is she left feeling that pain, she is thrust into circumstances beyond her control (TRULY beyond her control), with society telling her she can’t be an awesome mom because of those circumstances, no matter how hard she tries. I want no part of sending that message to my daughter, and I will tell her all of this, and hopefully she will “get it,” just as I understand how hard it was for my own mother to raise us.

            That’s all I can do, really.

      3. Dood. That is kind of an awful comeback – mean and judgy. I really didn’t expect that. Ouch. I think Peeved Michelle was being kind of light and funny while still making her point. Yeesh.

        1. I got to this post from another post and I wasn’t going to comment but then I read your comment, Jessica, back at Peeved Michelle and wow, not cool. Not cool at all. It’s one thing to disagree with your readers or to call your readers out for being awful to you or on your site but that comment was a bit out of line. I know you won’t think so because it seems that you have a rep for being outspoken, which is fine, but eek. I’m just itchy thinking about how you treat others who respectfully disagree with you.

  3. Haven’t seen it yet (and was going to go off on you about that until I discovered I could program my DVR from work :) to record it), but here’s what I will say. I know I get a “pass” from you, Jessica, as you know I really don’t have a choice in the matter. And I will even concede that moms who want to work want to do so for them – to have the chance for adult interaction, to feel the sense of accomplishment in a more tangible way than parenthood or marriage can provide, etc.
    Still, I don’t necessarily think that such a choice is always bad for the kids. I think that my daughters have really gotten something out of seeing my accomplishments: from graduating college while raising them as a single mom and working full-time to seeing me get promoted at work, to take your child to work day.
    You know me – I’m all about balance. There are jobs I’ve had in the past that I would not and could not do as a mother now. I have found a perfect fit for me and my girls (and have been lucky enough to hang onto this job during this rough economic time). I feel that the girls after-school situation has enhanced and enriched their lives at least as well as I could’ve done in those hours. Not to mention, there are a LOT of adults that love them, and they know that. My feeling is, they deserve all the love they can get.
    So to me, there’s not an end-all be-all right answer for every family. Every sub-group of mothers has heroes and tales of caution. In the end, we all have to do what’s right for us.

  4. I slaved through the years of early motherhood, in the earliest stages of my husbands career, clipping, budgeting, balancing. I never felt monotonous or bored. I felt my career was one of a ladder that I continually climbed; every milestone, event and birthday. Which was more than my working mom/friends were seeing. It wasn’t a ‘who does it better’ pissing match, it was who is where they belong. Though I wished I had a great education and career backing to support me on the flip side of staying at home, I never resented being there, even giving up a designer nursery and matching diaper bag. And God forbid something should happen, I will look back and know I took every second I could. You only have them for a few years, I couldn’t walk away from that.

  5. Interesting. My daughter (now 7) keeps lobbying me to go back to work because she is desperate to ride the bus to the Boys and Girls Club after school with her friends and spend more time with them. This isn’t going to happen. I write and I can do that from home. I resented having to work during her first four years. I was a teacher and I could see that other people’s kids were getting more and better from me than my own child despite the fact that she had excellent daycare and later preschool. The day care providers were awesome and helped us during a rather difficult time by going above and beyond for my child.

    People are different and their parenting styles will be different. Differences are not bad things. Not all women thrive in the stay at home setting and the opposite is also true – some women couldn’t be the mother they want to be if they were working.

    I used to be pretty dismissive of the SAHM’s but I have lived both options now, and I can see that judgments and the idea that there is only one way to raise children is a blinkered by our adult need to justify our choices in the face of criticism we’d be better off ignoring.

  6. I don’t ever comment here, because you know… That whole mess about your friend’s ex is my fiance (but let me tell you, I highly doubt either of us knows the real story about that. Only they know the truth) anyway… About this subject, I couldn’t agree with you more. I cut coupons and ate potatoes for weeks in order to stay home with my kids. I clothed my children at thrift stores and garage sales. When my husband left me in 2000 with 4 small kids I worked at home at night stuffing envelopes. It is possible. I did it! My thought is this: why have kids if you’re going to pawn them off on someone else to raise? Same goes with a marriage, why get married if you don’t want to put out? And what’s wrong with all these woman who don’t enjoy sex? Shit. Orgasms get me through the day. TMI? Sorry.

    1. Mariah, you’re asking me to walk a tightrope here. I think you’re very lucky that your parents have given you and your children a home to live in. Orgasms are great.

      It would be nicer if you hadn’t enjoyed your orgasms with someone else’s husband.

      Please don’t make me take sides. We know where I’ll land.

  7. I would never ask anyone to take sides. I’m just saying that I agreed with you on this post. You know nothing of my parents or their house, all you know is what you have ‘heard’ that’s unfair to go there. I work my ass off to live in that house.

  8. I would never ask anyone to take sides. I’m just saying that I agreed with you on this post. You know nothing of my parents or their house, all you know is what you have ‘heard’ that’s unfair to go there. I work my ass off to live in that house. And again, you know nothing of past orgasms, you only know what you hear, unless yopu were there and you were not. I’m done here.

  9. As a working mom and a good friend of yours, I’ve never been offended by your position. Because you clearly articulate that you understand that many women don’t have the luxury of staying home with their children. Like me, who has to work since my ex-husband doesn’t do a thing and violates the child support order and doesn’t pay me a dime.

    I’m thrilled to have found a career I love that provides for my family and that gives me flexibility to spend as much time as possible with my sons, but that wasn’t always the case and you supported me regardless.

  10. First time commenter. I guess I feel the need to say that I’m not as lucky as Mariah. I left an abusive marriage in May. I guess I could have stayed and continued getting beat until he killed me. But, I chose to leave instead. My thought was that it was better for my children to have me part time than to not have me at all. Now, I have plenty of help. I stayed at a shelter for 4 months and now I am in a shelter follow up program where I receive rent and utility help for 2 years while I work and finish school. My school is online so I can be mostly home but the program requires me to work part time outside the home. I do what I can to be home with my kids, including working an in-home call center, doing some small free-lance writing projects and book-keeping but, no, its not always possible for everyone to stay at home full time. Plus, with three young, disabled children working at home with them present is often extremely difficult.

    1. Em, My husband was abusive too, which led to our divorce. Congrats to you for taking all of the necessary steps to keep you and your children safe. Of course not everyone has the ability to stay home full time, I just think if you can and you have the means, then why not stay home with your children and raise them??? Again, congratulations for taking the first step and calling a shelter, I know first hand how hard that is :)

  11. I just happened to catch the episode by accident as I don’t ever watch Dr. Phil, but I have to say that as judgemental as you came across, I felt for you. It just seemed like it was angry mom mob vs. Jessica. I think we are all entitled to feel how we feel about parenting, but I just wish there was more support from both sides. After all, we’re all working toward the common goal of raising happy, healthy, successful & well-adjusted children to become productive members of society.

    I stay home with my three children, too, and I admire your devotion to your family, regardless of whether or not I agree with how you expressed that devotion.

  12. I haven’t seen the episode, yet, but I will have to find it somewhere online now, because all these comments have piqued my interest.

    I am a stay-at-home-mom by choice. My husband and I decided years before we had our son that I would be the sole caregiver to our child and that we would practice Attachment Parenting. There was no other option in our minds. We are lucky that my husband has a good job where I can afford to stay at home and raise our son, but even if his job wasn’t as good, we would find a way to make it work. It is that important to both of us that the person who knows our son best is also the one guiding him through these first oh-so-important years.

    Yes, sometimes, it’s frustrating (like when he takes a 30 minute nap), but those times are few and far between. Though, never boring… I don’t get that one at all. There is WAY too much to do in a day to be bored. (WTF?) All the rest of the time I am practically gushing with love and appreciation for the amazing miracle that is a growing human being.. our son. MY son. And there is NO ONE else in the entire world that knows him best and knows how to make him happy and thrive. That alone makes it all worth it.

    There was a commenter above that said she wouldn’t stay at home with her child, ever. That made me sad for some reason. Personally, I couldn’t imagine doing anything but.

    1. I said I would never willingly choose to do so. It’s not something you should be sad about, because it is what is best for my entire family, which DOES INCLUDE ME AND MY HAPPINESS!!! I could easily be the martyr of the family and put aside my own dreams but that would not help my family, least of all Cate, and you can bet your bottom dollar that she would pick up on it in a heartbeat.

      And I am self-aware enough to recognize it. If I stayed at home, with my personality and background, my daughter would grow up HATING me, because I don’t have it in me to squelch that part of me, put on a happy face, and pretend that my life before her never happened and that I didn’t LOVE IT. I want her to be proud of me, not wonder why I clearly gave up something that made me happy to stay at home because “that’s what good moms do.” But that’s just MY perspective, based on what I know (myself). And for all that, the kicker is that I feel like I am a good mom and every once in a while, other people agree with me. And that’s not even counting the little girl who greets me with a smile whenever she sees me, and vice versa. You can be unhappy, if you like, but I’m not and neither is she, I think.

      1. Wow.. Where did that come from? Re-read my comment. I was not judging you. It had everything to do with my feelings on the matter (it makes me sad to think along those lines [of not wanting to staying home]. Am I not allowed to feel now?) and why I stay home and nothing to do with you or working moms, in general. Seriously, re-read it. You will find no judgment what-so-ever.

        My mom was a single, working mom and she did the best she could given the circumstances. I am in total support of working moms. If you have to work, you have to work. You do what you gotta do.

        *I* could not personally think of leaving my son to go to work. Just like working is your choice, staying at home is mine. :)

        Don’t give in to the mob. “Opt out”, as I like to say. I am very happy you are happy. Honest. I am very happy with my life, too. So, here we are… two happy moms. What is better than that for happy kids and a happy family, right?

        1. You are absolutely right . . . I didn’t read it as you judging me, honestly. I read it as you being somewhat sad for the situation that works for us, when by all accounts, my daughter seems to be one of the happiest babies many people have ever met and is adjusting well to the life we have.

  13. i’m so excited to watch it!!
    so *this* is the episode i’ve heard so much about, eh?
    just like moms should not give up custody of their children. i think, if there is any way possible to stay home, you should. and be bored and blog like the rest of us!

  14. I laughed when you said that because, honestly, if I could get a girl in to take care of the blowjobs, I would

    Actually you can. Sorry, someone was going to go there and I am in that sort of mood. FWIW, I’ll interject some male perspective into this.

    My wife was a SAHM for a little more than seven years. It was great! And I am very thankful that we were able to do it. But it took sacrifice and a lot of work to make it happen. I know a lot of fathers who feel enormous guilt about not earning enough to support their families on a single income.

    Initially I was unhappy about her going back to work because it felt like I wasn’t getting it done. But two kids in private school required making an adjustment or two.

    I haven’t any regrets about any of this and I’d do it all again. My children deserve it and I am happy to have given it to them. Going back to my friends, some of them could have done it if they had been willing to sacrifice some things.

    I haven’t ever driven a luxury car. Hondas worked just fine. I don’t go out once a week for a fancy meal, or go away once a month. There haven’t been yearly trips to Hawaii or Europe. It could have been done but we felt that it was more important to make other sacrifices.

    We all make choices. If you have to work there is nothing wrong with that. It is both respectable and admirable.

  15. Looks like you all fell down the Dr. Phil hole and Jessica, you shrewd one, created a nice forum for more bickering. I say this lovingly, because I do really think you are a bright, interesting woman and consider you a friend; let’s face it, this makes for great blog stats.

    On the subject:
    Some moms work outside the home. Some don’t. No one else has the right to tell another that their choice makes them a bad mother. I have been parenting for almost 21 years and I have seen absolutely nothing good come out of judging other peoples choices.


  16. Ahh, so you were the woman in the pink shirt on the show.

    Personally I hate how we have to label ourselves. SAHMs, Working Moms..can’t we all just be MOMS? That’s my view on it. I happen to stay at home with my kids. My goal is to be a published author. If that did happen then yeah, I’d still basically get to stay at home. But if I had to fly out for interviews and such and I was gone a lot of the time I’d do it. I’m not about to put my dreams on hold. I love my kids but I believe that the Mom needs to truly be happy–and if she’s not, well, then it’s not a happy household.

  17. It begins and ends with “choice.” We choose who fathers our children. We choose how we raise them. We choose to stay at home. We choose to work.

    What we do with those choices, how we own them, how we deal with the positive and negative results determines how we react to Jessica’s position.

    I’ve personally made plenty of mistakes and have been on both sides. It’s because of my own personal guilt that I feel the need to defend myself. But it still begins and ends with the choices I made.

  18. Wow! My kids are 32, 29 & 26. I was a stay at home Mom their entire lives. BUT… I have to say… you really are a sanctimonious bitch! Sheesh. I am embarrassed for you, your family and your friends. Uugghh.

  19. What’s really sad about all this is that Dr. Phil and all his advertisers are making a mint off of moms fighting against each other. Great for ratings, not so much for actually getting down to the business of making the world a better place, which is our real jobs as moms. I think it’s terrible that they hung you out to dry like that for their ratings, Jessica. I felt so bad about it, in fact, that I opened a lovely bottle of cabernet in your honor, and if you lived closer, I’d walk over with a glass. Cheers!

  20. ok. i saw the show. so now i can comment armed with knowledge.
    reality: no one will win this argument. all that is going to happen is opinion slinging. for all eternity,
    my opinion.
    i’ve been on both sides.
    i started out a sahm. it was exhausting and quite possibly the hardest, most strenuous work i had ever done.
    my kids were 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 when i left their dad. luckily, i still had the luxury of having the choice.
    i chose to stay home with my children. and was a single mom. although, even when i was married i was basically a single mom so, life didn’t change. i was just minus a person. it was good.
    but then…i got a job.
    my kids were 3 and 5. i only worked 30 hours/wk but it was a lot.
    my kids suffered. honestly.
    it was horrible.
    the biggest mistake of my life.
    eventually, i quit…actually, i got fired because i had to leave to take care of my son who was freaking out in daycare…and they let me go. fine by me.
    i worked at another place for 6 more months.
    and quit.
    my kids were more important.
    they needed me.

    anyways, i ended up getting remarried. there are 5 kids. my husband is a teacher. we NEVER have enough money.
    i work for my dad. 6-8 hours/week. it’s enough money that i can buy groceries if there isn’t enough in the regular account. or i can take care of incidentals that seem to constantly arise.
    but all my kids are in school now. my youngest (my son w/this marriage) is in kindergarten. and the few hours i work, no one is home anyways.
    some moms must work. they have no choice. i SO get that.
    but the moms who don’t necessarily have to. those who stick their 6 week old babies in day care for 8 or more hours a day because their career comes first.
    to me. that is so selfish.
    luckily, those kids will never know the difference.
    anyways jessica. i think you were fabulous. like i said on twitter, you gave sahm a strong voice.
    i thought it was incredible that they came out there and told you how sanctimonious you were yet they ganged up on you something fierce…and THAT was ok?
    i found that to be quite disgusting.

  21. Caroline and all of the other mothers who saw my reply to her initial comment and think I’m this ugly judgmental woman (not that you said so in so many words) because I was saddened by Caroline stating that “…Because I also would never willingly choose to stay at home with my daughter all day. Ever.” Please let me try and explain my side…

    It’s painful to be the daughter of a mother who didn’t want to stay home with her children. As a 17 year old, I heard words very similar to those, first hand from my own mother. I know that it was her issue and not mine, but it still hurt. It hurt to know that she wasn’t fulfilled by raising her children. She went on to earn her J.D. and is now the managing partner at a thriving law firm in CA and has been for more than 15 years. Good for her. I’m glad she found something the filled the void in her life that having 4 children didn’t help fill.

    I understand my own issues in that I have buried a two year old and that probably makes my own personal bias a bit stronger…but I also think it lends credence to my argument. Every minute is important. I hate that I have to leave Gaby in Montessori as often as I do in order to receive the treatment and care I need in order to heal and get better…become whole for her and for myself. Because I know first hand that sometimes the last minute you spend with your child may really be your last minute with them.

    I understand that some moms don’t have the “choice” to stay at home and must work. I get it, I do. I just wish I understood the desire to have a child – the genuine desire to HAVE A CHILD, yet be willing – nay – WANT to spend 9-12 hours a day away from that child.

    Caroline, I don’t doubt you’re a wonderful mom. Seriously, I don’t. I suppose I am very emotional about this issue because of my own hang ups about leaving Gaby, or my other kids (I have 19 year old twins who were only 6 months old when Josh died), in the care of anyone else. Josh died when he was in the care of a sitter. The first time I had left him with anyone other than family. And well…he’s gone. Maybe it’s this loss that I will forever wear like some morbid broach that clouds my view of the other side in this debate.

    1. Audrey, here’s the thing . . . you are allowed to be emotional about the issue. You are entitled to your opinion, and you are entitled to your own hurt feelings on the issue, and you will get no judgment from me on that. All I was trying to convey is that there are women who do need more to be fulfilled–who do “want it all” and believe that it is not only possible to have it all, but to have a strong family life while doing so. I also think that your opinions are eminently valid because of your own experience with your son (and I so hope that it was through no fault of the sitter), but we aren’t all alike, we don’t have the same chemical makeup that goes into our parenting chemistry. That doesn’t make either one of us wrong, and if I didn’t convey THAT, then I apologize to you.

  22. Hmmm…I always seem to find that the most judgmental people are usually the least fulfilled. Jessica, if people like you took all that energy you spend judging other people into something productive, the world would probably be a much better place for it.

    There’s no right or wrong answer to this debate. Ladies, make your choices, own them, and be happy. Because the bottom line is that happy parents=happy children.

    Peace out!

  23. And PS…I personally know many people at Dr. Phil and they are just pitting woman against each other for ratings…And you are letting them. When are woman going to come together and support each other rather than tearing each other down?

    This is such an old and tired conversation with no winners. Let’s move on people!

    1. Liz, I love your comment. I would like to see mothers support each other more even if they make different choices. And you are right. It is cool to be on t.v. It is cool to start a dialogue, but at the end of the day, the women on that show are being used by Dr. Phil for ratings. That would be fine if this wasn’t so destructive.

  24. I have to admit I have not seen the episode, but read this post, and a few tweets, and skimmed a few comments here. I’ve been reading this blog/twitter stream for some time and have to say I was taken aback by what I read today.
    My comment Jessica is this – we should never have doctors, lawyers, teachers, senators, architects, CEOs, business-owners…..who are moms??? (Unless they are single moms of course) Because their undivided attention is due only to their children (or their husband’s sexual needs)? So basically you are telling me that once I decided to have a child (in fact I have 2) that my role in life was reduced to mothering and giving blowjobs and nothing else?
    I think every mother who reads this post should be offended by that concept.
    I have to wonder if you really believe that or if you wrote/said some of these things to stir up controversy.
    Raising children has nothing to do with whether you stay home, work in an office, work from home, are divorced or single, are rich or poor, and everything to do with making the right choice for your children. Please show some respect for those who do not make the same choices as you do.

  25. Okay, I just watched the show – and happened to read Sarah’s comment, and I have to say, that was my take on the show as well. I definitely felt for you, Jessica, as I watched that, and was once again awed by your strength. I don’t think I could’ve strung words together in a coherent sentence a few of the times that you were forced in that position. Kudos to you and I remain proud to call you a friend.

  26. Why are you all so rude to each other? Everyone has the right to do whatever makes them happy and fulfilled. Who is to say what is right for one woman is right for the next one? Too many people think only their way is the right way, not allowing other lifestyles to even be considered. Why was Jessica basically the only SAHM that got to talk on the show

  27. Growing up in 1950’s in a small town in Kansas, all of my friends had moms who stayed home. No one worked. Even the postman could raise his four children on his lone salary. My mom raised four children and got very very good at golf. Club champion eight times. She had a high school education and worked to help put my father through dental school. When I went to college, I decided to chose dentistry and follow my father. Married, three kids, I continued to work in my career because we needed the money, and I liked it. I like what I do. So, my kids have me as their role model…working mom who also volunteered as PTA president, girl scout leader, softball manager. And, now my kids are chosing careers. I am hoping that they will find a passion and that it will blend with the job that they choose to do. Economics today, probably both parents will need to work. But, at the end of the day, the person I hold in highest esteem….my mom. It wasn’t about if she worked or not. It was about who she was as a person. Awesome.

    1. Everyone knows that you and my mom are two of the women I RUN to, you’re the women who have the most impact on my kids, on my daughter. The two of you have both worked while raising kids. I get that many folks need to.

      Unfortunately what got cut were the rational discussions, the “let’s support women who need to work” and the “dads can do this too”.

      But your mom… rockstar… all the way.

  28. Ok, so Im obviously not a sahm but I am a stay at home dad. Ive seen both sides of this issue.When my oldest was born my wife and I were both working. We sent my daughter to a day care, and I hated doing it. Eventually we tried private sitters and she fared no better there. The day care forgot to feed her. HTF does that happen? Anyway, eventually I was able to stay home with her. When my son was born I was able to stay home with him as well. We were broke or just about broke and it sucked big time. My kids are both in school now daughter is 12 and my son will be 10 soon.
    I was lucky that my wife had a job that allowed us to do this. Was it easy? Never. There were days I prayed for a job outside the home. Im not syaing it was harder to be a sahd, I know every situation is different. However, looking back I wouldn’t change it. My kids were loved and well taken care of by me and not a stranger. Ive had friends whose kids were raised by outsiders more than by them. It sucks, and I know it has to happen with the current economy. You do whatever you can and whatever you have to for you and your kids.

  29. I am a homemaker who loves “staying” home with her kids (sidenote: I HATE the term STAY at home mother – I don’t “stay” anywhere, we are out and about, exploring our world.) I am not bored and neither are my children. Last week, I posted about how much I love staying home and how utterly miserable I would be if I had to work outside the home. I would be absolutely furious if I only had 2-3 hours a day to spend with my children. The comments on my post were mainly positive. However, a few working moms were dismayed that I said I would be miserable if I did not stay at home because it insulted their lifestyle . I bristle at the notion that I am supposed to tip-toe around working moms’ feelings, yet have had to hear some of the worst insults about MY choices – stupid questions such as how I must fill my days with shopping, how I am wasting my degrees and CPA license. I have to endure comments about how bored they would be if they stayed home and how their children just!love! going to daycare and would be bored staying with them all day long.

    For the commenter who said, “……some women CAN do it all. Some women are more capable than others when it comes to balancing their lives. Some women can simply do more than others can.” – great attitude there. It is nice that the commenter pats herself on the back that she is “capable” of “doing it all.” and that those of who do stay home are not “capable” of handling much. Whatever! I am perfectly ” capable” of working outside the home but I would rather be able to give 100% to my family and not be divided.

    I know that a lot of mothers have to work and I really try not to be judgmental about the whole thing. Why fight? It is not worth it. But, it does sadden me when a mother says that a daycare can take better care of her kids than she can. Really?? They need to really think long and hard about that statement.

  30. I tried the stay at home thing but it wasn’t my bag. Now I work four days a week.
    My son is great, I am happy, and my husband is very involved.
    I’m a good mom and I’m pretty good at my job too. I feel lucky to be doing both the mom thing and the job thing.
    It might not work for everyone but it works for me.
    I occasionally feel guilty but I think everyone gets the guilts once in a while. We’re human, and I’m Catholic so I feel extra guilty.

  31. I’m a SAHM/WAHM Mommy who takes in those outsourced kids… I figure that if I need more income than my writing ventures can generate, why not take care of other people’s kids and let them be the ones to go to work? I’m a HUGE advocate of being a SAHM… I didn’t have kids so that other people could raise them, however there was a period of time as a single mama when I had to work, lucky for me, my Mom was happy to take care of my kids during that time. I think the real issue is when people are selfish and choose lifestyle over family. Sometimes you have to work… that’s life. Sometimes you choose to work because you want that house, car, the right schools, designer hand bags, etc… I’ve heard parents make statements that trivialize the amount of time their kids spend in care, as the caregiver around here… I can say, some of these kids spend 12 hours a day with me, 5 days a week. That’s not a trivial amount of time!

    That said, if women stay home and resent it, they may be doing more harm than good.

  32. Bummed I missed it. Tried to tape it, didn’t realize I should have taped the 8pm not the 4pm one. I remember some of my friend’s moms feeling sorry for me since I had a working mom, who also worked by choice. She cooked, my dad cleaned, she loved her work and they were both very involved with us kids. She felt that it was better to have two parents who were happy with their work and involved several hours a day rather than one home all the time (mom) and the other working or traveling constantly and rarely around (dad). I knew lots of families like that, and we’re all doing fine now.

    What bothers me is when people think if you have to work it’s okay, but not if you can afford to stay home. So too bad for those kids who’s moms work are they going to be worse off? I don’t think so. I do admit to being a bit judgemental to some friends who had oodles of money, and fought over who would have to pick up their baby at daycare at 6pm since they both worked all the time. It might just have been jealousy.

  33. Sad that we can’t just be supportive of each other and not judge. At least you’re up front about it but I do not agree with your methods or your message. I am a proud working mom by choice. And I think you should be a proud SAHM. But I don’t agree with belittling other people when we haven’t walked in their shoes. I invite you to come over and see my blog any time. :)

  34. I do not know you from Jack. In fact, the first time I heard your name was when a friend of mine was talking about being on the show. You weren’t referenced on the show by your name or your blog. However in those few minutes of camera time I got to know you as an angry, disgruntled, judgmental woman who in no way sold staying at home with your children as a desirable occupation or an occupation that would make me a better person or a better parent any way. And I’m already a stay at home mom.

    But the thing that made the show the hardest to watch was your divisive words and how they in no way helped the mothers in the audience, working or not. Everyone is struggling for identity, worth, understanding and what we do not need more of is the isolation or alienation that you are handing out when you are voicing your opinion in the manner you did on that show.

    I know the producers can spice up a show to give it punch but they certainly didn’t put words in your mouth. I hope that they did edit out words that backtracked at some point. It sounds like your response to stepmother shows a glimmer of consideration of the fact that we are not all cut of the same mold, nor do any one of us come from the same circumstances.

    It’s unfortunate that you didn’t get a chance use your love for what you do to encourage others to feel the same about what they do.

  35. I come from both worlds – my mom was a crunchy homeschooler for me and my three siblings till I was 9 years old – goat’s milk and homemade bread all the way. Till the divorce. Then, we all went to public school and lived on food stamps, while she worked her way through nursing school to get us back on our feet. I love her, and believe that she always put us first in all of her decisions, which is what mattered the most.

    I adored my career – heck, I put ten really long hard years into getting where I wanted to go. But, the day that the two lines showed up on the stick was the day that I looked back and remembered having “coffee” with my mom every morning (mine was hot cocoa) and how much the time with her meant to me, and decided that even though it would be hard, my child deserved my time. It’s not the easiest thing to live with all the time ( a job that is ever-changing with no formal training available!), but it is the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done.

    I wish everyone had the ability to choose. That’s why I support the groups that promote togetherness, and inclusive policies, like the Family and Home Network. Our group was represented in 2003, the last time the Dr. Phil show fanned the flames of the “Mommy Wars” – sad forward progress hasn’t been made since then. (

    Thx for your honesty, and lack of shame/guilt – many SAHMs would wither from the criticism, and you did not.


  36. Ok, I have to say as a disclaimer, that I don’t watch Dr Phil anymore. I quit watching for numerous reasons, but mostly because I think he sold out “being real” for ratings. I grew up poor. My dad went off to fight WWII his senior yearand didn’t finish school, which left him working at the local lumber mill for 45 years when he came back. I liked always knowing my mom was at home waiting to ask me about my day and my homework assignments( she had attended college but stayed home with us anyway). We still laugh that when I learned to count money in kindergarten, she almost ripped her hair out trying to get me to understand that 5 quarters don’t make a dollar. Don’t even get her started on the topic, she is still traumatized.
    I personally think kids are happier and healthier emotionally when there is a consistent routine. If both parents work, and have energy left at the end of the day to give to their kids, and aren’t spent and exhausted by day’s end, then YAY for you! I certainly tried working days, husband nights for a while and it sucked. I was so emotionally drained I had nothing left by 5pm. I really did give it all at the office. I quit when it became obvious that my daughter needed a mommy more than I needed that paycheck. Guess what, that $50,000 I was making over 10 yrs ago we never missed a penny of it. Apparently I was spending it all on stupid shit we didn’t NEED, like being too tired to cook, so ordering take out, or sending clothes to the dry cleaner’s because I didn’t have time to iron. Vehicle upkeep, lunch money for mommy, daughter ate school lunches, because I didn’t have time to make her one myself. It’s amazing what little we gave up to have me home. I stayed home until she left for college. OK, I’m still at home, but I now work from home.
    I blog, but if you visit, I haven’t blogged for quite a while. Especially about soup.

    When my daughter was a baby, I did licensed daycare, and I can tell you the sadness on the mommy’s faces when their little one did something awesome while in my care and they were at work and missed it. I tried hard to keep the video camera handy for them all, but sometimes missed the opportunity. They grow up so fast, looking back I wouldn’t have wanted to miss one single moment of my daughter’s childhood. I love being a mom, and am only 39 and now have tons of time to do whatever I wish. It was what worked for ME. I am judgmental and yeah, I am a christian and yeah, I do read the bible. Go ahead and judge me. My resume clearly and proudly states why I left my last position and explains the GIANT gap between jobs. I’m proud of the gap. The gap represents countless hours of time I spent with my daughter. How precious that time is to me now that she is off living her own life. Happily, she has told me she created menu suggestions for the week she’s home for Thanksgiving break. Her way of letting me know she’s homesick, while still being my feisty, independent, unapologetic social activist college student. Just enjoy your kids while their little. You may wish you can “have it all” but no one can. Something will suffer, whether it’s you, your kids, your spouse or your job. If you choose the behavior you choose the consequence. The debate is over the consequences. It’s a personal issue we all have to answer for ourselves. In my opinion, those most offended by us stay at home moms are feeling guilty and can’t admit it to themselves, so they lash out and whine that they are being judged. Yeah, you are being judged, but your biggest judge of your success or failure as a parent won’t be me, it will be YOUR KIDS.

  37. “I am judgmental and yeah, I am a christian and yeah, I do read the bible.”

    Would love to hear about how this fits into the discussion about stay at home moms and working mothers, because I think that, if it involves some argument that good Christian women stay at home and raise their babies and are somehow more entitled to judge the actions of others, I might weep.

  38. No, Caroline, I am not stating that only christian women are good mom’s who stay home. My comment about MY religious beliefs were in response to Jessica’s referral

    “She’s so judgmental! Doesn’t she read the bible? No, I’m Jewish, that’s not my book. We’re cool with using judgment, discretion and our best thinking caps.”

    at the beginning of this post. I am not implying that only good christian women stay home and raise their kids, that simply isn’t true. My point with that statement was that I can be judgmental as well, I was speaking for myself only, that I have flaws, am not perfect and am willing to admit I can be judgmental. I am my biggest critic, and have to look myself in the mirror every night and live with the choices I made that day. If you want to really nail it down, I was more admitting my flaws as a human being, not sitting on some self righteous throne passing judgment on others. I do tend to look down on women who make 6 babies with 5 different guys, abandon the first 2, screw up the middle 3 and give the littlest to his dad to raise, all while living on welfare and getting eviction after eviction for not using her free money to pay the bills, but rather to purchase cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. Yeah, those women I judge. Why? Because while she’s out there acting like a jackass, I’m raising one of her kids trying to give him a home that is safe, secure and stable. I don’t get reimbursed one cent, and it’s not about the money, it’s about responsibility. My judgment of this “mother” is that she is selfish, lazy and a leech on society’s ass. I pay taxes so she can buy cigarettes instead of pay the rent or electric bill so her children can have a warm shower and a hot meal. She is a shitty mom, and I’m not apologizing for hating the tsunami of destruction she has done to these kids lives. So yeah, I do judge and I’m a better person than her. But not because I’m a christian or read the bible. But because I am responsible, and put the needs of my kids above my own. OH, and for anybody thinking I’m slamming welfare mom’s, I’m actually only slamming this particular one. The “mother” I speak of has set the bar so low almost everyone qualifies as a better parent than her.

  39. “Judgmental”

    I wonder how these “working moms” on Dr. Phil feel when they see a pregnant woman smoking or drinking? Do they “judge” her? Is that fair? Who on earth would say that we have no right to “judge” someone that is carrying a baby but who is drinking and smoking. Why are we all willing to “judge” such a woman with child? Because of the impact that has on the child, right?. So then what is the difference here – one woman is inflicting possible problems on their child by smoking but another woman is inflicting possible emotional problems on their child for not being there. “Working mom” could be seen as is a form of child abandonment could it not? I would love to have heard the reaction of the Dr. Phil woman about them being willing to be “judgmental” about a expectant mom smoking or drinking!

    What job can you name that you could get and then say to the boss “oh by the way I won’t be here for half the week but don’t worry I’ll do “quality” work while I am working!”

    These “working moms” can only get away with their rationalization of daytime child abandonment simply because no one is in a position, like a boss, to call them on it and fire them!

    The truth hurts – thank you Jessica for speaking up for the kids on Dr. Phil!

    From Oregon

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