For me, being pregnant was almost like being part of a club. I had the privilege of experiencing the joys and challenges of pregnancy with three close friends who were also expecting. The countdown was on, and by March the deliveries would begin. We dreamed together, commiserated with one another and talked openly about our views on motherhood.
I had naïvely assumed that the stay-at-home option was every woman’s first choice and was stunned when my one of my friends announced that she wanted to continue pursuing her career after her baby arrived. Suddenly I was on a mission. Betsy had to be “enlightened” about the benefits of staying at home so she wouldn’t succumb to the selfishness of being a working mom. Needless to say, I was the mom who needed her eyes opened!
It’s amazing how motherhood opens the door to worlds we never knew existed. I had no idea that some mothers were at war with each other over this issue; I honestly thought my feelings were new and revelatory.
That was 22 years ago, and I’ve since realized that the two sides have been in conflict for decades. I’d like to say that women have made peace, but a quick perusal of online mommy blogs or an afternoon watching “Dr. Phil” is a blatant reminder that moms all across the country continue to bicker over the superiority of their choices.
I may still be guilty of a little naïveté, but I believe that moms can build bridges between the camps and learn to work together in spite of their differences. My friendship with Betsy proved to be both tougher and stronger than I could have imagined. She was not intimidated by my soapbox sermons, and neither was I silenced by her brilliant rhetoric in defense of working moms. We went toe-to-toe in the debate, and when the dust settled, we had to admit that mothering was a priority for each of us — regardless of our working preferences.
I’m grateful that Betsy wasn’t offended by my judgments, and I’m a better woman today because she challenged me with her honesty. In the end, our friendship has shown that there is strength when moms from both camps work together for the good of their families.
Betsy trusted me to care for her son Rob during the after-school hours before dinnertime. We also found that our kids played well together and their friendship blossomed. During that time, my availability provided the flexibility Betsy and her husband needed to focus at work.
On the other hand, Betsy brought adult conversation to my “Sesame Street” world, and she challenged me to pursue cultural literacy, which ignited my love of learning. Betsy was an academic role model for my daughters, and I was a touch of comfort for her boy when chaos swirled around him. We grew to respect one another, understanding that our maternal love could not be measured by our choice to work or stay at home.
Our kids are grown now, and they stay connected through Facebook. Betsy and I keep in touch from across the miles, still cheering for the success of our families.
The apostle Paul exhorts us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). I believe that moms can make peace between the camps, and my quarter-century friendship inspires me to pursue that goal.