What does it mean to be a "working mother"? Does it mean that you're working outside of the home, inside the home, or in both places? Dr. Robin takes a closer look at the struggle, the judgment, the guilt, the shame and the blame that mothers feel toward other mothers. "We really still are grappling in 2007 with what it really means to be a mother," Dr. Robin says.
Dr. Robin says the issue isn't about whether you've made a decision to stay at home to spend more time with your child or whether you've chosen to return to work because it's your passion or you need a dual income.
"For me, it doesn't matter where you are as a mother," Dr. Robin says. "What does matter is how attuned you are with yourself, with your needs and with your children."
We've heard the arguments before: Some stay-at-home moms may judge mothers who work outside the home, saying their children won't be adjusted and won't feel as loved and as cared for as if they had stayed home. And some moms who work outside the home may criticize the stay-at-home mothers, saying that all they do is sit on the couch and watch soap operas all day.
"Both are so far from the truth," Dr. Robin says. "Both women grapple with meaning, creating purpose, creating a sense of joy—not just for their children, but for themselves."
Some stay-at-home mothers may later on wish they hadn't given up their careers. Still, mothers who worked outside the home may regret missing out on their kids' childhoods.
"So much of what we decide is acceptable or is unacceptable isn't really about what you think," Dr. Robin says. "It's about what your mother might be thinking, what your grandmother's thinking, what your neighbors are thinking."
Dr. Robin urges us to ignore the voices of other people in our lives who are telling us to stay at home or go back to work. A happy mother is one who first takes care of herself, Dr. Robin says. "Drop into your own world—what you need to do for your own aliveness, your own vitality, your own sense of well-being in the world."