Q. I love my sister, but our differing parenting choices are tearing us apart. She's a stay-at-home mom, while I have a job that I adore. She constantly makes me feel that my working is hurting my child. If she's not grilling me about what he did at daycare, she's carrying on about her latest enriching Mommy-and-Me project. I'm so sick of the neglectful-parent undertones that I can barely stand to talk to her.
A. The war of working moms vs. stay-at-homes is as old as Rosie the Riveter; sisterhood, unfortunately, is no guarantee of exemption. But here's something that might make this particular mommy minefield a little less explosive: You guys actually have more in common than you think.
There isn't a mother today who doesn't at some juncture face off with other moms about whether working -- or not -- is the right thing. It may just be that your sister is rubbing your face in how much quality time she's able to rack up because she's envious of the opportunities your dual family income affords, or she's heard one too many stories about some important new project you're working on.
Clearly, maintaining a loving sisterly relationship is more important than waging a war that neither of you has a shot at winning. So call a sister summit. Let your sister know that while you think she is a fantastic mom, you're doing this parenting thing a different way, and it makes you miserable when you feel she's criticizing.
Suggest a quid-pro-quo: She's free to ask you to clam up the next time you flaunt your expense account if you can do the same when one of her supermommy anecdotes starts giving you an anxiety attack. Just sharing your insecurities will likely make you both feel better, not just about your choices, but about each other as well.
Kathy Bishop and Julia Whitehead are both moms and the authors of The City Parent Handbook (Rodale, 2004).
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2005.