I often hear a lot of debate about whether or not a mom should stay home with her kids or return to her job outside of the home.  Now although there are tons of women who have chosen one path or the other and still manage to get along wonderfully, I still notice this tension between some moms, like someone made the right decision while the other one is destined to swim in regret. I find it frustrating.

When my son was born I had a good gig, and I could have returned to my job and probably even worked my way up the ladder. But after he was born, I struggled with the idea of returning to work, and with my incredibly long commute I decided to stay home. I stayed at home with my son for a year and a half and then I returned to work part-time. Working part-time was great because I still spent a great deal of time with him, but was also able to engage with adults and stimulate my mind in a way that I craved. After 6 months of working part-time, I returned to work full-time. I also happened to get pregnant again at the same time. Although my pregnancy was no surprise, I still wasn’t certain what I would do after my next child was born.

After I had my daughter, I stayed home with her for about 4 months, and then I reluctantly returned to work. The reluctance was mostly about wanting more time with her, but I knew that some of it was also rooted in the fact that I wasn’t sure where my job would lead. It was a strange time in my life. I found it hard to walk away from my kids daily when I knew I was being called to do more than my day job required.

To tell you the truth, I am not the long-term stay at home type of mom. I make no apologies for that. I am totally comfortable with being a mom who like to work.  I love my kids more than anything, but I also have passions and dreams that I need to pursue. I know that pursuing those things will ultimately make me a better mom.

If a woman decides to stay home and she loves it, I think she deserves a HUGE round of applause, because it is hard work. If she stays at home and after giving it her best, it’s just not a good fit–well, she still deserves a huge round of applause. And if a mom decides that returning to work is something she needs to do for a number of reasons, a huge round of applause is due to her, too, because that decision is never easy. You see where I am going with this, right?

The thing I have realized is this: there is no easy decision. It doesn’t matter what a mom decides to do, it is hard. All of it is hard. And you know what? The issue really isn’t whether or not a mom stays home with her kids.  The issue is how present she is when she is with her kids. If a mom is with her kids all day but is stressed the hell out, distracted and Lord know what else, is she really giving her kids something that the mom at work isn’t? I don’t think so.

So as women, I want us all to quit the judgment and realize that it’s not about staying at home or working or whatever. It’s about the quality of the time we sped with our kids. It’s about whether or not we see and hear them. It’s about whether or not we make them feel like everything they say and do matters to us. That’s what it’s really about.