By Rivka Perlman

July 9, 2012

Video – Sisters, Working Moms and Stay at Home Moms



Between all my many siblings I could write a book. No,I could actually write a separate book about each one. There’s a whole heap of us (girls alone -4 – ¬†plus¬†our adopted Russian sister.) And as you can imagine we’re all really different.

(my family, before we adopted¬†two more. I’m in the little green dress and Shula is in the light blue dress. No comment on the 80’s styles!)

Oh, on some levels we’re the same. We all like a good laugh! We all still share make up and love a good novel. We’re all night people and we all are way too hard on ourselves. Still, some of us are more the same than others.

Then there’s Shula. She’s all that and more. When my older sister was running a preschool, Shula¬†was getting her degree. And when my other sister became a reading specialist, Shula¬†was getting another degree and when I was homeschooling, Shula was getting another degree.

Now getting an education is a pretty normal thing to do, but growing up in m y home¬†it wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list. The family culture was more in the lines of give to the world and to G-d with everything you have. And though my father is an ER doctor, it was assumed that we wouldn’t necessarily fulfill that mission through any sort of¬†degree. (read Rabbi¬†ūüôā Really, there was this kind of built-in confidence that you had smarts and you’d get out there and make the right moves (whether or not that included a degree.)

And though most of us have a bent towards psychology, Shula  raised her kids and went to school simultaneously, gaining training and experience that has made her a highly sought after therapist in Jerusalem.

Recently, we got together at a big birthday reunion and we were talking about what that felt like. What does it feel like to be a working mom in a  stay-at-home-mom type  family? Did she feel less than? Did she feel more than?


As we spoke late into the night, I realized that as sisters we need more than our shared histories and love. We almost have to be willing to put away our shared histories and see each other for who we are now – at this moment. And what adulthood has given each of us.

In a word – we have to RESPECT each other. You see this a lot when one family member becomes religious. Whether or not this is great for the family dynamic relies on this one thing alone. Respect.

Without respect, the religious family member thinks that they’re better than; and the rest of the family thinks she’s nuts.

With respect, the religious family member is grateful for the people who¬† brought her this far and for their continued love and the rest of the family is open to their sibling’s happiness.

When we respect each other, and we respect ourselves we can look with humility and say, there is no one road for two people.

Our missions are as diverse as we ourselves are.

I felt a lot of freedom on this visit with Shula. I felt like we validated each others right to be different and to live our truths.

And¬†even with all that, listening to Shula, it’s uncanny how her mission is so true to our family. Stay at home or not, that she’s giving to the world and to G-d with everything she has.


Most of us work because we need the income, but I’d love to hear more about what feelings go on for you behind that.

Are you a stay at home mom? Do you feel judgmental of woman who go to work? Or do you feel smaller around them? Are you a working mom? Do you feel more enlightened than a stay at home mom or do you simply wish that could be you? How did your mothers role in your home affect your decisions?




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