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Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Will Stay Home

I've worked ever since I was 15 years old and I've been supporting myself for the last 10 years.  The breadth of my working experience, both blue-collar and professional, has given me a pretty good understanding of what I want to be when I grow up:  a stay-at-home mother.  Of all the jobs I've ever held, I'm pretty sure being a caretaker is the one that comes most naturally for me.  I'm pretty domesticated for a working girl.  I love to cook and I get a lot of joy out of taking care of my husband.  So, it stands to reason to me that I will get the same joy and gratification of taking care of my children.  

Now, my personal preference is not a proclamation for or against the essential question that most women have to grapple with and what has evolved to, what I have noticed my whole life:  a secret war between working moms and stay-at-home moms!

I first noticed this in my own childhood.  My mother was among one of the few women in my very large family that worked while raising us. Mom was a pioneer of sorts.  It was way harder back then to be a working mother.  She risked losing her job to stay with a hospitalized infant.  There was no Family Medical Leave Act and never mind the social stigma.  And the guilt.  Her sisters had no problem sending her through the ringer on the issue of her being a provider for our family.  But I knew what it meant for my mother to be working, even it at the early age of seven.  I remember my cousin teasing me about how spoiled my brother and I were because we had a nice house and nice toys.  {sidebar: we were not rich, just typically middle class}.  My defense was that I got to have nice things because my mother worked hard for us and that meant that I went to after-school care while he got to go home to his mom and a snack. It was an even trade-off to me as a child.  I knew the exchange and I'll be honest, it was fine.  It was not better or worse than what my aunt had chosen for him, just different. 

Fast-forward to present day, and among the litany of friends with kids, my ears are not deaf to the comments working women make about staying at home and vice-versa.  For working mothers, there is an impression that stay-at-home mothers have an easier life.  For stay-at-home mothers, I think there might be an air that they believe themselves to be better mothers because they have wholly devoted themselves to their families.  Now, I've never really heard anyone say any of this outright.  But don't forget, women can be tricky!  It may not be direct, but those sentiments are there I assure you.  

I have a different point-of-view on the to work not to work debate. Everyone is born with a different temperament.  Some women prefer to move a thousand miles per hour and thrive on every minute of their day being filled with some kind of productive endeavor.  Some women prefer a more leisurely pace.  I believe that for some of my working mother friends, it sincerely is in the best interest of their family that they work outside of the home.  This can be recharging and fulfilling for them in a way that allows them to be the best moms they can be when they are home.  Then, there are women like me, who do their best work when it's tied to something deeply personal and meaningful like their family.  

I think all women are born with an oversized guilt gene that just proliferates in some inexplicable manner when you have kids.  No matter what you choose for your family, a woman will always feel bad about the what ifs of the the other option.  

Honestly, I think the working mom gig is probably the hardest job in the world, but that's not why I would like to opt out of that role.  It just so happens that the job I think I'm best qualified for and would give me the greatest happiness happens to be one that is not paid by a third-party.

So, when I have kids, I will stay home but I will NOT spend my days on Facebook trying to convince everyone how hard my life is!  

4 comments:

  1. Love it! And I can't wait to make the same career change :) Please don't let me EVER complain about life at home, because I know it is WAY more my calling than what I'm doing right now!!! BTW, I know Samuel isn't quite here yet, but I'm pretty sure he'd like a cousin...

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  2. He'll get one...one day. ;) And when he does, we'll have lots of fun toting them around on family field trips to zoos, aquariums, and parks (oh my!).

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  3. My mom and I had this same conversation last night. No matter what decision you make, you're going to feel guilty: If you stay home with your children, you'll feel guilty for not being a financial provider while you're still being a spender, but if you work, you'll feel that your time and energy would be better spent with your children. It's a no-win! For someone like me who does not enjoy a hectic lifestyle but does enjoy the feeling of achievement that comes from a professional life, I don't know what the right decision is. All of that being said, AMEN to being tired of the stay-at-home moms complaining about how tough there lives are!

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  4. Well said Susan. There is absolutely no comparision between stay at home vs working Moms. Things are much tougher because you are multi-tasking much more. Sometimes you feel chastized by stay at home moms and feel less of a mother because you are not there for your children.
    However, in my experience, most working mothers are well aware that they are not there for their children during the day, and so they are forever trying to provide the quality time with their children regardless of how tired they are, and the guilt can be overwhelming. If I had another choice, I would have stayed home until you all were in school. I didn't so I decided to make the best of what was in front of me. If you are fortunate enough to have that choice stay at home, but please do not become judgemental and look down on the Moms who do have to work.
    :) Mom

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