Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Great Stay-At-Home Debate

I don't work.

I'm not receiving any mat leave payments.

And I have no set work plan for the near future.

(The neurotic-planner side to my persona is schvitzing right now.)

Most people know that I'm self-employed and have been asking if I'm working yet. And in conversations, the phrase often goes "When you go back to work"...

Not "if".

But... wait a minute. What if I don't go back to work? Is it okay if I'm a stay-at-home Mom? Is it okay if raising my children becomes my only work? Is that enough?

My generation was brought up being told that, as women, we should strive to do whatever we want. We have so many choices now. It's great if you have grand ambitions when it comes to your career. In fact, on International Women's Day, someone I know updated their Facebook status to "Here's to a world filled with more women CEOs".

But wait.

What if that's not what I want anymore? What if I'm an educated woman who chooses to put a career on the back burner? What if I swap being challenged mentally for cleaning poop and teaching my kids to tie their shoes?

I know the easy answer is to say "Of course it's okay! You can do whatever you want. You have the choice." But sometimes I wonder if that's how we all really feel.

As I referenced in my last blog, parents are now being told not to lose themselves in parenting too much. You need that "other" persona in order to be a good parent. You must be someone besides just "Mom".

So we go back to work. We solve problems and learn new things. We make important decisions. And that's good. It really is.

But what if you decide work's just not for you any more? Will you find a lot of other women are making your choice?

Let's see... out of all my Mom friends that I met on my first maternity leave, only a couple didn't return to work full time. (Including me). And out of all my girlfriends who have children, only one other Mom stays at home with her kids full time.

I wonder about the point in my life when my kids are going to school. If I'm not working, what the heck will I do? Is "running the household" too 1950s for me? Is there enough running of the household actually needed to fill my days?

A lot of questions. Not a lot of answers yet. I'm curious to hear from other Moms out there. What did you decide? How did you make your decision? Was it an easy one? If money were no object... what would you do?

I'm not sure of my identity yet. Can I have one without work? How do I answer the question, "What do you do?"

Maybe only time will tell.

In the meantime, tell me Moms. What do you do?


  1. If money were no object, I wouldn't work full time. I would walk my son to school. I would volunteer for school trips. I would take my daughter to classes during the day. But, I would also still have her in daycare part time. I would work part time for a non profit, or volunteer my time and skills. I need to feel like I am doing something more than "just being a mom" (even though that, in and of itself, is a lot). I like to feel stimulated, I thrive on solving problems and being busy. But in a nutshell, the reason why I work is for the money. And I can't quite figure out how to not care that much about finances!

    1. Awesome comment... thanks Colleen! I agree - I worry about the finances too. I don't think not working is even an option. But I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to do long-term... So many questions!

  2. I am a stay at home mom, by choice. It was an easy choice for me. I always wanted to stay home with my children if we could make it work financially. We struggle sometimes and maybe I don't always have the newest gadgets, new clothes, or everything I see that I want... but going back to work would have meant having my child in day care full time and only working for about $100 a week after paying for it. I'm only going to be a mommy of young children for a short amount of time in my life. I don't want to give the responsibility of raising them the way I want them raised to another person. I want to positively influence them as much as possible in these years that they are most receptive to being influenced. When my children are in full time school I will probably head back to work, at least in a part time capacity. Until then my children are my priority and the great love of my life. There is nothing more important than making sure they get all the love and nurturing I can give them, as long as we can continue to make the finances balance out. Your identity is not what you do, it is who you are, your values, your actions, your example, and how you treat other people. I don't think the most important question at the end of your life will be did I stimulate myself enough, or even if you were successful enough. It will be if you loved enough, if you were loved enough, and if you connected enough with the people in your life enough to impact them in a positive way. When I'm asked what do you do? I answer a stay at home mom. But really I am someone who loves her kids with all her heart and doing the best she can to make sure they grow up happy and loved.

    1. Another great comment! Thank you for taking the time to weigh-in! I really do find it interesting to hear other Mom's opinions on this topic...