I was having a conversation with a lady I met at church and I was saying how awesome it was to meet another Stay At Home Mom. It seems there are a ton of us online, but it can be pretty hard to connect with other SAHMs in real life. We were having the conversation about how we are viewed as an oddity at best and even looked down upon by some. She actually told me her own mother told her that she wasted a “good education” on her since she decided to stay at home instead of putting that education to use in the workplace. I was shocked a mother would say this to her daughter, but I’m not surprised some people think that way.
When I was in college I had a poetry professor who was especially hard and since I was getting a minor in creative writing and there weren’t a lot of writing classes I had to take not one but two of his classes to earn my minor. I remember during one office visit my senior year after reviewing some of my work he asked me where I was going to graduate school. Though I had looked at one in Boston I told him I didn’t think I was going to go. His response was, “What are you going to do then, stay home and have babies.” This of course to him was the biggest tragedy of earning a degree. Never mind that half the people I know aren’t working in the field their degree is in anyhow. But a degree left to rot in favor of motherhood; that was unthinkable. Keep in mind that this very professor had married one of his own students years ago so I wonder if he views his own wife’s choice to bear his children with such disdain. You can bet he’d look at my life and shake his head with a mixture of “I told you so” and “What a waste!” After all, I’m a lowly blogger with no published work and I don’t earn a salary at a fancy job. So I’m a failure right?
Making The Choice To Stay Home
I’ve already written a post about myths about being a SAHM including that you must not have an education or viable work prospects or that making the choice to stay at home is built upon a presumption of luxury the rest of the working gals can’t afford. Sorry but there is nothing luxurious about trying to use a bunch of coupons at the supermarket with your screaming baby and the people behind you in line giving you dirty looks. There is nothing fabulous about shopping at consignment shops – though if you’re frugal like me you probably don’t mind at all. I walked away from a 10 year career in marketing about 3 years ago. I wasn’t making the “big bucks” since I worked for non-profits. I worked around plenty of well to do career women that were all too happy to treat me like the “hired help.” I juggled work and family as best I could, but even working part-time I felt like I couldn’t hack it.
I give women who work full-time a lot of credit. It’s hard. It means having two jobs and one of them is 24/7. By the time I was ready to quit that job my nerves were shot. But even if you decided between you and your spouse that you would make it your job to stay at home and take care of your family and never worked a day in your life would an education be wasted on you? I personally think that investing in yourself is never a waste.
Role Models of ALL Kinds
If my children ask me one day if I went to college I will tell them that I graduated from the same college as their daddy. If they ask me why I don’t have a job, I’ll tell them that I chose to stay at home with them instead. I chose to sacrifice A LOT of things so that I could be there for every milestone. I will tell my daughter Hannah, that having her changed absolutely EVERYTHING about my life. Motherhood changed me. My life was not about ME anymore, but the lives I created.
I’ll tell them that by the time I was 15 I had lost my daddy and by the time I was 32 I had lost my mommy and I learned how precious and sometimes short life is. I will tell them that I don’t regret my decision not to work outside the home because I had been on the other side. I did both and struggled. I’m woman enough to admit it. It doesn’t make me any less because of it. I stopped working when my family really needed me. At my job I was easily replaced, but in my family I’m absolutely irreplaceable. My husband is a good dad, but I’m the primary caregiver and the loss of me would be staggering.
The truth is, I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t know how long I’ll stay at home. Maybe I’ll want to go back to work one day. The point of it all though is that it’s my choice. Isn’t that what women’s lib was supposed to give us – the choice to do what we want with our lives? BUT if you give someone a choice you have to allow for the choice to stay at home too without that degrading sideways glance or backhanded comment or even the platitudes of “you’re so lucky.”
The point is that I’m working on my choice every day. I’m raising my family the way I think is best for me. Would you look into the eyes of your daughter and tell her that she shouldn’t go to college or that raising a family is a failure on her part? Probably not. Why does it have to be an either or? Why does career “success” trump family “success?” While others are feeling sorry for my lack of a paycheck, I’m feeling intense sadness for broken marriages and families in turmoil. I have chosen the latter as the form of success to gage my life by. I’m one of the richest people I know. I am the CEO of my household. If the world doesn’t agree, well the world can shove it.
The 24/7 Motherhood Shift
I’m not saying that it’s all rainbows and sunshine over here. I feel like there are days I would love to take some time off and not have three little people relying on me for everything. There are days I want to scream when I hear “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Why? Because I know that whatever I slaved away making will just be met with, “How much do I have to eat? Can I be done?, What’s for dessert?” and it’s frustrating to no end. There are days when I just want a nap and a shower and an hour to converse with an adult during the day. There are great days too. It’s not black and white. Staying at home probably has the same highs and lows as a traditional 9 to 5 job.
The key thing is to understand that it is a job. When you send your kids to daycare, you’re outsourcing it. No judgment here. I ran a daycare for a little while. Motherhood is an unglamorous job with crap pay and no vacation or time off, not even for sick days. But if you choose this life, this job then you learn to own your choices. You roll with it and shake off people’s eyerolls or sarcastic remarks. So I dedicate this post to my poetry professor. His prediction was right. I did just “stay home and have babies.” I don’t regret it for a single second. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get a college education. I don’t think it was a waste. It’s made me who I am. Do I recommend going into debt to earn a degree without an income? NO. But there’s never anything wrong with bettering yourself. I still pursue my passion of writing. After all, here I am writing for all you lovely people.
I’m also learning every single day how to become a better mother. Not a perfect one, but a better one. The whole reason we have all these parenting books and magazines is because we want to give our kids the very best of us. It’s a constant learning process. So when you really think about it, we’re all attending Motherhood University every single day.