I don’t bring home the bacon, but I do fry it up in the pan.
When a woman becomes a mom, she’s faced with a most difficult decision – to work outside the home or not to work outside the home. It’s not easy to make a choice, and when you do, you end up doubting that choice for years and years to come.
When Hilary Rosen said Ann Romney never “worked a day in her life,” she was wrong. I don’t know a woman who hasn’t worked a day in her life. To tell you the truth, I don’t know many women who get a whole day off. Life is pretty much synonymous with work. Throw a child or three into the mix and your life IS work.
The decision to work outside the home or be a stay-at-home mom is a tough one. I said that already, but it bears repeating. It’s TOUGH! Today it is financial suicide to have the mom (or in some cases, the dad) stay home to be with the kids 24/7. It can be done, but it comes at a cost. I know that firsthand. Losing a salary isn’t easy no matter how much money you make. When I decided to quit work and stay home, we suffered financially. I don’t think there’s any way to get around that.
Before I left work on maternity leave, I had a too-good-to-be-true arrangement worked out with my company. After six weeks “off”, they were going to come into my home and set me up with a computer, dedicated phone line, fax machine, and anything else I may need to work from home. Other than attending sporadic meetings, I would be able to work on my schedule at home. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? I thought so; however, right after I gave birth, the company was sold and the new owners put a kibosh on our plan. I could either work from 8-4:30 + two hours of commute time or I could quit.
I chose not to work because I didn’t want my son in daycare for ten and half hours a day. For me, the decision was a no-brainer. I didn’t have a career though, I worked a job. Perhaps walking away from a career would have been more difficult, but for me, I believe the decision would have been the same.
Please don’t misread this post and think that stay-at-home moms are better at parenting than working moms. I do NOT think that’s true. I’m just telling my story.
Every time a mom told me “You’re so lucky you get to stay home. We could never afford to do that.”, it would make me crazy angry. I wasn’t lucky. It wasn’t easy for me to stay home. I wore the same outfit to church for a year, because we didn’t have the extra money to buy another. It was a choice. We weren’t so financially well off that we didn’t miss the income. And sometimes, I just wanted to work to get out of the house.
I made a decision to stay home with my children. That’s it. Then we worked through the tough spots. Although I was incredibly fortunate to be able to spend every waking moment with my kids, luck played no part in my day-to-day life.
Now before you get bent out of shape, I realize there are moms and dad raising their children without the help and support of a spouse. Obviously they cannot just make a decision to stay home with their kids. They have no choice, but the moms throwing around the “you’re so lucky” phrase were never sole breadwinner/sole parents. They were women in the same basic position as myself at the time. We were on a level playing ground and chose differently. That is all.
Now I’m twelve years into this mother thing and I can reflect a bit on my choices. I do not regret staying home. Not at all, but I haven’t “not worked” the entire twelve years. When my children were babies, I sold Pampered Chef. Yup, imagine me cooking in front of groups of people. It was always interesting. I’ll just say that. Then I worked for a very short time in a day care. I brought my children with me and they cried every single day. My son was three and he became a cry-baby monster in day care, so when a friend of mine. who is a nurse, approached me about watching her children during the week, I jumped at the chance. My children were delighted to have best friends in the house all day while they were able to play with their own toys and nap in their own beds.
A few years later I worked part-time in Kohl’s. My hours were Mon.-Wed. and Frid. from 8 – 2:30. It was a dream job. Work was my “time-off”. Honestly. I totally viewed my job as a break, but my daughter still reminds me that I wasn’t home to get her off the bus when she was in 1/2 day kindergarten. She is still upset, if that’s even possible. It’s funny because on those days, we arranged things so my husband got her off the bus. It’s not like she became at latch-key kid at five.
So I’m saying all this to say, I don’t have a profession and that’s not always viewed as a good thing. I too often end up feeling “less than” or like I royally screwed up somewhere between graduation and childbirth. I know other people don’t mean to insinuate that I lay on the couch eating bon-bons all day (they would be M&M’s), but I get comments like, “Well you don’t understand, because you’re not working.” Or, and I love this one, “Your job isn’t a career like mine, so you wouldn’t understand the stress, pressure, etc.”
They’re probably right. I wouldn’t understand. There’s that saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and I think there’s a lot of truth in that; however, we all make our choices and live with the natural consequences of that choice.
I do understand that I started graduate school when my daughter was three. Then I moved from Florida to Maine, got a job, and had countless responsibilities in church ministries. I understand that I couldn’t think past the present day or else I’d have a nervous breakdown. I know that there were not nearly enough hours in the day. I know we were short on money, lacking in time, and large on love. We did a lot.
But, I wouldn’t understand stress, pressure, time constraints, child juggling, etc. Not a bit. (Sorry. That was just a hint of sarcasm.)
I graduated high-school at 17 and college at 21. I got a job because I needed money, not because I wanted that particular job to be my life-long career. I was married at 22 and had my son at 25. No career. No profession. Just a job.
I may get another job tomorrow, but it most likely won’t be a profession and that’s the problem. People want to know what I do. What do I do?
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a housekeeper.
I am a taxi driver.
I am a cook (definitely not a chef, just a cook).
I am volunteer at school.
I am women’s ministry leader.
I am a blogger.
I am me.
Happy, but without a profession. I don’t bring home the bacon, but I’ll fry it up in a pan and I’ll certainly help eat it.
I think we all make the best decisions possible for our families during each stage of life. There’s really no room for criticism in that. We all make mistakes and live with some regrets, but we keep waking up every day and loving our families. That’s what’s important. Careers and jobs will come and go, but our families will be around for a while. And, I have a pretty fabulous family. 😉
What about you?
Do you have a career? If so, do stay-at-home moms make insensitive comments about your work?
Are you like me? Although you’ve worked a lot in life, you don’t necessarily have a career.
Were you/Are you a stay-at-home mom?
Do you regret your decision to work or not to work?