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Final Thoughts on Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

by Kathleen Quiring on February 13, 2012

mother and babyIn my last post, I explored my personal journey towards becoming a stay-at-home-mother. The reasons I’ve decided to stay home can be summarized as follows:

a) Working outside of the home makes me utterly wretched. First, because waking up to an alarm clock destroys me; and second, because I suck at doing almost anything that an employer would want from employee, which makes me feel like poop.

b) My husband and community are supportive of me staying home and deeply respect my desire to do so.

c) I find being at home incredibly satisfying and enjoyable. It just feels right.

d) I would earn so little at a real job, it wouldn’t be worth my time.

There is a little more to it, though.

* * *

First, note that my list does not include, “Because home is where a woman belongs.”

I believe that some women are better off in the workforce. Lots of women are good at their jobs, and we need female doctors, teachers, ministers, and engineers. Oh, and gynecologists. Why is there even such a thing as a male gynecologist??

Other women need to work simply to survive, and these women shouldn’t have to feel guilty about their occupations outside of the home.  Getting food on the table is sometimes more pressing than being able to snuggle with your babies every day. I get that.

And other women, quite frankly, just aren’t cut out to be stay-at-home moms because of their temperaments and interests. Some women really do feel imprisoned by domestic life, and thrive in out-of-home careers. In these cases, it makes sense to make alternate living arrangements.

And yet.

I do think one-on-one care is ideal for a baby’s first year, and that the mother is the ideal person to provide this care because her breast milk is the ideal source of nourishment.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other good ways of caring for children in that first year. Dads, grandmas, grandpas, and plenty of other people can make excellent caregivers when mom can’t be there.

After that first year, I still think it would be nice if children could get lots of one-on-one attention and care. But again, there is more than one way to raise a healthy, happy child, and staying home just isn’t possible for every mom.  That’s just the reality we live in.

However, I would say that it’s a shame that not every mom has the opportunity to stay home for at least the first year.

Lately, Lydia likes to wake up around 5 a.m. and stay awake for at least an hour. It’s kind of annoying. But since I don’t have to go to work, that’s all it is: kind of annoying. I just lay there next to her while she wiggles and laughs until she’s finally ready to nurse back to sleep. Then I go back to sleep, too. No biggie. I don’t have anywhere I need to be in the morning. I can sleep in.

It’s a shame that not everyone has that freedom, in my opinion. It would be wonderful if all moms could be that relaxed about their babies’ sleep and other needs because they don’t have other pressing responsibilities. Many families would probably be healthier and happier if moms didn’t have to divide their attention between so many things in those early years.

But that isn’t the reality we live in, and so we have to be realistic and gracious. We can’t judge other families for the decisions they make about child care because we can’t possibly know all the factors involved. And there is no universal law that says women should stay home with their children.

While I love being a stay-at-home mom, and I am fully confident that it’s the best thing for our family, and a big part of me wishes all moms could do the same, I can’t say that it’s right for every other family. I have no way of knowing what’s right for other people.

I do wish that moms who stayed at home could all recognize the dignity and beauty of their jobs. I wish they all felt affirmed in their decision, knowing that they are doing important, meaningful, and hopefully enjoyable work.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, I hope you realize that what you do every day takes courage, intelligence, and dedication. If you’re a mom who has returned to work, I hope you realize that you are still a loving and nurturing mother while simultaneously blessing the world with your talents and hard work.

We’re all kind of awesome.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michele February 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

“Oh, and gynecologists. Why is there even such a thing as a male gynecologist??”

LOL! I TOTALLY agree with this. I HATE having a man other than my husband “down there” and usually do anything I can to have a female doctor. If one isn’t available, than my poor husband has to come with me to my appointments because otherwise I’m just not comfortable at all and wouldn’t go.

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2 Maria February 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for sharing Kathleen. I’m thankful for the outlet I have with teaching music, and even though it provides minimal income to our household, I still struggle with feeling valued in my “line of work.” I know that time with my children is so precious, and I can’t take that for granted since I actually get to stay at home, but some days I feel so guilty. Guilt comes because we can’t pay debt down quicker, it comes because I’m the one spending money most of the time while my hubby is the one earning it (even if it is groceries it still makes me feel guilty), and the list goes on. So here we are, wrestling with whatever path we’ve chosen. Some of us feel pressure to stay at home, some of us to work. Either choice needs to be done with assurance that we’ve made the right choice, no guilt attached. Yet, we all deal with our guilt. Warranted or not, its the struggles in this life. Thought I’d share mine. Hope you don’t mind. Thanks again.

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