Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why I Changed My Mind About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

 

Spoiler alert: I think mothers staying home with their kids is best.


Hold on! Having said that I have known many wonderful mothers, including my own, who worked outside the home. I understand all circumstances are different but do believe that staying home – is best.

I haven’t always felt this way; let me explain.

Becoming a stay-at-home mom was never on my radar as a youth; I wanted to be like Ally McBeal or Topanga and take on the world! (While of course – fulfilling my matronly obligation.) I just figured being a mom without an outside job was beneath me; I assumed I needed more.

I began my career working with kids right out of high school and for the next 14 years, that was my life. It didn’t take long to see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A child’s home life was reflected in almost everything I saw:

I worked with a fifth-grade boy who wouldn’t listen to me because I was a “white woman”, when talking to his dad about this behavior, I received the same exact disrespect. (Awwwwkward.) I saw a special needs kindergartner who couldn’t separate the fight scenes he saw on TV from reality and kept beating-up his classmates. (His method of choice; whacking kids in the face with a tree branch lightsaber.)

I observed sisters who interacted with each other, as one teacher observed, “like little animals”, and when we met their parents, sadly, it became obvious where they learned it. I watched a nine-year-old juggle living between his lawyer mom’s and professor dad’s homes; the poor guy was bright, but tired and disheveled, hardly able to tell you the day of the week let alone any academics from class.

I noticed most of the kids I worked with had working mothers. In fact, since 1975, the number of mothers with young children in the work field has almost doubled. In my college classes, I learned about brain development; how 80% of a child’s brain is developed by age three, 90% by the time they start kindergarten, and the more positive, stable and nurturing that child’s relationships are when they are young, the better off they are as adults.

Five years and one bachelor’s degree later I was in a new city; new school, new kids…same issues. By this point I was fully convinced, from firsthand experience, that families and the home environment were the biggest factors for a child’s success. I recognized how problems trickled into adulthood and society.

Eeeeven still – I had no plans to give up my career and raise children. Then that changed.

A leader from my church said something that didn’t sit well with me, it was about feminism. Now this was back when I heard “feminism” and naively thought of the Suffragists Movement and women entering the work field; not the abortion-loving, man-hating chicks you see today.

I digress.

So I heard this leader mention feminism in what I perceived as a negative light, and it bugged me; a lot.

How are women who want to provide for their families bad? What is so wrong with wanting to do the same thing as men?

I was seething. For days this boiled in my mind until I decided I had two choices; I could let it fester – or I could do as I had been counseled since childhood, which was search, ponder and pray. I chose the latter.

After weeks of doing this, I got my answer and I’ll never forget it. It was a Sunday afternoon as I was reading my scriptures, the thoughts came like the rays of a sunrise; first small and gradual, eventually flooding into every crevice of my mind.

My answer came in two parts:

1) God loves women. That was made very, very clear. He is pleased with our innate desires to do good and help others, He gave that to us. A mother who wants to provide for her family or supplement her husband’s income is not bad. A woman who wants to have a career and utilize the skills she’s fine-tuned is not bad. A mother who wants to help others through her job is not bad, in fact, these are noble. A nurse, teacher, hairstylist, these are noble professions motivated by honorable and selfless desires. As women we are amazingly gifted in serving wherever we can; we really are incredible!

So what’s the issue? The problem lies in this…

2) Mothers are entrusted with the nurturing and rearing of their children; this is no small task. Think of the concerns a mother grapples with:

Is my child getting the right amount of sleep, is it quality sleep? Is he eating enough, is he eating too much? Is she getting enough playtime, enough social time…what are these bumps on her legs? When should I potty train, HOW do I potty train, does she know not to talk to strangers? Did I yell too much today, is he gonna need therapy someday…did I check for ticks today? Does he know how to handle a bully, what if he is the bully? Preschool or no preschool, does he have all his shots, has my car-seat been checked by a certified car-seat inspector…holy crap is that a tick bite! What is she learning at school from her teachers, from her friends? Do her friends have smartphones – what is she seeing? Has she seen a pornographic image yet? Have I prepared her for that? Have we had the sex talk, how do we have the sex talk!? Did I miss soccer registration, is he doing enough extracurricular activities, is he doing too much? Did that tick have Lyme disease, is she on-level for reading, will she go to college? Am I preparing him spiritually, does he know how much I love him, will he ever know how to get the pee in the freakin’ toilet?! Does my child have Lyme disease?!

Was this list annoying?? Was it long and rambling? Are you tired just reading it or did you skip it altogether? Well, friends, this is just a drop in the bucket. Ask any mom; a teeny-tiny drop, into the anxiety-filled, sleep-deprived, million-miles-a-minute mind – of mothers. It is overwhelming. It is exhausting. It never stops.

And herein lies the conundrum of working outside the home; when anything distracts, divides, or displaces a mother’s attention and concern for her children, that is a problem. These distractions come in many forms: it can be a job, volunteer positions, social obligations, our phones, the gym, anything that takes away the most important thing from our children; us.

This answer made sense to me. I thought about my experiences with other people’s children, I thought about my future children. I reflected on my exhausting days as a teacher and how my patience was gone by the time I got home. Why would I want to add anything extra to my plate that would make me more tired and less attentive to my kids? If I didn’t have to, why would I entrust someone else to teach my children the values I so greatly desire them to have?

I was convinced. I was converted. I was changed.

And I haven’t looked back.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for moms having their “me-time”. I have pried tiny hands off my body and lovingly shoved them into their room so I can have that “me time”; friends, hobbies, education, a shower, all great! Filling our cup is essential, but if our children get put on the back-burner as a result, that is an issue.

Also, I am not advocating for helicopter parenting.

Gross.

Nor am I absolving fathers from their responsibilities. They have an equally important role to play, but it’s different because they’re different; they’re not mom. My kids adore their dad; he plays, he protects, he provides, but when they’re sick, they want me. When they hurt, they cry for mom.

After I had my first baby and decided to quit my job, my experience echoed many others I’ve heard describe it; sacrifice. It was a sacrifice of money, of career progression, of interaction with other humans, but a most worthwhile one.

I have a new job now – I only get one shot – and I don’t intend to fail. Because no success will compensate for failure in my home.

What You Can Do

  • If and when you are expecting, research your options; staying home is more possible than you may think.
  • Pray for what is best for your family.
  • Reach out to mom groups in your area.
  • Talk to other, more experienced mothers for guidance.
  • Focus on the Family and Values Parenting are great Christian organizations with loads of information on parenting and family.
  • LifePetitions has an extensive list of petitions “serving the pro-family community”.

Crossposted here.

Published in Culture
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  1. EODmom Coolidge

    It’s been my favorite job. Beating out working in the bookstore and coaching swimming. Best job on the planet. 

    • #1
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:24 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    This was clearly a post from the heart. My mother stayed at home to raise four kids. She was a very smart woman and had she been born 30 years later, she might have chosen to work outside the home. But she said she never regretted it. When we were in grammar school, she used to produce the school newsletter. She told me as an adult that women seemed so stressed and unhappy now, but when she had interviewed several mothers for the school newspaper-all stay at home moms as was the norm at that time-they all said how happy they were. I do not have children and have devoted my life to my career. My mother was very proud of my professional accomplishments and I am as good a feminist as any when it comes to career opportunities for women. I am glad that woman have choices now and can be economically self sufficient, mothers or no. But I have shocked my friends by saying that if I had had children, I would have stayed at home with them if at all possible. Why? Because I appreciated all my mother did for me-all the care, all the rides, all the meals, all the attention. Because I loved walking in the door when I was a child and announcing “Mom, I’m home.” I would have done the same for my children in honor of my mother.

    • #2
    • February 18, 2020, at 6:32 PM PST
    • 20 likes
  3. Stina Member

    Ajalon J. Stapley: have a new job now – I only get one shot – and I don’t intend to fail. Because no success will compensate for failure in my home.

    I have 3 and my older two asked who I’d choose in a life or death moment and I can only pick one… because kids like asking questions like this.

    I told them the oldest cuz I put the most time into him already.

    • #3
    • February 18, 2020, at 7:37 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  4. Lois Lane Coolidge

    Stina (View Comment):

    Ajalon J. Stapley: have a new job now – I only get one shot – and I don’t intend to fail. Because no success will compensate for failure in my home.

    I have 3 and my older two asked who I’d choose in a life or death moment and I can only pick one… because kids like asking questions like this.

    I told them the oldest cuz I put the most time into him already.

    That is truly hilarious. The younger ones are going to ask for therapy money later. Or turn into comedians.

    • #4
    • February 18, 2020, at 8:29 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Ajalon J. Stapley: have a new job now – I only get one shot – and I don’t intend to fail. Because no success will compensate for failure in my home.

    I have 3 and my older two asked who I’d choose in a life or death moment and I can only pick one… because kids like asking questions like this.

    I told them the oldest cuz I put the most time into him already.

    That is truly hilarious. The younger ones are going to ask for therapy money later. Or turn into comedians.

    Where else would you expect to get comedians?

    • #5
    • February 18, 2020, at 8:32 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  6. Lois Lane Coolidge

    It’s a lovely post. I absolutely enjoy teaching now that my son is grown, but it all went so fast. I’m glad we made the decision as soon as it was at all economically possible for me to become a stay at home mother, and I can say my only real regret is that I only had one child. I loved (almost) every second of raising him, and it went by sooo fast! I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

    • #6
    • February 18, 2020, at 8:33 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  7. James Lileks Contributor

    Seconded! I was a stay-at-home dad, and it was the best, except from the vibes I got from the stay-at-home moms who figured I was doing this because I was a loser, professionally, and not a real “stay-at-home” parent because my wife probably had to fix all the things I messed up. Buncha catty Cathies, the lot of ’em.

    Kidding. Somewhat.

    • #7
    • February 18, 2020, at 8:54 PM PST
    • 28 likes
  8. I Walton Member

    Not only is staying home with your kids probably best for them, but home schooling them even better at least through junior high. There are incredible resources available and one doesn’t have to spend hours teaching. Just give assignments, check them, explain matters when necessary. and join other home schooling parents for important outings. We the grandparents were skeptical but the results for our daughters 5 kids have been outstanding. 

    • #8
    • February 19, 2020, at 3:57 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Yet staying at home is a luxury that most families can scarcely afford. This goes into the fact that child-rearing is a massive money sink – God knows how much money I cost my folks all together.

    We need to ensure a level of prosperity and optimism to get people to drop the megabucks and endless time commitment of parenthood.

    • #9
    • February 19, 2020, at 4:04 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Hartmann von Aue Member

    I wanted to stand up and applaud when I finished reading this. If you have been speaking it aloud somewhere, I would have. 

    About OmegaPaladin’s comment: Didn’t Marv Olasky do a book a few years ago about the switch from the concept of the “family wage” to the concept of the “individual wage” that took place in the 60s? If I recall correctly, his argument was that this switch contributed very strongly to both consumer price inflation and wage depression on the economic side and to family breakdown on the social side of the equation. Does anyone else remember this?

    • #10
    • February 19, 2020, at 5:10 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Stad Thatcher

    We were so lucky my wife worked at home. One time she changed employers and had to work on site – in St. Petersburg! For several months, I had to work and do the kids-to-school-and-back thing, not to mention cooking and doing the laundry (one of the rare times my wife let me do the washing). It wasn’t easy . . .

    • #11
    • February 19, 2020, at 6:28 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  12. DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… Coolidge

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Seconded! I was a stay-at-home dad, and it was the best, except from the vibes I got from the stay-at-home moms who figured I was doing this because I was a loser, professionally, and not a real “stay-at-home” parent because my wife probably had to fix all the things I messed up. Buncha catty Cathies, the lot of ’em.

    Kidding. Somewhat.

    “Somewhat.” But mostly not.

    I did the work-from-home thing while my wife worked at a week-on/week-off job sharing situation. It really was the best. Except for those snobby moms when I took the kids to preschool.

    After daughter #2 hit school age, my wife quit her job to start homeschooling, and I began a different job.

    The only real, insurmountable problem is that our society is set up for two-income families. In a free-market system, things cost what the market can bear, and with so many two-income families, the basics have a higher cost. So a one-income family can really struggle. And we do. But we have accepted that it’s only for a short period of time (at this point, three more years) and then she assumes she’ll go back to work.

    EDIT: As HvA says above:

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    If I recall correctly, his argument was that this switch contributed very strongly to both consumer price inflation and wage depression on the economic side and to family breakdown on the social side of the equation.

    So . . . it would be a big help if all you two-income families could go down to one income long enough for the market to adjust and the basic necessities would be cheaper.

    kthanks!

    • #12
    • February 19, 2020, at 6:37 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  13. Old Bathos Moderator

    Heretic! Get thee back to an office or graduate school!

    • #13
    • February 19, 2020, at 6:51 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I had a primary care doc who retired after her kids reached teenage-hood, because they “need me more than ever.” It’s not just about tending to their food and sleep and schooling and spiritual formation when they’re young. It never ends. But, mostly, it’s about making a home. A rock from which to launch the adventures their dad’s encourage and model for them.

    Drew Klavan says when parents divorce, they blow up their kids’ planet (not that there aren’t necessary times to do that when the planet gets toxic.) Without a full-time at-home parent, the planet is less hospitable, although still habitable. Granted, not all circumstances allow for the ideal. 

    • #14
    • February 19, 2020, at 8:08 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  15. Hartmann von Aue Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Influencer (View Comment):

     

    EDIT: As HvA says above:

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    If I recall correctly, his argument was that this switch contributed very strongly to both consumer price inflation and wage depression on the economic side and to family breakdown on the social side of the equation.

    So . . . it would be a big help if all you two-income families could go down to one income long enough for the market to adjust and the basic necessities would be cheaper.

    kthanks!

    No, the idea was that salaries and prices should be adjusted (the former up the latter down) to make it possible to raise a family on one income again, to reverse the damage done by the move away from that as a policy. The details would be the difficult part he said in a massive fit of understatement. 

    • #15
    • February 19, 2020, at 8:35 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. DrewInWisconsin, Negative Infl… Coolidge

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Influencer (View Comment):

    EDIT: As HvA says above:

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    If I recall correctly, his argument was that this switch contributed very strongly to both consumer price inflation and wage depression on the economic side and to family breakdown on the social side of the equation.

    So . . . it would be a big help if all you two-income families could go down to one income long enough for the market to adjust and the basic necessities would be cheaper.

    kthanks!

    No, the idea was that salaries and prices should be adjusted (the former up the latter down) to make it possible to raise a family on one income again, to reverse the damage done by the move away from that as a policy. The details would be the difficult part he said in a massive fit of understatement.

    Well, we can’t force such a thing. (We’re not Democrats!) So I’m leaving it to the free market to adjust.

    And that’s going to require sacrifice, people! Hop to it!

    • #16
    • February 19, 2020, at 8:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Yet staying at home is a luxury that most families can scarcely afford. This goes into the fact that child-rearing is a massive money sink – God knows how much money I cost my folks all together.

    We need to ensure a level of prosperity and optimism to get people to drop the megabucks and endless time commitment of parenthood.

    My observation over the years is that more families could afford a stay-at-home parent than think they can. 

    First, consider the direct costs of having the second parent in the workforce – commuting, wardrobe, coffees or other snacks on the way to or at work, lunches at work, day care for smaller children, etc.

    Then consider the indirect costs many families incur because they have limited time at home – more meals at restaurants or take-out (this is likely to be a big expense), house cleaners, gardeners, extra cars for teenaged children to use, etc.

    Sure, some lifestyle changes might be needed (more cooking at home, more house cleaning, wearing less stylish clothes, driving older or less luxurious cars, maybe even living in smaller living quarters), but a close examination of expenses might show stay-at-home parenting is more attainable than most think. 

    We knew one family that, upon close examination of the expenses associated with having both parents working, discovered that having the second parent in the paid workforce cost them money (the net income versus expenses was negative, mostly because of the cost of child care and commuting expenses). 

    I worked with a woman who said she was working in the paid labor market so her family could afford a nice big home for their son, but then realized that the son rarely got to enjoy the big home since her working schedule left them little time at home together. So, she and her husband sold the big house, moved to a less expensive house, and she quit the paid labor market. 

    • #17
    • February 19, 2020, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  18. Full Size Tabby Member

    Another financial thought is that I am convinced that my income was larger than that of some of my peers because Mrs. Tabby was at home. I could volunteer for new or different assignments at work because we weren’t juggling who was going to be home for the plumber or the appliance repair person, or who was going to take the sick child to the doctor. Because could grab work opportunities others couldn’t, I received bigger and more frequent raises and promotions.

    • #18
    • February 19, 2020, at 10:34 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    We knew one family that, upon close examination of the expenses associated with having both parents working, discovered that having the second parent in the paid workforce cost them money (the net income versus expenses was negative, mostly because of the cost of child care and commuting expenses). 

    Mr. C says he can’t afford for me to work outside the home. 

    • #19
    • February 19, 2020, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  20. The Reticulator Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Another financial thought is that I am convinced that my income was larger than that of some of my peers because Mrs. Tabby was at home. I could volunteer for new or different assignments at work because we weren’t juggling who was going to be home for the plumber or the appliance repair person, or who was going to take the sick child to the doctor. Because could grab work opportunities others couldn’t, I received bigger and more frequent raises and promotions.

    It certainly helped me at my paying job.

    • #20
    • February 19, 2020, at 2:01 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. Boss Mongo Member

    Outstanding post. Thank you.

    The lovely and talented Mrs. Mongo was an Army nurse when I met her. She stopped working when we went through our breeding cycle. When the youngest entered school full time, she investigated the after-school options, and decided that the house and kids wouldn’t implode if she took up a day nursing job.

    There were more than a few job offers, all of which she spurned.

    “Hon, why are you turning down all these jobs?”

    “Because, I need something really special if I’m going to leave all this,” she said, gesturing to the play room with cheerios, legos, and Barbies strewn about on the floor.

    About three months later, she got a dream job on an open heart team. But she always appreciated her stay-at-home time.

    • #21
    • February 19, 2020, at 5:01 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  22. RightAngles Member

    In the 70s, the feminists brayed about giving women choices, then proceeded to denigrate and ridicule the choice of staying home to raise children. But the truth is that being there when your children come home from school is the most important and influential career in the world. Then they tried to tell us we could “have it all!” There was a feminist TV commercial where she was wearing a business suit and had a briefcase in one hand and a frying pan in the other, and was singing “I can bring home the bacon, and fry it up in a pan.” What a crock. It isn’t true. You cannot have it all. You have to make choices in life. If you try to do it all, you aren’t going to do any of it well.

    I was lucky in being able to work from home, and I realize not everyone can be in that situation. But if being at home can be at all possible, it should be the first choice. I feel sorry for all the young women coming up who buy into the feminist stuff. So many of them will wake up one day at age 45 sitting on a bar stool with purple hair, no husband, and no kids, and wondering what hit them.

    • #22
    • February 19, 2020, at 5:11 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  23. Boss Mongo Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    There was a feminist TV commercial where she was wearing a business suit and had a briefcase in one hand and a frying pan in the other, and was singing “I can bring home the bacon, and fry it up in a pan.”

     

    • #23
    • February 19, 2020, at 5:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Judge Mental, Secret Chimp Member

    I don’t have kids, which of course makes me an Expert, but it seems simple enough to me. Who will do a better job of raising your kid? You, or some minimum wage rando at a day care center? Because if the answer is Kinder Care, you should think seriously about having another one.

    • #24
    • February 19, 2020, at 5:17 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  25. RightAngles Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    There was a feminist TV commercial where she was wearing a business suit and had a briefcase in one hand and a frying pan in the other, and was singing “I can bring home the bacon, and fry it up in a pan.”

     

    Memories! Hahaha!

    • #25
    • February 19, 2020, at 5:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Henry Castaigne Member

    Ajalon J. Stapley: I observed sisters who interacted with each other, as one teacher observed, “like little animals”, and when we met their parents, sadly, it became obvious where they learned it. I watched a nine-year-old juggle living between his lawyer mom’s and professor dad’s homes; the poor guy was bright, but tired and disheveled, hardly able to tell you the day of the week let alone any academics from class.

    This is why we should have sex robots and genetic engineering. 

    • #26
    • February 19, 2020, at 8:29 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Ajalon J. Stapley: I observed sisters who interacted with each other, as one teacher observed, “like little animals”, and when we met their parents, sadly, it became obvious where they learned it. I watched a nine-year-old juggle living between his lawyer mom’s and professor dad’s homes; the poor guy was bright, but tired and disheveled, hardly able to tell you the day of the week let alone any academics from class.

    This is why we should have sex robots and genetic engineering.

    “There are few problems that cannot be solved by the proper application of sex robots.” – Pervatron the Magnificent 

    • #27
    • February 20, 2020, at 12:35 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  28. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I applaud and commend all those who choose to invest in the future. That perspective changes the way we look at the world, all the time, every day.

    • #28
    • February 20, 2020, at 5:39 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. Stad Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    In the 70s, the feminists brayed about giving women choices, then proceeded to denigrate and ridicule the choice of staying home to raise children.

    It’s like what the feminists do when a woman chooses “life” . . .

    • #29
    • February 20, 2020, at 6:12 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  30. KarenZiminski Coolidge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    •  

    I sent my 5=year-old to Kindercare after school for a few months. He hated it. The kids would make up rhymes like “Kindercare, get away from here. Kindercare bus, get away from us.” I ended up a stay-at-home mom, very happy with how it turned out.

    • #30
    • February 20, 2020, at 6:27 AM PST
    • 7 likes