I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom. If you ask my sisters they’ll tell you how I was always playing house and had a baby doll in my arms. As I got older, I always knew that I wouldn’t settle on someone to marry and even if I didn’t fall in love with someone, I’d adopt my own kids.
Yet, as much as I’ve always known wanting to be a mom was innate in me, I have literally never thought twice about the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been working since I was 14 and it didn’t take me long to realize I enjoyed the accomplishment and paycheck that came with it.
Since I got pregnant in January 2015, I’ve had an array of judgmental comments shot my way for saying I wasn’t going to quit my job once the baby came. The comments and judgements intensified after I really did return from maternity leave when everyone claimed there was “no way I would”. I mean, I left my baby for 8 hours.. what kind of REAL mother would do such a thing??
For the last almost 2 years I’ve struggled with wanting to lay out my perfectly logical points for wanting to work and feeling like it was no one’s damn business anyway. Recently, I had a male colleague say to me, “Working moms are the downfall of the American family”. Yes, this is a man I work with. Every day. Who is well aware my daughter goes to childcare. Anyone as stopped in their tracks as I was? So finally, I’ve decided to lay it out there. The reasons why I chose to continue to work after having my daughter …
My husband and I are fortunate enough where his salary could cover us and allow us to probably still put some away. However, the amount we’d be able to save would be much less. My paycheck allows for us to save more significantly for retirement, college, and family trips. And that should be okay.
• Social Interaction
For me, and for her! I LOVE being with my daughter and yes the mom guilt is very, very real. My ideal world would be going to work 3.5 days a week and stay at home with her 3.5 days a week, but that clearly ain’t the world I live in, folks. My daughter’s babbling is adorable but I can only “dada dada mama mama” back so many times before I need to talk to another adult about non baby things. And that should be okay.
I enjoy knowing she’s around other kids all day! The truth is, I don’t have a “mom tribe” where I live. If she were at home with me all day, I know she’d need to spend time with other kids but the idea of play dates where I’m forced to make awkward conversation with someone I’m not close to just makes my skin crawl. And that should be okay.
My colleague’s argument for why working moms are the downfall of the American family was that you are giving up the opportunity to shape your child when you put them in someone else’s care for most of the day.
First, let me tell you that my nephews have had 2 working parents their whole lives and you’d know after 2 minutes those boys are still clearly shaped by their parents.
Second, it’s okay with me if my daughter doesn’t end up having my same exact outlook on life. I hope to instill in her kindness, love and respect for others. If I’ve done that, my job is complete. Aside from that, exposure to people different than my husband and myself provides her with learning opportunities. I didn’t have a child so I can make her an exact replica of me. And that should be okay.
I’m a giant scaredy cat. I can honestly say I’m terrified of being out of the workforce for too long. If I did (or do ever) decide to stay home, it would definitely only be until my kids were in school. If I have only 2 kids that’s at least 7 years that I’m staying home before they’re both in school full time! What if I want more? Getting a job isn’t always easy when you’ve had steady employment. Being out for 7+ years just terrifies me that I’d have a difficult time getting back in. I went to college and got a degree, racked up the student loan debt, so I want to make sure I use it. And that should be okay.
We’re a military family. This means I’m going to be moving and starting over approximately every three years. This could take me to a remote location, or perhaps a location where we’re not comfortable with the childcare available to us. Having a job is not always a guarantee for me. In fact, I’m about to have to take at least 6 months off working because we’ll be moving soon. That’s why it’s important to me to take advantage of the work opportunities and paycheck while I can. And that should be okay.
I’m gonna let you in on something … I grew up as a “latch-key kid” and guess what?? I LOVED IT! I know, insert your shock here, right? I enjoyed not having my parents home the moment I got home from school (sorry Mom & Dad, still love you!) I liked the fact that I didn’t have someone standing over my shoulder telling me what to do right away. In fact, it empowered me. I had to learn to time manage and be independent. This meant there were times I was up till midnight doing homework because I started watching tv or playing as soon as I got home. But I learned that lesson for myself, and I feel I was ultimately better off for it. If I’m working while my daughter is school age, and I’m not home the moment she is, I’m okay with that. And that should be okay.
Plan and simply, I want to be a role model for my daughter. I want her to see me going after what I want in life. I want her to know that she can do whatever she wants in life. Whether it be a teacher, doctor, garbage woman, vagabond, or stay at home mom. Whatever her passion is, I want her to follow it and not feel she has to stay in any box society tries to put her in. And that should be okay.
So there it is! I’ve finally said my peace, damnit! My family will always come first. But I also enjoy working for the time being. If that ever changes, or our family circumstances changes, we’ll adjust. I’m a good mom and I’ll be damned if I let anyone make me feel like I’m failing my daughter every day because I choose to go to work.
Being a stay at home mom is beautiful. If you stay at home with your kids, let’s face it, you’re probably doing a hell of a lot more work during your day at home than I am at the office. There shouldn’t be a tug of war between working moms and stay at home moms. There are pros and cons to both. Both should be valued. And every family should always do what’s best for them without fear of judgement. Our kids will not be any less loved, they’ll just have different experiences, and that is okay.
**K also writes for POMP USA, a start up company promoting businesses owned by service members, veterans, and their spouses.