Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On Staying Home

I just read a blog post that was kind of disparaging to working moms, and it got me feeling, well, not really riled up, but just sad. I hate that so much of this parenting thing is a competition and full of judgment. I know I'm occasionally guilty of it myself, but I try to be mindful that what works for some familes might not work for others, and that we're all doing our best, trying to raise happy, healthy kids.
If my maternity leave taught me anything, it was that I would really enjoy being a stay at home mom. I was raised by one, and kind of always assumed I would be one. But I'm not. I'm the breadwinner in our family. My husband's career post-college have been very up and down, and he went back to school a couple of years ago to change career-tracks. I basically knew what I wanted to be when I grew up at the tender age of nine, and haven't really strayed much from that. I went from writing Babysitter Club knock-offs at nine to producing my own pretend newspaper at 10 to being the editor of the high school newspaper to a BA in journalism to an internship in publishing to a full-time job in book publishing to my current job as an editor/writer/account executive. So, needless to say that my steadfastness has meant I am eons ahead of my husband on my career path. At the age of 30 I have more than 10 years of work experience in my field.
Anyway, I'm getting a little off topic here. People on this blog post I was reading said that they heard women say they "wished they could be SAHMs" while sitting on their designer couch with their brand new cell phone and fancy purse. And yeah, maybe those women exist. Or maybe those women make more than their partners and have to be the ones to work, or maybe they just like working and are saying the wish they could stay at home to make you feel better. And I'd imagine most of th time the work vs. stay at home thing does not come down to "either put the kid in daycare and buy lattes, or sacrafice my fancy coffee, start shopping at thrift stores and I can stay home." No amount of penny pinching on those little things would allow me to stay home. I have a mortgage and student loans to pay, groceries to buy, and we need things like health care and insurance. Only one person jumped in on this post to say that maybe the answer to why a woman might work instead of stay at home is far more complicated than they think. Everyone else was chiming in with, "I agree!" "I worked at a daycare and I would NEVER be able to leave my kids at one" etc, etc. It really annoyed me. And yet, I remember very clearly thinking the same thing about a woman I worked across the hall from about 7 years ago. She drove a brand new Honda Element and was always dressed impeccably, and was super cute when she was pregnant. Then she came back to work three months later, and put up a darling picture of a baby and went on being trendy and stylish with new things. A lot of times, when I sit working at my desk and looking at Sebastian's picture next to my monitor, I feel like such a jerk for being so judgmental of that woman.
So yeah, being a stay at home mom would be great, because my kid is pretty darn awesome, and I love nothing more than spending time with him. But it's not my reality. So I make the most of every single second I have with him, soaking up his giggles and sweetness. I teach him things and support him in learning. I provide for him. And I make sure he's well cared for during the day. I'm so lucky that I've been able to rely on family members - my fantastic sister-in-law and my wonderful dad - to watch him. So he's not missing out on his mommy... he's gaining valuable relationships with his darling auntie and his beloved "pop pop." I love my kid. I'm his mom.

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