Is being a stay-at-home Mom hurting my kids?
When I was little, my Mom stayed home with me. She had some part time jobs (usually she was self-employed), but everything revolved around her schedule of being my primary caretaker. Even when I went to school, my Mom was home for me at lunch and after school. I guess I thought it was nice? I really can’t remember to be honest. (Sorry, Mom!) My Dad worked long hours in The City (Toronto) and commuted home to us in The Suburbs (Pickering). It was a happy home. It seemed “normal” to me, but it also didn’t seem like something I’d ever want to do myself. I had big dreams!
My Mom was an entrepreneur, always having small businesses to keep herself challenged and bringing in some extra money. She wasn’t a stereotypical stay-at-home mom. She never baked a single cookie for me my entire life, can you even believe that? She did, however, sew me the coolest Halloween costumes ever, so I forgive her for the cookie thing.
I don’t think I ever dreamed of being home with children as an option for me. I wanted to be a writer my whole life, and when I wasn’t accepted into the journalism program at York U, off I went to Trent U to complete an English degree (well, technically, I joint-majored in Sociology, too, in case I ever wanted to be a teacher). I figured maybe I’d teach, or maybe I’d be a professor, or maybe I’d finally write a book, despite not having the right degree, or maybe I’d end up being in business. After I completed my degree, and convocated with pride and exactly no career options, I worked for a year and went back to school to get a Business degree, because hey, practical.
Straight from there I moved to Toronto where I worked for a small conference development company. Loved the job, hated the company. The pay was fine, but it certainly wasn’t a career, so I had plans to complete an MBA because what else was I supposed to do? Grown-ups have careers! Grown-ups who hold two honours Bachelor’s degrees aren’t really grown-ups, so obviously a Masters in anything would be better than nothing. And I do love to learn.
But life happened, and five years later I was married and expecting our first child. It was then that we decided I’d stay home.
The decision wasn’t made lightly. My husband was in the beginning stages of a very busy career (he was taking actuarial exams every few months) and his income potential was far better than mine, so I became a stay-at-home parent. It was a rough transition, being without nearly $50,000 a year, I can’t lie. And I was overwhelmed with my new job of being someone’s mommy, when I’d had exactly no experience at all with babies or children before. The first year of my daughter’s life was difficult, to say the least.
But honestly, I love this job. I hate the pay, and the hours suck, but I can’t see myself ever working for anyone else ever again. I get huge amounts of joy out of being a stay-at-home mom. I think we all know that being a parent is a challenge even on the good days, so I can’t say that I’m always filled with joy by day’s end, but I really am so happy we were able to make this choice.
During the last seven years, I’ve started a number of successful businesses, I’ve finally been published and feel less awkward calling myself A Writer, and I’ve found that my true happiness isn’t found in a career but in my family and home.
But what does this show my children? Already, my daughter can’t remember me ever having “a real job”, as she puts it. Though I’ve told her many times what my life was like before she arrived, she doesn’t see me as a working parent. Logically, she knows that my “job” is taking care of her and her brother, but I don’t know how my decision to be home with her will impact her choices, you know? She knows I’ve had businesses, of course, but even those have always been set aside to spend time with the kids. They know they come first, not any other job.
I realize that being a stay-at-home parent isn’t an option for everyone. It’s not a desire for many, either. And those are not situations I’m talking about here, because I know exactly nothing about those challenges. I’m not unhappy about my choice to be here with them, and I know the benefits.
But what standard am I setting for my kids? Am I showing my kids that a woman’s place is in the home? Am I not demonstrating for them the value of education? My degrees aren’t even hung on the wall anymore, that’s how little they really mean to me now. Am I teaching them weak work ethic? If I’d spent more time reaching career goals, would I be a stronger role model for them? Is being a stay-at-home parent hurting my kids?
Seems like this is another post that ends with: I don’t know.