Working vs. stay-at-home mom

If you read my blog post yesterday, you read about how I have a hard time letting go of the reins when I can’t be in two places at once and need help from someone else. If you read further than the words on the page, you may have gathered that sometimes I struggle with being a working woman and a mom to my kids all at the same time. This is magnified in the summertime when I am in an office and my kids are stuck at home to entertain themselves. I can’t even begin to tell you how guilty I feel that I’m not there to take them to the beach, or let them have friends over, keep them off the video games or away from the TV, or even just be there to supervise so they can leave the house to play.

But the truth is, I like working. When I take time off work for a simple stay-cation, I am bored out of my mind. And more often than not, I go back to work feeling like I accomplished nothing – as if there wasn’t enough time to relax, create family time, or do all those things I fantasize about doing whenever the weekend seems just too far away. Knowing that I am a poor manager of my time, I am well aware that being a stay-at-home mom would not be a good choice for me. A job gives me a reason to get up earlier than I would on my own, and forces me to do all the things I’d procrastinate on if I didn’t have something eating up 8 hours out of my day. I make it a point to spend time talking with the kids instead of taking them for granted. I have no problem getting my household responsibilities done since I only have a limited time to do them in. Plus, the whole money thing works out pretty well.

However, that choice is not without its consequences. There are parts of my mothering that have suffered because I am not home all the time. By the time I come home from work around 6pm, make dinner, and then clean up the kitchen, it nears bedtime and all we have time for is a quick homework check (“Did you do it?” “Yup.”). However, sometimes the report card tells a story all on its own, and any grades that were less than exemplary were symbolically tacked on my back as well.

A friend of mine is battling the opposite problem. At home, her husband has taken it upon himself to let her know she’s “just a stay-at-home mom”. He goes to work every single day and makes the money to cover their house payment, the bills, the food, and everything else it takes to run a family. She stays home with their boys, keeps the house in order, makes the meals, does the grocery shopping, entertains the kids, handles their doctor and dentist appointments, manages the bills, carts the kids to and from school, makes the meals….all without any pay. She’s stayed home with the boys for many years, making it a bleak reality that a job would be really hard to come by among other applicants who’ve had a career while she chose to stay home. Therefore, she must rely on her husband’s paycheck. And this makes her “just a stay-at-home mom”. And yet, her kids are happy and healthy, and are secure with their mother at their side to teach them the ins and outs of life before they become more independent.

Lisa Belkin, the parenting blogger for the NY Times, is starting a new book club. The book she is kicking off with is called “Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood”. It’s a collection of stories from moms from all different sides of motherhood, gathered by Samantha Parent Walravens. I’m not necessarily promoting the book, as I’ve never read it. But I found the concept intriguing enough to want to read it, as it covers the feelings moms go through when they make the choice to work outside of the home or stay home with the kids, and the sacrifices they go through when that choice is made. 

And it also makes me wonder about all of you who have made this choice, and who grapple with it from time to time.

Did you give up your career to stay home with the kids? Or do you work out of the house while the kids stay home of go to daycare? Have you ever been judged or ridiculed by others for your working or stay-at-home role? Do you ever feel guilt or negative feelings – from twinges to full-blown resentment – about the choice you made? Or are you totally confident in your choice and have never looked back since?  Share your thoughts in the comments. As always, anonymous comments are welcome.

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7 thoughts on “Working vs. stay-at-home mom”

    1. OMG, that is hysterical!
      1.When you walked into work this morning and pleasantly greeted your co-worker Jim, was his first reaction to scream “NO! WANT JASON!” followed by an office supply being thrown at you?
      Although, regarding point #4, I doubt I finish a complete thought on any given day – with or without kids.

  1. my name is Brenda, I got married when I was 30, yes 30. My son was born when I was 32 and my daughter at 35. Getting married at 30, worked since 6th grade, an A.S. degree from a Jr.. college, plus another year of college, and a designated teaching credential in dental assiting when I was 9 months pregnant from Chico State, I was lucky enough to stay home and raise my children until my daughter was out of elementary school. Since I waited long enough to have children, I choose not to have somone else raise them. It was a sacrifice financially, but do I really need a new car, or do I raise my kids myself. It was the best decision I ever made. They are secure, both graduated from college in four years, are both self employed and are my hereos.. They lost their Dad in 2007 from a heart attach. I really believe that young couples today think keeping up with “the Robertson’s ” is more important than staying at home and raising your children. I worked here and there part time, but was home when they were home. Are new clothes, new car more important? Today, I see young couples both working full time, and then getting a babysitter so they can go out with their friends on the weekend, and then wondering why their kids are in jail or on drugs. If you ask kids what the they really want, it’s TIME with their parents and family. Time is something you never get back. Think about it!

  2. I think your friend that has been labeled, “Just a stay at home mom”, needs to find herself someone that respects her & doesn’t take her for granted. Clearly, he doesn’t think that she contrubites crap to that marriage or their family. Maybe she should go get a job, just for a little bit….& then they can split up ALL of the household chores & then maybe, he can get just a pinch of an idea of how hard she works.

  3. I get so irriated with people that still have the opinions that “stay at home moms”, do nothing more than watch Soap Operas, get their hair done & have tea parties with their girlfriends. That was very much the case with my mom….but that was over 20 years ago. The kids now-a-days are involved in so many activites, it is a full time job to take them from one place to another & still be able to maintian the home. I really feel sorry for moms like your friend. If he had to walk in her shoes (for just 1 week), he’d never call her a “juat a stay at home mom” again. If his employer offers him vacation time, maybe that’s be something he could think about doing. I doubt he would though……he thinks the job is beneath him.

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