For the past four years, I’ve spent quite a lot of time feeling lonely, confused and exhausted from constantly defending myself and my choices to people I barely know.
When a woman decides to quit her job and stay at home with her children, assumptions are often made about the kind of person she is, her character and her work ethic. When she is around mothers who work outside the home, she is made to feel silly for giving up her paycheck. If money is tight, others question her for giving up the comforts of her job and salary for a life of budgets and coupons.
(Few people seem to understand the cost of daycare and how little most women would actually bring home if a daycare bill was deducted from their paychecks.)
What it really boils down to is this: you shouldn’t have to defend your choices to anyone because no one should be sticking their noses into your family and finances in the first place. The choice to stay at home is never one that anyone makes at the drop of a dime. It’s always well thought out, planned for and executed with as much care as humanly possible. No one wakes up one morning and decides to quit their job without first figuring out how the bills are going to get paid. It doesn’t work that way.
Here’s what people need to understand: If a stay-at-home mother voices any of her struggles to you, it’s not for your pity or your understanding (unless you’re a fellow SAHM). She’s talking to you because she trusts you and she simply needs someone to LISTEN to her. While being a SAHM does have its advantages, it can get lonely and monotonous if you don’t make an effort to connect with other people and groups during the day. For me personally, staying home all day with two kids under the age of five leaves me craving adult interaction and the ability to discuss things other than cartoons and action figures.
The decision to quit a job, reduce the family to 50 percent of its previous income and stay home with the kids can be a difficult decision to make. All parents make sacrifices for the good of their families, whether they work outside the home or not. Mother’s who decide to stay home with their kids should be praised, not questioned, mocked or ridiculed. Deciding to stay at home doesn’t mean we give up on our dreams or become empty shells of the women we once were. Women who decide to stay at home do so because they feel it’s the best thing for their family. It is for the same reason that some women choose to go back to work.
We can only do what we feel is best for our individual families, and what is right for mine, may not be right for yours. My choices were well thought out and although money can be tight, scary tight sometimes, it’s a choice I would make again and again and again.
Instead of questioning our fellow mothers about the rightness of our choices, why can’t we be supportive of each other? I might not be able to buy my kids everything they want, or have the nicest clothes, make-up and jewelry for myself, but that’s ok with me. In the end these things are only material possessions, but knowing that I did what was best for me and my kids is a lesson that will stay with me long after toys and clothes are gone.