Today’s post is one I think many of us will relate to: the question of staying home with children, and whether we’ve made the right decision or not.
I still struggle with whether I’m better being a full-time SAHM (not that I have that option anymore), a WAHM who has trouble keeping work in the proper balance, or if I’d be better off working full-time outside the home.
Em from Sewing by Moonlight wonders some of these same things – right down to asking herself whether she’s the best person for the job of Mom and if she’s wasting her education. Join her around the bonfire and share how you feel.
I am an independent, intelligent, educated woman. I have a Master’s degree. I could probably be earning a solid amount of money in my profession. However, my current employers are aged 2 and 4 and they don’t pay one cent in terms of financial compensation. They pay in other, intangible ways, sure, but I often struggle with what I could be doing, how I could be using my education and experience, what I might be earning right now were I not a stay at home mother to two little girls.
Before my children were born, I never envisioned myself as a stay at home mom. I always wanted to have children, but I just assumed my husband and I would find a great daycare and I would continue to work. However, shortly after our first daughter was born, we had to move for my husband’s job. I left a position I loved, and the best decision for our family was for me to stay home with our daughter. Two years later, another daughter joined us, and now we are 4 years beyond when I left my “real” job.
In my heart, I know that “mother” IS my real job. Some days, though, I really wonder if I’m doing a good job in that position, if we made the right decision for me to stay home with the girls, if someone else would do a better job than me providing their daycare, if they would be happier if we had more income to buy them things and take them places, if, if, if. Finances are a struggle. My husband is a teacher, and you know teachers are not exactly “high rollers.” So we are raising our family of four (and four furbabies) on a single, teacher’s salary.
This job (but it’s more than that), this lifestyle, of full-time stay-at-home parent is more difficult than I could ever have imagined. Children have boundless energy, and young ones have constant needs (older ones, too, I imagine, but they also seem like they do enjoy some occasional alone time). There is never a lunch break, or a few moments to joke around at the water cooler, or 5 minutes to quietly reflect and finish my coffee. I am constantly “on.” When I was working, even when I was in the middle of a project, there was still a break for lunch and some time to chat with my (adult!) co-workers. When I went to the bathroom, I closed the door and enjoyed a moment of peace and quiet. The people I worked with certainly were not banging on the door, yelling, “Mama! Maaa-maaa!” Oh, and when they used the restroom they didn’t holler at me when they were finished, “MOM! Will you check and see if I got all the poop off?!”
Instead of a single job, I fill the positions of safety administrator, entertainment coordinator, education director, party planner, chef, referee, chauffeur, nurse, receptionist, mediator, stylist, janitor, and the list goes on. However, the person we hire to care for our children in our absence might be called a nanny, and I admit that I am not 100% confident that I would be the person I would hire as nanny for my children. My education and experience just do not make for a very well rounded resume in that career.
But I am not their nanny. I am their mother. I have to remember that if my children had the option to choose anyone they wanted to care for them during the day, they would choose me, and as a result, I really am the best person for the job!
I sometimes wonder what I’m missing out on in my career. I know it’s going to be difficult to rejoin the workforce when my children go back to school. I am making personal sacrifices in order to stay at home with my children while they are young, and that is not something that I should marginalize. When my husband and I made the choice to become parents, we also had to choose to put their needs first until they are old enough to take care of their own needs. Being selfish is no longer an option.
When I start to lament what I’m missing, I have to stop and remind myself what I’m not missing. I get to be witness and cheerleader to every single one of my girls’ “firsts.” I am there to pick them up when they fall, put a band-aid on the boo-boo and make everything better. I am showing them that I will always be there for them because I always am there for them. I get to see the world through the eyes of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and the perspective of a child is something that adults too easily forget.
This is the right decision for me, my children, our family. And ultimately, being confident in your choices is important. Yes, I struggle with my lack financial contribution sometimes, and the fact that I’m missing out on valuable years of career growth. But because of my girls, I laugh every single day, when I otherwise might not. And laughter adds years to your life, right? So there will be time to be a “big earner” when my little girls don’t need me so much.
I’m Em, a 32-year-old mother of two little girls. I have a Masters degree in Botany, am a former Environmental Educator, and am currently staying at home to raise my children. I started my first blog, littlebitsandmore.com, when my older daughter was 6 months old. It’s mostly an online baby book and a way for far away family and friends to keep up with what we’re up to. This past January, I began my sewing blog, sewingbymoonlight.com, because I wanted a platform to share my creative efforts, and to be a more active and contributing member of the online sewing and quilting community. I run on a semi-regular basis because it gives me an excuse to eat too much chocolate. I sew late at night with black tea and bluegrass music.