I’ve found a side of myself, I never knew existed.

I know I have talked about my internal battles over being a stay at home Mom vs. working. I am so blessed to have this choice – I realize that. I know a lot of Moms can’t stay home for very long after giving birth, and I’m sure with this job market there are plenty of people who would like to be working Moms, but can’t because of the sucky economy and the high cost of day care.

Now… if you know anything about me, I have always been very pro-SAHM with regards to myself. (Just a general though: when I share what I think about something, it’s really how that thing fits into my life. As mentioned before, I know this isn’t the right thing for every one). Because of the way I was raised, in church, and in the military community (at least among my friends), the Dad worked, and the Mom stayed home and took care of the kids. That’s just how things were. Our Mom’s all came and helped with out fund-raisers and trips. My childhood probably seems very picturesque to some.

I recently stumbled upon an article about how Jillian Michaels is taking a year off of work to focus on being a parent to the child she is currently trying to adopt from Africa. At the end of the article were readers’ comments, and this one really kind of blew me away:

If you cannot ( if it’s financially possible) take at least a year off of work for your child, you are indeed a narcissistic, selfish woman who is only interested in her “fulfillment”!

Sad , pathetic and your children suffer. Obviously some HAVE to work, but I can honestly say 70% choose to do it for their own benefit. Children thrive with their parent at home. And yet another report stating that children who are overweight are usually products of moms who “work” outside the office.

Now I realize that, per my last comments on this topic, some people interpreted me as saying something similar. But I’m going to let you know… I am a changed woman. Changing the perspectives we grow up with can be a difficult thing. I spent a long time typing up different responses to this comment. But I didn’t really care what she has to say in return. Some of you may recognize these things as comments you have made to me before. Look! I learn and grow because of my readers! Any way, if I had replied to this commenter… it would’ve been:

  1. “Financially possible” is a completely relative thing. Do you expect people to sell their houses and move into a box?
  2. Fulfilled Moms, are happy Moms. My husband once shared some research he’d found (I can’t find it now, but I’m still looking), that showed that working Moms were more likely to be involved and connected to their children. I speculate that this is because they are burned out, they are enjoy their lives and what they do, and they make the most of the time they do spend with their children. I would think a Mom who spends 4-5 hours of good, quality time with their kiddo is probably doing better than the SAHM who’s kiddo watches TV and play alone for a good portion of the day (This wasn’t in the research, just my own thoughts).
  3. “Sad, pathetic and your children suffer.” Firstly… this sentence is awkward. Secondly, I recently read some research that showed that children who have significant attachment to more than one caregiver grow up to be more empathetic, well rounded, and able to deal with change better. That doesn’t sound like suffering to me. If anything it is a good reason to consider socializing your child often, regardless of your working status. And if a Mom feeling good about herself and lessening her family’s financial stress is “sad” and “pathetic” then I definitely want to be sad and pathetic.
  4. Where did this 70% number come from? Show me the proof. A child benefits from a whole family. A family that is not burdened by financial stress. Which, by the way, is one of the leading reasons for divorce. Stop making up numbers. I found a statistic that says “70% of Moms work outside the home” but that does not mean all of them do so just for the extra cash.
  5. Children thrive on interaction. It doesn’t matter WHO that interaction is with, or WHERE is happens.
  6. This last tid-bit seems intriguing, and I found the research that says this. The guess is that working Moms have less time to shop and prepare healthy meals. Of course, I know many stay at home Moms who are JUST as busy as working Moms. Which means that not every meal is healthy and nutritious, and it also means that kids end up spending more time in front of the TV than outside. I think this has to do with priorities. All Moms face stress. Whether that stress is a big cooperate meeting, or piano lessons followed by soccer practice followed by church all on the same night! But I feel like it is up to the Mom (and Dad) to make healthy eating a priority. When I was growing up, mostly as a teenager – I did a large amount of the cooking in the family. Not because my Mom was working, but because my siblings were at various activities, or she was helping some one with homework.

I would love to be able to stay home and snuggle my little baby all the time. But I also have a college degree that I don’t want to waste, and a retirement fund to fill, and a house to buy. I actually have the potential to make just as much as my husband does right now, and it feels like for me to put all of the financial responsibility on him is really… selfish. If I look at my family as a whole, what will benefit every one the most? If I’m working, my child will still be getting attention, and food, and stimulation (and it doesn’t matter if this comes from my husband, grandparents, or a daycare. All three are capable.).

If my family were rich and there was absolutely no need for me to work, then I would be ever so content to stay at home all day long (partly because I am the biggest home-body you will ever meet!). But we’re not rich. We still have bills to pay, and goals to meet, and if I can help my family be financially stable, and avoid the arguments that come from financial stress, then I think I am doing something that definitely outweighs the cons that might be attached with a working Mommy.

*

And because it’s Wednesday:

I really hate it when people think that what’s right for them is what is right for every one else.

This isn’t just in response to the SAHM debate, but could also be applied to religion, fashion, or even food. I don’t care how much you like Okra… I will not be eating it. But seriously. It’s wonderful if you have found something that works really well in your life, by all means, share that with the world, but don’t for one second think that it is the end-all, be-all answer for everyone. We are all different, in different phases of life, and in different families.

What’s right for you, is right for you, that doesn’t mean it’s right for me.

Continue the fun!

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17 Comments

  1. Wow, I'm surprised Jillian would be so short-sighted. I am all for stay-at-home parents (both of mine stayed at home at some point, while working part-time) but I also love that my mom worked throughout my childhood. I never had any preconceived notions about needing a husband to support me, and I think I'm a much stronger person for it. Good parenting is so much more than one choice, and it's really too bad that (as you said) Jillian would generalize that what is right for her is right for everyone.

    1. I guess I didn't make it clear – this was a comment made on the article about Jillian. I'll have to go and word that better. The article was about her, and then it was open to anonymous comments (just required typing a name/e-mail with out an account.

      I think it just depends on what works for the family though, and it's impossible to say one thing is right for every one.

        1. Well – I changed the wording any way. It was a little ambiguous. 😛

          Any way – I really like what you said, about not having "any preconceived notions about needing a husband to support me". That is awesome – because I definitely had a point where I was like "No one will ever love me and I'll have to live with my parents forever!". lol. I hope that my kids, daughters or sons, can feel independent on their own. 🙂

    1. Lol, it's not for everyone. 🙂 I've heard it is good if prepared the right way, but the fried okra I had was kind of gross. I would be willing to try it again though!

  2. Ditto on okra and the "one size does not fit all".

    On the SAHM debate. I think it would be a lot easier to take time for children if the system in which we live allowed it. In France we sure pay a lot of taxes but at least women are allowed to take maternal leave that is payed at 100% for the first 3 months or so, and then the % goes down but you still get financial help. And fathers now have paid paternal leave too.

    I'm not use to the culture here where you have to think the financial part too to see if it's ok to have kids.

    1. Depends on where you work – it is legally required to offer maternity leave, and part of it IS paid. The same thing is happening for "paternal" leave. It's just slow to catch on here.

      There is a bit of a catch 22, in that you only get so much time off of work, but most daycares won't take babies under 4 months old. I'm sure that can be difficult for some people. Our goal is to hopefully avoid daycare and use family because we have so much extended family in the area.

      1. Where I work you only get unpaid maternity leave. It depends on the company I know. But growing up in France we're heavily taxes on our paychecks but then the government redistributes it to anyone aka you don't have to find a job that allows it. I know there is a cost to this of course. But I think I remember reading that the US is the only industrialized country that does not have a law to have paid maternity leave. I guess other countries have reasons to encourage fertility, in Europe the fertility rate is lower because there is less immigration in many cases, but still…

        1. That would be nice though! Especially considering how much babies cost. Do you know how much it costs the family to actually *birth* a baby? Here, with insurance, it can range from a few hundred dollars to $4000, but with out insurance it's between $20,000… to… who knows (depends on if it is vaginal/c-section and any complications)! Very ridiculous.

        2. Well it's not letting me reply to your comment, but anyway.

          In France most doctor's visits only cost 1 Euro or so to the patient. 70% of the cost is covered by our social security (aka government aka our taxes), the other 30% is usually covered by a "mutuelle" which would be the equivalent of a health insurance here.

          I found that the first 5 month visits are covered at 70% by the social security, after that it's covered at 100%. (Knowing that their real cost goes from 28 to 60 Euros).

          Hospital, if public covered at 100% except for the phoone (10 Euro per day). Private hospital reimbursment is based on the public hospitals costs so it's easily 200-600 over for the Dr, 150 for the anesthesia, 50 for the pediatrician and 50-100/day for an individual room. Which I think is still way less than here.

        3. Well, for some one with insurance… it's actually about the same. The first appointment is what ever your normal copay is (mine is $40 for a specialist, but $30 at the regular dr). But after that, everything is covered at 90%, until we've paid $400 out of pocket, and then it is covered at 100%. Then, if there are things that insurance doesn't cover (like extra thing… for example… some genetic testing is not considered "required" so they won't cover it. Or extra ultra sounds that aren't required.) But, once the total out of pocket has reached $3000 (this is for the whole family, and not just me, or just maternity), then they cover EVERYTHING at 100%. I hope that makes sense. Of course, each insurance is different, but the general idea is the same.

  3. Its interesting to hear your take on this. I think your point that fulfilled moms are happy moms is really important. Research has shown time and time again how important it is for moms to be happy and healthy. So much better to work and be happy (if that is what makes you happy) than stay at home and be annoyed!

    1. And it is so true! Having experienced severe depression in college, I know that if something like that were to hit me again, I would be a really lousy Mom. I know that it happens when I get overwhelmed and stressed, and I know that getting out and improving myself keeps my perspectives in order. So essentially – working makes me a better person, and I want to be the best person I can be, because that will make me a better person.

  4. I don't have the references on me, but more and more studies show that the whole "day care ruins your kids for life" is a myth. Kids need to be bonded with their parents, most definitely, but that doesn't translate into 12 hours a day hand holding. Kids can have good attachment from their parents and then get love elsewhere as well.

    1. Exactly – and like I pointed out, there are also benefits to kids having relationships with multiple people. The article I was reading was about a nanny (the Mom was worried her kids were getting too attached), but I am sure it could apply to a consistent day-care worker too.

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