Monday, March 16, 2009

To stay at home, or not to stay at home?

My mom and my three sisters in August 2007, at my baby shower.

Recently, I've been caught up in some chatter over at Baby Makin(g) Machine (an awesome blog--go check it out!) about stay-at-home moms, otherwise known in the online world as SAHM's. This is something I've really been thinking about in recent months with graduation on the horizon.

I'll start by saying I have great admiration and respect for anyone who chooses to forgo a career to be at home with her children. What a blessed opportunity! Not every woman is in a situation where she can be at home. But for the ones who can and do stay home to raise their kids...I applaud you.

My own mother was a SAHM throughout my childhood. It was always such a luxury for me. During the school year, I could call my mom if I got sick at school, and she could pick me up. Or, if I forgot my homework, I could make a simple phone call and she's bring it to me minutes later. When my brother and I had our birthday, she'd often bring treats to share with the class. She also spent a lot of time volunteering at the school.

Then, when we came home, the house was clean and our laundry was done. She'd usually be cooking dinner in the kitchen while my little sisters played. I cannot ever remember coming home to an empty house.

During the summers, my mom would come up with many fun activities for us to do. We'd run in the sprinklers, go swimming, make popsicles, paint with watercolors, play with friends and each other, or go to the name it, we did it. We were rarely bored.
And lest you think she did everything for us, think again. My mom had us folding laundry, doing dishes, vacuuming, changing diapers and making bottles right alongside her. She never missed an opportunity to teach us.

Looking back, I realize how important it was for me to have my mom available. In high school, always vowed I would do the same for my own children.

But, since then, my thinking has changed. I'm about to secure a college degree in a few weeks. And I hate to sound full of myself, but I love my chosen field and I'm good at it. However, it seems there's hardly room (if any) for SAHM's in broadcast journalism.

So, I feel like I'm left with two choices after graduation: stay at home or go to work. I suppose I could do something in between (teach piano lessons from home, freelance from home, work part time), but ultimately, I'm going to have to choose between being at home or being in a newsroom somewhere. And yes, I am still undecided.

I've never been a SAHM. Well, unless you count the two and a half months I spent at home after Bubby was born. I had her in October and started school in January, though, and I've yet to take a break. I really don't know motherhood any differently. I've always had someone babysitting so I can go to school or go to my internship. So, in a way I feel prepared to work at least part time.

So, SAHM's out there...tell me why you do it. What did you have to give up to be at home? Do you wish you could have it differently? What about those of you who work from home or work part-time? I want to hear it all--the good, the bad, and the ugly. And those who are in the same boat as me...which direction are you leaning?


  1. Like you, I was a full-time student while my oldest were little. Then I began teaching and had four kids. It was tough: Full-time teacher, four kids, primary presidency, working on my Master's Degree. People would ask "How do you do it all?" My answer, "I don't. No one can. My house is a pit. Something's gotta give." I constantly felt the guilt of knowing that I wasn't doing anything 100%. I couldn't.

    I had two bonus babies at 38 and 40. I decided to quit teaching and stay home since it's my last chance. I miss teaching, I miss my students, I miss my colleagues, I REALLY miss my paycheck, but I do NOT miss going to work every day. I LOVE being home with my babies and enjoying every moment with them. However, poverty sucks. I'm trying to hold out, but I'm seriously tempted to go back to teaching next year.

    The other thing I miss about working outside the home is the value other people put on my work. At home, no one comments on the fact that my fridge is super clean (it's not,LOL!, just an example), the work is constant (laundry, dishes, floors) and unrewarded/unappreciated for the most part. Honestly, who doesn't love to hear daily that their work is valued, and reap the rewards of it. Really, eternal benefits are sure long in coming, and that whole "endure to the end" sure feels like an endurance race some days.

    In the end though, I wouldn't trade a minute with my babies for the kudos, or warm fuzzies, or praise. The only reason I'd leave them and go back to work is if it's that or lose the house and be unable to feed them. Unfortunately in this economy, it's just about come down to that. It's certainly a decision you and your husband have to make together for your family.

    (Long comment from a total stranger, huh? I've obviously been debating this issue a LOT lately. I'm an elementary school friend of Serena's.)

  2. Obviously I'm debating the same things girls! Let me know if you learn the answer!

  3. My mom was forced to work and support our family while I was growing up. I'm the youngest of 8 kids and when I was about 5 years old, my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He was in and out of the hospital a lot, on chemo, etc. which left my mom in charge of EVERYTHING. I was mostly raised by my older siblings or before/after school I was at my mom's various offices playing under her desk. Looking back, I know that I was happy and my family loved me but what I wouldn't have given to have my mom home everyday to spend time with me if nothing else. Even if it was only a few days a week. Because I was the baby of the family, I always had a different bond with my mom but it wasn't until I was in my teenage years that I felt she even knew me REALLY well. Because of all of this, I have kind of vowed that even if I did have to work PT to help support our family, I would set aside individual time with each kid every single week to make sure I really got to know my children. I really don't want to tell you what you should do but I know that I personally couldn't work FT while being a mom unless it REALLY came down to that and I absolutely HAD to. Being a mom is such a special blessing that I think a lot of people take for granted and I would hate to miss out on that entirely. Good luck making your decision! :)

  4. i work full time and anyone who watches Dax compalines that it's too long or he had a poo diaper or he cryied most the day or what ever. They don't know how jelous i am of them in ways. I would love to stay home watch my son grow and learn, teach him things and just be there for him. I want to have like 3 more and i want to be there for them and to clean for them. It makes me sad that i have to leave him every morning. I only get to spend about 3 hours with him a day so i try to make those 3 hours quality time spent. He knows who i am and i think it's great that he reaches for his sitters but those are my kisses and my hugs...but i know that right now this is where i need to be. If we need to sacrifice it's right now. My family needs me to support them and so i do and maybe one day i can stay home. Now working part time could always be an option too cause i might need that small time you know...

  5. This is the same dilemma I find myself facing right now. I love my job,and I love working in broadcast, but I don't know if I will be brave enough to leave my baby and keep working on my career. It's a toughie.

  6. This is something I have thought about a lot as I am graduating soon. What I have come to realize is that first, what the prophet has to say about mother's is exactly the truth. If mother's don't HAVE to work, then they should be home with the kids. I am so thankful for my mother taking this responsibility and being there for me. She was my mom, and I knew that was the most important thing to her.

    It is important for Mom's to find something else to fill their time besides being with the kids all day long. My sister is developing her skills with various crafts, my Mom created her own business and is at home at the same time, I am playing with my skills at writing since I know I want to write a book someday.

    The truth is, nothing can replace a mother. Not even a grandmother, sister, friend, etc. Being a stay-at-home mom shouldn't be about giving up dreams. If we make the right and best decision, Heavenly Father will provide a way for us to continue to develop our talents even thought we aren't in the "work place".

    Pray about it.

  7. I just had another thought, so of course I had to share it. I started thinking about the children we are bringing to this earth from Heavenly Father's perspective. Here is this precious spirit that he is sending to a troubled world, into a family that is there to teach and raise this child the best that they possibly can. An interesting question, what does Heavenly Father want for this baby. What kind of family life is needed?

    By having children, we are becoming stewards over priceless possessions. This isn't something that we can plop into another person's hands because we want the world's praise and for the world to think that we are important.

    I do understand that situations arise where Mom's need to work. I also understand that a SAHM can very well go crazy if she can't have adult conversations and do things to develop her talents and further her goals. The truth is (and why is it so easily forgotten?) that Heavenly Father knows what is best for your family. He isn't going to leave your prayers unanswered, or yoour hearts without peace.

  8. I say to try out working:) But I'm all about feminism. Being a working Mom, even in Mormon families, isn't the stereotype it used to be! Women aren't expected to sit at home and cook and clean and reproduce, all whilst wearing their pearls anymore! No one should judge you for chosing to have a career, IF that is what you end up doing. Besides, you've known nothing else- you and baby have got your routine DOWN girl. You have a Mom and a Mother-in-Law who will continue to help you out too! So why not go into the field, test it out for a few months, or even years. It will be hard, and you might end up hating it, but i don't think you want to regret NOT attempting. If you don't like it after some time, then you can quit, or something haha i don't know, but I'm sure you will be able to figure it out. You'll make the right decision, whatever you do, I just know it.


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