Why I'm A "Stay-At-Home" Mom And Make No Apologies For It
I hate the term “stay-at-home" mom. Why do we need to qualify the job of mom? I am in no way just a "stay-at-home" mom. While it may be my unfortunate job title, I am a constantly working, all damn day, every day, mom. When you hear the term "stay-at-home" mom or even working mom, it can create an instant judgment. So much of that judgment, unfortunately, comes from other moms. It is rampant and free-flowing: the sideways looks, the backhanded compliments, and the emboldened comments. It can be such a chore keeping up with the Jones’ and always feeling like you need to compete. I hear it all the time through the hushed whispers of mothers waiting to pick their kids up from class. “Some of us moms work; how can they expect us to volunteer?” or “Poor Peggy, her mom misses all of the important stuff because she’s at work”. That is why I have learned to let it be and I make absolutely no apologies for what I do.
Let me tell you one thing: I didn’t forget who I was when I became a “stay-at-home” mom. Rather, I am exactly who I always wanted to be. Motherhood doesn’t negate anything I did before having kids. I had an extremely rewarding career as a teacher - working with, caring for, and educating children. Now, nurturing my own kids adds to my self-worth. Motherhood has enhanced who I am rather than diminish it. Motherhood has made me a better person rounding out the qualities people admired about me in my life as a teacher like “organized, understanding, and approachable,” with traits that only my children could have fostered in me like “patient, flexible, and protective". For me, I find happiness in altruism and happiness working with kids. It was a natural progression for me to become a "stay-at-home" mom and I love what I do (good days and bad).
Here’s the thing about motherhood though - no matter what you choose, you made the wrong choice to somebody. Before the modern feminist movement, the only acceptable choice for women was to be a mom and further to be a "stay-at-home" mom. Now, we are tipping the scale so far the other way in our quest for woman’s empowerment. The feminist push for women to have careers and to be paid equal to their male counterpoints has marginalized the women who are making the choice to be a “stay-at-home” mom. Essentially devaluing the role I care most about. As a society, we underestimate the worth of the things we can’t buy. Motherhood is undervalued whether you are a working mother or a "stay-at-home" mother. When you are being a mom, what you are doing is the most important part of your day, but nobody is going to pay you for it and nobody is going to write a news story on the mother who changed another diaper. The value of motherhood is not touted in the same way a career that brings economic gains to a household are and that in itself undervalues the very job of motherhood.
So instead, do what makes you happy. Women (for the most part) inherently want what is best for their kids. Whatever that looks like to each individual mom may differ but that doesn’t mean there is a right and wrong way. There will always be women who believe that going into the workforce and having a career is important; that showing your kids what working outside the house means and the importance of contributing to the household income. There will undoubtedly be women who are better moms when they go to work and return home to give their children specific, undivided attention. Conversely, there will always be moms who feel that being at home and being there constantly to give their children what they need is the highest priority. They are better moms knowing that they are the one to educate, discipline, and instill their values in their children. Whatever the case may be, there will also always be people who fall on either side of the argument and, in the end, it is all about choice. Happiness is found through doing what makes someone their best self. Being your best self means the people you interact with (your kids, your partner, your coworkers) get the best version of you to enable the best versions of them. Some moms, however, do not have the opportunity to be their best self. These are moms who, through circumstances beyond their control, are forced to be at home when they want to work or have to work when they want to be at home. These are the moms who have made a hard decision and are not the happiest they can be. These are the moms that need our support the most.
It is unhelpful to distinguish between working moms and "stay-at-home" moms. We all mother our children in different ways and whatever makes you the best mom you can be is what you should do. Certainly, there is more than one way to raise happy, healthy children and we don’t need to tear others down in order to build ourselves up. The choice you make is good enough. You are good enough.
I want to be a stay-at-home mom (no qualifying quotiations) and I am blessed to be able to do that.