Can you have it ALL? This topic can provoke some pretty intense feelings and certainly some very strong opinions. The timeless debate of whether a mom should work or not. And, if you do- can you have it all? Now, I’m not saying that Stay At Home Mom’s (SAHM) don’t work. Anyone who has children knows that is rewarding but exhausting work. I’m talking about if a woman CAN or SHOULD work if she has kids- is it possible to have both? I mean, women can do pretty much anything- heck, birthing babies is quite a feat alone!
I once heard a SAHM say (in a lot more words) that if you aren’t going to stay at home, why bother having kids? The argument being you will end up having others raise your children, you miss key events and being a mom is the most important job- so what could trump that. I was offended by those comments. First of all, how can anyone pass judgment on anyone else’s situation? What if you’re a single mom and NEED to work? Or what if your spouse lost their job and you can provide an income. Or, what if your husband wants to be a – gasp – SAHD!? How can we possibly understand each specific situation? So, let me counter that thought process with my personal rationale.
- First, I agree being a mom is the most important job. But, I also believe that you can still be a great mom and work outside of the home. I love what I do and I’ve worked really hard to get where I am. Work does not trump my children. I work because it’s the time away I need to be a good mom. It is that break from boogers, farts (usually), and childlike conversation. I work because I like to feel that I am contributing to our family financially- a less financially stressed mom is a good thing! It has worked out great for us since hubs is in med school. We still have a steady income stream and he can work on the things he needs to do to meet his goals. Knowing these things are in order allows me to focus my energy on my kids and being the mom that they need.
- Yes, I have missed key events. Is it sad? Sure- I’d be heartless to say it wasn’t. However, the key is having the right care taker. We’ve been incredibly blessed to have AMAZING childcare providers for all of the boys. They have all been humble and share news of rolling over, words, steps and all other milestones in such a delicate way. They were, and are, our family. This makes sharing those special moments way less traumatic. Plus, it makes the ones that I do get to see, even more exciting and important because I know I will miss things. And, news flash, as parents we cannot be everywhere and see every first our children will experience- I guess I’m just getting used to that sooner rather than later.
- Yes, we do have other people caring for our children. But, it doesn’t stop when they get out of daycare. Two of our boys are now in elementary school and they are cared for by amazing teachers and administrators who are far more qualified to teach them language arts and science than I would be. Basically, unless you plan on homeschooling, your child(ren) will be cared for by another person, and that’s okay. It’s an inevitable point of parenting for both SAHM and working moms.
- One additional point- I am far less burnt out parenting by having time away from everything when I go to work. In turn, I have that energy to commit to the kids and whatever needs they may have- laundry, cooking and homework included. Please introduce me to the mom out there that is with their child ALL the time- day in and day out without any moment of a break who is not on the brink of burn out. I want to know her secret.
When I went back to work after having each of my kids, I felt that pressure and the judgment of being a working mom. How can I possibly do both? I’m either a horrible mom or a horrible employee. What a terrible way to feel after having a baby! If you chose to stay home with your children, that is great. However, I don’t believe that just because a woman has a child it means that she should not work. That just seems a little 1950’s to me. I feel that a lot of women have worked incredibly hard to push woman into the working world, albeit still not equally, but we’re there. With 3 boys, I want them to see a strong and intellectual woman that doesn’t necessarily fall within that 1950’s stereotype. That it’s okay to pursue a career and to respect women that do, just like they would respect a woman who stays home.
Okay, so back to the point at hand. SHOULD women work if they have kids? Sure, why not? As a mom, you can chose to work, stay at home, home school, whatever your heart – and family desires. Whatever the choice may be- there will always be some kind of sacrifice to allow for that balance/centeredness that works for your family, it’s all relative. The key is figuring out what the sacrifice may be and if it’s manageable for your family. For us, it means we do not enroll our kids in 5 activities each. We use that extra time to spend it together as a family, with our church family and just having fun- playing outside, playing games, whatever- allowing them to be kids. I do not Pinterest the crap out of everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love looking at Pinterest. You just have to draw a line somewhere. Committing to Elf on the Shelf while sipping on hot chocolate I made from milk that I squeezed out of almonds I grew in my backyard is not exactly how I value my time. With hubs in med school, we live by the motto “short term sacrifice for long term gain”. We do not take lavish trips, but we do trips as a family, even if only for a day. We value our time in the car as time together, even if the kids are fighting. My house is not immaculate (especially by my mom’s standards) and I do not make every meal from scratch. So, do I have it all? No, I don’t by most standards and I’m okay with that. But I have everything I need now, and so do my kids. So, I feel centered right now and that is what is important. Also, it’s a fluid thing. It can- and will- change over time.
What this whole topic boils down to is what works best for YOUR family. Hubs knows that what I do for a living is more than just a paycheck, I really enjoy it. He is not intimidated by the fact that I am our main bread winner while he focuses on school. And honestly, for our bank accounts sake, I look forward to the day when he is the breadwinner! Maybe I can get my minivan back??