Stay at Home Mom or Working Mom? The choice of a Working Class Mum

A response to TamCor's first question

This hub is written in answer to the first of three questions asked by TamCor at the end of her hub

The question is

Whichever you were – Stay at home mom, or working mom – are / were you happy with that decision?

Stay at Home Mum in the 1970s

I was a stay at home mum in the seventies, before the birth of my first child I had suffered three miscarriages.

I don’t think that the miscarriages were a particular factor in my decision to be a stay at home mum. But the miscarriages certainly made me even more aware of how precious the life of my children were.

My decision to stay at home was one that I made a long time before I was even married.

In fact I can’t really remember actually going through a pros and cons process when I made my decision. My decision was just something that I always felt I would do when the time came.

My decision no doubt came out of my own experiences as a child and my own upbringing.

When I was a child it was the norm for mums to stay at home once they had children. Staying at home with your children was what everyone expected you to do and so it was what most mums did.

Often the norms and values of our formative years are the ones that we absorb and make our own. They are also the ones that we become personally most comfortable with.

Often we can go through life unaware that the choices, values and decisions we have might not our own. They may just the ones we that we have grown up with and taken on, believing them to be our own.

They Grow so quick

I don't have a problem

I remember once when my children were upstairs playing in one of their bedrooms. They were making quite a bit of noise in the process and so I reacted in a particular way.

First I shouted up to them to make less noise. When this got no response I started up the stairs making a noise as I went. This was so that the children could hear me coming.

I was about halfway up the stairs when it suddenly hit me. This is exactly what my mum use to do when my brother and I were playing and making a noise. What I was doing was identical to the way she used to do it.

This behaviour was an appropriate response for my mum. But as I stood on the stairs I realised that it wasn't for me.

I really didn’t have a problem with this behaviour. I didn't care that they were making a noise in fact I enjoyed hearing them playing and laughing.

My response towards my children was an automatic response. My exposure to this response in my childhood conditioned me to make the same response.

I went into this response without any thought process of my own going in to it at all.

The day I got this revelation halfway up the stairs was also the last time it happened. I deleted right there and then that particular piece of behaviour.

My mum was a working mum

As far back as I can remember my mum always had a job, often she had two. My dad was a coal miner so he was a shift worker.

The fact dad worked shifts meant that most of the time there was someone at home.

I think that mum stayed at home until my younger brother started school. From that time on I never knew my mum not to have work of one description or another.

My mum could turn her hand to anything. I can remember her doing all kinds of jobs.

I remember her working as a barmaid, a silver service waitress, and in a café. Often she would take on a temporary job as a post woman at Christmas time.

In the summer months she would work in a stationary ice-cream van down by the river.

Mum worked as a counter assistant in local shop then later she worked as a cashier in a new fangled super market. These are just a few of the jobs she had that I can remember.

Mum worked hard so that we as a family would not have to go without.

A Working Man's Pride in the 40s and 50s

I was born around the middle of 1940s, and my childhood memories are almost all happy ones.

It was a time when communities were usually fairly close knit. Most of the people around us were going through life in a way that was like ours.

Most of the mums that I remember from my childhood were stay at home mums.

It was usual for working class mums in the 1940s and 50s to stay at home and look after the kids and the home.

Meanwhile the men folk went out to work to support their families.

Many of the women back then brought up their children but did not return to work after their children grew up.

Those children eventually left home to get married and have children their own. But those stay at home mums still did not go back to work.

This was very helpful to a lot of the next generation of new mums that did want to go out to work.

The stay at home mums of the 40s and 50s now became stay at home grandmothers.

Many of these grandmothers looked after their grandchildren. This enabled the children's own mum to go out to work.

A working class man took great pride in his ability to take care of his wife and family.

It was usual when a working class man asked a woman to marry him in those days that he was able to keep her.

It was not uncommon for him to actually say that if she married him he would take care of her.

Men often felt that if their wives went out to work that it reflected badly upon them.

Many men back then felt that if their wife went out to work it meant that they were not a good breadwinner.

A working wife said that the man could not take care of his family.

A man that could not take care of his wife and family this way often felt that he was was not a proper man.

A man would feel a sense of shame if he was not able to provide for his family.

Things have changed a lot since then, the stigma of having a working wife no longer exists. In fact a man is more likely to get stick if his wife does not go out to work.

I Felt Jealous

For the most part I never thought much about the fact that mum worked. But I do remember one instance when my childhood friend got her bicycle.

I had a new bicycle at Christmas which came with all the extras like a dynamo, saddlebag, gears etc. That Christmas my friend also had a bike for Christmas.

My friend’s bicycle was second hand and had none of the extras that mine had but her dad had lovingly refurbished hers.

I remember looking at my friend's bike and feeling jealous of her. The bike was not as fancy as mine and even after her dad had done it up you could see it was not new. It was the time she had spent with her dad working on this bike that made her bike a special bike.

When ever I used to go in my friend’s home her mum was always just getting bread or cakes out of the oven. Her home was always warm and safe feeling and her mum was always at home.

This experience made me think at that time that I would rather have my mum home than a new bike.

Because my mum went out to work I may well have had more new things than those with stay at home mums. But back then at that moment I would have gladly gone without to have my mum at home.

However, this kind of thinking did not dominate my thinking. It was just triggered off by that one instance. To be honest the thoughts left almost as soon as they came.

Like most children in our neighbourhood I had a wonderful childhood. I also had wonderful parents who did their very best for my brother and I.

I think that my brother and I are a testament to how well they both played out their role as parents. My mum was proud of us and we were and still are proud of her.

Going Against the Flow

My mum was very much her own woman and she had to some extent gone against the flow by being a working mum.

Now as a young mum I was going against the flow but this time it was by being a stay at home mum.

In the early 1970s it people thought that it was fine for a mum to stay at home until the children started school.

Back in the 1970s more and more new mums began to take maternity leave. Many returning to work within a few months of having their children.

If a young mum wanted or needed to get back to work she needed to arrange for her child care.

Often the grandparents back then would take on the task of looking after children.

A Mum of two

My husband and I with our two children who were born just one year apart. We were taller and thinner than we look in this photo scanning seems to have squashed us up a little.
My husband and I with our two children who were born just one year apart. We were taller and thinner than we look in this photo scanning seems to have squashed us up a little.

An Easy Decision

The decision to stay at home to bring up my children was one that I made easily. It is also a decision that I never regretted not even for a moment.

What I gained from this experience far outweighed the costs. There were many costs and sacrifices I had to make but if I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

What I gained from this experience can never be taken away from me. Now, as I draw close to my 70s and I look at the choices I made as a young mum I have very few regrets.

I was and still am glad that I made the choice to be a stay at home mum. I think that for me it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Is this the right decision for every mum? I don’t think that there is one right decision I think that each new mum has to decide for herself.

We are all different my decision brought happiness to me and contentment to my children. But the same decision would not necessarily do the same for another person.

The same decision to stay at home could bring different results for another young mum. It could result in resentment and bitterness bringing unhappiness for both mother and child.

Staying at home would not be a right decision for them, as it would not benefit anyone.

My daughter said in her last email to me that there is a saying in the USA that ‘When mum’s happy, everyone’s happy!’

I think that there is a lot of truth in this saying.

‘Were the hardships and/or benefits of either worth it in the long run?’

TamCor asked three questions in all and this hub has been the answer to only the first of these questions.

I was going to answer all three questions on the one hub but it took me me longer to answer than I thought it would. It became much too long for just one hub so I will answer the next two questions in my next two hubs.

The next hub deals with the question ‘Were the hardships and/or benefits of either worth it in the long run? ’

I have sort of answered part of that in this hub. But if you read the next hub you will find out what the hardships and benefits were.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Stay-at-Home-Mom-or-Working-Mom- Was it Worth It?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Other Similar Hubs

If you enjoyed this hub I have other hubs that deal with similar material.

All these Hubs have the common theme of coming from a Working Class perspective which differs quite a lot from that of the Middle Class and which has virtually nothing in common with the Upper Class perspective.

There is one period in modern times when all three classes had experiences in common and that was during the second world war.

I hope that enjoyed your foray into Working Class England if you did please leave a comment perhaps some feed back or if I didn't cover what you were looking for let me know and perhaps I can do another hub about that,

More by this Author


Comments 31 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

You make me smile! You made me remember my mom knitted us the most beautiful sweaters and sewed our clothes. I always wished for something bought from the store. Looking at my old pictures recently I realized just how blessed I really was. Sometimes moms just have to work. No two ways around it. I was home or part time for most of Adams school. From the time he was 3 to 12 I only missed 2 field trips. He remembers both of the ones I missed.

I think the money I could have been making would have helped us in a great many ways, but we survived, and now I'm thankful I got to be there.

Thanks Maggs.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

You are a treasure that I am glad to have in my life, always an encouragement and yours is always a name I am glad to see on any hub especially one of mine. Thanks for your comments and for reading the hub.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

A beautiful story from a beautiful person. My mother worked because she had to for us to survive...My dad's jobs just couldn't raise 8 of us. He was also sick a few years. She worked in factories and sweat shops. I appreciate and love her dearly. Thanks Maggs....again...beautiful!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

What a great story, Maggs! I look forward to reading the rest of this story!


TamCor profile image

TamCor 7 years ago from Ohio

Maggs--I am soooo happy to see you did a hub on this--and thank you for mentioning mine...although I think you did a much better job telling your story! :)

It's a wonderful hub--and I love reading about your life, and the decisions you've made along the way...thanks!


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 7 years ago from Tucson, Az

Ditto Maggs!! and Ditto to you too Tamcor!! I love always reading you guys articles...makes me work with greater pleasure and effort just to stay up with you!!


Queen of the Lint profile image

Queen of the Lint 7 years ago from The Laundry Room

Nice hub. And it's not easy being a mother in any case! I split the difference and worked part-time. Later, for several years I subbed in my children's schools, too, sometimes even being their sub!


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Thanks for a great hub, Maggs. I was both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. Neither one was easy. But I think, for children, it's much better to have one of the parents at home, especially until they go to school full time. I had to work, as my husband and I divorced when the girls were quite young, and I think they suffered for it somewhat. I wish I could have worked part time, but I was a teacher and part-time teaching jobs were almost non-existent at that time.


amy jane profile image

amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

I loved hearing your story. I have had the same moment of realization that you experienced while heading up the stairs to tell the children to quiet down! It has taken much effort for me to not respond exactly like my own mother did. It's like I'm on autopilot sometimes and the words just come out.

I've been an at home mom for ten years now and have worked on and off (from home as a writer) for the past two. Being a work at home mom is an entirely different topic I suppose, but I do not regret staying home. Although, I must admit, I would love just a little more time to myself!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

A fantastic hub. I admire your opinion that different things suit different mothers and families.

My mother is the same generation as you - 4 children, born in the late 70s and early to mid 80s, and she stayed at home from before I was born (I'm the eldest) until my brother, the youngest, was 10. Then she went back to work part-time as a teacher for a few years.

I am the mother of a just-turned 4 year old, and I work.

We are both happy with our different choices.


Todd D. 7 years ago

Great story!

Very interesting...

Todd D.

http://www.emediawire.com/news/20090619/index.htm


Cailin Gallagher profile image

Cailin Gallagher 7 years ago from New England

Lovely hub. I look forward to reading your next hub. I remember fondly when my mother was at home for us. After my parents parted, she remained at home until my youngest brother was school-aged, but she was always out and about at the time and not as nurturing as she was when we were young. It was the times too. The 1970s were a difficult time for women. They were all finding themselves and their new roles. She has been working hard ever since, and I saw firsthand how stressful life was for her as she tried to raise four children on her own. I've always wanted to be at home as much as possible for my children while they are young. I can see myself working fulltime once my youngest is school-aged as well. These days, I don't have much of a choice as I'm going it alone. But, whatever the choice, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thanks Tom for your comments my mum was a working mum and I have much to thank her for and I like to think that she thought her sacrifices were worth it. The older I get the more I appreciate my mum and all that she went through bringing us up.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

KCC Glad you enjoyed the hub thanks for the positive comments much appreciated


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

TamCor praise from you is something that I value very much, thanks for asking those three questions writing this has been a very good experience for me


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

RNMS from what I have read of your hubs you have no difficulty at all in staying up. Thanks for the positive comments.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Queen of Lint, you are right there being a mum is not an easy job they don't even come with a handbook do they. Lol Mind you even if they did I doubt that I would have read it first, I just tend to want to get started right away and resort to the handbook only when I encounter a problem. Your kids are lucky to have such a great mum. Mums rock!!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Alekhouse after reading your hubs I don't think that you have to worry at all about your girls suffering because you had to work because the love that you have for your girls will have more than made up for that. You have created a warm, safe, loving and nurturing environment for your girls and they cannot help but thrive they are blessed to have such a mom.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

AmyJane it is scary sometimes when I talk to my daughter on the phone I can hear my mum speaking through my mouth, the same tone, the same questions Lol

I think that it is healthy to value a little me time I hope you manage to get some. Thanks for your comments.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

LondonGirl thanks for your comments, I think that one of the most important things is to find out what is best for you, what you give freely is always better than what you give begrudgingly.

If you are not happy with your choice then the door opens to resentment and all sorts of other negative stuff and it spills out into all other areas of our lives.

That looks like one very happy and contented child you have on your photo looks like you have got it right for your family. Way to go LondonGirl


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Todd D and GigglesDropsKids thank you both for you comments


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Cailin I cannot begin to imagine how I would have managed on my own, I so admire and respect single parents who have do do it on their own life with young children is stressful enough when there are two parents to share the load.

As for the grass being greener, no matter what it looks like it still has to be cut and nothing is as it seems looking from the outside. We can't choose the hand we are dealt but we can choose how we play it. You look like you are doing fine the way you are playing your hand.


peainapod profile image

peainapod 7 years ago

great story... my mum worked as a teacher all her life and we kids turned out ok. And now, I am a working single mom..had to reduce my hours though to accommodate my daughter's school hours. Extra money could have helped us a lot but we are coping... so far so good. Hopefully it stays that way.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

hi peainapod you have my admiration raising kids with two parents sharing the load is not easy, but to have to do it on your own I think you are a real star.


Being a good Mother 7 years ago

I don't think that a mother is staying at home or working matters much. Good parenting skills can be developed by any one.I have seen several good mothers with successful careers. At the same time i remember my childhood when i used to feel neglected and lonely. And my Mom was a stay at home mother.


vivi 7 years ago

Hi, I am new to this hub,must say it has been a joy scrolling down the bar finding both life experiences of us mums but more importantly encouraging words on the path forward for me as a stay-at-home- mum SaHM who is trying to get back out into worklife outside home. I have often wondered how our situation would translate into business life if our role as a mum,could be compared with the role of a company director. After all we run an operation, a one man band who single handed has to master the most fundamental in life, namely life!. Example, Banks have huge responsibilities and justify this in massive salary demands.

Now, who ever it mite be, man or woman we carry the ultimate responsibility of raising a life, making sure among many things, that they grow up with good values and moral. Displaying a competent behaviour in society that doesn't burden public spending in form of anti social behaviour. Not to forget the complex nutrition and health knowledge we must teach in order to prevent the obesity growth ie cost to society.

Costs and the effects of bad decision making are often at the top of the agenda for any director, who in return receive huge pay and pension pakages.

We SaHM and SaHD get none of that, not even a recognised title that carry some respect and value in the world outside the home.

Yes, we dont generate profit, we only look after the future...........


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi being a good mother, thanks for the comments and I agree that being a good parent is not dependant on whether you stay at home or not but on how you interact with your child or children. Like you I have known children from both camps who have felt hard done by, and also those who thought that they had the best of possible upbringings the variable was the parent not the circumstances.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thanks Vivi for your kind comments I think that there is a lot of lip service to the role and value of motherhood and parenting but very little practical appreciation shown in the form of assistance to mothers that want to stay at home.


Lamme profile image

Lamme 6 years ago

Excellent hub. Stay at home moms aren't often given the credit they deserve!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Lamme, thank you for your kind comments, moms don't get a lot of credit from society at large, but if we are lucky we do get to see our children grow up into amazing adults. Even now though my children are all grown up, I am fortunate enough to still receive compliments on what nice people my children are, and that makes everything I did worth while.


OnlineJobOffers 6 years ago

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