Why isn't it considered a career?
Making the Choice!
As an educator I have met many parents with different careers. I've met lawyers, doctors, teachers, housekeepers, farmers, stay-at-home moms/dads, clerks, etc. Every family was a different size and every family worked differently. Out of all those careers, I never thought to undermine the role of a stay-at-home mom. I have always appreciated the amount of work they do as well as their involvement in their child's life.
One day, my nephew had a writing assignment for his middle school English course. The students were instructed to interview an adult about their daily life in their careers. My nephew asked if he could interview his mom. "Yes, that's sounds fine. What does your mom do?", she asked my nephew. "She is a stay-at-home mom", he replied. "Maybe you should interview your dad, he will probably have more exciting things to tell you than your mom.", she instructed.
Naturally my sister-in-law was furious and hurt that someone could belittle her son's mother, in any way. My immediate thought, as a fellow educator, was to wonder what else was going on in the classroom to warrant that kind of response to an impressionable teenager. Nonetheless, it also made me upset to think anyone can say that about any stay-at-home mom, much less my own sister-in-law.
After this, I started wondering what do people truly think about stay-at-home moms. And more importantly, what does a stay-at-home mom truly do everyday.
How and why do you decide to become a stay-at-home mom?
My friend, Cara, is a stay-at-home mom because she was fortunate enough to have the option to be home with her children. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom, Cara graduated college with a degree in Psychology. She worked out-of-field for a few years and moved to several states to support her husband's career. Her intention was to return to school and pursue her Masters degree but life had a different plan for her. Her husband's job moved them from city to city and it made it difficult for her to further her career. She had two beautiful, intelligent, energetic and wonderful children. She says, "being a parent has reshaped how I used to view psychology".
Cara has two children, Roman and Amelia. Cara blew my mind when she shared her summary of being a stay at home mom, " 'If you meet one kid with Autism you meet one kid with Autism' and I think stay at home Mom's are the same. Everyone has different reasons for how they arrived at that decision".
Mainly I believe that Stay at home Moms and Dads are parents who have chosen to forgo a traditional job in order to raise their children in the best way they can. I think working parents make that decision the same way, it's what is best for their family.
My sister, Leslie, is also a stay-at-home mom. Her decision was due to an unfortunate life event, the passing of our mother. She graduated with a degree in Exceptional Student Education and a Master's degree in School Guidance. Our mom helped with her first child. This allowed Leslie to work full-time and for our mother to take care of her son instead of sending him to daycare, something that most moms dread. However, once my mom got ill Leslie had to go from working full-time to part-time and become my mom's caregiver. She got pregnant again and had a baby girl. After our mom passed, she quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom for her 10 month old baby and 5 year-old son. With the support of her husband, Leslie was able to stay home. They both had to make several financial sacrifices but knew this was the best decision for the family.
Maria, my sister-in-law, is also a stay-at-home mom. She worked in a restaurant as an office manager before having her first child. She continued to work but went from full-time to part-time once the baby was born. She knew she always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and take care of her children. After some financial sacrifices and a few promotions for her husband, she was able to become a stay-at-home mom full time. She has never thought twice about that decision.
How does a career compare?
My career requires a lot of traveling and a very unordinary schedule. Let's just say if I had kids I wouldn't be able to do my job. It comes with the territory.
Many professionals' jobs require extensive hours, deadlines, and/or traveling. These jobs leave very little time to truly dedicate to our children or for ourselves. Some parents rush home from work, pick up their children from school/daycare, make dinner, bathe their children, put them to bed, and repeat the next day. Balancing a job and children is a daily race ran by many professionals on a daily basis. Just writing that description is exhausting!!
However, society views stay-at-home moms as "lucky" and don't see the hard work it actually entails to stay at home and run a household.
Like teachers, stay-at-home moms wear many different hats... doctor, psychologist, caretaker, housekeeper, seamstress, plumber, book keeper, organizer, chauffeur, fundraiser, chef, etc... Cara said it best, "When someone gives me a compliment I am fond of saying '"It's my job, I better get it right."'. And a job it is!!!! Cara, Leslie and Maria all have very intense schedules require hours, deadlines, and sometimes short travels due to their kids' schedules. So, why don't people view stay-at-home moms as a career choice?
This brings me back to the purpose of this article... my nephew's teacher's perspective of stay-at-home moms. Like I said, I would like to assume there was a purpose on her persuasion to get my nephew to write about my brother-in-law rather than Maria, but why??? Does she think these 3 women watch daytime soap operas all day? Wait for their kids to get out of school in their pajamas all day? Go back to sleep when they drop off their kids? Neither of those things happen, shocking!!!!
Let's not forget that if you are a stay-at-home mom you're also the caretake of your household. That means attending to all the upkeeps and maintenance of the household or possibly fixing them yourself, depending on your financial situation.
All three of these ladies, drop their children off at school and follow a daily/weekly schedule to be able to maintain an organized and well ran home. This includes but is not limited to, fundraisers, parent conferences, doctor appointments, paying bills on time, house maintenance, school projects, sport schedules for the kids, dinner, groceries, laundry, housekeeping, etc. Some of these are done with with a limited time frame because of the different kids' schedule. They're work must be done while the kids are in school and completed before it's time to pick them up. After they get picked up, the daily extra-curricular schedule, conferences, and/or doctor appointments have to also be completed. Any absence on their part is a direct reflection on your "lack of parenting", and let's be honest, that is a popular judgment.
While their requirements might be different from a restaurant general manager or lawyer, the essence and importance to maintain a schedule is very similar. It is not "less interesting" than a professional career, it is a different demanding job.
The next time you meet a stay-at-home mom, don't dismiss their career choice but rather ask them, as you would a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a janitor, or even a celebrity, how's work? What are you up to these days? You would be very surprised how "interesting" and inspirational their jobs really are!!!!