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Dear Daughter, Here's Why I Do NOT Work

Updated on June 19, 2013

I'm a Stay-at-home Mom, Not a Jockey!

If you think I'm going to sit on my high horse and list all the reasons moms should not be working, this isn't that type of article. Yes, it's from my point of view and having been a working mom turned stay-at-home (quite by accident) mom, I can account for both sides of the fence. So don't trot off just yet...

My position on this topic is just because you have the right to, doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. First and foremost a woman should do what is right for her family- this is a personal decision that often translates into society's expectations. I believe if a mom can stay home, then it's in everyone's best interest for her to do so. By "can" I mean it's a lot more possible than you think. Single moms are excluded here- it truly isn't a choice. Ultimately the kids understand that mom is doing what's best for them by working.

For all the rest of us, unfortunately the following thoughts have become controversial, outdated, and God forbid...traditional:

  • It's a given responsibility she owes to her family, which is a choice she made when deciding to have children.
  • We must consider the financial and emotional needs of a child before we have one.
  • You simply can't nurture a career while nurturing your child.
  • The decision to work is based on priorities.

Having listed those opinions above, I want to make clear that mom working can be turned into a positive for instance if there is family support to help care for the kids, that is better than daycare. If kids see mom and dad working together as partners and with their work schedules then that is positive as well.

However, I think society's influence takes precedence over a woman's motherly instincts. I think money comes first and kids begin to have their own expectations and we get trapped into wanting them to be happy, believing we need to make money to keep providing for those things that make them happy. I emphasize "things" because they can get used to that equating to happiness rather than plain and simple time and attention from mom.

I know from experience that in order to work, you have to suppress those motherly instincts until they become squelched and, well, no longer instincts. In fact, I never gave motherhood a real chance even right after my first baby was born because I knew I'd be heading back to work. Caring for her became a short term job in my mind- 10 weeks until my leave ran out.

Where feminism screwed up was they pursued giving more accolades for mothers working than staying home with kids. Most feminists fight for the working mother and do little to represent the stay-at-home. The working woman notion was based on a group of women who found it best for them to work, which I won't argue, but to impose that on others isn't right. They've generalized a very specific and personal choice.

Lately the working mom is as unnecessarily glamorized as the Kardashians. We are being lied to when the myth still looms in the hearts of all young women that women can have it all...and feel fulfilled. I might as well tell you you'll land a good job making the salary you want as soon as you graduate college. What a joke!

Like I said before, I'm not here to bash working moms. I'm here to help moms consider this topic, and urge society to think on it...let it truly be a personal choice and not an expectation to work or to prove a feminist point. The stay-at-home mom needs representation as well. Before we adopt the ideals of a select group of feminists, we should use our own heads on this very important choice. Having it all is equivalent to kids having less than. I bet if we reworded that phrase so it represented the kids' side then it wouldn't be such a catchy phrase.

If you believe you don't have a choice financially, you're letting society decide for you, once again. It's a lie about women having to work because the family can't afford things on one income. It's called downsizing! And I call it B.S! It is possible to live on one income. Overall, going back to work should be because of several factors- if it's just one factor then that could easily be arranged and compromised in order for mom to stay home.

I know, at times I want to work too because up to my 32 years of age (when my first child was born), work was what I did best. I miss financial and social gains that come from climbing the corporate ladder...or from having a second income. Then I get out of society's head and into my own and realize I wouldn't trade this time with my kids for anything. I find it disheartening to have to address this point when much of what needs to be acknowledged here should be a given.

Wrong: It should read 'The radical notion that women are not men'

Society's Issue or The Child's?

Recently I read an article (link above) posted on Huffington Post by a working mother, Sasha Emmons. I believe it's another move on women's rights and another bag of myths. The following is a quote from the article referring to her daughter: "Not long ago you asked me if I love work more than I love you and your brother." At some point all kids will ask their parents why they go to work. The author replies with many women's rights clich├ęs and other answers resembling a polished up political leader, getting ready for a press conference. One being: "you'd never ask your father why he works. His love is a given that long hours at work do nothing to diminish." And...oh honey it's so sweet you don't know anything about women's rights and feminism yet. I'd be wondering why this author's daughter didn't ask her father because mine has inquired numerous times why her dad has to go to work and why I do work on my computer (when I'm writing).

The author turns this innocent inquiry into a women's rights issue and fairness battle fit for a tantrum throwing five yr old, yet I can't help but think she should have learned an important childhood lesson herself: Not all things are fair. A mother is not the same as a father in the children's eyes. There is meant to be a different connection there that begins in the womb for the child. They know nothing about feminism or hidden political agendas to their benefit. they have simple desires and needs. Most include their mothers time and attention. They don't care about mommy having the right to work, they just know mommy goes to work and leaves them. If it is hard for many empty nesters to let their kids go at18 think about how hard it is for a child to let their parent go to work.

We can have a child and go back to work to resume the life we led before kids. It is a right. But can somebody inform the kids that society has changed in the last 50+ years so in turn a child must change their needs as well? Even though women's wants and needs changed throughout these progressive years, children still have the same needs and wants. But after all, with the technology (babysitting gadgets) parents must be able afford, it is necessary for moms to work. Kids are catching on that they need more material wealth than maternal wealth.

When this author's (Emmons), daughter asks only her mom why she works, her mom should read into that not for the sake of a feminist preaching opportunity, but ask herself if her daughter is seeking closeness/a bond she isn't getting from her. Emmons clouds over a simple issue with her overcomplicated feminist agenda. The author/mother goes on to state: "I work because even at your young age you've absorbed the subtle message that women's work is less important and valuable -- and that the moms who really love their kids don't do it." Does it seem to anyone else that this comment is degrading to her daughter?

Whose Choice Is It?

Let's imagine for one second that children had a choice. Of course they'd want their mom home with them if at all possible. I hear parents say they do so much for their kids (mostly materialistic). Providing material things for them and involving them in every extracurricular activity available isn't parenting them. Parents have gotten in a routine of giving into material wants from kids but not emotional.

Again, not to persecute working moms, I want to emphasize that there are ways to lessen the impact on the kids by mom working. Have other family care for your children, try to wait a few years until they are a bit older, let your kids know what your work money goes toward and don't list the material extras (i.e. house, food), try part-time work (this is a great compromise), spend time wisely with your kids so that they are not being babysat by tech gadgets.

Many women find themselves in a position where they have to work. A single mom has no choice, but does a wealthy, low, or middle class dual income family have a choice? Yes. My mom was a stay-at-home until my parents abruptly divorced when I was 10. Then she went on to work two jobs at times. She did what she had to do. No one would fault her for that. I mention this because many families do have a choice.

Admittedly, I have a problem with those that have materialistic lifestyles, and yet both parents still feel the need to work. I think it's fine to love one's work as the author, Emmons, of the Huffington Post article explains. She would never make her daughter choose between art and her- they should be able to love both. Love for something is different than earning money for it. You can love more than one thing of course, but you can only be with one at a time- it is a choice.

I wonder if it's the work, the money, or prestige/status that women love the most. The author claims a love for writing. I share that same passion and write nearly every day yet I can't boast about my income in the same way Emmons can. Writing has been around for centuries, but our kids are only kids for a short time. Why should we have to choose...because kids are that important.

I do not agree with..."I work because this nice house and those gymnastics lessons and those sneakers you need to have are all made possible by two incomes" as Emmons states in her article. So basically the child chose her mom to work because it's for the child's extras- and no mention of what designer brand clothes her mom enjoys or other extras not for the child, but notice she only points out what the kids are getting from the deal, placing the burden on them. A child will equate her worth to material items and/or money. My daughter enjoys dance lessons, a nice house, and shoes. Come to think of it, I know several stay-at-home moms who provide a good house, lessons, and shoes to their kids so this point is irrelevant.

Gut and Guilt

Live with the guilt or go with your gut. The first time my daughter was sick, really sick, was at daycare- 3 months old. I wasn't the first person to comfort her when she was feeling lousy. This was also the first tug at my heartstrings as a working mom. Luckily this instinct never had the chance to be squandered and a series of unfortunate events led me to stay at home.

At the time of my first child's (my daughter) birth, I was a career woman by every definition- the best at what I did, working 50 hours a week, enjoyed regular raises and awards, enjoyed traveling for work. Suddenly the country took a hit, about 6 months after my daughter's birth. I had a "choice" to be one of those laid off in my industry, which took a major hit during the recession's beginning. When I say "choice", I really do mean this. I didn't have to be one of those laid off, but I knew this was the fork in the road- my kid or my job.

I had no idea what we'd do for money. I made slightly more than my husband so my income would be missed. An unused college degree was also looming over my head. It would mean a 50% pay cut for our family. He wasn't thrilled about the idea, but I've always been a where-there's-a-will-there's-a-way kind of gal. It is possible even within an already meager lifestyle to afford mom to stay home

Let me back up a bit... At 10 weeks old, I put my daughter in daycare and went back to work. I felt everybody watching me to see if I'd be as good at my job as I was before. The pressure is there and very real. Other than sleep deprivation, it was an easy adjustment. So unnaturally easy that I began to worry. I'd sit at my desk and gaze at a picture of my darling daughter, then get back to work. Her bright blue eyes in the picture, no diapers, whining, fussing, constant feedings. Easy, but it shouldn't be this easy...were my thoughts.

In the mean time, the daycare employees were concerned about my daughter- she wasn't taking naps. Babies less than 3 months old need those naps to thrive. She was getting sick often too. It didn't feel natural going back to work and leaving my child for 10 hours at a time. That's when the distinction between easy and natural became apparent to me. Work was easy, leaving my baby with strangers was unnatural. I made a scary choice and it turned out to be the right choice.

I'll never forget it when my daughter was 3 yrs old, she told me out of the blue she didn't like going to daycare and began crying as if it was something recent, saying she missed me when she was there. Let me remind you, she was 6 months old when I took her out of daycare.

More on Myths

I mentioned some myths about working moms in the opening paragraphs, but to draw from the book featured below, I'd like to include some of this author's myths as well:

  • "Men can have it all, so why can't we"?
  • "The term "working mother" is misleading. If she is working, she is leaving the mothering up to someone else.
  • "The roles of dads and moms are fully interchangeable." They are not, because men
    and women are not the same. There are inherent, biological differences. As
    Venker, the author, demonstrates, "fathers will never be parents in the same way mothers are". Thus the androgyny ideal is a feminist myth.
  • "Can't stay at home in this economy". Rubbish! A flawed economics case for moms going to work, since money is such a common justification for the decision to go back to work and leave the kids at day care. From personal experience, that second income goes to daycare, transportation, and many times unnecessary extras.
  • "My kids just love daycare!" More than you?

Making That Choice

  1. Think about short term goals and long term goals.
  2. Consider priorities as a family.
  3. Financially, think about needs versus wants. Food, shelter, clothing are needs. Take-out meals from fancy restaurants, 4,000 sq. foot home, and a Burberry brand jacket are wants.
  4. Take the words "I can't" out of your vocabulary. Scratch off..."I just can't stay at home" or "I can't afford it".
  5. Visit and revisit all possible scenarios. Don't set your plan in stone before your baby is born.

Modern Traditionalist

Gabrielle Reece, Volleyball star, serves her family.

Gabrielle Reece wrote a book (link provided) that caused a stir among feminists. Others would say she is a modern woman with traditional beliefs. Within her book, she claims that it's best and natural for a woman to serve her family. We don't see the star in the limelight as much since she had her family, but she said the sacrifice is natural. It's what we, women, do best. The popular idea that when we take care of ourselves, we do better for our family overshadows an equally important thought- taking care of our family, is taking care of us as well.

Dear Daughter,

I do not go to work and I admit it wasn't my first choice, but I never gave it any thought initially. Actually I felt I had no choice. If I had thought about it I never would have gone back even for just a few months. I followed society's expectations and my hope for you is to not do the same. Your value is where you put it, not where society tells you.

I found what I love to do...again and only because I stayed home with you. It allowed me to cultivate my passion for writing. I knew I was good at my job prior to having you. Full time motherhood was an obvious challenge that I wanted to take on. I do it for you and I do it because I have grown more as a person by this challenge. I've gotten to know the very best of myself and even the very worst. A traditional job is easy, but full time motherhood I admit can scare the bejesus out of anyone. I hope you take on tough choices bravely because that's were real rewards reveal themselves.

Love Mama


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