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What Ultimately Led Me To Being A Stay-At-Home Mother Vs. Working Outside The Home
So as I begin to write I can only imagine the thoughts and judgements going through some people's minds. I have faced some harsh comments for my decision to stay at home with my children and not work. Heck, I faced the beginning of the harsh comments when I decided that was my career path before I was ever married.
At that time I was dating a guy from a very wealthy home. His family was obsessed with work. They owned their own businesses, owned multiple houses, and stayed so busy we rarely saw them. I remember us sitting down one day discussing what careers we wanted to pursue. While he wanted to own a chiropractic business, much like his brother, or possibly pursue avenues in the computer field, I spoke open and honestly. "I would love to be a stay-at-home mother'.
His response floored me and if i remember correctly - about brought me to tears. "Isn't that what lazy people do? Sitting around eating and watching soap operas?' At that point it took everything in me not to pounce on his face and beat him silly for the ridiculous comment he had just made. But I kept my cool, hid my emotions (or at least tried), and proceeded to explain to him the responsibilities of a stay-at-home mother. He had been so brainwashed by his mother's busy busy life, that was his misconception of what staying at home entailed.
We went on with the relationship with very opposite spectrum opinions of how a woman should spend the rest of her life, and it worked.....for a while. Through a couple breakups - me breaking up with him, then him breaking up with me - I discovered he'd harbored this massive 'dislike' for our conversation that night, even to the point that it actually affected his desire to consider me as a permanent part of his future. Though heartbroken to think that played any part of our final breakup, I was relieved to some extent. I felt violated by the way he thought of me. But I knew why I wanted to devote my life to my children, and there was no way a guy breaking up with me because of it was going to change that. I had a plan and I was sticking to it.
Rewind 19 Years Earlier
My parents had a very rough marriage. It began because my mother was pregnant. She graduated high school with me in her womb, just 3 months along. They thought it was the only way and they were pressured somewhat by family which made matters worse. In turn, they divorced when I was 4.
My mother was a hard worker. She had a few jobs for a while, then grounded one at a grocery store where she worked in management for many years. The issue? It was she and I. My father lived three states away. She became the typical single mother who devoted all her time to make ends meat. Don't get me wrong, she spent time with me when she was home on the weekdays, but a worn out mother who runs home from a full time job every night, makes dinner, then does needed housework, makes for a very unfulfilled relationship on her end. Our TGIF nights were one of my fondest memories because she didn't have to work the next day, so she was able to relax, play games with me, watch TV, and do many other fun things with me.
Because my mothers hours were your typical 8-5, with the exceptions of many days she worked overtime, I was shuffled to a christian daycare every morning before school, and back every night after school. I would have much rather been with mommy at that time. Once daycare was too expensive for her after a few years, my friends mother was watching me before and after school. Still exciting to see your best friend every day, (with the exceptions of the 'I'm not your friend anymore' fights we had that came from being around each other too much). I think at that time I saw more of my daycare friends and their families than I did my mom. And once I got old enough to graduate to 'latch key kid', I got the privilege of going home to an empty house every day. No mom. No rules. Though every kid would like that from time to time, I still envied my friends whose mothers were able to be a bigger part of their lives. I never knew what it was like to be greeted with a plate of chocolate chip cookies after school. I was unable to participate in many extracurricular activities. The only ones I was able to participate in, because it worked with my mother's schedule, was an after school paint-by-number class, and pep club which prepared me to be a high school cheerleader, but I had to quit because my mother's work schedule no longer allowed me transportation.
In school, while all the kids were excited to bring their parents on field trips, my mother was unable. "Honey I have to work. My boss won't let me off for that'. It was impossible. Though I don't remember the exact reasons she gave me for being unable to attend specific events, I know that it was always 'I can't', with a legitimate reason to follow. When we had special holiday parties at school, room mothers would bring lots of fun activities, games, and food for all of us. Forget being sick at school. Unless I felt like I was dying, I was toughing it out at through algebra, or mom would loose hours, and loosing hours was loosing money. Loosing money meant mom can't pay the bills. At one point her boss started making her work Saturdays, and take Wednesdays off. Lovely....one less day with her on the weekend and the day she has off, I'm at school when NO events are going on. Then when she went back to the Monday through Friday schedule - Saturdays became mandatory inventory day. I don't remember how often. I just remember it being that way. Maybe not always...but enough for a child who desperately missed her mother.
I never resented my mother for not being there more with me. She was a young mother and I knew she was a great provider. I was never without, and I always got lots of goodies, presents and 'sprizes' (as she called them). The summertime was a little more adventure-filled due to the larger arsenal of activities there was available. So we did a lot of things. Precious Moments Chapel trip. Stayed in a Victorian Mansion that was turned to a Bed-n-Breakfast. Worlds of Fun. Oceans of Fun. Water Parks. Garage selling. Strawberry Festivals. Greek Festivals. Swimming. And finially, going to the airport and watching her and her boyfriend skydive. But then came the dreaded school year again. Though there was good and bad...I still made my career decision for one reason....
Fast forward 21 Years
Mike and I got married. We had discussed these things, but at that time...it didn't matter that I worked. He had two children whom I adore that we had 50% of the time year round. It was exciting to only work part-time. It gave me many opportunities to attend my step-kids' school events. It was nice to be able to cover for my husband when he was working and couldn't make it to one. I got to go on field trips with them and really enjoyed that opportunity. So I attended anything and everything I possibly could at the kids school.
I had part time jobs through several miscarriages and child losses in later pregnancy. Then I found a great job I loved. I pretty much got to the point of accepting that I may never have children, and began to consider my future career outside the home. I could definately see a future at the job I held at that time and I loved everything about it.
Then came the shock of my life. I was pregnant...with twins! Shocked everyone really, but especially me. Though fearful that I would miscarry through the pregnancy, my husband, step-kids (when they were with us), and I prayed every night for these precious souls and anointed my tummy.
I continued working, but it was increasingly more difficult when someone walked through the door asking how they can get a job, and I had to ask them to hold while I hurled in the trash can. It didn't make for the best first business impression i'm sure. Nevertheless, my bosses and co-workers were more than supportive of my situation and did whatever they could to accommodate my pregnant woman needs.
I was laid off when I was about 5 months along due to seasonal lack of work. I had been warned about it and even anticipated it, and when it came, I was relieved and upset at the same time. During the next 3 months of my pregnancy, I got much needed rest and relaxation as my doctors had told me to do. Then that April, our twin baby girls were born. Preemies but in perfect health. They were in the NICU for only a week before released to us for good.
I was in love. There was nothing I wanted more than to spend every waking minute with them, (though at that time there wasn't a lot of moments I wanted to be or could be awake). I nursed, and that was exhausting being awake through the day with the normal first-time-mother paranoia's, and keeping a constant eye on our little miracles. Then no sleep at night due to the 3-5 times I had to wake up to twin in-sync crying and pleading for mommy's golden milk. Thirty minutes to hour feedings....oftentimes longer. But it was worth every minute and I don't regret any of it.
My love for my children has grown as they have, and I knew when the girls were born I didn't want to miss out on all their lives. Not a single moment. To this day, my husband has to convince me that I need to get away and do something for myself. I would much rather have my girls with me, so that rarely to never happens.
It is by NO means an easy task to be a stay-at-home mother. Especially when your a mother of two rambunctious little ones and you have done the primary work of shuffling your step-children around from their mothers, to school, back to our house, and back to her house...and all this sometimes daily. Then to add how often I've taken care of my 12 year old brother through his life;I have pretty much had 5 kids and a husband. Consider all the laundry, the massive meals you have to make, and if you even think you want to attempt to make something that could produce leftovers, you'd better double and triple your recipe. Then dishes...oh the dishes. Dishwasher you say? Yep...that's me. (though my step-children are very helpful and have chores to do themselves). Keeping the fingerprints off the TV and windows, the carpet stain-free, and the dog from smelling like puke...that's just touching the tip of the iceberg.I have helped them with homework (some of which I had no clue how to do), school projects, and doctors appointments to attend. Mike comes home from work and he's done. Work is behind him until the next day. Not for me! My break is when the kiddos are in bed, and by then, I want to be. But there's things I have to do while they are sleeping that I can't when their awake. Not to mention picking up those toys so no one breaks a leg tripping on the way to a midnight bathroom run. The life of a stay-at-home-wife and mother is hardly 'lazy'.
Though it's not always been easy, and it's not necessarily always been fun...it's been worth it. And it is my plan for the future. I know this economy screams 'impossible to live on a one person income', but that's one of the reasons I got my hub page. In hopes that I can do what I'm passionate about and still not miss a single day or a single milestone with all four of my precious children. I have enjoyed it thoroughly. Are there times I miss working outside the house? Sure! Honestly I do. But I do not miss it enough to forfeit my opportunity to be there with my girls. I want to be able to home school them and take them on field trips. To get them involved in a dance class or softball. I want my girls to get those cookies after school ends and never have to come home to an empty house. While I understand some mother's choose a career outside of the home because they can't make it on their husbands income alone, or because they choose to, I by no means judge them. I only hope they have the same understanding heart toward my decision.
So there ya have it folks. A deeper understanding of the reason I made this decision. Ultimately, I want for my girls what my mother couldn't give me, but desperately wanted to when I was little. And as long as God is gracious on us and provides for us, that will remain possible. And I will do everything in my power to keep it possible, even if I have to babysit dogs to bring in some extra money. Unless God directs me another way...this is my decision. And this is part of what brings me ultimate fulfillment. When I look back on my life years down the road, I know what I will regret the most is the time I didn't spend with my kids that I could have. I don't want that regret.
God bless anyone who has stuck this hub out to the end.