Thursday, 22 March 2012

Stay at Home Mothers

As a stay at home mother in a society which expects you to return to work I feel completely undervalued by the society I live. I have been reading on forums and in various article written by working mothers how hard they find the balance. I am not going to try to tell them it isn't hard. I know it's very difficult to balance work and motherhood. I returned to work when my youngest was only 6 months old. I returned to work because I had the permanent position but my darling husband was here with Hollie. If he was called in for supply work or short contracts we had my mother-in-law or my sister's mum look after Hollie. I know some working mothers or fathers don't have that option but if we didn't have that option, Kevin would have stayed at home with Hollie. Many mothers say they value stay at home mothers but they don't seem to value them enough to stay at home and be one. Society doesn't think stay at home mothers are important because there is no incentive to stay home. A working mother receives higher kindergarten rebates than a stay at home mother. I don't want a  government handout. I don't get one. I just want the government to provide the same services for stay at home mothers as they do for working mothers. And now onto working mothers themselves.

My issue with working mothers is that most claim they return to work because they are financially unable to stay at home. With the cost of day care, and I don't have an issue with the cost because it is extremely cheap for what you get, I don't understand how the majority of working mothers are better off. My issue with working mothers is what they won't give up in order to stay at home with their child/ren. Why can't they give up the expensive clothes and shop at an op shop? Or stop going out for coffee with friends or dinner with their husband? Why won't they downsize and live in a smaller house or in a less desirable area or buy a cheaper house to start with? Why do they need a new car instead of a second hand one? Why can't they give up the holiday for another few years so they can stay at home with the kids?

People of my generation see this kind of sacrifice as a very negative thing. For me it is just a short term sacrifice. I have no issue with working mothers who choose not to make these sacrifices but don't complain about your decision to me or to society because of the choices you and your family have made.

I don't see these sacrifices as a negative thing. We chose to buy the house we did knowing we could pay it off on one income. We could have bought a more expensive house which suited our needs more adequately but we chose this house because it means I can stay home. Yes, we sacrifice. We live on a busy road. We have 4 children in one room. We have renovations to do and improvements to make but we love it because it is ours. Our little piece of the world and we don't have to stress about paying the bills. We know we won't be going on a holiday for a few years unless it is a camping holiday or to visit friends somewhere. That is a sacrifice but I don't think it is a negative thing. Am I the only one who feels like this?

I know working mothers sacrifice too. They sacrifice time with their babies and their young children. I know that. I would not give it up because I know that I alone can provide emotionally, academically, socially and spiritually for my children. I am giving them the best start to life by being here for them. I know that what I am doing is right. It is hard work. It is draining and boring and horrible some days but it's only for a short time. Hollie's at school and those years at home with her went too quickly. I am sacrificing a lifestyle to have another kind of lifestyle. My kind of lifestyle. A lifestyle I love and sometimes hate but a lifestyle I happy to have.


Erika @ Scrapbook Obsession Blog said...

I agree with much of what you have to say. I think for a lot of today's working moms, myself included, we had our kids when we were older. We were already married, established in our careers, making great money, and owning a home. Then children come and, for me at least, completely changed what I wanted my focus to be (from husband/career to children/family).

Well, by then you're almost trapped in the financial situation you've created for yourself. We could've downsized our home I suppose but we would've lost hundreds of thousands of dollars (yes, the marked in CA totally tanked) and would that serve our family in the long run? We decided no, it would be financially devastating.

What I decided to do was totally retrain myself in a new career (transcription) and now I feel I have the best of both worlds. I work from home, contribute half of our income, yet am still here, very active and involved with our children. I take/pick up from school, sports practices, I'm team mom, on the PTA, school site council, part of our church, etc.

I respect the choices every mom makes for herself and her family, as long as she's putting her children's and family's needs at the top of her priority list. I think if you do that, it will all fall into place. Like you, we've made many sacrifices but it's been more than worth it. I feel extremely blessed for the situation we have. My dream is to be a full-time SAHM but I know that's never going to happen, so I choose to feel blessed with what I do have.

Sorry to ramble ... great topic!

Busygirl said...

Wow, this is a blatant attack to working moms.

The most valuable lesson I learned as a mom is be patient and understanding, and think in another person's shoes. This applies not only to your child, but to fellow human beings as well.

What you're saying in this post is most working moms choose to work for vanity, for new cars, fancy clothes and the ability to dine out. All of us that live in expensive areas should all uproot, leaving our family and friends behind to a city that we can afford one income. And that we probably lie about it when we say we make more money than the cost of daycare. And all men should have the burden to be the only bread winner in the house, and that they should also move away from their family and friends to afford a SAHM in a different area. And that women should never have a hope in a career, because that's not where they belong once they have children. Women alone.

I don't even want to comment on those. Just think about it, or revisit your blog entry in a few years when you understand the world better.

One thing I want to say though, is it's interesting that you picked women who should make such "sacrifice". What about men? Should men give up their job and stay at home with children? Do you expect your daughter to never have a career so that she can watch her children? Should she bother going to college or post bachelor?

What happens, god forbid, in a divorce? How does the woman financially support herself and maybe the kids with no working experience?

I respect SAHM. I always tell people that I look forward to Monday because I'm actually more relaxed at work than at home. It's a hard job, but the last thing I want is for ANY SAHM to accuse working moms of anything.

It's not even about SAHM vs Working Moms, because they shouldn't be enemies in the first place. I don't care how you label yourself or others, or what articles you read that offended you so much that you need to attack every single person within that category. This principle applies to pretty much everything in life, be it religion, taste in art, or politics. Don't generalize and make such blatant accusations based on naive assumptions.

Also, working moms don't need to defend for themselves, just as men don't need to explain why they need a job.

Julia said...

I believe you're right, it is a touchy subject! I also believe that those who stay home with their children will always feel undervalued and those that work will feel guilty. As women we do that to ourselves! Accept your value in what you do, either stay home or work, but do which ever you do with a passion! I was raised by a single father, he worked outside the home. He loved his work and he loved his daughters. As for myself, I stayed home with my boys until they were in school, I made that choice it wasn't forced upon me. Since then I have worked full time and I love my career though I would love to stay home to care for my grand children, financially I just can't afford to because I supplement both of my children's incomes. So I will value them and love them and spend as much time as possible with them.

I hope you don't take offence to my comments, they were not meant to be offensive!

Mary Pat Siehl said...

wow, I really don't know how to put my feelings into words here because I am so upset:

we as women and mothers should be standing together bonding and helping one another versus criticizing one another and claiming that they know best for everyone and for everyone's situation.This is what makes me sick! Why is is necessary to knock others to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.

Why can't women stand together and say this is the best decision for me and for my family and help support others who might have different choices. by saying that your way is correct you are putting down those millions of other women who make a different decision. You are saying that they are wrong and not raising their children properly. Who appointed you the keeper of all women and families?

Just because you are a SAHM does not by ANY means make you a better mother. There are millions of mothers that stay at home and neglect and abuse their children. I am also not saying that a Working Mom is better. There are many that do the same. One can NOT in any way say that one is better than the other because there are good and bad in BOTH cases.

Again, by saying that being a SAHM and that your way is the best for ALL families is just upsetting? are you raising your children to look at people and judge them and criticize them for the choices that they make just because they are different from them. If that is the case then you really must take a good long look at yourself and reevaluate the reason for this post and your parenting.

Being a good parent is also being able to raise a good, decent, loving, caring, productive person who is able to love and not judge other people. A parent can do this by staying at home or by working outside the home.

Above all a women should feel proud of her decision for her and for her family. She should have other women who support her for the decision she makes- whatever that decision is. She should not have people who tell her her decision is wrong and make her feel bad.

I would love to hear your response to my comment.

Erica said...

Wow is all I can think of to say. I see you're in a different country. In America we don't get a lot of government kickbacks so that argument is moot. We get some deductions on our taxes at the end of the year but unless you're in a position for them to benefit you they don't really matter.

I think this is a slap in the face to working mothers. I've been both a working mom and s stay at home mom. Both positions worked for us. I also live in California and it isnt cheap to live here. I would LOVE to move and so would DH but then we leave behind all of our family. Our support system is here. So it's great they if your husband had to work when you did that your mom was there but mine wouldn't be. I work because it benefits our family. I was home with my son for the first few years but he's needed more lately. He has grown so much in the last 2 years at school and I'm glad we made the decision to put him there.

I have so many arguments for and against your blog post but I will keep them to myself. I just feel totally offended right now.