I'm not a stay-at-home mom. In fact, as of next Wednesday, I will once again be pulling the full-time workload and parental duties. The idea of being a stay-at-home never entered our conversations as we prepared for the arrival of our first son because it was simply a financial impossibility. The same is true for the second. But if it wasn't impossible, would I do it?
There are many, many women out there that fully believe that the best thing a mother can do for her child, other than breastfeed, is to stay at home and raise that baby. They believe that the rising tide of feminism in the 60s created this world where women decided they could have it all by letting other people--often strangers--care for their children while they pursued their dreams. These women, and I have met them, believe women who CHOOSE to have a career are selfish and unwilling to sacrifice her happiness for the sake of the child they brought into the world.
It's true that finding the 1950s mom isn't as easy as it used to be. It's true that many women today feel they can "have it all." And it's true that sometimes kids get the short end of the stick. But let me also say that this thought process wasn't new in the 60s. We can see it throughout history. Mary Wollstonecraft, mother to Mary Shelley whom authored Frankenstein, was a huge women's rights activist. Back in those days, the general consensus wasn't just that mothers should stay home with their babies. They should also stay out of the voting booth. Stay out of politics. Stay out of the laws that govern them. We hugely frown upon cultures that treat women in such a fashion, yet we were not always kind and open to our own women. And what about all those women authors that wrote such magnificent pieces of literature but felt it necessary to write under a male nomenclature? Because we weren't always FREE to decide.
So what is my choice? What would I do if I had one? I would work. I would work because being a mother is not all that I am. It defines a part of my life, but not all of it. There are many women out there that were born to be mothers. God bless them. I am not one. That doesn't mean I love my children any less than the mother that stays home. It doesn't mean that I don't want to spend time with them or that I don't miss them when I'm away. It simply means that I need more out of life. That does not make me a bad mother. It makes me honest. It makes me who I am.
I love my children with every bit of my fiber and I would do anything and give anything for them. I would quite literally lay down my life for them. But I also love intellectual stimulation. I enjoy collaboration. I enjoy being good at what I do. I enjoy knowing that where I work and what I do makes a difference. I enjoy knowing that I am somebody that my boys can be proud of and look up to. I enjoy being a mother as well, but it's not all of who I am.
So when people ask if it's going to be hard to go back and if I'd rather stay home forever, I want to say, "Well, yes, it's going to be hard to leave Dylan, but no I don't want to stay home forever. I'm ready to go back." But I don't because that's not the right answer. The right answer is, "Yes, it's going to be so hard. I never want to come back." I've heard that answer given. I just say, "Yes."
I have had people tell me that I'm going to cry. That I'm gonna be the one whose so sad. That I'll go through separation anxiety, but hopefully it will get easier. Or say, How are you ever going to leave that precious baby? It's so sad that you have to go back to work.
Well, guess what. I'm going CRAZY at home. I'm BORED OUT OF MY MIND! Partly because there's a list a mile long of things I'd LOVE to do, but I can't because Dylan doesn't sleep very long during the day. And that's okay. I watch HOURS of TV. HOURS. I don't watch TV. I told my husband the only way I could make it as a stay at home is to be rich. I need to go places and interact with people and do things.
And never mind how much I am NOT a housewife. I'm sick to death of laundry, dishes, mopping, sweeping, etc. And yes, all those things must be done even when I work, but because I'm home, I'm doing them all. It used to be shared responsibility now it's my responsibility. And I do not like it at all.
So think what you may all you mothers out there that think us working moms are damaging our precious children by choosing to have a career. But I know that I stepped back. I know that I took another position that grants me more flexibility and in the process I slowed down my career progression by at least ten years. Because even though I would choose to be a working mom regardless, I don't choose to be at the top of the food chain while my babies are young. Having it all means understanding how to balance it all. How to prioritize. And incidentally, I don't have it all. That would mean hubby made enough money for me to teach three or four classes and that's it. :)