Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why There are Stay At Home Moms (and now Dads)

There's a war.  A Mommy War.  And it never seems to end.  I don't know who started it.  I don't know why it was started.  I just want it to end.  Can't we shake hands and agree that it doesn't matter what choices you make, you are making them for the good of your family?

A few weeks ago a lady who I see in the cry room at Mass stopped me and asked if she could ask me a personal question:  was I a stay-at-home mom.  She naturally assumed that I was, and she's right.  She divulged to me that the reason that she was asking was because since the birth of her third child, she was transitioning to being a stay-at-home mom.  She worked as a teacher for 12 years.  She was doing this because it was good for her family "especially for my (her) marriage."

I imagine that teachers work long hours and then have lesson planning, grading, to sling together dinner, laundry, bathe children, etc etc that that doesn't leave much time for their spouses.  I can easily see how crippling it can be.  Add to that having a new born, a toddler, and a preschooler...well, the picture looks overwhelming.

Yet I hear/read all the time that SAHMs are that way because they are lazy, can't find jobs, etc etc.  It's a shame really.  When a person determines that it's easier to tackle laundry during the day so they can tackle their husband at night instead, well I don't see what's wrong with that.

My reasons for not working are two fold:  1) I've worked in daycares.  And I have a non-verbal child.  It scares the be-Jesus out of me to not have them tell me that something is up.  I already have enough trouble getting my child's preschool to remember to check his diaper and to change his wet clothes.  And he's only there for two hours at a time.  2) I don't find it good for a young child to bond with someone who may not be there the next day.  A job is a job.  Day care workers leave all the time.  If I had family in town who were able to watch the boys, then sure I would work.  Because family isn't likely to just up and leave without warning.  But I don't so I stay at home.

For some families it's the exact same reasons.  They may have family but their family members have to work.  For some it's the up front expense, which even if you get a tax refund in the end, up front costs of child care are through the roof.

And then there are SAHMs with school age children who choose to homeschool.  There are a variety of reasons but the most common is that the school system is antiquated where children are treated like cattle and there teacher to child ratios are too off balanced to the the schools are bad and there's gang violence. 

But then there are SAHMs whose children are grown up.  My mom's friend doesn't work.  She volunteers.  She works and is successful at her job even though it doesn't pay her anything.  As one priest put it, our success these days is often measured in dollars and cents.  Really success should be measured in how we treat others.  That's what Jesus taught.

But this wouldn't even an issue if we were talking about it 50-60 years ago.  Then women worked outside the home only if it was for the good of the family.  Now that women have decided that not working is for the good of the family, we get flack and painted as being lazy.  And it's simply not true.  Being a SAHM is hard work.  Can we just agree that no matter what your job, you are still valuable even if you don't earn a pay check? 

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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!