Yesterday I read a very interesting, well written piece on Huffington Post where a woman confessed she regretted staying at home. This wasn’t a young mother in the throes of diapers and sleepless nights. It was a woman with adult children who had made the decision years ago that, financially and emotionally, the toll of both parents working wasn’t doing any of them any good.
I had never planned on being a stay at home mom, so the piece hit home in many ways. I’d heard many women over the years say they continued to work after having children to keep up their job skills. Many others ended up divorced and single parents, struggling to quickly gain skills to be rehired and earn income for a new life. I vowed not to let that happen to me.
Yet after my daughter was born, we found that teaching didn’t cover the costs of her being in a full-time daycare. So I stayed at home, temporarily, and truly did love it. I missed my coworkers, meetings, dressing up, and having a purpose beyond the needs of a baby, but as time passed I started to forget what having a job outside the home was like. Suddenly, the idea of going back to work was terrifying. I had no idea if I could manage it all.
Now nearly 4 years later as a stay at home/work at home mom, I have mixed feelings. I still love being home, but work provides me with a creative outlet that I miss. Yet my old “out of the home” work clothes hang in the closet, a reminder of organized days and packed lunches. I have a foot in the door to the outside world, but often wonder if that will be enough once my children are older. Will I be able to keep up with it as we add more to our family, homeschool, and I juggle work? Is the line of work I love online going to keep me prepared if I ever decide to head back?
Or like the woman in the article, will I find myself behind the times? Will I look back and think, “I wish I had done more for my career?”
I understand her thought process, although I didn’t agree with all of her feelings. Which, having not lived her life or been in her shoes, I can’t possibly. What struck me from her writing was the voice of more regret than a proud sacrifice. She admits to choosing her role, that no one forced her to stay at home, but the tone of it all is one of resentment that she spent so much time with “others”, she didn’t spend any on herself by way of her career.
It made me wonder if as mothers, we are so caught up in being the best mother, so pushed to be the ideal mother by society, that it doesn’t leave time for much else. Have it all or have none. If you stay at home, do it all. PTA, volunteer, make crafts, bake, playdates, set up fundraisers. Don’t worry about you because you should be enjoying them.
I see this. I understand this. I love what I do as a mother.
Yet sometimes I wonder – what happens when our children leave and we truly do only have ourselves left?