Would You Regret Staying at Home?

Would You Regret Staying at Home?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?




  • Jamie says:

    I never planned to be home with my children either — and while I’ve never not worked, as a WAHM I often fall into the category of a much more SAHM than a WOHM — in my perceptions, my time with my kids, and the perceptions of my friends. I’m scared of not being able to be there for my kids for everything (thank goodness for a flexible job) but I’m also terrified of being without a job for many reasons.

    I was never willing to totally give up my career — for all of the reasons you mention. It’s terrifying to think about suddenly being single with no experience for years — not to mention I really love my career and want to show my kids the value of hard work — no matter what career path they choose.

    Financially, raising children is expensive — and I want to be able to provide well for them — and pay for as much of their college as I can handle. And travel. And give them life experiences. And without my income, we’d have significantly less options.
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  • Laurel says:

    I am soon (as in 2 months!) going to be in the position of a stay at home mom with no kids at home….and I am struggling! What will my new role be? Should I go back to work? Devote some time to developing me? What to do??
    I do not have any regrets about staying home with our children. I think they have benefited from having a parent at home and I know I’ve benefited from being that parent. However, just because it was right for our family does not make it an ideal situation for every family. I think every family needs to weigh all their options and decide what will work best for them, short term and long term.

  • Laura says:

    Wow, that Huffington Post article was depressing! And yet it illustrates just how complex our lives are. Balancing a family, a marriage, and a job is very hard. The decisions we make now are of course going to impact us down the road; I don’t think any of us has the foresight to see what that impact will be, though. We make the best decisions we can in the moment and then roll with the consequences. The reality is, for a lot of us something has to give. Maybe that’s work. I do think I would regret not working, but I enjoy my job and get satisfaction from it. If I hated it and it was literally just a means to a better life, I might feel differently.
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  • Observacious says:

    I’ve never planned that, but as my current job is ending and I’ve so far come up empty on my job hunt I try to picture the SAHM life in my head. It’s terrifying. Part is just the money. I do make almost as much as my husband. Even though we’d be saving on daycare we’d be down a lot of our budget.

    The bigger fear, however, is I wouldn’t be able to cut it mentally. I was an only child. I lived alone for over a decade. I didn’t have my first kid until I was 35. I’m used to being able to be in my own head for a while. That’s hard to do when chasing a 4 yo and a 2yo!

    Society has set us all up to have regrets. Regrets that we didn’t spend enough time with our children. Regrets that we didn’t spend enough time on us. I think we are all better off just enjoying the good things about the life we’ve found ourselves in (whether or not it’s the one we planned) rather than wasting time on what could have been.
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  • Mare says:

    I’ve never regretted being home w/ my kids. They are all grown now, but those were the best years of my life. To me, NOTHING is more important than raising decent, caring citizens. That’s how moms make the world a better place. Our children are only little for a short time.
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    • Brittany says:

      Mare, I think you may have missed the point of the article. Regardless of whether we work outside the home or stay home with our children, we are all trying to raise “decent, caring citizens.” Your comment implies that if we work, we do not care about those things and/or will be unable to accomplish those goals, both of which are simply untrue. The article was about whether a mother will regret leaving her career later in life. It has absolutely nothing to do with raising decent, caring citizens.

  • Bethany says:

    Thanks for the thoughts…I find that living in the moment is the best thing to do…if we look back, we can always second best, but if you realize the best place to be is the place you are at, then you will always be happy!
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  • Elizabeth says:

    I really appreciated the tone of your piece. I guess I should explain myself. As a working mother, I feel like I catch a lot of negative criticism from SAHMs. Often times it is downright insulting and name-calling. I think it is important for every woman to make the choice for herself. I had my children very young (18 and 23) and attended college and stayed home while they were babies. I did not start working until after my youngest daughter was 4. I will be 36 when my oldest daughter moves on to college, so I am grateful for my career. I could not stay home after they left and being a 36 year old empty nester does not sound appealing. I also found myself a single mom on my second year into my career, so I am happy that I could support is comfortably. It is a personal choice and we are all doing good, hard work for society. SAHMs are so great with making sure everything at the school runs smoothly. As a working mom I make sure they get items for silent auctions, sponsored field trips, and I use other connections to help the school. We all serve a purpose and have a role to fill. We have to help each other and respect the wishes of other women. It’s all about choice, not judgement. It is hard enough being a woman.

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