A woman I know casually and meet rarely has the same question to ask me every time she meets me “So, what do you do all day at home?” The first few times I tried to explain her all that was there to do from getting the daughter ready to school, to house work, to managing the house, writing a semi-successful blog, spending time with the daughter and juggling a thousand more things. But all I got a vacant stare from her as if all this stuff didn’t mean a thing. All I could feel was she thought that being a stay at home mom was one long party forever.
This got me thinking, why do people think that if a woman is a stay-at-home mom she has nothing to do with her life. It is undeniable that there is certain stigma attached with being a stay-at-home especially in the educated class. The woman who inspired me to write this post, with all due respect, is not a very accomplished woman but does the mere tag of being a working woman makes her so much better than me? To call a spade a spade, when I was a working woman I was rocking a great career, earning an awesome package and generally living it up. But when I gave up my career to stay with my baby at home, I was making a CHOICE.
The reasons to leave my job were myriad, being in a nuclear family there was no immediate family to fall back on for childcare, my husband worked erratic hours and we wanted one parent to be a stable factor for the baby, a couple of nannies we tried didn’t exactly make the cut and so on. But the real reason and I think it should be the most important reason for any woman to become a stay-at-home mom was that I wanted to stay at home. It was a choice that I and only I made and one I WANTED to make.
I won’t say that it was an easy choice to make, the transition from a double income family to a single income family with a baby definitely put a dent in our finances but we learned to make adjustments in our expenditure and plan accordingly. Yes, I was also lucky to have a husband who was able to finance and willing to support my decision. I am also aware that many women don’t have this choice available to them and have to work even though they might want to stay at home.
What really irks me is that why should I be judged because of my choice? I have always felt that feminism was all about being able to make your own choices without any body judging you for them. Yet, if I choose to be a SAHM, I am looked at as anti-progressive and anti-women. Most people think of it as having taken an “easy way” out and if I am not wearing a corporate suit, juggling work and home and constantly fighting the pressure – “I am just a mom”. What is even worse is that it is often other women who make these snide comments and try to make you feel less worthy than they are.
I know that working moms also make a choice and sometimes a tougher one when they leave their kids with other caregivers to pursue a career. I respect their choice and would never judge them for that. I know women who work for 40 hours a week and still are a super mom at home (my mom for example!) but that’s not me. My personality would make sure that if I was working I would be constantly divided between my home and work. Not being able to give a 100% to either of the two would make me crazy and definitely not happy.
I love being a stay-at-home-mom (technically though I am a work-at-home mom now), I am able to see my daughter growing through her life, never miss a moment of her amazing childhood, play unabashedly with her, listen to her all her toddler talk, be a homemaker and live life at my own pace. I love being able to influence my daughter’s life, be her primary care giver, see life through her eyes and help her become an honest, kind hearted, generous and wonderful human being. Most of all I think I am the most qualified person who can raise my daughter.
Definitely there are dark days when I feel isolated, bored out of my mind, not being able to connect with my peers, feel left out of the race, face all kinds of mommy guilt and so on. There are times when even being an entertainer, teacher, cook, laundry person, housekeeper all rolled in one, is not enough and temper tantrums, meltdowns etc. make it really difficult. But these are few and far in between, even on those days the smile on my daughter’s face on she seeing me when I pick her up from school, makes it all worth it.
In my opinion the fight about working mom vs stay-at-home mom has been done to death. Both have their own advantages and drawbacks and neither is superior to the other. What is important is that a mom gets to make a choice between the two and not be judged for it. The economy and the working environment is constantly changing and is offering more avenues for working women to spend time with their children and similarly open up work -at -home career opportunities for women who stay at home.
When women or rather moms judge each other over trivial issues like these no one wins and motherhood definitely loses. I know of lot of women who want to take a plunge for becoming a stay-at-home mom but are afraid to do so in fear of being considered less than equals. My advice to them, being a stay-at-home mom is not for everyone but if it is your choice then you are as awesome as any of the CEOs out there. As for me the next time someone asks me “what do I do all day long”, they might just get punched in the face.