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Do you stay at home? Why or why not?

Each of us have our own circumstances, that lend to our decisions and abilities to stay home, work outside of the home, work from home.  We are all entitled, and we all have our reasons.  A mama recently emailed:

Awhile back you had a discussion about basically feeling in or out of the urbanMamas loop, asking if you feel like you fit in.  Well, I don't.  I consider myself a liberal in all ways except one.  I absolutely do not understand why (unless you are a single mama or have a sick husband etc.) a woman would decide to have children and then work.  Why would you pay other people to raise your child?  Why would you want to have someone else potty train, teach values, know all your child's likes and dislikes, get all the hugs?  If you didn't want to stay home and raise your child, why did you have them?  And isn't it selfish to think that the child is happy being raised by someone else?  We are talking about 8 hours a day or more of care.  Five days a week. 

My husband makes far less than $100,000 a year.  But we sacrifice so I can stay home and raise our children.  If you have a job that allows you to mostly stay home....that's wonderful.  I am referring to the full time working Mamas.  Why do they do this?  All of the posts about finding daycare......I just don't get it.  It seems taboo to believe that a Mother should raise her own children.

So, care to share?  It goes without saying - but we'll still say it here - thank you for using respect and honesty when sharing your views.

Comments

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Let me start by asking one thing, Mama: Why do you only address your question to women?

Do you think that by working outside the home, your husband is failing to teach his children values, doesn't know their likes and dislikes, and misses out on hugs and potty training? Do you think he should feel guilty that "someone else" is raising his child (even if it's their mother) in his absence? Do you think he's being selfish by not
spending his days with his children?

Why is this always a question for the women?

There are so many answers to your question. Social, financial, emotional.

But what it comes down to is that our society is set up in a certain way. A way that makes this so-called "choice" to work or stay home a private decision supposedly made by individual women. That makes it terribly easy for women like you, who think other women "chose" wrong to blame them, rather than the society which set up the "choice" in the first place.

In an ideal world (Sweden, say), we wouldn't have to make this choice. The work of parenting would be accomodated by the world of work. Universal health care, yearlong maternity leaves, work-hours corresponding to school hours, etc. would make it simple to integrate work and raising kids.

But we don't have that. We ("we" being the educated, professional women you are addresssing) have being at home (yes, with kids we love) and sacrificing retirement, hard-won professional skills, and the satisfaction of doing a job we may also love. Or we have staying in a workplace which is for the most part indifferent to or actively hostile toward the notion that people (men and women) have families.

So we "choose" from this sorry duo of options. We make the best choice we can, knowing that this might not be our choice if society had a sane family/work balance. If we had the kind of set-up other countries have. But because this is our only "choice" we can't win. Not in our home/work lives, and not, apparently, with some of our fellow mothers.

I'm a stay-at-home mother. I made that "choice" and I don't regret it. But you know what I do regret? Lack of universal health care. Because if we had that, my husband and I could each afford to choose part-time work so we could share more of the work of raising our kids.

I guess I've gone on long enough. But Mama, I'm asking you: please re-consider your question about women and their "choices" in the context in which those choices are made.

Well, as a proud working mama, I'll do my best to answer your question, although it seems we may just have to agree to disagree.

I do want to say right up front that the very idea that daycare is "raising my child" is pretty ridiculous (and FYI, pretty offensive). As any teacher will tell you, a child's biggest influences are at home. When kids start school, are they being "raised by" their teachers? I do understand where you're coming from -- it can seem really alien to think of your kids spending the bulk of their day away from you in our culture. But in many cultures and throughout much of history, kids have been cared for by many people, not just their mothers.

When we focus on moms staying home, we're really over-simplifying something that is -- and should be -- complicated. It has become one choice: whether Mom should work or not. Every single family I know has made literally dozens of choices -- most together, as a family -- that have got them where they are today. With each choice you make, you sacrifice all of the other choices you could have made...and that's how life is. I'm proud to own my choices, having weighed the consequences. That's the best any of us can do.

Plus, mom not working simply does not apply to single mothers, gay and lesbian parents, single fathers, families where one parent is disabled or ill, children being raised by their grandparents...and on and on through all the permutations of family that comprise this country. When we talk about working vs. staying at home, we're talking about a pretty rarified segment of the population.

And even among that segment of the population, it completely ignores the parenting duties of the father, which does dads a huge disservice and completely disrespects their role in the family. My husband plays a huge role in raising our children, yet no one has EVER asked him why he doesn't quit his job and stay home with the kids.

I hope that can clarify things a bit for you. I don't want to get into the specifics of why I work, but suffice it to say that literally dozens of factors went into the decision. My three children are thriving, and if you asked them who was raising them, they would not hesitate to say their mom and dad.

While I personally support any Mama's decision to either work full-time, part-time or be a stay-at-home Mom (whatever works for you, works for me) - I find the elistism of this email to be frankly astonishing! I can appreciate the sacrifice made by this family to ensure that Mom stays at home with the kids - BUT most people just can't financially make ends meet with just one salary these days - it's a matter of SIMPLE ECONOMICS and I'm not talking about people with McMansions, multiple cars or fancy vacations - try just putting food on the table, and paying the rent and a bit of health insurance if at all possible with one salary etc. How nice for this Mom to be in a position where she can't fathom HAVING to have two people work to pay the bills every month. Must be nice....

I am a young stay at home single mom, I am extremely lucky. I agree with what you're saying, although for some reason sometimes it's not that simple for families. But I definately agree that if at all possible, if you can afford to stay home with your children, you should! Shortly I will be going back to school and work part time, but have been blssed to stay home with my daughter full time for the first year and a half of her life. It's the best thing for your children and the best investment you can make with your time.

Would you like to borrow my can of worms?

It's naive to think that you staying home with your child[ren] leads to an instillation of more solid values or an abundance of hugs and love. It IS taboo, because it's judgmental, arrogant and foolish to assume that one size fits all is better or possible for everyone.

signed,

a Stay-At-Home Mom of 8 years

Are you saying that people who may "choose" to have children but will "have" to work really shouldn't have children at all? Really???

To the original poster:
Are you saying that people who may "choose" to have children but will "have" to work really shouldn't have children at all? Really???

Wow-I am still trying to catch my breath on this one--you say "My husband makes far less than $100,000 a year. But we sacrifice so I can stay home and raise our children."

Are you aware that there are MANY families that make less than even half or a third of that amount, with BOTH parents working? Yet, these parents/families are loving, caring, supportive ones that have happy, thriving children who have wonderful connections with others and are learning a lot by being in various situations.

And, what about your husband-because he is a working outside of the home father does that mean that you, as the mother who stays home, is the only one who is raising your
children?

Open your mind, and your heart--families come in all shapes and sizes.

Wow-I am still trying to catch my breath on this one--you say "My husband makes far less than $100,000 a year. But we sacrifice so I can stay home and raise our children."

Are you aware that there are MANY families that make less than even half or a third of that amount, with BOTH parents working? Yet, these parents/families are loving, caring, supportive ones that have happy, thriving children who have wonderful connections with others and are learning a lot by being in various situations.

And, what about your husband-because he is a working outside of the home father does that mean that you, as the mother who stays home, are the only one who is raising your
children?

Open your mind, and your heart--families come in all shapes and sizes.

Wow-I am still trying to catch my breath on this one--you say "My husband makes far less than $100,000 a year. But we sacrifice so I can stay home and raise our children."

Are you aware that there are MANY families that make less than even half or a third of that amount, with BOTH parents working? Yet, these parents/families are loving, caring, supportive ones that have happy, thriving children who have wonderful connections with others and are learning a lot by being in various situations.

And, what about your husband-because he is a working outside of the home father does that mean that you, as the mother who stays home, are the only one who is raising your
children?

Open your mind, and your heart--families come in all shapes and sizes.

I don't think the original poster was being elitist in questioning why more people don't stay home with their children. I'm a stay at home mom and I've sometimes wondered the same thing. I know that a lot of families simply don't have the option for a parent to stay home. What suprises me is that people who do have the choice, sometimes choose differently. What it comes down to is that each person/family has different priorities. I don't think that it makes any of us better or worse for choosing to stay home or to work. For us, it was a pretty easy choice. My husband only makes about $20,000 a year, so our income is painfully small. We make it work though, and sacrifice A LOT because for us it's important for one of us to be with our child full time.

Just to throw in my two cents, I am a working Mom and my husband stays home with our two children. Do I think my kids love me less because I work, not at all, do they have a great relationship with their Dad because he is home, yes but I believe this would be the case if we both worked or if I were home. We are just getting by on one income of a lot less than the poster states her husband brings home and we are not the norm with Dad at home. But it works for us, the decision was made by both my husband and I and came down to healthcare, my job offers it, his did not. I believe we have to respect each families decision though we may or may not agree. It would be a wonderful world if we all got to do as we wanted without worries of mortgage, bills, food, daycare etc...

Wow-I think that you are extremely sheltered and maybe you should take some time to get to know some of the millions of other people that live in this world.I am thinking that you are joking,just trying to stir up the urbanmamma pot because you were bored today?

I agree that the original poster wasn't looking to be elitist. She was specifically - it seemed to me - addressing those women who *can* afford to stay home, but choose not to.

Although I do think the way she went about asking her question reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about this "choice." I highly recommend that she reads "The Price of Motherhood" by Ann Crittenden.

Okay, fine. If you don't believe the OP is being elitist, then let's just call her ignorant. That works, too.

i work part time in a job that i don't think is that great, during hours that i don't think are that great because it's important to me that my kids have me home most of the time. i honestly think it's naive to say that it doesn't matter (to the child) whether you stay home or work and put them in childcare because it does matter. if it didn't matter, i'd work full time somewhere and put them in childcare.


i am sort of leaning towards the poster on this topic-no one is saying that you can't have a great career but the issue is: will having a great career cause you to have your child in childcare 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week? I think that THAT is really the issue. And if someone is childless and realizes that in order for them to have children, it will mean that they will have to put them into all day care 5 fays a week, why would they still choose to have children? i know it's a choice, but for the same reason one might choose not to buy something if it means going into debt for it-that's the way i look at it. is everyone entitled to have kids no matter what the circumstance? if a mother in poverty decided that she wanted to have a child, everyone would be on her case about how unfair to the child,etc. but howcome when someone who knows they wouldn't be able to be home with their child they are subjected to the same criticism? more money doesn't always equal taking care of a child. there is more nurturing and emotional needs, etc that are worth more than any amount of money or toys.

Wow. Thank you so much commenting mamas for articulating what I am honestly too angry to articulate for myself right now. I am a working mama, and I "absolutely do not understand" why another mama, stay at home or not, thinks that it is appropriate to pass judgment on me and question my dedication to my children. As KW put so well, "Open your mind and your heart." One size does not fit all.

Wow, UM, go you for posting such a touchy topic, but one that we've probably all been impacted by in one way or another.

I'm a sahm by choice, and I've secretly wondered the same thing, in particular about some of my friends who I am pretty certain could afford to stay home.

HOWEVER, I also realize that staying home with my kids has not been the easiest thing I've done, and there are times when I've wondered if my kids might just be better off seeing less of their cranky mommy. I work about three or four days a month out of the house, and those days are (for the most part) wonderful, I'm sorry to tell you. Not necessarily because I'm not with my kids, but because it is so nice to feel accomplishment, to be around adults, to have my clothes stay clean for longer than 20 minutes! I may be shallow for appreciating those things, but there you have it.

In the end, I still feel that being sahm is the best choice for me/us, but I can really see how other people could have a different experience, and make a different choice. And I do think the OP would do well to stretch her mind and explore the shades of grey that exist out there on this issue.

I'm lucky. But it was still a huge financial sacrifice to quit my job and put my career on hold when our baby came several years ago but I knew that being home with my baby was the right thing to do for our family. Somewhere over the course of poopy diapers, teething, and sheer exhaustion though, I realized that I really missed work and made the choice later on to go back to work part time. Part time is a totally different ball game than full time, but, working outside the home has absolutely made me a better mother. I know a mama or two who are convinced that they are doing the right thing by staying home with their children, even though they will also readily admit that it's not working for them personally. Being home physically and really being present for your children do not necessarily go hand in hand and I know some full time working mamas who are far more present in their children's lives than some mamas who are home with their children 24/7.

congrats to the first 2 commentators for great answers.
i chose to stay home because i just can't stand the thought of being away from my babies. i admire any woman who can tear themselves away everyday to work and only see their kid for a couple hours a day, if that. i did have a part time job in the begining with the first baby, but that didn't last long and it drove me insane; just didn't feel right. i have one baby now i'm not ready to leave, but i have 2 older kids about to start school in the fall, and i'm kind of looking forward to them being gone all day. i'm not the SAHM type to do it for years on end, it's hard work! i'm looking forward to the break, but enjoying these last few months immensely. i won't be going back to work then, so i'll still be with them at least 5 hours of the day.
as for finances, i'm so sick of being poor...but if i did go back to work, we'd still be poor because my salary would go for daycare, gas, and food and health that we currently get assistance from the state. i know alot of people are against having the state pay for people to stay home with their kids, but hey, if they won't adopt a more generous, advanced industrialized nation model, then i'll take it. i believe there's enough misappropriation or squandering in government funds already and more problems could be solved, but that's another rant.

The real question here is being frosted over with anger....the question is addressed to working Mamas who do have a choice. The question is about why, about how you make that choice. No one is questioning anyones love for anyones child, that is silly. At the very least, if you take the time to read this blog and to learn from other Mamas and grow as a Mama you are nothing else but a great Mama. The question is a social-economic question. How do you do it and why?

I am with the poster who is still stuck on the "far less than $100,000 a year." Jeez...try it when your husband is making $24,000 a year.

We have been through several permeations of childcare since having our first son...I was at home, Dad full-time at work; I worked part-time, DH f/t, Grandma babysat; DH and I worked f/t, but I worked at a daycare so DS was at work with me; I worked full-time, DH stayed at home, but worked as a bartender on the weekends; and now we are at me being at home f/t (well, I work about 5 hours a week outside the home, opposite DH's full-time work schedule).

For us it has been trying to find the right balance. When I was working f/t it was because I had an awesome job doing visual merchandising for BabyGap. I loved that job, the hours weren't too crazy, I could get days off when I needed, decent benefits...But we were stuck in the New York rat-race, and it was draining.

So we moved to Portland, totally cut back on all non-essentials (ie. we sold our 4BR/2Bath house that was a block away from the ocean and we sold our 2 cars...now we're in a 2BR/1Bath apt. with no yard and no cars). It's been tough. DH is totally under-employed, and although our older son is in full-day kindergarten, we now have a 3 year old and a baby due any day.

Sometimes I miss working full-time. It was a lot easier than being at home full-time. I miss the control I had over my work-life, but I had pretty much worked full-time since my second son was born, so I completely appreciate spending all this time with him.

But, still, I think even if DH was making closer to that arbitrary $100k/year, if I was offered an awesome job with decent hours, then I would definitely consider it. A part of it is that I want my boys to see that I have a life that doesn't only revolve around doing their laundry and making their lunches. Yeah, they see me doing somethings for myself--sewing, knitting, all those crafty things I would ideally make a living doing--but, honestly, it is such a low-priority in our day-to-day lives, when there are dishes to be washed, and groceries to be bought.

I think the reason for the anger is this: what earthly business is it of anyone's why I chose to have children and work? If my husband and I feel this is the right thing to do -- and again, there are DOZENS of reasons, some personal, some familial, some for the future and some because of the past -- and my children are not a burden on society, then why should anyone question it?

Look, I get it. I know it's hard for people to understand how I could leave my kids during the day. And it has taken me a LOT of soul-searching, three kids and several years to fully embrace this "choice". But embrace it I do, just as I think it's fabbo that other women stay home. We all do what we think is right AT THE TIME. Situations change, priorities change, lives change, children's needs change -- if motherhood has taught me anything, it's the value of flexibility.

I don't owe anyone my list of reasons for working. But believe me, as many reasons as there are for staying home, there are reasons for working. It shouldn't be a debate for anyone but the family involved. The real question to me is why we as women and mothers don't always support each other regardless of whether we understand each other's choices.

A timely topic for me as I am struggling to figure out the next phase of parenting after working both 40 and 32 hours with two kids for 5 years. Some issues to toss into the mix. And whether or not I share the angle of the asker, I am glad to have this issue broached. We will all learn soemthing from listening to each other, and sharing ideas respectfully, even when you're mad. Sure hope I can pass that skill along to my kids!

- I am passionate about many things, my children included, but work things, too, and in my mind it makes me a healthy mom to have my own interests outside the home.

- It also makes (for us) a healthy financial balance in our marriage that we both bring money to the family. My Mom was finacially dependent on ym dad for years and it was not a good situation; likely that colors my thinking.

- I bring essential full health benefits with my job while my husband has none since he works for himself - and either of us wants me to work F/T and him to stay home - just not a good fit for our personalities

- We both work 4 days and stagger them so our kids are in child care only 2 -3 days/week (more days with us than in care, which was important to us)

- Our kids have a wonderful relationship with myh husband b/c he spends so much time with them and caring for them; I didn't with my dad b/c he worked and my mom had the relationship, the time with us kids.

- My husband and I "get" each other's frustrations b/c we both have long days with kids, similar frustrations, and for us that helps create a supportive dynamic.

- I wish, really, really, wish, there were better P/T work options sdo that both parents could have a more balanced situation (if they want it); hand in hand with that goes my desire for a health care system that does not tie access to employment of one type of another. Thus my role over on Activistas, pushing for change so that we parents have more choices to fit our very different circumstances.

In the next few months we will likely have far less money (rats), fewer benefits (rats again), but more time for me to be with the kids, care for them when theya re sick, and just breathe (yeah!). Like everything, there are trade-offs. I am awfully grateful that I have some choices in this, because far too many don't. Far too many parents have to make decisions about their children based on economics and "the system." Reality, yes. Moms Rising? Oh yes.

I fail to see how this question is only directed at working mamas who have a "choice" about whether to work or not. The question is, "why a woman would decide to have children and then work." Not, work when her personal financial situation does not require that she work. "Isn't it selfish to think that the child is happy ..?" Please. The tone of the question is very Dr. Laura-esqe i.e. don't even think about having children if you don't plan to stay at home with them. I don't know about all of you, and certainly don't profess to (unlike the poster), but I have enough going on with raising my children that I don't have the time, nor the desire to sit in judgment about the choices of other mamas.

I think it's important not to call someone elitist or ignorant for asking a question, even if the question seems insensitive to me. Although the question made me feel defensive and angry I am glad the question came up so that everyone has an opportunity to share their viewpoints.

I agree with the posts that support the view that the decision to work outside the home or stay home is a personal, family decision that I have no right to question for anyone but myself. Also happy to see the issue of fathers and the double standard regarding work addressed here.

I know that for me personally I agonize over what is best for my family every day (values, food, tv, education, health, hobbies, etc.). One of the many things I worry about is whether it's best for both my husband and me to be working full-time, yet I believe it is currently the best choice for our family at this time.

One thing I would like to mention beyond the issues that have already been touched upon is that I strongly believe it's good for women to factor in their personal desires and preferences into the decision to stay at home or work outside of it. What brings personal fulfillment and satisfaction? This is not selfishness--this is an opportuntiy for the family to embrace and affirm and nurture an individual human being. Families need to recognize and address the needs of each person in the family (even the mommy!) to maximize the well-being of the entire family. I want to be a good role model to my girls and send them a strong message that a woman's or mommy's hopes, dreams, and aspirations are as important as anyone else's. (And yes, I can send this message whether I stay at home or work outside--the important thing is that whatever I do is in part because I want to do it.)

I am also firm in my conviction that the world is a better place because my daughters are part of it. My husband and I chose to bring them into the world knowing full well that we would most likely "choose" to both work full-time. I support all the other families out there who bring children into the world and then make choices that work best for their families. Every family has enough to worry about without the rest of us passing judgement on them or causing them to second guess their choices.

I agree with Juliette that it's important not to label someone just for asking a question. We all have very different thoughts/opinions so why not state yours with respect and diginity without stooping to name calling. Just because you think it is elitist or ignorant, doesn't mean it actually is - it's just your opinion.

Women are whole people. They have desires in all facets of life, they aren't always compatible (in our current economy and culture). The desire to do work outside of the home is real and strong for many women. Thank god for those women, many of whom are the caretakers in our society. The majority of teachers and nurses and social service providers are women. Many of these women also have children. Do you really want to do without these professionals, as your seeming criticism of working mothers implies? Are they selfish? Should they be discouraged from having babies?

Even for women who don't work in the care sector, that maternal desire can be just as powerful as their desire for professional fulfillment. What about the surgeon who is absolutely passionate about what she does? Who knows a certain flame would die inside of her if she gave up her calling? But who is equally passionate about her children?

If you are really asking why women choose to work when they could financially afford to NOT work - my answer would be that these women know they are more full, and balanced, and healthy when they are fulfilling their thirst for things outside of motherhood. They are better mothers by feeding their whole person. Perhaps they have a calling, and we are all lucky they're following it. My own family physician has spent her life providing medical care to local and global communities - she has four children, all of whom became compassionate, skilled doctors in their own right.

I think that children who see their mothers as fulfilled, whole, healthy people who are engaged in the world outside of the house most often feel *just* as secure, loved, safe, and engaged as children who are with their mothers around the clock.

On a personal note - I do not feel that I have a real choice about working, if I want to secure my own retirement and provide a safety net for myself and my family. I had a mother who stayed home her entire life, and then tragedy struck, and she is now dependent on her own children to provide for her until she dies. The burden is real and great, and my family does without because of the choices she made and the misfortune that struck. That is another reason I don't have a choice about working - I am paying for the choices my mother made when she chose to stay home, relying on trust and fate to secure her future.

**If you didn't want to stay home and raise your child, why did you have them? And isn't it selfish to think that the child is happy being raised by someone else? We are talking about 8 hours a day or more of care. Five days a week.**

Those are pretty inflammatory words.

While I respect the OP right to ask the question I have to say that as a working parent with two children in full time daycare I am really offended by the tone and what feels like judgment coming from them. Although I have to say that I am not surprised.

Ever since I went back to work (after a layoff and the unemployment and severance had run out and we could not afford our house payments BTW) I have struggled with this issue and what feels like judgment from other mamas when I tell them I work full time.

If I respect your choice to stay at home with your children why don’t you respect mine? Are my children somehow “damaged” because I am not with them all day? I am fortunate to have found good places for my kids to be in loving, safe places with other children their own age. It’s not easy, but if I am honest with myself I do not know if I could be the 24/7 parent without losing my mind. Isn’t that what our own mothers wanted: to have the CHOICE of working outside the home – or not. We should concentrate on respecting each others choices, not bringing each other down.

I have turned over my body and most of my life to my wonderful children. What happens to me? In a perfect world we could all work part time, have healthcare that wasn’t tied to work, etc. but I live in this world. I am happy that the OP has a husband who can support her and sometimes I am jealous, but this is the life I have carved out and I am happy with my “village”.

Thanks to so many thoughtful commenters, above, who've said things more articulately and calmly than I might have--especially "deep breath." I only have one small observation to make, something I often notice in debates like these. The language around staying home is so often that of obligation or sacrifice. As a mother who works, I know for one that I would not want to stay home because of obligation or sacrifice. I have many friends my age who felt that they themselves were raised by martyr-mothers, and would never want to be one of those myself. Sometimes I can't help but wonder whether people like the original poster want others to stay home with their children out of a "If I'm doing it, others should have to also!" mentality.

Okay....so anyone who needs to work should not be given the privledge of having children. How freakin ridiculous!

I have to admit that I cringed reading this posting this a.m. I am a stay-at-home mama who feels very lucky to have the option, but I truly could care less what other people decide is best for them and their families. I always fear that mamas who work out of the home might incorrectly stereotype me as a SAH mama who thinks she is better than them and/or judges them. This posting will do my efforts no good! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just as well, everyone is entitled to their own life. Do what you want/need to with your own life and put your energy there instead of into judging what others at doing unless you truly believe someone is harming someone else and there is something you can do about it.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Every time I try to respond to this, I find myself grinding my teeth and completely unable to write anything that isn't an all out attack.

I will try to answer this question without judgement or malice.

I choose to work, because I want my daughter to grow up knowing she can do or be anything and that that doesn't change if she decides she also wants to be a mother.

I choose to work because I want my daughter to know that I am a person with dreams and desires of my own, and while she is my first priority, I am also a person separate from her.

I choose to work because I love what I do, and that satisfaction makes me a better mother to her.

I choose to work, because if I didn't, my husband would have to work twice as much and I would be robbing both of them of the joy of each other.

I choose to work because I am immensely proud that my daughter is growing up in a household where her parents are contributing equally to the financial and the domestic demands of our home, and to caring for her.

I choose to have my daughter in childcare, because I want her to grow up knowing there is a world outside her house filled with all kinds of people and other grown ups that she can turn to for help and comfort.

I choose to work a 30 hour week instead of full time so I can spend more time with my daughter while she is little, because I know she won't be for long. But if I wasn't able to make this choice, I would be comforted in knowing that I grew up with a single working mother and spent 50+ hours a week in childcare, but I never even for a moment doubted the love, care or support of my mother and am closer to her as an adult than most of my peers who's mother's stayed at home.

And lastly, I feel incredibly lucky that we have been able to find the balance we have between work and family for both parents, but I would never question another mother or father's choices, because I recognize that what works for us may not work for everyone. I would urge you, however, before pointing fingers at other mothers for the choices they've made, you may want to consider the cost of the choice you're making. How much time do your children get to spend with their father?

This isn't the main reason I work, but one benefit of going to work is giving my daughter a role model. Mamas work, papas work, they stay home too. Just as it is important for my daughter to see my husband cook or be involved in child-rearing, it is important for her to see that women have many roles - parent, worker, person engaged with the world.

I am lucky enough - financially and in my profession - to work part-time at a meaningful job. My work makes me a better parent, and my parenting helps me at work.

Martyrdom is a two way street. One direction is SAHM passing implicit judgement that Mom's belong with their children; even if it entails financial sacrifice (sacrifices which could include Dad working a 9-5 job w/ benefits). The other is working Mom's whining that it's so hard balancing career and children and why can't we get govt to subsidize day-care, kindergarten, etc.

Additionally, has anyone ever stopped to think that the reason housing is so expensive is because it has been bid-up in a virtual arms-race by two wage-earner families? Who does that help?

I stay at home and I want all of the things for my kids that elena wants. And they are going to get them - even with me staying at home. It seems like we've defined a stay at home mom as someone who is going to do it for the rest of their lives. This woman is dull, doesn't do anything but household chores, depends on her husband for an allowance and has no ambition or interest in doing anything for herself or the world outside her home. Please let's get our notion of what a stay at home mom is out of the 1950's. My decision to stay at home is in NO WAY a judgment of one mamas decision to work and vice versa. We all make sacrifices, mamas and papas, for our families. We all choose where and when those sacrifices will come and we are all trying to do our best for ourselves and for others, too.


I almost don't want to get involved in this discussion because I'm not so sure there is much to be gained by it at this point. It seems to have dwindled down to an emotional/defensive level and, while it doesn't surprise me, it does make me think about my own reasons for staying home. It boils down to lifestyle for us. Our life is more peaceful when one of us is home. We know where the kids are, what they're doing, and who they're with all the time. I believe I'm protecting them from harm the best I can that way. Our home gets taken care of, groceries purchased, meals cooked, etc. with minimal fuss so that when we're all home as a family we can spend the time enjoying each other. My kids don't have to follow a schedule, they can nap/eat/play when they want or need to. It works for us. Right now it's mom at home, but we'ver had reversed roles as well and find this works better for us. I had a longing that words can't describe everyday going to work when I had to, even knowing they were home with dad. I miss my job, desperately on some days, but I don't miss it nearly enough when I compare the two feelings.

I'm certainly not in a position to pass judgment on anyone who doesn't do it this way, but I do want to say a couple of things about thoughts mentioned here. First, I'm not lucky to be able to stay home. No more lucky than I would be to have a job. It's work to make it happen. It was work long ago making decisions before children and it's work today. Second, I don't agree with the idea that the decision to have a parent at home or not is only a personal family decision. These choices have public policy implications all over the place. Just spend time reading some of the posts here and on Activistas and you can get a glimpse of them. And finally, and this isn't fully thought out but I'll take a stab at it and hope I don't get it wrong, my role as a woman isn't defined only by my work as a mom or an employee. As a woman who doesn't have to spend 40 hours working for someone else, I think I have more time to spend on things that better define me than what my job is or who my child is. When I was working full time I went to work and I came home to be with my family. I didn't do much else. Despite having two children under 3 in my home, I am much more balanced now than I was then. I'm certainly much more in control of what I do with my time. And I'm much choosier about how I spend it.

So, those are my thoughts. I learned long ago that I don't need to convince others to see things my way. I'm hoping these can just be heard for what they are, my experience.

QUOTE: Additionally, has anyone ever stopped to think that the reason housing is so expensive is because it has been bid-up in a virtual arms-race by two wage-earner families? Who does that help?

YES!!! Most definitly part of the reason so many families require two incomes today is because of our society's need to have so many material posssessions. We are a materialistic society, most of the crap we buy is really NOT necessary. And all of us here in Portland buy crap we don't need. Dual income families becoming the norm in our society have changed what "middle-class" means. It used to be $25,000/yr. Even adjusted for inflation, it now takes way more than that. People are used to having everything they want and then some.

It is ridiculous that it takes two incomes in our society to support a family. That is the sad part. I am all for mom working if dad wants to stay home, or both parents working P/T (the ideal, IMO--everyone gets personal fulfillment and the kids are cared for by parents) but it should be reasonable to survive on 1 income in this country, and often it is not. THAT is the real issue...and one that our gov't should be addressing (like with 1 year paid maternity leaves, and HC, for example).

As a SAHM who has made sacrifices in so many ways to stay home, I in no way feel like a martyr. I chose to have kids, and part of that meant NOT becoming a nobel prize winning XYZ. I personally am saddened when visiting daycares I have seen the sad and lonely looks on the children's faces. I've visited the best centers and highly recommended locations, where there were babies crying in cribs b/c caregivers were changing another baby (and at a 4-to-1 ratio, HOW can they really take good care of those infants? Impossible). I've seen toddlers that were jumping all over me just to get attention with boogers all over their face or food stuck all over it. Please tell me HOW they are getting better (or equal) care to the love a parent would show them at home? (and not trying to be inflammatory, but I'm really questioning how anyone can think the care at daycare is as good or better than a parent? And before someone says "oh...some people aren't good mothers, etc." I'm asking specifically how daycare is better or as good as YOU -- great mothers -- doing the parenting.)

So, I can understand what the OP is saying. Daycare 8 hours a day/5 days a week isn't an ideal situation (for the child). I have to agree somewhat that when mom puts her career and personal fulfillment before the needs of her baby when she has the CHOICE that it is definitely a self-serving decision. You get career satisfaction and can buy a nicer car/house/toys/flat-screen TV, but what about the child? I'm not saying it is wrong, but it IS in the best interest of the mother, NOT the child. My children for most of their young lives have wanted nothing but to be with me every waking moment. It's clear that what they want is ME, their mother, and my attention. What baby under 1 yr old WANTS to be in daycare? Babies under 1 want to be with...mom. Someone mentioned that in other cultures around the world children are cared for by a whole bunch of different people. Well, often in those cultures babies are worn in slings by their mothers (often at work, even) for a year or more.

I'm sure working mamas won't agree with my opinion, but there it is anyway. I actually am glad to see someone finally stand up for children themselves and what THEY might want.

Now, to be less Socratic than my last post, I'll say the reason I and other SAHM's are bothered by Working Moms, (um, aside from their whining) is "it's the externalities stupid".

Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. That means having other Mom's at home in the neighborhood and the park to help keep an eye on things from the "kitchen" window. It means having other kids around the neighborhood, instead of at daycare, for my children to play with. It means having other Mom's around to help watch my kids when I have to go to the dentist. It means not having to pay historically unprecedented prices in the housing arms-race. It means not having to pay higher property taxes for that over-priced house. There are many other reasons.

I also wonder how far that second income really goes. They pay their partner's marginal tax rate on their income. They have higher commute and food costs. They obviously have daycare expenses. As I've mentioned they've bid-up housing and associated property taxes. Seems pound foolish to me.

Anyway, working mom's get *very defensive* if anyone suggests their family is not an island and that their working can have adverse effects on their children and their neighborhoods. Methinks they doth protest too much.

I had the same thought as the previous poster who picked up on the sanctimonious tone in the original post (I sacrificed - why doesn't everyone else?). I thought the same thing and wondered if she's looking for some external validation of the decision that she's made to stay home. For me, it's not a choice to be made out of obligation. My mom was a SAHM until us kids were almost out of the house, and I think she should have gone back to [paid] work much, much sooner. I think if she'd had something other than us kids as the primary focus in her life, she would have been a much happier, much less frustrated mama. And that, in my opinion, would have been much, much better for us kids.

I am a SAHM right now, but the minute I miss the world of paid work, I won't hesitate to go back. Every family has to decide what works for them at any given point in time, whether that be both parents working full-time or part-time; one parent at home; or some other arrangement. There's no right answer. And I think that if one is satisfied with one's own decision, one doesn't worry so much about what everyone else is doing!

Thank you to all of you who have shared your stories and your heart in your comments. I asked the question from the first person because I wanted everyone's responses to be direct. I myself am a SAHM and I am encountering more and more Moms who seem to be sharing this "Dr. Laura" view. While I would never call someone ignorant for asking questions and wanting to be educated on a topic, which is actually the opposite of ignorant, I would definitly say that the question was toned judgemental on purpose. I, myself, have friends who fit all along the spectrum, and I just didn't know how to approach this and what I truly felt when this topic comes up. The only reason I stay home is because we cannot afford to pay for childcare if I worked and because unfortunately the truth is that more than often, men make more money and I have the boobs. You have done a wonderful job in expressing yourselves and helping me to understand a part of "Mamahood" that I couldn't because I don't have a job and I definitly do not of yet have a calling. I simply cannot accept the fact that poopy diapers is my "calling". Sometimes tough questions have to be asked in order to truly understand all sides of a topic. Oh, and if you are wondering....my husband makes around 41k a year and our mortgage is around 1800.00 and we pay for all-day Kindergarten at 295/month. Our children have health ins. but we can't afford it for ourselves because self-employed health insurance is crazy expensive so I wouldn't really refer to myself as elitist. Oh, and am I bored? Sometimes. Thank you for your knowledge.

One thing I gather from the emotional intensity of so many of these comments -this is an issue that really gets to the heart of our self esteem! No one wants to feel judged for their choice, and I think that stems in part from the knowledge that our choice, whichever way we chose, wasn't perfect. We are either home with our children, knowing we gave up careers or put them on hold, or we are at work, knowing our children have less of our time. (Or maybe, we are childless because we wanted a career without having to put a child in daycare.) We all stand defensively ready to list the reasons we chose what we chose, because someone will always be able to point out why it's not perfect. Let's channel these emotions into creating change -better family leave policies, health insurance, onsite childcare, children in the workplace, flexible hours, telecommuting, etc. We should have better choices available! (Dads too!)

Holy Judgement Trip, Batman!

I have strong views about a lot of things, from Republicans to the best Thai restaurant in town to where my children go to school. I can't imagine trying to impose these views on others (except through the legally-sanctioned electoral and lobbying process :) or judge other's choices. Yikes!

I'm a stay at home mom of two small boys and happy to be. It gives me chills, though, to think that if I wanted or had to return to work, anyone out there would decide that I was a lessor mother. Happy children have happy mothers.

I'm just flabbergasted at the tiny little world that seems to be reflected by the question. I don't want to namecall or rage, but, dang ... It's so mindboggling to me! "There are mamas out there who are *different* from me. Oh, I just can't *understand* it!"

Uh, OP, imagination: try it. IMAGINE the hundreds, the thousands, of different possible situations that might lead a woman to work. IMAGINE having different talents, skills, issues, history, culture than *you* do. IMAGINE ... not being you.

And finally, daycare "raising" my child!?!? Puh-leeeze!

Well, here is my take. I'm a SAHM. I telecommuted part-time while raising my daughter. For me, I had a hard time separating work from homelife. In the end, my personality didn't fit working and staying at home raising a toddler. Other mamas I know can do both with ease and grace I don't possess. So, that's why I stay home.

I am a stay at home mom. I mostly like it but it is incredibly BORING. I think that A HAPPY MAMA IS A GOOD MAMA. If it makes mama happier to work, then she should by all means work. If it makes her happier to stay home, then she should stay home. End of discussion.

BTW, I'm curious the age of the urban mama who posted this question? (and is she a vegan?)

EllenF, please excuse me if I appear to be "whining." Because a working mother laments the difficulty of balancing work and home, she is not "whining." At least any more than you appear to be whining about high housing prices from dual income families. I've seen the housing prices in our neighborhood skyrocket because of the influx of Southern Californians who sold their houses for millions only to pay cash for their houses here, but that's another topic. Clearly you have never had to depend on two incomes to survive if you "wonder how far that second income really goes." Perhaps for some it does only cover the cost of daycare, and it that case it doesn't make much sense to me. My husband and I are in the position of having to support his mother. She was a SAHM when he was a child and I love that he was able to have that experience. However, due to some unexpected circumstances and severe health issues, she is now unable to support herself. Are my children "covered in boogers and food" crying themselves to sleep in a commercial daycare? No, they are at our home with a caregiver they have had since birth. I feel blessed that we have the situation we do and that my husband and I are able to provide for ourselves, our children and our extended family. I don't work for a fancy car and a flat screen television, but it sure might look that way to someone who didn't know me. I do know some working moms who don't *need* the extra income to support their families. I would make a different decision if I were in their shoes, but I stop short of making value judgments about them. Things aren't always as they appear on the surface and I wish, that as a community, we could support each other as mamas rather than engaging in these inane "mommy wars."

Ok, let me get this straight:

the OP ("anon because gosh I don't want you to know where I live") admits that far from being the judgmental woman in the original post, she doesn't "actually know" how she feels about this topic. She did not know how to approach the subject, and she wanted to be educated.

And she concluded that the way to do educate herself was to word her question "judgmental on purpose" in order to get a rise out of this community. Or as she phrased it, "she wanted everyone's responses to be direct.")

What was wrong with asking the simple, honest question: "To women who can afford to stay home, would you mind sharing the thinking behind deciding not to?" Come on, OP. How hard would that have been?

I'm a writer and all but...words fail me here.

Aaahahhaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

zinemama, I think what we have is what you call an internet "troll" in our midst, plain and simple. Sigh.

Yup, that's what I thought. Anon (the OP) isn't as sure about being a SAHM as she sounded in the original post. ("The only reason I stay home is because we cannot afford to pay for childcare if I worked and because unfortunately the truth is that more than often, men make more money and I have the boobs ... I simply cannot accept the fact that poopy diapers is my "calling".) These aren't easy "choices" to make, either way.

And, Zinemama, I think because she's feeling so ambivalent, she couldn't ask the question in the nonconfrontational way that you suggested.

We're all just doing the best we can, making the best of our circumstances and whatever choices we've made, aren't we? Isn't it much better for everyone if we support each other? Can't we all just get along?!

I am not going to read all 49 other comments, but I have to say that this post raises my anxiety level to very uncomfortable places. I am a single mother by choice. I got pregnant on purpose as a single woman using donor insemination, knowing full well that I would be doing it myself and I would have to work full time. By the definition of many people, this was a selfish act, but what about having a child ISN'T selfish? We make choices in our life that fit our needs, and the needs of our children. I am not having day care providers teach my child values or even potty training. They are NOT raising my child for me. I am teaching values, I am getting up at 3am to take my child to the potty, and I am choosing care providers who will enforce my set of values and reinforce them with my child. My day time is very limited with my daughter, but make no mistakes, she knows the difference between mama and "day care lady." It's me she asks for when she is sick (and it's me that is there, job or not...it's rare for me to take sick time for myself, only for her...), or when she is excited, and it's me she wants to give her art work to, or tell her stories to. She has a limited attachment to her day care providers, which is good, as she trusts them and goes to them, but if the relationship ends, she can easily move on and know that mommy is permanent. I have no qualms, I wish I could spend more time with my daughter, but this is our life, and our time together is valuable and wonderful. I saw the first poster say that we have to agree to disagree and I respectfully have to say that is my stance, and I do not think we need to judge that which we do not understand. All the power to you for having the desire and ability to be a SAHM. I wish you the best of luck.

Well, I am not a writer so you must be better than me....I have master's in biology and I wanted to know how these women who choose to work full time away from their children felt inside. I am talking about women whose spouse's make enough to live on. I wanted to address a question to them about their chosen lifestyle, which some people do not understand. I wanted to know how they felt about "judgement" and if it affected them at all. I wanted to know these people because they are the exact opposite of me and to know them is to understand their driving factor. Are they "bad" Moms? No Way. If you feel like a bad Mom, which we all do at times, then you are not really reading these comments. How can one defend them or talk about a subject without understanding the reasoning. Elena poured her heart out into her response which I thought was beautiful. She has taught me how she feels. Amazing. I am the minority. I stay at home and have no alternative, but her post is inspirational. I am not an evil person. I had a question about how I feel sometimes and a lot about how other Mamas I meet feel. There is no need to be angry. Just be factual and willing to share. You might help someone or educate someone if you weren't so judgemental yourself. Take a look in the mirror. I am willing and eager to learn. Are you? The truth is that I don't really know how I feel about this topic because I have never been a full time working Mama. I do know that I have seen the faces of children in daycare and it makes me sad. I do know that I wish life wasn't so hard for Mamas. I do know that it is hard being a sahm but isn't that the choice we make? There are people outside of your world with thoughts and feelings, the ones who call names are just being rude. I never called any of you anything but great Mamas. Read back through and tell me, who is beating up who?

It's hard to tell if the original post is seeking a sincere reply - I'm leaning toward zinemama's thoughts on the matter.
But - if anybody else is looking for at least one compelling child-centered reason to seek work outside the home, or return to work after maternity leave, or anything like that, I'll say two words. Safety net.
If you've ever known a parent who got abruptly laid off, if you've ever known a parent who got seriously ill, disabled, or died, you know what I mean. You hope those children have as big a safety net as they can. A good safety net could be another employed parent - one with a paycheck that can feed and house them and with benefits that give them health insurance.
A recession is headed our way, and the last one hurt a lot of families and killed a lot of dreams.
Does that mean I think every parent must work outside? No way. I totally accept the peaceful home reasoning, the quantity time reasoning, etc. Everybody has to weigh their own priorities and their own tolerance for risk. Am I being practical or paranoid? Hard to say. But among many other things, my job feels like my child's safety net.


I'm glad to see this question posted... I have secretly been wondering why some moms work (when they clearly don't have to). I have a 4 month old and have been struggling with this decision since my head cleared after the birth. I thought I would be able to work full-time, but once he arrived, my thoughts changed dramatically.

Partly I think this is because I had multiple horrible, heartbreaking miscarriages before my little guy was born. I now view the world through miscarriage-glasses (i.e., scared to death I'm going to lose him at any moment). Because of this, I want to live my life without any regrets. If I were to put him in daycare when I don't HAVE to, and something happened to him, I would forever be angry at myself for not spending the most time with him possible. We will sell our house or whatever it takes.

I do respect any womans' choice on this matter.... but I secretly have wondered if they value the precious life as much as they should. I know they love their kids, but if something happened, would they regret their decision to work? If not, then more power to them.

Hope I didn't offend anyone! Just my two (neurotic) cents.

Wow, go away for a few hours and look what's happened here!

I just wanted to mention one other thing...there have been a few mentions about the need for affordable childcare, longer maternity leaves, and the fact that our housing costs have risen because of 2 income families jacking up the prices...

My husband and I just went throught he agonizing process of deciding whether or not to accept a fabulous opportunity to relocate to Norway. Here in the US we all hear about Scandinavia and the fabulous things the government does there to help families with small children and working mothers. Yes, it is fabulous, and the benefits are amazing and the pace there is slower and the life is a little simpler. They definitely have the work/life balance thing figured out. However, we were going to be faced with a situation in which I would have no choice but to work if we'd moved there because the cost of living is so insanely high there. Yes, we would be able to secure full time childcare for no more than $500/month, but after doing plenty of research, I was not convinced that our children would necessarily be receiving quality care, or that they would be learning anything in daycare--I got a very "romper room" feel about these places, if you will. And it may seem like a chicken vs. the egg issue, but we ended up deciding to stay in the US for the moment because I dont want to give up my choice to stay home with our children right now, and we can afford to pay our mortgage and live a very comfortable lifestyle on my husband's income. In Norway, we would have had to seriously stretch our dollars to squeeze into a home that is not nearly the standard we have here, and pay upwards of $800K for it.

The grass is not necessarily all that greener over there!

Working or staying home is truely a personal decision. And if the orginal question is how do you make the decision? I really think that as parents we all innatley know what decision is best for you as a parent, for your children, as an individual and as a family. Its based on so many factors career, financials, relationship and it changes over time.

I just had to weigh in on this because of this all or nothing attitude and the concept that staying at home 100% of the time with your children is always "best." I totally disagree that there is a "best" and to pooh-pooh any other option is inconsiderate and frankly rather narrow minded. What truely is importlant is that your are a healthy, centered conscious parent who is trying thier best to create a healthy family.

I work part time, I love it. It is great for me and great for my kids. First off, my kids go to excellent day care -preschool places, where they have exposure to peer relationships, arts and crafts, story time, and just good ol play time. These "care givers" who take care of my children are seasoned both earychild hood specialists and parents. Whom I ask advice from in many categories such as potty training, behaviorial, learning and developmental. It has been wonrderfull to have seasoned caregivers a part of my parenting experience. I do not pretend to know everything about raising kids.

Secondly, there is always a set schedule with an art project, circle time, group play, snack time etc.. It is 100% child centered time. My kid dig it. Try pulling off an art project everyday...

Because I work , when I am at home with my kids I do my best to give them 100% of my attention, do fun things, plan and enriched life.

Plus working is zen time for me. I can accomplished something begining to end. Focus on one topic, have adult conversations, strategise, plan, analize. I love the sence of fullfillment and value this time. It helps me be a more centered and present parent.

Regarding the romper room daycare in Norway, the actual truth is that activities before age 6 or 7 are totally irrelevant to a child's academic outcome.

Check out this story on Finland: http://isteve.blogspot.com/2008/03/wsj-asks-why-is-finland-so-finlandy.html

Or this one about last year's Nobel prize winner in Medicine who lived by himself on the streets of Northern Italy during WWII for 4 years until he was 8: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Capecchi#Life

If anyone is still checking in on this conversation, I'm curious as to how many mamas out there were raised by full time working moms and what do they think of that experience. B/c I was, and I never felt anything but loved and cherished, I don't think it had any adverse effect on me, I'm close with my mother as an adult, and I'm a happy adult that (I think) contributes to society. And this definitely factors into my choice to work. But maybe others had a different experience growing up with a working mom.

I work full time because I have to and because I like my job. I have to because my husband and I both have graduate degrees (me a masters him a JD) and have the loans to go with them. Everyone's bills are different, some families can live on one income, others can't. We pay $1000 a month in student loan payments; it's a sacrifice we made in the name of education. With this debt, plus credit card debt from our school days and my husband making around $50,000 a year, we must have my income or declare bankruptcy. In addition, society benefits from my expertise as a high school teacher and my son gets lots of socialization that he wouldn't otherwise get. The original post seems quite nieve about the realities of some of our lives.

My first response was written before reading any other responses. I must say...there are many very important points in these posts. I think it's also important to point out that my own parents worked full time (neither one making much money - their combined income was at most $30,000 and that's a stretch) and I am a whole, happy person who didn't feel at all neglected by my parents. I also think it's important that women are able better themselves and provide for themselves. I think that stay at home moms can also accomplish this if they are organized and involved in their community.

I want to thank "deep breath" for saying what I could not articulate. Wonderfully said. I just read all of the comments, too, and am glad to see that so many people are open minded and accepting. OP, I can understand your rationale for playing devil's advocate and provoking people to get answers from the heart, but I don't think it's fair to state things in a way that make people feel anxious, insecure, angry, second-guessed, or judged, even if you had an ulterior motive. I am still trying to calm down from the anxiety you provoked in me, and I'm sure some folks are going to bed tonight feeling a bit of reserve anger. I actually had a tough night with my 2 year old, because I felt a strong need to get my response out, and she obviously felt it was taking away from our little precious time together, and she started acting out. So maybe next time, let your post be genuine and real, and trust that your fellow mamas will follow suit by responding in a genuine and real way, without the hard feelings.

in response to jo, i was raised by a full-time working mom, 40+ hours a week, and a full-time working dad. my mom is the best mom i know. her job (an attorney) never seemed to get in the way of my life. she was there for performances, TONS of athletic events including transport to 5am practices several times a week, camp fire group activities, etc. she even made homemade delicious cookies for bake sales. she was always gracious, caring, loving, supportive, encouraging...all the best traits in any human, but especially in a mom. my mom didn't have a top-paying corporate law firm job, but made a comfortable salary in a slightly less demanding environment. we weren't wealthy, but comfortable. she could have chosen a more illustrious (and better paying) career.
now that i'm a mom (17 month old boy and another due in august) and a professional, i have found my own way. i always thought i'd work full time and have my child in day care. but my husband earns a decent living in construction and has great benefits (i don't). we decided that i'd work part time, 2(-3) days a week (fri/sat), my mom does daycare for us (and STILL works as an attorney!). we make ends meet, though struggle a little in the winter. it works for our family. we thought my husband might stay home with kids since i had the professional degree, but he literally goes crazy when he doesn't work. and i have the boobs. i plan to work more when the kids are older.
i know moms who stay at home and moms who work full time or part time. i know single moms and 2 mom families and married moms. all these moms are their kids' favorite person on earth. all these moms do their best for their families every day. all these moms never feel like they do enough.
i think this is a useful debate, despite (or because of?) the fervor. we're all judgmental...we're human. let's not pretend we're not. but at the same time, we should all treat each other with the respect we all deserve for being the best moms we can be.

some random thoughts: it seems to me that the tone of the responses reveal just how not-black-and-white this issue is, and seems that intense responses reflect internalized shame and doubt about the choice or "choice" re: working outside the home; I take away that many of us are not solidly comfortable with our choices; otherwise the intensity of reaction to perceived judgement might not have been so strong. it is interesting to me that no one has mentioned divorce, though half of all marriages end this way and it has been well documented that women and children's standard of living drops significantly after divorce- some of us will be impacted by this, sooner or later. the safety net is a big reason I continue to work; some couples struggle for equality within their relationships and unfortunately, money often means power, both within the home and outside of it; I for one, am interested in participating in improving our society as a whole, which means contributing solid citizens (my children) and participating in public life, which can be sone in many ways and is often done by both SAHMs and WOHMs. It is "best" for all of us to do our best to embrace each other, hopefully have friends in "both" camps, both for the emotional and practical benefits of such relationships; i think everyone does, in fact, have a "right" to judge others; judging is how we make sense of the world; if I am comfortable with my personhood, I will be comfortable enough with my life to not be bullied into defending how I live it, whether the ? is posed by a "troll," an "ignoramus," a sociology student or someone who truly believes that children are harmed by working (outside the home)mothers; perhaps a more productive discussion could be to air our pet peeves about each "other"- such as, working moms expecting the SAHMs to have the time to do the bulk of the volunteering, etc. I actually think that the "choice" of living in a nuclear family (which I do) is harmful to all parts of the family- it is asking way too much of too few people with too few resources- which has the benefit of having folks so tied up in their own lives that they/we have no time to see the bigger societal issues; here's to a world where choices for women and men, and excellent care for children, continues to grow from the very limited ones available to our mothers; thanks to everyone for their sharing and the motto of a friend of mine applies here: "wear life like a loose garment.."

My husband and I have made the decision to both work full-time to provide for our son and ourselves. It's hard dropping him off at daycare before work and then rushing back to pick him up after 10 hours. Trust me, I would love to stay at home or work part-time. We have bills to pay and to be honest, we want to maintain a lifestyle that is comfortable for the three of us. Also, I like to work outside of the home. All of these reasons do not make us bad parents. This is just the way of life for us. Maybe one day I will stay home when the time is right.

There are many shades of gray, and I don't think the decision to work or to stay at home is always that easy. I am a mom that works full-time. When my first child was born, my husband was finishing off his stint as an attorney with Americorps which paid about $10,000 a year, with a nice commute to Albany. On the surface, it made a whole lot of sense for me, the main breadwinner, to continue working. Fast forward five years, and even though his work situation and our financial situation has stabilized I continue to work full-time. Five years later and I still agonize and lament over the best work-life-mom balance.

There are many reasons why I work. One of the reasons is that I don't see myself as just working, but contributing to the "engineering" profession where women and minorities are grossly underrepresented. Interesting how I get this very same question about "why I work when I have two young kids at home", but only from my older, male peers. I wonder how society would look if all the doctors, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, bakers, baristas, bankers, etc. of this world decided to all stay home and take care of their kids once they became moms? Probably not a society I would want to live in. Working moms are making great contributions to society, and making it a better place for everyone to live in.

Mothers despite their working status encounter many of the same issues raising children. How come all this pressure and burden on mothers? Do fathers going through the same agonizing over their decision to work (or not)?

Ok. I certainly did not want to keep anyone up at night along with myself who is up all the time...thinking. I have felt everyone's anxiety and my own. Am I right or am I wrong? If I am wrong....should I get a job? Because really, I am not as happy as some of these working Mamas seems to be. I really, truly am grateful for (almost) all that I have learned and that I can share about your lives. Maybe I feel isolated and confused. Maybe I am the one who is doing things wrong. I really just wanted to know all about the topic and I truly did not mean to sound terrible. I didn't think there was a better way to state this topic without getting straight to the point...and to call me a troll is just terribly offensive. I am a Mama just like you who cares deeply for my family. If I were Muslim and wanted to know about the Jewish religion and had some pre-conceived notions based on my childhood and what I thought was the right thing to do would you call me a troll? This is why some of these people on this website make others feel like they do not fit in. Look at some of these responses. They portray me to be almost a monster. I simply asked a question that I needed asnwered by Mamas who had more experience.

And before I go to bed and dream about you all growling over me like a pack of Mama wolves.....to add to my bio, I also used to be a sponsored amateur snowboarder before they called girls "pro" so....right back at cha! I am not exactly a naive person who has not played the game. I just have questons and needed answers. Jebus. Grrrrrr.

I appreciate hearing everyone's responses and thoughts from their own perspectives. I especially appreciate our original poster for the question to get us sharing and reflecting to begin with.

I do have to admit, however, that I felt that the tone of the original question did feel judgmental to me, although I know it was not the intent.

The question was: why do we work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day? Is it selfish to think the child is being raised by someone else?

I work full-time and always have in my time as a mother. I do it not only for personal satisfaction in growing my career, but I do it also because I am committed to public service and my work in marginalized communities is important. My husband and I also worked out a staggered schedule wherein I would work early, he would wake up and drop off the kids, so I would be able to pick up the kids by 4pm. We have also always kept childcare/school choices close to work, so we are very involved in field trips, daily activities (I drop by to get hugs from my daughter while she's on the playground), regular weekly contributions in the classrooms. So, we have found a way that works for our family. I don't question the way that we're doing it. Our family of four is close-knit, loving, and strong, despite the fact that both parents work full-time.

Jo brought up an interesting question about what our own experiences were growing up and our parents' working statuses. My husband's father worked full-time and his mother stayed home while their children were young. I know that my in-laws have questioned our decision that both my husband and I work outside the home full-time.

My parents were both FT working parents. I didn't always see them at my games, most of my performances, at my school at the lunch line where other parents volunteered. But, I saw them at all the big stuff.

My mother was always the breadwinner, and she taught me that a woman can start and grow a business while also raising three children. I think she led me to want to develop my career and to be more careful about making time for my family. I love that my daughters are growing up with me as a working mom, and I love that they know they, too, can be working moms if they want to.

To every other poster on here, except the OP: thank you for your thoughtful comments.

To the UM moderators: what on earth were you thinking?! surely there'd be a smoother way to get us to "dialog" than that orig. question? Come on, now; we could have had such a substantive sharing of perspectives on this emotional topic. You must get better worded, more thoughtful questions than that one, or is this what y'all were assuming would happen?

Now, for OP-ex-snowboarder: Fine to float ideas/questions out to other parents, esp on sensitive topics; that's why I visit this site, too (and why I enjoy reading posts from women (and the stray man) whose opinions & life experiences are diametrically opposed to mine--makes me think). I'm willing to suspend my disbelief & accept you're "real" and not either a troll or from one of those awful lulz sites [bec I trust the UM moderation process]. But, really, c'mon now, 'fess up: you can't possibly have any respect for women and moms--especially those not fitting into your comfort zone--not with that original post. What the heck?

As time marches on, you'll gain perspective: you will meet neat Mothers (I'm keeping your original capitalization of the word; I'd add Fathers, but the man in your scenario seems only to be earning money, not also parenting) who have (perhaps surprisingly and/or shockingly, to you) neat Kids; who made "decisions" or "choices" (or had absolutely no choice at all) that differ wildly from yours and/or your husband's; and realize that your way ain't the only way. NewsFlash--Kids can turn out great even if their Mummies worked! Gasp; say it can't be! (this is sarcasm--and, by the way, I know some very unhappy, miserable people who were raised at home by, get this, normal, healthy moms. That idea scary? might not be all about nurture and/or in our control, eh?)

Or maybe it'll be simpler: your guy will go thru a conversion/midlife crisis/change of heart, and beg to stay home, weeping that he missed out on Raising The Kids, but you'll either have to go to work for financial reasons, or to your embarrassment you'll want to because you can't abide by all of y'all together there in the house.

I question my life-as-mom all the time, all aspects of it--even the parts about which I have no agency. I'm proud of some parts, ashamed of a few, and worry incessantly about the rest. But, you know what, if I had the option to change my life, I sure would find better, more respectful ways than you did to ask women who I think might have some clear, honest, thoughtful insights. Makes me think you didn't really want our ideas, just wanted to preach your cause?
PS not about being "liberal except in one way," either. Plenty of radical, liberal, or progressive SAHMs; plenty of GOP WOHMs. Sheesh.

I love all the comments, thank you all. I am a full-time working mom by choice and it works well for my family. My children are happy, healthy and thriving.

The thing I find most interesting about this post is the person that posted it stated that she appreciates responses that show respect and honesty. While I think the post is honest it certainly is incredibly disrepectful so I find it interesting that she is asking for a response that is inconsistent with the post.

Wow, I have to agree with the poster that said, "Would you like to borrow my can of worms?"!!

I'm a stay at home mom, and I would frankly love a little child care now and then. Being a 24 hour at home mom is hard and not the ideal that everyone makes it out to be. I love the fact that we have more choices than before the 70's ERA movement, and would love to see federally funded childcare so our choices as moms don't have to be determined by our class status.

Wow, Touchy subject!
Whether or not to stay at home wasn't really a question for me. I've been working retail for years and going back to a job without benefits and a mediocre paycheck didn't make sense. Maybe if I had a career that I loved it would have been a harder decision? I spend most of my time at home with my 3yo & 1yo because I want to and it make the most sense. I can't justify spending at least 50% of my paycheck to have someone else take care of my children and the trying to find a person I trust, impossible. I went back to work part time only because we have managed so far to coordinate our schedules so that we haven't needed daycare. Daddy has great benefits and a work schedule that works perfectly with my retail hours. I needed the break from being a mommy and missed the adult interaction and a reason to get dressed up. Finances are tight, we are just over the limit to qualify for assistance which leaves us sol. Regardless, we are going to stick with our current plan until both kids are in school and I can go back to school myself and work more. I'm thankful to have that choice and I wish people could be more tolerant of the choices that other parents make for their families.

The reason we are all intensely interested in this post, and responding full-heartedly, is because we all share a common attribute: motherhood. That is the simple reason why we ALL visit this forum.

I choose to stay-at-home with my child and feel strongly about my choice; however, almost all of my girlfriends work, for their own reasons, and that is neither right nor wrong, just different. Sometimes I feel like a minority in the urbanmamas world but perhaps that is my own fault for not seeking out more stay-at-home mama topics, associations, etc? I sensed that this was the feeling/perspective the OP had. Just my 2 cents!

The question was stated from the most far reaching side of the spectrum;"Dr. Laura's view". Whom I'm not sure is a Dr. and who is incredibly judgemental. She is real and she is out there with these ideas and she strongly feels and argues them. This is how the original question was addressed to a group of Mamas that I coffee with. I thought it was simplest to act as if it was one person asking a question without a ton of strange background. None of us work full time so I thought it unfair to act as if I knew that perspective.
As for my husband, he works all day on his feet using his body and is exhausted when he comes home. We eat dinner as a family. He then, every night without fail, plays with our kids(sometimes playing the same game over and over again without complaint), bathes them, reads to them, helps them brush their teeth and then kisses and hugs them before saying goodnight. On weekends, he is with them every hour of Saturday and Sunday, unless he is finishing some work. He rides bikes with them, hikes with them, washes the car them, swims with them, fishes with them, rock climbs with them, he is probably a better Mom than I am. I am a very lucky women to have such an amazing man in my life. Now, that I have been further educated on this topic....let's stop calling me names and move on. And please stop questioning my sincerity. I really do appreciate all of time that people put into their responses. I would not have asked the question if I didn't feel that I could answer it on my own. That would be arrogant. The question was based towards full time working Moms, who do not financially have to work. The responses were mainly from single-moms, who have no choice and are trying to do the BEST for their children and part-time workers who do a great job at balancing their families needs. The actual full time working Moms that the question was addressed to must be a very small demographic. I feel that in my comments I have been repectful of Mamas. As for the Original question, it is almost exactly the question asked to us. Less can be said about the way some of you have treated me. I have thanked you and I have learned from you. Did all of you grow up knowing everything about everyone? Well, I didn't. And really, I don't even like Dr. Laura. She makes me want to pull my hair out.

You still don't get it, OP.

If you had been honest from the start you'd have said: "Hey, I heard someone ask this incredibly judgemental, Dr. Laura-esque question about working mothers. And as a sahm, I was curious: working moms, how do you respond to comments like this?"

THAT would have been honest. That would have been respectful. Instead, you came on here posing as a mean-spirited Dr. Laura clone yourself. How can you possibly claim that this was "respectful"? How can you expect anyone to believe in your sincerity after behaving so immaturely?

People have responded with amazing honesty, considering. It's time to stop defending yourself and simply admit you approached this the wrong way.

Wow! I have learned so much through this thread. I must admit that I have wondered what it is like to be a full time working mama and why one would "chose" to. Now as a sahm living on under $30K for the last 5 years and sanity straining, I feel stuck-how could I go back to work and make it work financially so that all my pay doesn't go to care?
I so appreciate all the answers of women supporting themselves and our society not being very supportive. Yes, in a perfect world our children would be cared for by a parent/ family member or other person in our tribe. Yes, by nature we as mamas tend to bear the brunt of care giving (whether you wok or not). But our society is not so anymore. We don't have "tribes", we live far from our family and we need 2 incomes to make ends meet. And if that isn't the case, women now have a "choice" to work . A choice that is now just as much a burden as the "sacrifice" to stay at home.
Although my day to day is mentally, physically and economically challenging I do appreciate being able to stay at home with the kids. I don't think I could handle the added juggle of working life when I can hardly make it as is. Unfortunately my partner isn't able to be available enough to make it work. So do I have a "choice"?

I feel the pressure on women these days is more than most can bear-to be successful professionally and as a mama, to provide for oneself and ones family, to be a whole person yet give all to those around her and to keep house too. No wonder so many of us go through bouts of depression.

What is sad to see here is that we aren't fully in support of each other as mamas (as we should be) and what could be an honest thought provoking discussion (which has fully enlightened me) is filled with so much anger and finger pointing. Almost as if we were trying to "top" each other with our own choice being the right one. I am the first to admit I don't know what the heck the right choice is and often wonder if I had blocks of time away from the kids, around adults, easing up our financial hardships, if I wouldn't be a better mama.

OP: Your being a pro snowboarder is no back atch ya. It's absolutely not relevant. I agree with Zinemama, you still don't get it. The language you used was negatively charged. Your post wasn't an attempt at understanding, it really wasn't. It was all judgement and that's lame.

I was not a pro snowboarder, that is not what I said and the reason for that comment is because I am not who you think I am. I am a strong person who has fought uphill battles in my life. I have done things that other women thought at that time was only for boys. I do not live a conservative lifestyle. I had two children before I was married. I have been a vegetarian for almost 15yrs. I have been a huge supporter of animal rights and animal welfare. It is funny to me because I feel like nobody is really reading this question or my comments, while I am reading every single word that has been written here by all of you. The question offended you, it offended me too, but I found myself wanting answers. Why are you mad at me? My best friend is a working Mama, she thought it was a great question and a great way to get answers. I never said that the question was respectful. I said that my comments have been respectful and I really didn't want to bring up Dr. Laura's name because as I am finding, she is not the only one who thinks this way and just her name can put people into an uproar. Have you ever listened to her. I did for TWO weeks EVERY SINGLE DAY(good lord) before I posed the question to you. I did my research there too. I listened to her rant and then I wanted to hear from a community of women who I have turned to for support online. I didn't judge you....the queston did. I have given nothing but positive feedback on the stories that Mamas have told. Next time I have a question, I'll be sure to run it by everyone first. It's funny, I post comments on this website all the time. I have learned so much about being a Mama from all of you. When an "outsider" asks a question of all of you who I think are intelligent women, and you don't like the question, some of you get pretty mean.

I've wondered the same thing as the o.p...give her a break! There sure are lots of angry urbanmamas out there.

OP --- You really don't see how "I absolutely do not understand why (unless you are a single mama or have a sick husband etc.) a woman would decide to have children and then work. Why would you pay other people to raise your child? Why would you want to have someone else potty train, teach values, know all your child's likes and dislikes, get all the hugs? If you didn't want to stay home and raise your child, why did you have them? And isn't it selfish to think that the child is happy being raised by someone else? We are talking about 8 hours a day or more of care. Five days a week." DOESN'T sound judgemental? Really?

If you're curious about someone's decision, how about "Hey, I'm a stay at home mom and I'd like to learn about the lives of others. Could working moms tell me about their lives? What it's like? How they do it?"

No calling someone selfish. No questioning working mothers' decisions. No questioning whether other women's children are happy.

I get the original point. As an at home mom for 8 years I have often wondered about working mom's motivations.

The previous poster asked if at home moms have a "If I'm doing it, others should have to also!" mentality. I think it more of a "We figured out a way to make a HUGE priority shift in the needs, wants and lifestyle of our family, why don't others do this so that hey can raise their own kids.?"

I think a lot of moms feel like they have to work for financial reason when it may be all about perspective.
I feel like it is our culture that makes people feel like they need a big house, 2 new cars, etc... It takes some creativity but a family of four can live happily on $35,000 a year. (google "living below your means")


Another working mom above was offended at the phrase "paying someone else to raise your kids" I would encourage her to do the math on that one. Just beacuse she isn't there to see her child being parented by someone else 75% of his waking hours, doesn't mean it's not happening.

When research says people's personalities are formed in the first 5 years, I guess I too don't really understand why working moms make that choice when they're so young.

What lies at the heart of my frustration with the OP is this... This job of raising children is really difficult what with everything there is to consider on a daily basis. To have one your own, make assumptions about happiness, judge, generalize and basically demoralize is just not ok with me. Most of us do our fair share of that to ourselves without needing any outside help.
Respectful questioning is paramount. No need to pussy-foot around, just be respectful. It's really simple.

I agree with Monica -- and I understand how others may not get the decisions of others. Nothing at all wrong with asking. Let's just be nice when we do it.

I work because it was always instilled in me to excel and to use my talents to help others. I achieved through school and I am now a physician. I am happy in my career, and as such I am a better mother to my children.

I only hope that I can be a role model for them to do the same.

I'm a working mom. My child is in daycare 40 hours per week. I wish you could see his daycare -- it is fabulous. He is cared for by 6 wonderful women who adore him and vice versa. When I pick him up at 5 every day he is happy and smiling and he has a clean face.

I work for a multitude of reasons. I earn significantly more than my husband. I want to pay off my student debt. I want to fund my retirement. I want to be able to help my in-laws and my parents. I want to be able to pay my child's college tuition. The safety net that an earlier posted mentioned is a huge issue for me. I am very risk averse when it comes to finances. But those are my reasons. They are right for my family, but they may not be right for another family. Only you and your immediate family know what is the best balance for you. I think finding that right balance takes time and tinkering. I have adjusted my work schedule twice since returning from maternity leave in order to find a balance that works for our family.

I was raised by a stay at home mom. I fully intended to stay at home when I had kids. But the reality is that I am the major wage earner. So I work. I like to think that I am teaching my child a very important value -- that a mama can take care of her family in multiple ways, including by providing financially.

My child's daycare providers play a very big role in raising him. I do not doubt that for a second. That's why I took such care in finding a daycare that is consistent with my beliefs.

Becasue I was raised by a stay at home mom, I was really nervous about putting my own child in daycare. So I spent a lot of time thinking about it and I realized that I knew some pretty amazing people who were raised by working moms. And I was lucky enough growing up to have wonderful teachers, nurses, doctors, and coaches who were working moms. They provided a great service to the community, and I appreciate that.

Ultimately it all comes down to what works best for the mom and the kids. Some kids may do really well in a situation like mine, other kids may really need more at home with mom time. It's up to each family to figure out what works best for them, and for the rest of us to offer support and constructive advice when asked.

Finally, I would just note that I was very put off and upset by the original post. And now to know that the OP was intentionally trying to stir the pot makes me a little angry. Please don't use this site for that purpose. Come here with your honest and repsectful questions, and we will respond in kind.

I have read over and over here about doing good for the world being measured by our paid work. When did we stop valuing the raising of children? I'm not questioning any working mama's decision here, I just think it's sad that so many of us feel like we are only as valuable as our paycheck, review, or public contribution. In this latest installment of "mommy wars," I can't help but think that if caring for children full-time had as much social clout with it, we just wouldn't be having such a heated debate.

I certainly believe that stay at home moms are proving a huge public contribution. I did not mean to imply otherwise. I was only trying to say that there are some good things about working moms too.

I didn't have time to read all the comments, so if I am saying something that has already been said, I apologize. I have had many friends that are stay at home moms and have had many friends that work full time and raise their children, some by choice and some by necessity. The bottom line is that all these situations can foster wonderful, adaptable, and capable children. I am amazed by all my momma role models, whatever "choice" they make. The common demoninator seems to be that mom's "choose" something that makes them happy and fits who they are - so they have the energy to be present for their children.

I'm not mad, but I am amused by the posters who suggested that my family's dual has us rolling in bling. My husband and I have been committed to working in the public sector - and doing a vital job of it, at jobs that are crucial - all our adult lives, and yet at this midway point in our lives, with only one child because we made the studied decision that we couldn't afford more than one [and we couldn't afford that one until well into our adulthood], the sole tv in our modest home is a crappy white plastic model hand-me-down from my parents, circa 1988. Our car? a 1992 model with nearly 200,000 miles on it. Our clothes? Our other household goods? 2nd-hand nearly all, or bargains found on Craigslist/eBay. Our home? Well, would "handyman's special w/ an appropriate sale price" explain it adequately?

Trust me, all you previous posters who complain about 2-income families driving things like realestate prices sky-high, 2-income families come in just as many shapes and colors as 1-income families do. Our 2 incomes equal your 1. Goddess bless us, every one. Sheesh.

I'm a SAHM. But I definitely understand why some of my friends choose to work (some have to, I'm referring to the ones who don't).

I'm still working on balance so that I can be the mom I want to be and not isolate myself or give up who I am. It's not easy. For some women, the only way, the most fulfilling way, is to work. One of my friends spent years in school. She's a physician. After working so hard, I can see why she isn't ready to give that up. Another friend knows she'd go insane if she had to stay home; she's a better mom because she works. She has more patience and enthusiasm than she might if she stayed at home.

I think each family needs to make this decision for themselves. There is no right answer for all families. For some families, Dad staying home is ideal. For some, daycare. For others, Mom stays at home. In my family, I stay at home. But I don't think that's right for everyone.

I like that we, as women, have choices. I like that my daughter will grow up seeing some moms stay at home and some moms work. She'll benefit because of both types of moms, all kids do, IMO.

Much like the previous post, I was raised by a "martyr mom" - someone who reminded me daily of what she gave up to stay at home and be my mother. In the same vein, I witnessed how this "sacrafice" tied her to an abusive husband, and severely limited her choices. This experience initially drove me the opposite direction - I didn't want to have kids at all, seeing them as a burden, and I was certain that if I ever did have kids, I would not be a SAHM.

Flash forward a few years, and I felt that maternal pull - though I was still convinced that I wouldn't want to give up my career, something that I had spent years building and over $100K in school debt as well. When I met my daughter, my world turned upside down. I couldn't imagine not spending every waking moment with her. My DH encouraged me to go back to work so that I wouldn't regret walking away. He was supportive of my decision either way, and financially I could have quit my job. I went back full time and worked that way for over a year - but I was miserable. It had nothing to do with whether my daughter was well adjusted, aware that she was loved, surrounded by caring adults (all of which she was) - it was me. I realized that I, selfishly, wanted to be the one enjoying time with her - I wanted to take her to the zoo, the museum, etc. I quit my job (as an attorney in private firm practice) and found a part-time family friendly option. I finally feel like I have balance: I have time with my daughter (and now number 2) but I also have an outlet for my own adult creativity, intellectual stimulation, and income I can contribute to our family.

The point of all of this is that in a pefect world, more mamas would be able to have the balance that I have found - the right job that respect their family, but provides the type of adult stimulation and personal satisfaction that many of us crave. I am very sad that this is not the case and so many mamas are forced to work full time. The beauty of all this is that its a choice, a very personal one. There are days when I honestly feel that I am better at my job outside the home than I am at my mama job, and I believe that having a break from my kids a few days a week makes me a better mom, more equipped to deal with the tantrums, the potty-training, the mind-numbing repetition of reading the same story for the 100th time (though I still love the reaction it gets from my DD). As one post stated just because you stay at home does not mean you are plugged in to your kids and that you are providing them with quality attention, interaction, and activity. There are plenty of SAHM's that plop the kids in front of a tv or ignore their kids all day b/c they are just not happy in this role (watch an episode of supernanny if you aren't convinved). Does that make them a better parent than the many mamas on this blog that make the time spent with their kids (whether its all day, every day, or more limited by work commitments) count every second. I know I made all the moments count when I was working full time, and sometimes I think I have less to give to my kids now that I stay home b/c I take for granted that time - its not as precious to me b/c its not in as short a supply.

Finally, I'll say that when I was a full time attorney, I worked with many dads that felt the same as I did - they wanted to be more plugged in to their kids lives and spend less time at work. Some of them worked to find part-time arrangements as well that allowed for this. I think its vital that we talk about a father's role in all of this. Its not 1950 - I belive our kids are better off when they can see mom and dad (or mom and her partner - recognizing that families come in all shapes and sizes) working as a partnership in the care and guidance of the kids.

Whew - that's my two-cents for what its worth - I know its a repeat of what others have said, but I feel really strongly about this topic. We need to stop cannablizing each other and support each other's choices.

emily, my comment wasn't based on your statements necessarily. It's all of them, (and I only choose flat screen tv's right this moment because it's the most recent) but comments like working at "jobs that are crucial" that lead me to make my statement. Isn't raising children crucial as well? Again, not saying moms/parents shouldn't work. Just saying that our language about raising children and our paid jobs reflects our community values these days and it makes me sad. A sad result of the women's movement is that somehow or another alot of people have gotten the impression that staying home raising children isn't nearly as "crucial" as working at a paid job. We've gotten out, gotten our advanced education and training and it's seen by some as "a waste" if we stop working. Or we saddle ourselves with debts we can't pay unless we keep getting a paycheck. And we get told the only way to be an equal in a partnership is to be contributing financially. I'm just not convinced that the bra-burners had this in mind when they started us on this path. I'll stop here lest I sound un-enlightened because I certainly am the first in line to vote knowing alot of my sisters worked hard to make that possible and I'm eternally grateful. Don't mistake my pointing out some of the downsides as supporting a mass return to the kitchen, barefeet, and an unhealthy number of pregnancies.

One last thought on the "crucial" aspect. I work part-time. I have an advanced degree that took three years to get and two years post-graduate work to obtain a license. I have a lot of credentials after my name. I am completely replaceable at my job. I'm not so amazing at it that no one else can fill my role. I can't say that about being a mother. That's "crucial" to me. And please, if you used the word crucial or some variation, I'm really not talking to you directly or only. It's just one example of a powerful word in this conversation.

I agree with the poster that said, "Would you like to borrow my can of worms!" Definitely a big topic, and I love that it's being talked about. Congrats to the original poster for speaking what she feels.

I'm a stay at home mom and I often wish I had some daycare hours or a nanny. I think that being a SAHM isn't all it's cracked up to be (who wants to work 24-7?), and I'm glad that there's choices out there for women...everyone's different, we don't need cookie cutter situations. Now, all we need is federally funded daycare and we really have choices (for all economic classes)!!

I tried hard to stay out of this one.

Yes, I stay at home. It's not for everyone but it did allow me the time to take care of one chronically ill child (she's better now)and everything she needed.It has allowed me to homeschool the one year that school was intolerable for my child (overcrowding issues). My life at home makes our family time easy and fun. The little bit that we both worked we always had to be getting stuff done on the weekends and not really relaxing with the kids. Errands, shopping, you know the stuff. And fighting over who stays home with a sick kid... whew! I've also been home so long now that I'm afraid that my daughter may just feel that she needs to "marry well". So I am looking for good part time work to show her and myself that my brains are still intact.

FWIW, I was raised by two working parents. They were seldom seen at Girl Scouts, PTA meetings or any other such thing. I was a latchkey kid and had to be responsible for my siblings all day in the summertime from an early age. I'm not real bitter... but I did have to grow up fast. I'm so glad that my kids have had a childhood, secure that mom is "here" for them.

My work has always been what defined me most ....for better or worse, richer or poorer. I never thought I would want to be a SAHM.But here I am. And my daughter is the best boss I've ever had! I am grateful every day that I have this time with her.
And still, I often feel guilty...that I only work 10 hrs/week and we don't have a savings account...that my husband works full time and free-lances on the side, just to make ends meet(he has the insurance and more marketable skill)....that he doesn't get to have that time with her.
As parents, we make daily decisions about what is best for our children...This bread or that, this childcare or that.
I am sure that every poster here makes the choices they've made in the best interest of their children.
So tonight at ten, I am gonna open that bottle of wine I have been saving, and toast ALL of you Mamas. Anybody want to join me? To Mamas, and the families they love.

Geeze - what a question.
Unfortunately or fortunately I do not have the time to read all of the comments - but why even ask such a question initially?
"To each his/her own" is my motto. I run into many mamas who ask way too many personal questions that just drip with their own commentary. After having my son, I went to a new moms group were I was the only mama with a boy in attendance and after a few minutes I was asked point blank if he was circumised - I never went back to that group. Why go there? Raise your family and especially your children to be loving & COMPASSIONATE to ALL. I noticed the writer also based their question on a mother + father arrangement - does this question still stand if it is 2 mamas or 2 daddies?

peace + love to all.

I too have found this discussion enlightening, and it’s good to see so many participate passionately. Everyone will have their own opinions, but it’s good to clear up the fallacies of working moms, and that somehow we love or nurture our children less because we aren’t with them for the majority of their waking hours. If someone else could potty train my child, I would gladly hand over my 2.5 year old to them. He’s on the brink, any volunteers? As a working mother, I don’t consider myself a passive bystander. I saw my kids take their first step, I was the one to wean them, I taught my older son how to ride a bike, and the list goes on. I will continue to be involved in their lives, and be the best mother that I can be. Whether we stay at home or not, we are more alike than we think. Clearing up misperceptions is really important to come to some understanding that there is more than one way to raise a child, as it is with everything in life.

I love my children to death, but if I could be a working mom and my husband be a SAHD, or if we could both work part-time, I would love it. Some of us just aren't natural "baby people" or "kid people," and I don't think that's wrong. I adore my children, but it's hard to be with then 24-hours-a-day with few outlets for my creativity, intelligence, or social needs.

I think that, ideally, day care should be kept to a minimum so that the parents control the values of their own kids, but I don't think a little day care, or temporary day care, is a bad thing. Even full-time daycare can probably work just fine for some kids - it may not be ideal, but who has an ideal childhood? You compensate where you can and do the best job you can.

A SAHM who is not happy isn't a blessing to her children. I can tell you that for a fact - I grew up with a SAHM, homeschooled part of the time, and I hated it. I felt like I was just something she had to "get done," another chore. At least, in a day care, I would have had friends and developed social skills, something that didn't happen because she had no interest in involving us in extracurricular activities.

Parents who are always trying to get rid of their kids, pawn them off, keep them out of their hair - that's sad. But parents who structure their kids lives so that they are cared for by others part of the time so that the parents will be happier, more fulfilled people - that's a great benefit for the kids, because they won't have to feel like their parents are sick of them.

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