First of all, no, I am not a mom. (Everyone wipe sweat from brow. Still cooking Lean Cuisines with a Fresca for dinner every night.) However, with all this controversy about stay-at-home moms that seem to be lighting up blogging circuits, I wanted to throw in my two cents.
My mom worked right up until she was too pregnant to make it through a door (whoops, I was a large baby- shocking). My dad was in business school part-time at one of the top programs in the country and working 10 hour days. So, my mom had been very frugal, as had my dad, during the pregnancy, and had been able to save so that we would be comfortable did my mom decide to stay home with me. (Gene…Ter….can I implant the frugality gene in somewhere? It seems to have skipped.)
I do think it is important for a mom or dad to stay home with the kid(s) when they are in their early, formative years. Note what I said. It does NOT have to be the mom. Any parent. But I think one parent staying with the kid and taking a leave, working from home, etc., is very helpful to a little one growing up.
I know not everyone has the luxury to do this. However, trust me, we were not eating steak and driving Beemers during this time. This was not my mother buying me 20 pink dresses from a boutique in Wilmette, which I feel like is a common myth put upon stay-at-home moms...that they shop and buy expensive items, drive luxury cars...this was "Put on those blue corduroys because they are the only pants that fit, find a t-shirt, and we are going to school".
We had a Ford Taurus which I know epitomizes glamour. My clothes were from Sears. This was "grilled cheese for dinner" type of stuff. But, I had my mom reading to me. Answering questions I had. (If you’ve read anything I’ve written or know me, you know there were MANY. “Mom, why does Joey have red hair and mine is blonde? Why does Chrissy have nice dark hair she puts into this ponytail and I’m still balding?) Smiling deliriously when she picked me up from pre-school.
However, my parents made it work, and on a limited budget. My mom read me about 4 books every night, would help me with my homework, would pick up my friends from school-she had made her career “me”. A talented health care professional, she put it aside to fully devote herself to the “mom job”.
I am also an only child. This could be a whole other debate. Did my parents think I needed one of them to be around as a young child since I didn’t have a brother or sister to go beat up/complain to/hug? This is possible. Does this set up only children for certain personality issues? Sure. I’ll be the first to tell you I’m spoiled. I was the youngest of 10 cousins on my dad’s side who were all at least 18 years older than me, and the ONLY grandchild on my mom’s side. (Ari killed that now. THANKS ARI. Obviously, just kidding. I love that kid to death.) So, who do you think got attention at family parties? Baldie here.
And, is it so wrong to WANT to spend time with this little bundle of life and fat rolls that you just incubated for 9 months? I would. I’d be like-“Yeah, this is mine”. (Hopefully my kid won’t be as ambiguous as I was- my mom had a ‘really cute son’ for a while.)
I had many advantages growing up always having an accessible mom. And I will never forget that. Not only was she a stay-at-home mom, but a great mom. As people are passionate about their careers, which I completely respect, she was passionate about raising her child. And I do get irritated when I see other people rip on moms who choose to do so. It may not be closing deals, or landing new clients, but you’re taking that kid to the pediatrician when they have a 104 temperature. You’re listening to them ramble on and on and on and on….wait, that’s just me. You’re teaching them life lessons through your actions. You’re providing them with academic help. You’re just, well, spending time with them.
Although my mom and I clash on certain views (ahem politics) and are not always “sugary sweet” with one another, I know that if I ever needed anything in the world, she’d answer the phone and do whatever she could to help. I feel that I developed a deeper bond with her in those early years.
I can completely understand if once a kid is 9, 10, if a mom/dad wants to go back to work. These kids (hopefully) have friends by now, can open a locked door, etc. But still, if a parent wants to make their “career choice” their kids, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I know that this sounds crazy coming from someone who used to fight for a VIP table at (whatever club) trying to scam some free champagne a couple years ago. But, being a stay at home parent doesn’t immediately equate hell. You can live in the city, send your kids to good (PUBLIC) schools, keep your hobbies and passions. I really don’t like how some think that the “stay at home mom” job is a soul killer. Many of these women (or men) are just trying to be strong, influential forces in their children's lives from a young age.
Ask my aunt who still plays drum solos nightly in the basement of her Roscoe Village home.