Click here to read the introduction to this new series, “Stay-at-Home Mom”.
“Hi Dr. Laura, I’m Sarah and I’m my kids’ mom.”
I remember hearing that phrase frequently growing up. On any given afternoon when we were in the car, Dr. Laura would be on, giving advice to men and women from all over. She encouraged women to stay at home with their children, and coined the phrase “my kid’s mom” for any woman who did. Women just like my mother.
Looking back, I can see that Andy and I were blessed. We both came from families where the mom stayed at home with the kids. We both knew that, even in today’s society, a one-income family could work and would work, and we both knew that someday we wanted a family just like that.
It wasn’t always like that, though.
My parents had both been raised in homes with a stay-at-home mom. It was the norm back then, but times were changing. As they grew up and went off to college, the feminist movement was in full swing. For a while, they bought into it.
My mom was a thoroughly modern woman in the late eighties. She had her Ph.D. in Psychology and a good job. She was smart and she was “going places”. My parents had what society saw as the “perfect life” when they got married, and eleven months later I came along…all part of the plan. I don’t think her quitting her job even crossed their minds then.
For the first few years, I was with a babysitter part of the day. My mom got off early (3 o’clock), and spent every free moment with me. She was a wonderful mother. But still, she felt like she was missing out. Then my younger sister came along and things changed. My parents made the decision to become a single income family, and my mom quit her job to stay home with us girls.
I don’t remember our family struggling because of it. My dad was just starting out as a pilot, but he still made enough to support us and our home comfortably. In fact, I don’t recall ever wanting for anything.
When Hilary and I headed off to school, my mom still stayed at home. She was always there to pick us up from school and help us with our homework. Because she hadn’t been at work all day, our afternoons were not chaotic and rushed with her trying to catch up on housework and workout. When we were sick, she didn’t have to worry about missing work, and on our summer vacation we were with her constantly. She didn’t have to feel torn between her family and her work, because her work was her family.
Fast forward a few years and life found us starting to homeschool and my two other sisters came along. And she was still there for us, happy and content as homemaker. In fact, although my youngest sister is graduating high school this year, she’s still at home.
Growing up in that environment, it’s easy to see that we were raised to want to be a stay-at-home mom. We expected it. For the most part, our friends’ moms stayed at home too. There were a few who worked, or who decided to go back to work when their kids were in high school. However, my mom wasn’t the “odd woman out” by any means.
I’m sure my mother felt the pressure from other women though, who couldn’t believe she gave up her “big career” to take us to piano lessons and do “nothing”. But she never seemed to mind. I always remember watching her and thinking she had the best job at all, because she was always happy, content, and well-cared for. I knew that someday I’d marry a man just like my daddy, who worked hard to provide for us and care for us so that I could be a stay-at-home wife and mom.
Thankfully, I met Andy, who is just that. It’s always been a big deal to us that I stay at home with our little ones. Every decision we’ve made, from buying a house to relying solely on Andy’s income to support us, has been with that in mind. We’ve tried our very best to scrimp and save so that, once we have a baby running around, my working outside the home doesn’t ever have to be a necessity.
Now that time is approaching…sometimes faster than I’m ready for. But oddly, sometimes, I do feel like the “odd woman out”. Where we live, and in our church, the vast majority of moms have full-time jobs outside of the home. It’s the norm, it’s often expected, and most women see no way around it. It makes me proud of the few women who’ve stood against the crowd. Not all of them are well off, but they make it work. I can’t wait to join their ranks.
Will the women who work’s kids all turn out terrible? Of course not! I’m not even saying that mine won’t turn out terrible, or that my kids will be better because I stay at home with them. What I am saying is that I’ll be there for them, to nourish and care for them, to teach them and watch them grow. I won’t miss out on anything. Because I’ll be my kid’s mom.
Next week, join us for a discussion on the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home mom. And you might, just might, get to hear from my husband about his experiences growing up, and why my staying-at-home is important to him too!