Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Why Stay at Home if You Don't Want To?

WARNING!!!!! I’m about to go on a rant, so watch out!

I know a lot of the people that read my blog are working moms, but I also know that there are some SAHM. For you SAHMs, please don’t find this offensive or a soapbox on working women…it was just my personal observations that have led me to these questions.

I went to the store that I despise most of all stores yesterday during lunch…Wal-Mart. I do have to preface this by saying that the particular Wal-Mart that I went to is not in the best area of town. As I’m walking in the door, this is what I see: a lady in a t-shirt (we were only in the high 40s people) pushing a cart talking on a cell phone. Not bad, right? But then I hear her yell “come on”, and I see walking a little ways behind her (and they are all crossing the busy street at this point) two little kids holding hands. The boy had to be about 6 and the girl maybe 4? I seriously wanted to cry right then and there. Those poor kids were not important enough for this lady to stop talking to whomever she was talking to, and take their hands to make sure they safely got across the busy street where cars were in a hurry to get on with their errands. I also want to say here that going anywhere during my lunch hour is hard for me because I see kids everywhere and I wish at that moment that I could quit my job and run home to them. So what I saw didn’t help at all.

Then throughout the store I hear moms yelling at their kids, not paying attention to them, etc. However, I can tell that a lot of these moms are the moms that didn’t want to be moms in the first place (no wedding rings, shopping with a bunch of girlfriends talking about different men, parties they’re going to that night, looking barely over 23, etc.). But as I’m checking out, I’m behind this one lady and her two boys (I was behind them a long time because I was at Wal-Mart, and they don’t know how to have short lines). I personally thought that the boys were behaved…they were looking through magazines and asking questions, but that’s what kids do, isn’t it? And they both wanted to help her so much! They were unloading the cart and asking if they could push the cart out, etc. They were older, probably 10 and 7 maybe? But this lady looked like she hadn’t smiled in ages. This was a familiar scene to me as I have had my own children. The worn out mom (but the mom who wanted kids and is married), no smiling, snapping at her kids and just overall looked like she would rather be anywhere else but there with her kids.

This led me to a question: Why do moms stay home with their kids if they don’t want to? Now don’t get me wrong, I know everyone has bad days. However, I can’t think of a time that I have been with my kids that someone would not see me smile, even once. I then started thinking of my friends. I definitely have friends that I think maybe should be working instead of staying home…all they do is whine about their kids, and all the crappy things they had to do that day because of them. I like to think that I do very little whining about my kids. Like the other night when I got only 4 hours of sleep? I only complained about it here, because that’s what this blog is for – venting and support. I love my kids too much to even think about complaining to anyone else about them. After all, they are just being kids, and kids sometimes wake up multiple times per night for no reason at all.

This also brings up another question…is quality time better than the quantity of time? In this case (and my case as well) I would have to say “yes”.

Don’t get me wrong…I know that there are SAHMs out there that are doing exactly what they should be doing! I have some other friends that are that way, and when I hear all of the stuff they do with their kids each day, I get exhausted! And they have nothing but good things to say about their kids. Those are the moms that should be staying home!

So what are your thoughts? Why do you think moms stay home if they would much rather be anywhere but there? Just like I couldn’t imagine working if I would rather be at home with the kids (although I totally understand that there are mommies out there that have to for various reasons).

If nothing else working mommies…this is the conversation that plays out in my head when I’m feeling guilty about choosing to work rather than staying home with my kids.

Oh, and I had this conversation with my daughter last week:

Me: Are you excited about going to Miss Connie’s tomorrow? (her babysitter)
Daughter: Noooo, I don’t want to go to Miss Connie’s tomorrow!
Me: Why not (I’m always concerned when I hear her say that she doesn’t want to go
Daughter: Because I like you better
Me: Good, that’s the way it should be. But mommy went to school for a lot of years,
and took a really hard test, just so that she could go out and use everything she
learned everyday, which is what she wants to do. Some day you will do the same thing!
Quizzical look on daughter’s face
Me: How about when you have a job and are working, can I come and watch your kids
for you?
Big smile on daughter’s face
Daughter: Yes, that would be a great idea!


Rachel said...

I think there are alot of reasons that some women choose to stay home and others choose to work. The biggest reason is that most of the time, I don't think it is a "choice". Sometimes the price of childcare outweighs the potential income. For others that second income is a necessity. For still others there is only one income.

I agree with most of your post, if you don't want to be with your kids, then don't stay home with them. Kids aren't stupid, they can tell when you don't want them around and that hurts. One thing I didn't agree with is that just because someone is not married does not, in any way, mean that they did not want to become a mother in the first place. Sometimes things just happen.

Kids are a gift from God and should be treated as such, in my opinion.

Kellie said...

I agree with you. For me, I stayed home because childcare that was dependable, trust worthy and wouldn't require me driving 20 minutes North when I need to go South into the city was TOO expensive. Had I felt comfortable sending her to someone I didn't feel was trusty, things may be didn't. Maybe that's my own issue--I am a freak when it comes to her being cared for and with all the terrible childcare stories you hear...I don't know.

I don't agree with the being married part of your post. I was married. Am now in the process of a loooong divorce. Morgan's Dad and I are not married and I don't know if we WILL get married. Maybe having a failed marriage made me view it a different way. For now, I don't see what getting married would change. Morgan was not 100% planned. Yes, we wanted a baby. But, neither of us had made the decision to have one when we did. Was it a surprise? No doubt. Were there times I was wishing it hadn't happend? Sure. Are there still times I wish that? Not many. However, I wouldn't change it for ANYTHING.

I see the same Moms you saw yesterday and it does sadden me. However, not knowing their stories often makes me feel bad for judging them. Maybe they were just having a bad day. Maybe they just really don't like being a Mom (in which case, they had options).

I don't knock Mom's work outside of home and at home one bit. Maybe they need the second income. Maybe they need a life that's not "Always Mommy, All the Time". There have been times lately that I've seriosuly contemplated returning to work, for my own reasons. I don't knock SAHM's, either. Making the decision to stay home with your child(ren) is tough, regardless of what people think/say. Staying home all day and always being Mommy is tough, too.

I think what matters is doing what's best for your family. By you working, your children are learning that Mom will be back at the end of the day and that Mom works so we can have nice things and they're learning how to trust someone else to give them what they need for those hours that you're also giving them what they need.

Working Moms have my admiration. I don't know if I'd be able to find the balance that is needed. SAHM's have my admiration, too. It's hard being the one to do EVERYTHING, all day, everyday.

Sorry this is so long. I hope I didn't offend you or say anything to make you angry/upse. That was NOT my intention.

Thanks for a post that got (so far) 2 of us thinking :)

amy said...

I feel a lot like Rachel - that there are plenty of women who do not feel that staying at home is an option - just like there are those who don't feel like we can't work. There are so many reasons that some women stay home - financial (daycare costs more than they make) to their husband's schedules. Either way - it's always frustrating to watch a mom not treat her children nicely and with respect and all out love. Of course, I've had some bad moments in Target or other places - and they were not indicative of my parenting all the time! :)

Happy Working Mom said...

First of all, let me comment on the comments of not being married...that was only one of my descriptions. Please don't be offended by it. What I was getting at is that the majority of the women that I was seeing that were yelling and screaming at their children were barely old enough to think about being married, a first time. I totally understand that divorce happens and "accidents" happen (which of course are absolute blessings), but for those of you who are in those situations...you would never dream of running around the store yelling at your kids at the top of your lungs, would you? I was talking about those who have never been married (or in serious committed relationships) and have 3 kids with different fathers.

As for the reasons for not working, I guess I hadn't thought of it being a financial burden to work. But it makes sense. The first thought that popped into my head were some of my friends that would make money working but choose to stay home because it's "the right thing to do".

I guess it all comes down to dealing with your kids. They are very smart, at a very early age, and they can easily detect when you are miserable. It's sad, but I have very sad thoughts when I think back on most of my childhood, and it has to do with my mom never acting very happy around us. She was also one that would have made money working, and she should have...I think she would have been a lot happier.

It really all comes down to the fact that it just really makes me sad when I see little, helpless, defenseless kids being treated like crap.

What The Hell Is This? said...

SAHM here.. Let me start by saying I did NOT take any offense at all to your post.. None.. You are right in wanting to know why...

Me? Why did I stay at home. Well, because it hurts me to not be there for every step he takes.. everything he tries to say.. I couldn't imagine my little boy doing something that only occurs once in a lifetime and me not be there to cheer him on... I feel as if me or his father was his best choice of child care... NOW, I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's in Mechanical Engineering.. I have spent a lot of money and alot of time on school.. it ANYONE saw me at Target or Wally World during the day, you would soooo not pick me to be an engineer..

All of that being said, I have my days.. those days where I wish G'man would sleep for hours and let me get some me time in.. Here is a big misconception in ideals of SAHM's... it is not always perfect.. it is not always great.. that child that you would do anything in your life for is not always an angel.. and your husband is not always ready to help out the minute he hits the door... there are times when I just cry.. not because I hate the situation I have chosen, but because I am tired and exhausted... I don't get vacations, or holidays, or lunchbreaks most of the time... Hell, my mom herself told me that she went back to work to get a break.
PLEASE NOTE.. I am not saying that working mom's don't feel the same way.. but my job as a sahm is 24/7/365...
Imagine seeing your husband (who you dearly love and would do anything for) everyday, all day, everyhour.. when he wakes, you are there.. when he sleeps, you are there.. when he throws a fit, you are the reason... sometimes, you just need your time away.

Bethany said...

This is something I've been thinking about the last few days. When I was pregnant I had every intention of going back to work after the baby was born.

Baby is born- I just can't leave her. I am hysterical at the thought of leaving her. We tighten up and I stay home.

Fast forward 19 months: If I don't get out and use my brain I am going to totally lose it! I love her more than anything in the world but holy crap I'm unhappy, she's unhappy, everybody's unhappy. My old job had been calling me for a year trying to get me to come back. I made a deal with them and came back on a part-time basis. I did not want to work more than I was with her. So now I work three days a week, my daughter goes to my sister-in-law and with the money we paid off the debt we got into when I abruptly decided to stay home.

The reason this has been on my mind: I feel like I'm missing something. I don't know what. I don't know if it's because we can't have any more kids that I feel like I need to be with her more or what. I am conflicted.

I'll be interested to see what others say. This was so long I may cut & paste and make this my post for today!

Amy W said...

As you know, I am a working mom as well. I could write a book on my decision for working, but I will save that for another day! I agree with what you wrote, I have SAHM friends who continually complain about money, etc. I even had some friends have an "intervention" with me prior to Audrey being born about missing out my kids' lives. Nice. Anyways, it would have killed me me to see those kids like that as well. Quality time is very important in my house.

CPA Mom said...

I hate to see kids that are neglected by ANY mom, working or otherwise. Period. They should be cherished from the moment they are conceived.

Um Ibrahim said...


Am a SAHM, but I think every mom should do whatever's making her happy, Because if the mom isn't happy then the whole family will not be happy,if you can combine a fulltime job and rasing/taking care of family so why not?
But that's sure tough on everybody:)

Mamacita Tina said...

I'm a SAHM. Just like anyone at a job, I will complain about things that go wrong during my day. We all need to vent. But you're right, it's very sad to see so many miserable mother toting their children around. It's unfortunate that they may not have the means to work if they wanted to, because day care is expensive. No one should have to stay at a job that makes them miserable, but then reality (like the money factor) makes it so.