Monday, April 03, 2006

StuntMail

I had to pull this comment out of an old post because I've been struggling with a response...

Interesting blog. The book sounds fascinating. I was looking up stay-at-home moms and read this entry.

Every experience I have had in the last year since I started staying-at-home would indicate that there is a great division between stay-at-home moms and working women (at least in my recent experience). I've had MANY working women say that if I weren't so LAZY or SELFISH, I would work(?) I'm not sure what exactly that means...

It seems to me that this area's value system is definitely "keep up with the Jones'" We (my husband and I) do not subscribe to that belief and for it, we are getting a lot of grief. We think this may be the reason people around here are not so accepting of me being a stay-at-home mom.

I thought you might be interested in hearing another perspective. I would like to get other people's take on this issue and see if it varies by region or if some other factor is influencing it.

Deborah
Mother of two (1 year and 5 years)
Sacramento, CA

It's so sad that someone could call you selfish for staying home with your children--I always felt selfish sending my children to daycare so I could earn money that we didn't really need. California is much more expensive than the Midwest, so I see you wanting to spend time working for your family as a selfless act.

Hopefully you can find the support you need here.

Thank you for the letter, and enjoy your time with your kids.

5 comments:

Jayne said...

Dear Deborah,
I agree there is a great divide between "working" moms and "stay at home" moms. It is possibly the greatest tactic to keep us from truly organizing against our often patriarchal society; divide and conquer. I have found that most of the negative comments about spending more time with my children came from friends or co-workers who didn't have children so they didn't fully understand the tug-of-war I was feeling about leaving my kids everyday. I actually had a female boss who suggested to me that "kids really love after school programs; it's their favorite part of the day." Interestingly, she had never placed her own 5-year old on the bus at 7AM not to see her again until 5:30PM.
But I have to say that some of the most guilt inducing, painfully negative comments aimed at my parenting choices, have come from stay-at-home moms, who unintentionally or not have made me feel like I'm making a bad choice to work outside my home, one that I will surely regret. We definitely send signals in this country about who has a "right" to stay at home with their children, and who doesn't. On the one hand, we think that middle and upper class women should be there for their children and make some financial sacrifices to do so. On the other hand, we feel that poor women or women on welfare should just get a job or a better paying job or work more hours to provide for their families regardless of the cost of daycare or the number of hours that the children are spending away from their parents. All this judgement just really adds fuel to fire of mother blaming that is raging out of control in our culture. We need to support the mothers who are working because they need to and/or they want to, as well as, the mothers who are putting off personal or professional goals for a time while they stay home to raise their children whether they can afford to or not. What we cannot do is place judgement on women for either choice. Stay at home moms are far from lazy, and moms who are making a financial contribution to their families take just as much interest in their children's lives. Suggesting that one choice over another is better is judgement, and that stinks.

Anonymous said...

This seems like a reasonable moment to share a bit of my experience with starting to make the transition from working-for-pay mom to homemaker mom (I'm still working part-time). I've been surprised by the types of benefits I have enjoyed through taking care of my kids myself most of the week. For me and for my family, it is a richer life than the one we led before, when everything seemed to be squeezed into a schedule. I'm just going to bullet out some random examples, to give a feel for what I'm talking about:
- Drinking a homemade latte in a ceramic mug in StuntMom's kitchen, as a spontaneous event, with the kids playing happily at playdough in the middle of the room on a weekday morning (no, a takeout Starbuck's does NOT compare)
- Seeing my shy older child make the transition from being unwilling to get out of his stroller for 2 weeks in a row at library storytime (he had been going to the same storytime with his daycare group and seemed to associate it with possibly returning to daycare) to sitting at the front of the room shouting out answers to questions and dancing the hokey pokey (at the appropriate time, of course :))
- Making better meals in less time and spending less on them -- I tend to bring home more interesting ingredients, and fewer prepared foods, as going to our local historic indoor-outdoor market is now an "activity," and I can do bits of the prep throughout the day
- Becoming part of a car-pool as part of a venture to bring fresh milk from the farm straight to the table with a community of interesting people
- Meeting up with people who are also raising their kids outside of daycare and therefore actually have time to get together and do things with kids, rather than just being restricted to "working, getting through the evenings, and making it to weekend family time"; the social structure of being a homemaker mom reminds me of college days - and it's not just a luxury, it's an important part of the job.
- Having happier, better-behaved kids -- my husband and I both commented on this change very soon after the departure from daycare.

I could go on...

I'm not judging anyone who works while raising kids, but I think some of those moms -- like I was -- would be surprised by just what kinds of little things add richness to the full-time-mom experience. Or how little it can cost just to live life fully with kids and community.

StuntBec said...

Great comment! I was just talking with my dad about retirement (he retired at a very young age of 55)...I told him that this time of my life, when I'm staying home with the kids, is my "retirement" time - the time when I get to just enjoy doing fun stuff with my children. You put it perfectly - we do the fun relaxing activities that I too enjoyed in college - walking to the farmers' market, buying fun foods and planning meals around them, enjoying a slow cup of coffee, etc. Your comment brightened our rainy day!

Anonymous said...

Hey, and likewise -- it brightened MY day to know that someone else could identify with all that. Thanks!

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