Monday, May 22, 2006

The Importance of Work Outside the Home??

I had an interesting conversation with a student of mine months ago that has stuck with me. I was thinking of her, wondering how she was doing. At the time that she was in my class, she was a single mom who was working in housekeeping at a local hotel. She was taking my Reading and Writing class so that she could help her own children with their homework, and also get her GED. She always came to class looking exhausted, but always participated, and took to the work with amazing enthusiasm.

During a class break one evening, she explained to me that she could actually have more money if she quit her job, and collected welfare. She could also take more classes at once, and be that much closer to a GED and college-bound. But she thought it was important for her children to see their mother working. If they don't see me working, she explained, how will they understand that when they're older, they too will have to work to survive?

She had an interesting point. History does repeat itself, especially in families. Our lives (my student and mine) are so different, but there are still some common threads. My mom was a stay at home mom, and she continued to stay home until I was in college. So my secret belief (I'm embarrassed to admit this now) was that I would go to college, meet a husband, get married, and start having kids by the age of 22. Why would I dream up a life like that? Because that's what my mom did. She did not have a "career", and she did not work outside of the home. Nothing wrong with this, of course. But now, I can see that my student has a point. So, by staying home, am I setting my daughter up with funky expectations for her future?

Well, I teach a class once a week, so I do a tiny bit of work outside the home. It's nice to have a bit of Mom Only cash (even if it really only goes toward groceries). It's nice leaving the family in charge of my husband for one night a week. Instead of changing diapers and reading bedtime stories, I get to talk about paragraph organization, grammar, etc. with adults. It's really good for me to do this. I come home from class feeling so happy and refreshed. And, yes, I will admit, it means a lot to me that my children see that I can work, just like Daddy, outside the home, too.


Anonymous said...

Hooray for a new stuntmom article! I've been having withdrawal symptoms, you know. This is some good stuff to chew on. Is it any different if you leave work to stay home than if you never worked? To me, making the choice to leave work when kids are in the picture is just as valiant as entering the workforce in the first place. So, I actually like the message that it sends to my kids.

StuntBec said...

Excellent point. Making the choice to leave your job in order to spend quality time raising your children is quite a strong message to send your kids. I just didn't take that path, as I was in graduate school when I had my first child, and have never had a "real" career that I loved before I started my family.

I appreciate your perspective. And glad you've been having withdrawls!