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Are stay-at-home moms *afraid* to work?

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Kids or no, I like work, but I also HAVE to work (financial, mental, for the good of misused apostrophes everywhere, etc.), and that’s just the way it is. Because I’ve never had much choice in the matter, I tried not to waste time dwelling on the topic when my first son was born. That I would go back to work after maternity leave was a given, and beyond that I just did my best to stay confident that the details would work themselves out.

Ah, details. It’s true that the devil’s in them…

But just because my big-picture future was more or less inevitable doesn’t mean it was easy.

I still had to push through a lot of things other working moms push through: Leaving my kid with a stranger. Leaving my kid with a stranger for a full day, every day. Getting over the fact that, as the parent with the more flexible working arrangements, I’m ALWAYS the one who’s responsible for our son’s sick days and holidays and mommy-I-don’t-wanna-go-to-daycare days.

I’ve known moms who loved their jobs no less after they had kids but let fear of the working-mom lifestyle drive their decision to give up their careers entirely to stay home. They worried about finding reliable childcare, pumping breast milk at the office, business trips that would take them away from their kids for days and nights at at time. For so many of us, “motherhood” is synonymous with “worry.”

I worried about all that stuff too. And then I worried I was a lesser mother because none of those things were enough to make me find a way to quit my job and stay at home.

Some might argue that it’s true, then, that the mother who stays home loves her kids more than the mother who works. Others might say the mother who walks away from a beloved career to become a full-time at-home parent is simply overcome with fear, afraid she will fail (her job, her child, herself) if she tries to do it all. I suspect neither are true, and both are true, all at the same time.

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2 comments so far...

  • Actually, I’m pretty sure that some women just don’t want to participate in the work-for-pay grind, and they are happy for the opportunity to parent and manage their households full-time. Just like other women (myself included) are happy for the opportunity to subcontract some of the domestic stuff and apply ourselves to other occupations.

    I’ve heard many moms express frustration at “having” to work, but I haven’t heard many complain that they “have” to stay home.

    SKL  |  April 1st, 2012 at 4:28 pm

  • Oh, ftr, I did quit my job when I became a mom, but I changed careers. I still work more than full-time (though the original plan was part-time). The big difference in my career is that my kids’ needs get respected. They need me for some hours every day, and I need to do personal things during business hours. True, I had to find care I could trust, and I spent mat leave getting comfortable with that system, so it wasn’t ever a source of fear. If I’d ever wanted to quit my job, it was more likely to be over exhaustion than fear.

    SKL  |  April 1st, 2012 at 4:37 pm

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