dazzling and interesting on a shoestring
Stay at home mom vs. working mom– or both
July 18, 2012Posted by on
Ms. D is currently on maternity leave of sorts (more on that subject shall come later) and is recycling a bit of writing she did for a mothers’ group a couple years ago. She hopes you continue to enjoy the subject, despite the fact that the writing is not current. You may look forward to more of Lifestyles’ wit and charm in the future, as soon as she has enough sleep to operate the articulate parts of her brain. Cheers.
My husband was at work a few months ago, talking with a customer who was shopping with his toddler. The two fathers exchanged a few pleasantries about their kids, and then the other dad asked my husband when his wife’s ‘shift’ began, meaning when did my husband go home to take over child-rearing while I got ready and went off to work.
“Oh, my wife doesn’t work,” my husband replied. “She’s a full-time, stay-at-home mom.”
“Wow,” said the other dad. “She’s lucky.”
Ah, yes. Lucky.
When my husband recounted this little exchange, my first reaction was to refrain from verbally ripping his head off in self-righteous anger, since after all, he wasn’t the one who naively blurted out such a loaded cliché. Instead, I took a deep breath and asked if he could instead tell people that I was a dance instructor. This would alternatively categorize me as a part-time-working-stay-at-home-mom, and come closer to increasing my title to an entire line of hyphenation.
Do I feel lucky– lucky to be living back at my parent’s house again, at the age of thirty-five, this time with husband and child in tow? Or am I lucky to be a stay-at-home mom (this command-infused label makes me feel a little like a dog in obedience school) because the cost of full-time daycare far outweighs my wage-earning potential? Am I lucky to stay home and do the laundry, the vacuuming and the cooking, all while being responsible for the developmental, social, and physical well-being of a toddler, all in a manner that is both entertaining and efficient?
Lucky—like I tripped over a four-leaf clover and ended up with this life, or like I didn’t have any particular opinion or power over what happened.
Did my lifestyle ‘happen by chance’? It sure doesn’t feel that way to me; I vaguely recall having an active part in creating it. Luck is where you find it, or maybe it is what other people have that you don’t. Luck is the name we give to something when we don’t have the courage to call it hard work and sacrifice.
But do I want to be considered unlucky?
My cousin is a paramedic and her husband works for the county sheriff. When her little girl was three months old, she had to go back to her twelve-hour graveyard shifts. She and her husband work lots of overtime hours in order to pay down the debt they accrued to buy land and a house in which they could raise a family. When she found out that I wasn’t working after having my first child, she gave a half-sigh and said knowingly, “Oh, you’re so lucky.” Perhaps I am, but she’s lucky enough to own a home in a community where she can raise her children and where they all can live for years to come. My cousin also is extremely lucky to live next door to her mother, who cares for her the children when both parents are at work.
Perhaps I am just old-fashioned, or perhaps I am setting a new trend. Mostly, I just feel poor, and this is the way my family and I have chosen to live, so that we can provide for our child and ourselves in the best way possible. Every bit of it, however, is a choice.
So, am I lucky? You bet I am. I am lucky to have a fully engaged part in raising my own child, and lucky that her dad is there when I have to go to work. Her grandparents are lucky, too, that they get to spend two years of her life under the same roof (a roof that they have heaven’s graciousness to provide) and get to watch her learn, and grow and explore. I am extremely lucky to have a career, however small, that I could easily return to after having a baby, and about which I am still quite passionate.
Lucky? I guess, but I planned it that way.
shamrock courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net