Thursday, February 1, 2007

To stay home or to work outside the home?

I'm watching the Oprah from when Elizabeth Vargas was on there talking about her decision to step down from the evening news to spend more time with her family. It is a good show and has brought up many feelings within the audience about what is "best". The working moms say that they are good moms and can do it all. The stay-at-home moms say they are right and are being the "best" moms that their children need.

Here is the deal - what is best for your children. Some moms would go crazy and be crappy moms if they were home all day with their preschool children. Other moms are best at home with their kids, and others are best at the workforce.

The therapist on there says that you need to be in tune as to what is best for your family - your value system. She says some moms are home all day but are not in tune with their family - so what makes them better?

I will tell you this is a hard issue for me. There are many days that I wonder what it would be like if I had a "real" job. Sometimes I really miss those days of teaching and coaching. I know that I am making the right choice for our family now, and I LOVE being home with my kids, BUT I still think about those days of having a "real" job. Sometimes I wonder if I even do a good job of actively engaging my children while I am at home with them. Am I doing them justice by staying home with them, or would they be more stimulated at a child care center while I am fulfilled at a "real" job. Would I be a better mom if I felt as though I was doing something during the day besides changing diapers and fixing lunches and washing dishes. Could I be better for them? Or, would I miss all the AMAZING times that we have together during the day. When Cayden sings songs about loving mommy, daddy and deaky. Or when Deacon jumps in his bed when I come in there after nap.

When I think these things I feel an extreme amount of guilt. I have friends that would give their left arm to quit their job and be able to stay home. There is a part of me that doesn't want to work - to be able to have family time all the time is amazing. BUT there is a big part of me that wants to interact in the world and influence people.

How do you mom's feel about this? If you do stay home, do you ever wish you didn't? If you don't stay home do you ever wish you could stay home?

I hope that no one interprets this post as me not being happy, b/c I love my life and am so happy. But I think that I'm not the only one that has these thoughts.


Andie said...

Okay, I know that you don't know me and I hesitate to post because of that. I followed a link from Becca's blog and came across your blog. I wouldn't have posted at all but your post struck a nerve with me.

I can totally relate to your thoughts here. I have three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1 and am now a stay-at-home-mom. It hasn't always been this way. When my daughter was born I worked full-time and cut back until I was only working 3 days per week until my third son was born. I had INCREDIBLE guilt about working and felt like less of a mom because I wasn't home more. By the time I was able to quit and stay home I had worked through that and no longer felt guilty - I was where God wanted me and of that I had no doubt.

Now, as a stay-at-home-mom, I struggle with feeling like I suck at the job and that my kids would be better served if I worked. It's hard to stay home and I'm selfish. I miss the adult interaction time that I had. I miss being able to go to lunch with friends without kids in tow. And, I feel extremely guilt even thinking those things.

Despite the things I miss, I love the times that I get to spend with my kids. I love watching them play together and I love being able to watch them learn new things. I didn't get to see many of my daughter's firsts as she was in a home daycare. I get to see those now.

Ultimately it comes down to where God wants me to be and knowing that He's not going to ask me to do something and not equip me for the job - especially the job of parenting.

At any rate, I wanted to let you know that you aren't alone and that I've pondered all those things many, many times.

God bless,
Andie Mueller

annie said...

I am a working mom who would love to be home full-time... or even part-time because I do need that interaction too. Maybe if I worked 2 or so days a week... I think I would feel more balanced. Currently, I have a job where I am not challenged, and only have a few hours of work to do a day, yet have to be here 40+ hours a week because I am salaried... it's a tough decision to make... make ends meet, or make my heart happy. I know that if you diligently seek the Lord's will in this, He will guide you.

The Setliffe Family said...

I think every mom struggles with these questions, b/c at the heart of the issue is the desire to do the very BEST thing for your family & your kids. I really believe that "the grass is always greener"--I know that sounds cliche, but I think it's really true. When I feel completely bogged down & unfulfilled as a stay-at-home Mommy, it really helps me to remember that this IS my minstry. God has put me in the home to build Ava into a worshiper of GOd. Even though she's still a baby, the things that I do now are helping her to thrive and grow into a godly woman one day. Don't know if that helps, but sometimes I just need a new perspective & a reminder that this is a calling--that it is a ministry. And it's the most precious & special ministry b/c it comes with songs about loving Mommy & excited kids after naps. Love you!!

jtcosby said...

You are not alone. I often worry I am doing my children more of a disservice than a service. I do well for awhile, then I am terrible for longer...I have no idea what the solution would be...I don't want to put them in daycare, for a number of reasons, illness being one of them...I would like to make some money...but then again, I adore being with them! Who would "wock me" when baby girl requests it? I hear ya!

iveyfamily said...

I think I like what Rach said about "the grass is always greener on the other side". I know that is true about lots of things in my life. I'm always wondering what that other side is really like!

I love all your comments and knew that I wasn't alone in these struggles and thoughts.

I know a few things that are harder for me is that Aaron travels a lot, and so not only am I home all day with the kids but lots of nights too. That makes things harder and produces that "what if" scenerio about a life outside of my house! BUT Aaron also does tons to help with this. We are always going on dates and we eat out lots when he is in town (I love to eat out!). We take special time for just us and try to get away once a year just us for a trip.

I wish I had a job that I could work from 9-2 and wear a nice suit and go out to lunch with clients, travel every once in a while, take no work home with me, and LOVE what I do. If you find that, let me know!

Debra said...

Just some thoughts...

Like you I stayed home with my kids. My husband was still in school and then worked as a part time Jr. high minister. He also did a paper route in the early hours of the morning. I felt a lot of guilt because I felt a lack of contribution but also because I wanted a little bit of life outside the barriers of my home.

Both of my kids are now in school and as I look back...that time was so short. I have no regrets. I was able to be there for all the fun moments. I always wished that I could have been more present instead of worrying about the what if.

My daughter just turned 9 and my son is 7, that is just plain crazy. It goes by so fast.

Kelly said...

I read a book a while back called Professionalizing Motherhood. It was about raising the bar for moms and viewing motherhood as your profession. For a job, we dress up, we research, we educate ourselves and go the extra mile, so why not do those things as moms? Why not be the SAHM that break the molds? I am able to have a small part time job that I do when the girls are at MDO or when Jason is home which is a great compromise. For me, being a mom is the greatest , yet hardest job on the planet. I remind myself that these days are short and then they are all in school. I don't think I will ever look back and say I regret being home with my kids, but if I worked full time, when for us it isn't a financial absolute must, I would totally regret it. Good post Jamie.

ginger said...

fyi... the suits aren't all they're cracked up to be. i'd rather be a stay at home mom.

just thought i'd throw that in there. :)

Becca said...

I love your thoughts--and the comments too. I saw part of that Oprah show too and I have the same thoughts as you ALOT! I worked for a year after Eli was born, but Scotty REALLY wanted me home and I felt like that is where I needed to be. But OH do I have those thoughts about the "other pastures" many days. Thanks for sharing. It is always refreshing to know other people have similar feelings--we aren't alone!!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a working mom, I teach Kindergarten. I always assumed/planned to work I guess. Financially, we could probably make do, but we've been able to manage things better with me working (especially true since we've had to finance two adoptions to even build our family).

We have summertime, and that's pretty nice for me. And honestly, truly honestly, I don't trust myself to truly be a great SAHM full time. Last summer flew by and we had a lot of fun, but I still worry I didn't spend the "quality" time I should have with my daughter, that I didn't use the time right. Even so, by the end of the summer, I think we were both ready for a change.

Am I a bad mom because part of me WANTS to work? I LOVED being at home in the summer and being on leave with a new baby this year, but I somehow feel more "settled" or "balanced" or something now that we're in the school routine again.

I hope I'm a better mom BECAUSE I have that time away and can be fresh and ready to hang out and color and read stories in the evening. You'd think I'd be burnt out from kids, but it's different when they are YOURS.

Troy & Tara Livesay said...

Hey Jamie-
There is no judgement here at all. I worked full time for all of Britt and Paige's babyhood and up until they were 13 and 8 --- when Hope and Isaac came home from Haiti I decided to quit working. We sold our fun cars and stopped vacationing and eating out.

I agree that some moms are not necessarily going to do their kids favors by staying home if they are resentful of it and would rather be out working. But, I also think there is no greater way to impact the world than to be a homemaker and raise children. I don't always love it --- sometimes I want to quit or runaway.

At the end of my life I know I will not look back and say "I wish I had worked more." I know every person pretty much says "I wish I had spent more time with the ones I love most."

It goes by quickly.

linda t said...

I saw that same show on Oprah... and was reminded of the choices my husband and I made 25 years ago (when our first was born)... that I would stay home with the kids till they had all graduated from high school. Well, in May the last of our three kids will be graduating and my "career" as a full-time Mom is over. I will always be their Mom, but it will be different. I can't tell you how grateful I am that we made that decision. My husband is a worship pastor now, but the first 20 years of marriage he was a christian musican that traveled and did concerts. We sacrificed alot for me to stay home... and just like you, I was alone alot while he was on tour... but looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. And don't let anyone tell you that our kids don't need us once they are in high school... all the more they needed to know we were available. Sorry this is so long... this struck a cord, as I reflect on my last 25 years... and so grateful our kids turned out so awesome.