I am a working mom. I LOVE working. I LOVE being a mom. I have found a way to be successful at both in ways that allign with my own personal definitions of success.
There are many forums in which mothers from all over have the great Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) versus Work Out of Home Mom (WOHM) debate. SAHMs argue that WOHMs should not have had kids if they did not want to be around them and raise them full-time. WOHMs argue that they should not have to sacrifice having careers to be mothers or vice versa. Some SAHMs can afford to stay home, as their partners earn enough income to cover all of their expense and luxuries. Some SAHMs are struggling to make ends meet, some even relying on government assistance. Some WOHMs work because they can’t afford not to, while others do it for the love of having a career and doing something stimulating and engaging. Then there are the minority WAHMs (Work at Home Moms), women who have managed to have both careers/jobs and be able to stay at home with their children full-time. They chime in, but those numbers are so much smaller than the other two groups.
I realized when my son was 5 months old that I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mother, at least not in the capacity I was one. His father and I discussed the idea of me staying home for the first year of his life and I said I’d try it. I don’t know if the Post Partum Depression had anything to do with it, our financial struggles going from two paychecks to one, or something else, but after about 3 months, I’d reached the “This shit is for the birds” point. By 5 months, I was so eager to get out of the house that when he came home, I’d be dressed and ready to rush out to do something, ANYTHING. I craved adult interaction, time away from my infant, and something else to do that made me feel like I was important and not just a waste of good air.
Because being a mom wasn’t important enough, right?
I loved my son, but I felt like my life was being wasted just sitting at home feeding, burping, and changing him. I didn’t go to school just to stay home and be someone’s mama, right? God, that sounds so horrible. What’s wrong with me? My mother even, as she was sick and frail, said to me, “Are you going to waste all of that education sitting at home? If I had known you were going to end up like this, I would have saved my money” (You see where I get it from lol)
It made me feel like I had more to do with my intelligence, skills, and capabilities. So I went back to work, finished my Master’s Degree, and have since been strongly building upon the career foundation I set pre-motherhood. I couldn’t be happier with that decision because: 1)I love what I do; 2) I love feeling useful; 3) I love feeling like I’m contributing to the overall improvement of society; 4) I love feeling influential and managerial; 5) I love the adult interaction; 6)I love having the time and space to be “Benee”, not simply “Mommy”.
How is it that some of us are perfectly content staying home with kids, taking care of the home, relying on our significant others for material resources, and some of us prefer to work hard at our educations, careers, networking, climbing ladders, etc? What about the women who get the education, have great careers, and just walk away from it all to become SAHMs? How does a woman come to prefer one or the other? It is reliant upon how she was socialized and/or nurtured? Is it the influence of the examples set by the females in her life? Is it racial/ethnic/cultural? Socioeconomically-based? What is it? I’d love for people to weigh in on this.
For me, every woman who has ever had any influence on my life and the decisions therein has been a working woman. Not necessarily a highly educated working woman, but a worker nonetheless. Also, I did not grow up with many positive examples of loving, enduring couples or have much exposure to families headed by a man. Most families I knew were headed by women, with men in and out of the picture sparsely. The only long-married people I knew were in my grandparents’ generation and their happiness is always debatable. That’s another blog though…
So, here I am and I work. I’m not independently wealthy. I’m not interested in being dependent upon government assistance. I want to be a positive role model for my son and in my opinion, a strong work ethic is one of the most admirable qualities a person can have. So, I go to work, earn my living, and strive to grow and climb higher in my field. I rely on myself financially, make my own financial decisions, and feel empowered by the ability to do so.
This is not to say that under the right circumstances, I would not redirect my focus towards caring for my home, my partner, and my children. I was willing to do it once, so I know I would be willing to do it again. I do feel, deep inside, the desire, need, and even obligation to take care of my family and home. What a paradox lol But there is something in me that fears being 100% financially dependent upon a significant other. I’ve borne witness to TOO many horrible outcomes from these situations where the women are left destitute, alone, suffering/struggling with the children with barely the clothes on their backs because one day, their husbands decided they were done. I’d have too many stipulations and the man would probably be like “Nevermind. Go work!”
Some argue that means I do not trust my partner 100% and I would disagree; it is not so much about how I feel about my partner so much as how great my desire to always be able to care for and protect myself and my kids overshadows any emotions for or attachments to someone else. Then there is the need to have something just for me. I will not apologize for wanting something of my own.
So, I continue to work.
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