01 June 2007

A Stay-at-Home Me

Someday, C and I will have kids. Someday. Right now, however, seeing as though we’re about as rich as we’ll ever be, we are living, working, and saving money like crazy. Why? Because we know that our biggest expense will be a house. And the larger the down payment we have, the smaller the mortgage payment we’ll have. And the smaller the mortgage payment, the better off we’ll be because, well let's face facts: C is a teacher. And as everyone knows, teachers simply don’t make that much money. You can’t earn $30,821 a year and provide adequately for a family, even in a place where housing is still relatively affordable. You just can’t.

However, if it happens that we are able to provide for our family on C’s salary alone, then I am going to opt for staying at home. Why? Because I think it will be fun to sew all day and decorate my house and watch “Ambush Makeover?” Well, yes, but those are not the only reasons. It’s because I believe that my staying home will make a positive difference in my children’s lives.

In a recent article in the Washington Post, a columnist who is having a baby boy in June wrote the following, “I think I'll be a better mother because I have a job, showing my son that women can be mothers and workers, good cooks and great policymakers, football tossers and reporters.” I guess I just don’t understand why she thinks she actually has to work in order to demonstrate this. Why does that son have to grow up in daycare to know that she is a good worker? I am currently working as a statistician and adjunct faculty. When I actually have work to do, I am good at it. Dang good at it. But do my kids actually need to see this to know it’s true? And even if I never had a real job, wouldn’t they learn at home that I am efficient, organized, smart, responsible, reliable, self-motivated—all qualities of a good employee?

The columnist finished her article with the following, “I think what I've learned during these past nine months or so is that no matter what I decide, I'll have to tell myself it's the right choice for me.” This is one of my biggest pet peeves of women who choose to work outside the home. To me, it’s the weakest argument you can make for returning to work after the birth of a child. That’s great that you think this choice is right for you; however, you have a child. Your life is no longer about you. It is about you, your spouse, and that child. So tell me you’re doing this because it’s what’s right for your family. After all, if it is for you, why did you have a child anyway?

If it turns out that we aren’t able to make ends meet based on C’s salary alone, then sure, I’ll work. I am proud that I have the education, qualifications, and experience to do so. I am certainly not against mothers working outside the home. But I just wish that they would make that decision based on what is best for their family and not just for them.

12 comments:

Niederfam said...

VERY WELL STATED. I believe you are absolutely correct on many points.....one being....I think Mom's do choose things based on their personal thoughts and opinions, which is fine like you said, when it only effects them. But YES, having a child definatley effects EVERYONE........so it should be a joint decision. And I don't know of ONE kid who tells their stay at home parent, "I wish you had to go to work today," although my 3 year old did tell me I was being mean last night. He could be the first to tell me he wishes I went to work!!! :) But I don't think he'd really mean it.

emily said...

wow, that was great siter. i agree with everything you said, except to disagree that you'll get to spend all day sewing, etc. yeah right! :)

emily said...

no, i don't have a new nickname for you, i just forget the 2nd "s" in "sister." hehe

emily said...

ben's comment: "she should send this off to the columnist."

i thought the same thing, but didn't want to add another comment. but here i am doing it.

i, too, think you should send it to her.

emily said...

ben's comment: "she should send it off to the columnist."

i thought the exact same thing, but gosh didn't want to leave 3 comments.

but whatever, you should send it to the columnist.

emily said...

so this is way funny - i didn't think it worked the first time (b/c of the the stupid word verification thingy), but ummmmm it did. so now i have like 20 comments. sorry, they are all from me.

linda said...

well stated. i think what i learned most from staying at home while jessen was in school is that you really can be a stay at home mom an almost any salary, as long as you are willing to sacrifice. it's hard not having everything your neighbors and friends have, but worth it to be at home with your kids.

Deanna said...

So I posted a little rant the other day, but somehow it didn't make it. Here's the summary: a pet peeve of mine is when people have children as a "token", but not because they really want to have them. I definitely agree that if people aren't willing to sacrifice and make decisions based on what is best for the family, then they should NOT really be having children. I think it sends very bad messages to children to bring them into the world, but then show through your actions that you don't care for them enough to actually take time from YOUR life to be an active part of their life and love them and take care of them. I am hoping that by making the sacrifice (because it IS that for me) of staying home with my children, that I will be showing them that I care enough about them to be there for them, instead of showing them all the "skills" I have in the workplace.

nckuhn said...

Erin, I could not agree with you more and think that you guys are so wise to prepare the way that you are. KT and I had an interesting experience just last night on this same topic. We went to a small neighborhood BBQ with four other couples. Of these couples, we are the only one with a child. Every woman there independently said how great it was that KT was staying home to be with Marin. The cool thing was that they really seemed to mean it, not just being polite. KT was worried to go to the BBQ because all these ladies seems to be highly educated and very successful (Lawyers/Law school, Doctors/Med school............on and on and on.) but it just made the both of us feel really good to know that there are normal people out there that are able to recognize the hard work and importance of a stay at home mom. Now like I had said, no one there had a child but us. This is the tricky point that I spent some time considering last night, I wonder if, when it becomes their turn for children will they be willing to stand up for what they seemingly appreciate at the expense of the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to? Or will they begin to justify their decisions so that they will feel better about day care. PRE-MOMS SEEM TO BE IN FAVOR OF STAYING HOME WITH KIDS, POST-MOMS SEEM A LITTLE RESENTFUL of those that do chose to stay home. It seems like an interesting transition. F.Y.I. this in now way takes into account those mothers that have no other choice but to return to work. Those that are forced to work out of circumstances out of their control deserve a myriad of blessing. Enough babble. And good luck thinking that you are going to have time for anything you want to do.

Deanna said...

I have one more comment to make. In the first couple years after I had Alia and was staying home with her, I received many comments from people like this: "Oh, how lucky you are that you can stay home" "oh, how great that you have the opportunity to stay home with your daughter", etc. They always presented it in a light that I was staying home with my kids only because the universe had somehow magically alligned for me to give me that opportunity (and that we must not need me to work to make ends meet). This has always bothered me greatly. I was never given the "opportunity" so to speak to stay home. It was a CHOICE! Many people in the world probably think it is highly insane that I would stay home with my kids and not bring in an income during the last 5 years. No, we couldn't afford it. We have massive student loans from going through medical school with no income. It was a CHOICE that we made. It wasn't like I was handed some golden key that voided us from any of the financial and worldy consequences of that choice. I agree with one of the previous comments, that if you choose to stay home because you really feel it is important, quite often you can somehow find a way to make it work out. I realize that some women do have no choice (i.e., one of my friends who is going through a divorce and is now a single mom and has no choice but to work to support her and her two children). But in many cases with two parents, I definitely think that in many cases where there is a desire and a choice, there is a way.

Megan said...

o.k. so I wrote this big long comment a few days ago and then when I went to publish it wouldn't, so here's a short version. Way to go and good for you!

Ruth & Ryan said...

Ok, I totally agree with all that has been said before and I must tell you about our situation as well. Ryan is a 2nd grade teacher but just so you know we make A LOT more than 30,000. I couldn't believe that Utah is still so far behind in that area. And they wonder why their schools suck so bad. We moved to PA. We bought a house. We have 2 kids. I stay home. Is it easy. No. Do we live very tightly, yes. Do I love it. YES! As I was reading your post and all comments Evan (who is now 3) came up and climbed on my lap. He hugged me and said, "Mommy, I love you." How can you give those little moments away? How could I have missed the first time he rolled over, or giggled, or walked, or spoke, or whatever? So many little moments that make up our lives. I want to be there for all of them. A friend once told me after returning to work from maternity leave, "I love my job so much. It would take an awful lot for me to let it go." Ummm, hello, did you just hear yourself? Your child isn't an "awful lot"? I was flabbergasted. Anyway, I could go on and on but I'll let it go at this: Life is too short to worry about money and what we own. In eternity we will only care about the relationships we have made.