Monday, May 19, 2014

Why Stay At Home? STILL, A Very Personal Decision.

I've covered this topic before. Of the massive amount of 11 or so posts I have on this blog, I'm already re-covering my material.

I've been "out of retirement" and "back to work" for over a year now, and I am currently counting down another 6 days until I go "back into retirement" as a Stay-At-Home Mom. (That's SAHM for you rookies.) The transition this time, has been starkly different than the first time I stayed home. The first time we decided I would stay at home we had just had a 10 week premature baby; our family had been through a trauma and we were ready to reprioritize.

At that time, when people would ask why I personally had made this decision, I had a dramatic story to tell. I was incredibly sick and probably could have died. My premature and skeletal baby clung to his wires and little plastic castle in the NICU, and I had a new lease on my life. No one second guessed my decision as a mother or as a woman doing what she thought was best for herself and her family.

Who wouldn't miss this?
THIS time, however, the difference has been amazing. When people ask why my family and I have made this choice, I have give the following answers:

1. I missed my family.
2. I was overwhelmed.
3. I wasn't pleased with my job.
4. I want the time back to enjoy weekends together rather than only having time to prepare to survive the upcoming week.
5. I want more freedom to guide my son's preschool education.
6. It is a financial adjustment for my family, not a financial burden.

Many of the answers above are selfish. I understand and I take full responsibility for that. But, sometimes women like to glorify that as mothers they need to sacrifice everything that exists of themselves for their children. They believe they should never come first. I disagree with this mentality. I think I'm a better mother when I get my turn on the priority wheel as well.

I think my family benefits from allowing me to do the things that I need to do to make myself happy. I'd never want anyone I love to have to constantly sacrifice things THEY truly want and need to make MY life easier. I challenge the "Mommy Sacrifice Theory", and embrace the "Mommy Equality Model", and I believe it teaches my children to be more selfless. (Yes, by asserting my selfishness at times! lol)

Being a parent does not mean you suddenly become the least important person in the world. It means you have to learn to balance and be prepared to sacrifice things, and you will face that challenge regularly. No one gets everything they want all the time. (Well some people do, but quite honestly those are not the kind of people whose company I enjoy...) I don't get everything I want. My husband doesn't. My children don't. I don't want to be a person everyone has to constantly sacrifice themselves for, and I don't want my children to expect that from anyone, or to have to be such martyrs themselves.

Making Friends in the Garden
I can only speculate that this change of tone, and the shift from "we had a traumatic experience" to "I want something different for my/our lives" is the reason for which I have garnered such ire from some women. My first "retirement" everyone was happy, amazed we could do this financially and fully supportive. This time, I'd have to say that responses are about 50/50 supportive vs. disgusted, and I find that amazingly disheartening.

I have never judged anyone for their decision to stay home or to go to work. Men or women. I have never judged anyone for actively crashing through life, however haphazard that effort may seem, it is effort, which is more than a lot of people can say who just resign to float along the stream. I wouldn't begrudge anyone the opportunity to find what they truly want, and where they truly want to be. I think these are requirements that all people should seek out in their lives, and I feel bad for those who don't understand that they can have what they want, as long as they are prepared for the shake-up and work that ensues when you make commitments to big life changes.

The amount of ire that some women have shown me for this decision has been amazing and daunting. Yes, I am capable of work. Yes, I am good at what I do. But no, I don't want to do it anymore. I'd rather be somewhere else. That somewhere else is with my family.

The number one irritation I have is the "potential" quote.

"...But you have so much potential."

Yes I do, and why wouldn't I spend it on my children and family?

Movie Time on Mother's Day

I have potential. I don't know what industry or mode I wish to give it to the workforce for the next 30 years of my life, so now, I'll spend it with my men. Their desire for my involvement will wane quickly in the coming years. They will stop coming into my room at 5:30 am, cuddling and talking my ear off. Work will be there when I'm ready. Maybe when they don't want or need my management and guidance as much, I'll be ready for work.

I think as women we should not be so quick and harsh to judge decisions other women make for their families. We have enough going on in our heads as it is without worrying about the lives of others; lives that we ourselves don't even have to live. Its a waste of valuable time vocalizing how appropriate or inappropriate it is for someone else to have a traditional job, and its an unnecessary tax and judgement on a careful consideration someone has made.

I'm wasn't trying to start a feminist movement by working. I'm not trying to take the world back to the 40's by staying home. I'm making a choice for me, and my family. I'm trying to live my life and find my path. I like to think I'm brave enough to change my direction when I'm off course and unhappy. After all the goal is to "die with memories, not dreams", right?

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