Q: ” I’m writing this with a very sad and hurt heart because I am feeling I’m being negatively judged on a personal decision that my husband and I made once I fell pregnant with my second child.
I’ve always worked, and as I progressed within the various companies I worked longer and longer hours. I had live in help, but my guilt at literally saying good night to my son (I was already halfway to work by the time my son was woken up, and would only get home once he’d been bathed.) My guilt for choosing to have children and then never be around to watch them grow up was eating away at me. I desperately wanted to be that mom who was there when they were sick, to help with homework, projects, sport etc, so when my daughter was born we decided that I didn’t need to work, and I could focus on our children and being a stay at home mom.
Initially it was hard, and it took me a couple of years to find my rythm and to actually enjoy being at home. Through the whole process I found myself, and started doing things that gave me purpose and joy. I was finally happy. Our children are thriving at school and I think are generally well balanced good kids.
What has saddened me over the last 2 years is the constant comments from friends about my needing to work, and to go get a job.
My questions are these, does me getting a job make me a better friend or person? Does my value improve? Do you think I’m lazy and do nothing all day? Why is it important that I work, when we’re comfortable financially? I’m always there for my friends and have always thought I was generous with everything. I’m inclusive and never leave anyone out, I try and help as often as I can and I’m loyal, I’m always entertaining and cooking for everyone which I absolutely love doing! So why is it such a problem for some that I don’t work? I try to be unjudgemental and have no issues on whether a mom chooses to work or not. This is just my own personal choice! It just really saddens me that I feel like I somehow have to justify myself but even that’s not good enough. ”
A: ” You DO work, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Do what is best for you and your family. This is your (plural) journey, nobody else’s.”
” I think it’s a wonderful privilege to ge able to be present, with your children. Many don’t have the option. So you should feel absolutely blessed that you do. Revel in it, enjoy it and try not to listen to the judgement of others. Maybe they are simply trying to justify their choices by making you feel bad about yours. Enjoy it and filter out the negativity.”
” We were doing the same thing…. leaving home when children were barely awake and dropping them at play group. Fetching them when when we had finished our corporate jobs. Then I realised that we were missing out on the best of our childrens’ lives and we moved to Knysna. I did the advertising for my husband’s business, which meant I could fetch the children from preschool and spend quality time with them. When we moved back to Cape Town, I qualified as a learner facilitator which meant I worked school hours and could still spend the afternoons with my schnivlers. They grow up way too quickly – when they are older they spend far less time with you. You are blessed to be able to spend quality time with them. Enjoy every moment and don’t let anyone diminish it for you.”
” There are only two reasons people judge you for staying home with the kids
1) They themselves are career driven and only value on a person based on their career
2) They are envious and would love to be home with the kids too but for whatever reason they can’t.
You are incredibly privileged to be able to stay home and raise your children. You are happy, your kids are happy, what more can you really ask for? Pay no attention to the comments of these friends, the issue is theirs and more a reflection of who they are than who you are.
Enjoy your kids, they are a blessing.”
” The saddest thing is when people say that when you are a stay at home mom “you don’t work,.”Ha! Because a stay-at-home-Mom is constantly working, at a very hard, often thankless job. Your kids benefit from this every day. It is not always easy, your time is not your own, but as jobs go, it’s actually very rewarding. Jobs are not “better” because they are paid by some third party. Not everyone can handle it though … the pressure of always being responsible, the grind. I have friends who could not wait to get back to work, because they felt stuck and unhappy at home. It makes it hard for them to understand anybody else being able to do it! There should be respect, not judgment.”
” You have a job. One of the most important jobs in the world. Nothing competes of even comes close to raising your kids. We made the same decision when we had our kids and I have two amazing kids, with phenomenal manners that I raised and I can proudly look at my kids and say I did that. Any friends who took issue with that were clearly not friends. I did get lonely sometimes because a lot of my friends did work, but I found solutions and my kids got to do things very differently to a lot of their friends.”
” I was a working mom pretty much my whole parenting life. With a big demanding job. I would be incensed if anyone had the gall to tell me that “I had to go back home to raise my children!” It’s no-one’s business but the family’s own, for heaven’s sake. And who ever said there was only one way to raise happy, healthy kids? There just isn’t. Also. I’d love to meet any parent who can say with confidence that their way of raising children is “better” than anyone else’s. Who gets to be judge and jury? I wish we all were just more accepting of the varying models out there. We’ve only got one small life each, many of us don’t have a huge amount of choice in how we live it, if we do, we should celebrate each other’s choices, try to open our minds to what we can learn from each other, who knows … if people who judged SAHM’s so harshly dropped their prejudice, they might open their mind to a different option for THEM, for a stage of their lives when it might make sense of their family. To be honest, I haven’t experienced this prejudice much, myself. ( Maybe the judgers can see that I might breathe fire at them, if the subject was raised,) and I have had so much support from both working and SAHMs myself. I’ve had working Moms help my kids with exposure, insight, networks and I’ve had SAHM moms pick my kids up from soccer when I couldn’t. I’ve had both types of Moms teach my children to show respect to women no matter what their choices: Girls to have self-respect and boys to respect women. Love all. Respect all. ”
” I do wish that we women could stop judging one another as much and start supporting one another more. We all make the decisions we deem to be best for our families – and we are all doing our best. We need to stop competing and comparing. Imagine we regarded other women as sisters and other children as our own children – and did away with the petty judgement – and competition. I think that our society would be much happier. An idle dream, I am sure. But it would be great. True friends support one another. And there is a very fine line between friendship and familiarity. You deserve to be treated as it seems you treat others – with respect.”
” We made the very same decision 13 years ago. It took me a very long time to stop “feeling guilty” about being at home but circumstance allowed it and so it was to be. Trust me, you and your children are better off for the decision YOU made. If you are constantly miserable because you don’t spend that bit of time with then (that you do now) then what’s the point. Stop caring about others comments and live the life YOU want. Be the mom and the cook and wife YOU want to be. There is plenty of room for those friends that accept the choices YOU have made. Forgot about those that bring negativity to something you love. Go and be the best stay at home mom! You deserve it.”
” You need to think about your needs as anyone else’s opinion does not matter. I know this as this is exactly where I am right now. I took a sabbatical 2yrs ago and this is after starting and running a company for 15yrs. I don’t care who thinks what about me right now, I did what I needed to do and it starts and ends there. I and only I will make a decision on when to go back to work. I suggest you shut everyone’s opinion and do you!”
” I experienced seasons in my life. The choice was to raise four kids, and be a stay at home mom. Now that they are adults, my new season has started with a new purpose. As long as you keep doing what you love and me time, while being at home, all will be fine! And your choices are not someone else’s.”
” I have been through exactly what you have been through. I was ignored by one of the moms at my children’s school for a couple of months because I am a stay at home mum. I felt so hurt by it and she was not the first. I have also felt so judged by being a stay at home mum. It was also a decision that my husband and I made together. I love being at home with my children and being there for them.
This is what I have learnt, be proud of your decision to be a stay at home mum and know that you are doing the best for your children. The friends who are judging are most likely jealous of you, they want what you have and jealousy makes you nasty. It’s hard but try and ignore those remarks. Know that you are the best mum for your children and it was your decision and nobody else’s decision to make. Everyone has an opinion, listen to your heart rather than anyone else’s opinion. Just be you!
I love this quote from Dr Seuss
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
” As a husband,I will tell you firstly this…if you and your husband feel that is what is needed in your home … then do it. We faced a similar scenario, not exactly like yours but we got through it.
I was retrenched some years ago and my wife was my pillar, so when the same happened to her, it was my turn. However, our deal was that we would always support each other in everything. She was at home for almost 4 years and I kept reminding her that it made no difference, if she worked or stayed at home, as long as we were in agreement. She returned to work last year, however from time to time, I still see that look of longing in her eyes (she’ll probably strangle me after reading this!) She enjoyed being at home with our kids, but she always felt guilty, that I had to work alone. Each time I reminded her that was her choice and that I was absolutely OK with it.
So, if your husband says this to you, too, and it’s what you want to and can do, then why are you concerned with others?”
” What I would do to be a stay at home mum. I’m missing out on so much, school activities, quality time with my son. And you’ll agree, stay at home mums do more work. But you also sacrifice a lot but seeing your kids grow up… Priceless. What I would do to be in your shoes.”
” All of the above. And when you chatting away in a social situation and you get that “so what do you do?” and you say you a housewife and then there’s that subtle shift you feel, like a dismissal, you clearly no longer seem to have anything worth contributing to the group of peacocks showing off their feathers. I was so very fortunate to be in the position to be able to stay at home – financially – but it meant sacrificing on every level, like not going for coffees at cafes, buying that random magazine, buying my clothes at sales, any luxury extras, no fancy holidays, same car forever etc etc. I made that choice and I was happy with it, but yes, there are definitely times when I wondered whether I shouldn’t have gone back to work (esp when the kids were being little shits!) because then we could’ve had more holidays, when our kids would come home from school and say “so x is going to Italy for the hols and y is going to America and z is off to Plett again, where are we going to?” Romania darlin, Romania. And not being able to give them the latest gimmick or latest Playstation and knowing if I worked, we could’ve. Feeling guilty that all the financial pressure is on your partner is also something that seeps through. BUT…. hell no, wouldn’t change a thing, and I actually feel really sorry for all the Moms out there that had to /have to work, they don’t have the choice, I did and I believe I choose the right one for me – and that’s all that matters. So Enjoy- it’s worth all the sacrifice and all the snide little unwarranted remarks.”
” I love working. My husband loves working. My kids are fine. We are also vegetarian. Not everyone else is. So what’s the problem? Everyone is entitled to live their different life and make their own, different choices! OMG. Try a little tenderness world.”
” Some moms feel like AMAZING moms when they go back to work.
Some moms feel like AMAZING moms when they stay home.
Some moms feel like AMAZING moms if they manage not to leave their children overnight for the first year.
Some moms feel like AMAZING moms if they do manage to leave their child overnight in the first year.
You are a mom, who needs to decide what will make you feel AMAZING, and do that.”
” Unfortunately the nature of people is to judge and to separate similar from different. . . us from them . . and create social constructs which at that time and place work for some reason (after ww2 women werent encouraged to work as there werent enough jobs for everyone – now we have to work because the economy is so hectic worldwide – so society pushes for different things at different times depending on what they perceive is needed etc) different is always somewhat of a threat. however – if you think about the incredibly diverse nature of humanity – there are so many choices – workable, good choices of how to be in life – that it is laughable that we could think for one moment OUR way is better than any other. I find often people don’t think it through, operate under an assumption that 1) everyone else should be like them 2) what they know about life is all there is . . . also people tend to talk before thinking -and may be trying to connect by offering opinions or ‘advice’ . . . they don’t realise how unwanted or unnecessary this is. Ironically – just 30 years ago the reverse of this situation was true – and moms were given a hard time for going to work . . . so really you need to put it into a perspective . . . and let go of what other people think. Get clear on YOUR value to the world – whatever it is . . . we ALL have value. and on the Village it is pretty clear how much value is attached to mothers – working or not . . this is a nice example and lesson though – and something we should all take forward – by looking at who WE judge like this . . . and taking some time to work on acceptance of others’ choices. We are all unique – and what works in one relationship, family, for one child or in any life choice really – is NOT what will work for everyone and why should it? In diversity we find our strength and ensure our survival . . . if we were all the same it would be a very boring and limited world and I for one would get pretty annoyed with a roomful of ME all the time.”
” This reminds me of something I can’t stop thinking about: We took our son out to the Chinese restaurant called Tai Ping in Newlands the other night and met a waitress called Gloria. She is from Malawi and told us that she has a six year old son back home who lives with her sister. Gloria sends money home, as much as she can because that is why she’s here. She calls her son regularly and when she asks to speak to him, he says, ‘if you want to speak to me, then come here yourself.’ She has not been home since the end of 2017 and her son keeps asking why she is not there with him. She told us her story with humour about how he says to her, ‘come here yourself to speak to me,’ but it broke my heart. She works a very long day, goes home, then back to work.”
” I think you’re crazy to stay home but my opinion is irrelevant and based on me and what makes me happy (staying home would not make me happy). So if you are happy to be a stay at home mom, your family can afford it and are happy with it, then carry on and to hell with anyone else’s opinions. I would caution you to be practical with your planning in case you are suddenly left a single mom due to death, disability or divorce, but other than that – do whatever works for you and your family. I wish I was in the position to be able to choose to stay at home or work – perhaps your friends are jealous. Life would be so dull if we all wanted the same things, thought the same way, or made the same decisions.”
” I used to find it totally offensive being at dinner parties or work events with my husband. There was a period when our kids were small when I took a sabbatical from work. From being someone (I worked in finance,) who every man around a table was quite happy talk to, suddenly I was sent to the “girl’s” side of the table. It was just so obvious, so patronizing and actually upsetting. I went back to work when our youngest started primary school and swapped out into head hunting, as I can now make my job work around my kids’ needs. And guess what? I recruit high powered execs. I have had some of those patronizing men, contact me looking of jobs. being in a position of power, being in a position to help them,(or not! I woulddn’t be so petty,) does give me a very lovely warm fuzzy feeling to be honest. I have had to re-introduce myself to more than one or two of them and remind them of the dinner parties where they were so patronizing and I always say ” Never underestimate a Mom,” to them, when they get embarrassed. It’s just lovely.”