I've previously written, rather strongly, about how I feel it is best if moms stay home to raise their young children. Perhaps I feel so passionate about it because I saw it from the child's perspective, growing up with a very busy mom that didn't have a ton of time for me. She was constantly worn out or busy. Don't get me wrong, she was/is a great mom, and did what she needed to; I absolutely believe that. But I still can't help but feel a little sadness when I think about all of the times I wish my parents had been available when they weren't. I know, I should just be grateful I was provided for and loved, right? And I am. But, that doesn't stop me from feeling uneasy when I see new moms, now my age, choosing the busy, full-time working life when they don't really have to. I feel for the kids. To be honest, I even feel for the teenagers, not just the young ones, that have moms that have lives that are too busy for them. So, although I'm learning to not be so legalistic on this issue by telling moms what they should be doing, I still feel for the kids in these situations.
Doing Without So Much
I recently read an article (which I recommend reading) on the money aspect of having the wife stay at home with the children, rather than work full time. She discusses the real challenges and fears that can go along with a tight budget. But she also discusses how we can do without more than we realize. The other day I was talking to a supervisor at work, and she lamented that she wished she had been able to stay home with her kids, but they couldn't make it work on one income. It struck me as odd, because I am aware that both her and her husband have good paying jobs, and they live in a wealthier style. And that is where I think the confusion is at. We think we couldn't possibly live on a lower standard of living than we've been used to, so we follow the norm in our culture, and send our kids off to be raised by someone else. This is where I want to appeal to moms, not guilt-trip them. You can most likely make it work on one income. In the article I mentioned above, the writer mentions how God would miraculously provide for them, almost on a daily basis. We don't have to understand how it all will work out, but have trust in a God that will provide for us. Not that we won't have to think hard about how to scrimp and save, and make adjustments along the way. But, it really can be an opportunity to grow your family's faith.
The Gift of a Relaxed Pace
I love, in the article, how she talks about one of the best parts of staying home as a mom is providing something for your family that money can't buy: "time with your family at a more relaxed pace." Perhaps it's because "time" is one of my main love languages, but this is a gift that, Lord willing, I have every intention of giving my family. To be available for a chat, to go to a soccer game, or just to have relaxed evenings at home together without being completely worn out is invaluable in my eyes. The time spent together in the home is where the real training and living happens. It is a tangible way to make our families realize they are worth more than having nice material things or a fulfilling career. And, if I were to take this idea a step further, I'd even make the case about not being too busy as a wife, regardless of if kids are in the picture, and making sure hubby feels like you have time for him and his needs.... but that's an article for another day.
But sometimes the decision for mom to work goes beyond any money needs. I was talking to another mom that told me she just got so bored staying home with her little ones, and that was why she went back to work. This thought-pattern also struck me as an odd reason to not stay home with your kids, because since when is parenting about self-fulfillment? It made me sad for her kids that they were put in a position of needing to entertain their mom in order for her to be available to personally raise and influence them. It was about her, rather than about their needs. Making kids feel like your priority, not careers or money, is why I keep coming back to this topic and attempting to influence how other moms think about it.
You only get the chance to impact your family so strongly for a little while. Think seriously about your working decisions now. Maybe you'll still choose to work full-time, and that is completely your decision, but at least you will have heard the plight from one of the kids' perspectives. A kid that, although thankful for a good and loving mom, is now grown up and wishes things could have been different in her case.