The Mommy War Within

Lisa writes: Many young women are engaged in something characterized by the media as the mommy wars.  In this “war,” women who have continued to work full-time while having children look down at their stay-at-home counterparts for backing away from the workforce. In return, those women who are caring for their children full-time, denigrate the parenting of women who have combined work outside the home with motherhood.

I don’t believe that women are at war with each other, but rather that any hint of a clash sells copy.  If there is a conflict, it is inside each of us, not between us.  The only mommy war I waged was with myself.

mommy wars, sahm, working mom

The War Within

We wage a war with ourselves from the moment we drive away from our babies and go back to work. Sometimes the professional in us wins, sometimes the mom.  We wage war within ourselves when we stay home to nurture our children and then berate ourselves for “wasting our education” and not living up to the dream we had during our younger years. Some of us find an uneasy peace, others never quell the internal battle.

Much has been written about this topic and almost all of it speculates on the costs to mothers and children of either decision. Most women writing about this topic still have children in their homes thus can only guess how they will feel about the decision they made, when it is all said and done. But a generation of time has passed and there is no reason to speculate, we have the data, if not the answers.

Millennials were raised by women who came of age after the feminist revolution.  They were raised by mothers who graduated from college in equal numbers as their fathers and entered the workforce with similar qualifications.  They were raised by the first generation of women who truly had a choice. These children are leaving home or have left and the fall-out of their mothers’ decisions, the benefits and the regrets can now be examined.

Regret

I am just going to put it out there and say I have huge regrets about leaving the full-time workforce.  I stopped working in an office when my older sons were two and three and I was contemplating having their brother.  I had a job in which I left home before my children awoke and came home to find them in pajamas, showered, fed and ready to wind down for the evening.

mommy war, working mom, sahmNeither my husband nor I could do almost any work from home, as this was the mid-1990s, and thus pre-internet. According to research by Professor Pamela Stone, I was a classic opt-out, a woman who had never before imagined herself outside the workforce but found that the long hours and inflexible schedule left her feeling devoid of options.

If I wanted to know what was happening with my children, I asked my nanny and at some point, for me, that didn’t feel like parenting.

So I found a way to work from home by writing books, joining boards and volunteering my time. Like so many other women, I opted for flexibility.

I regret not using my degrees for the purpose they were intended, but when I look upon my grown and nearly grown sons, it is very hard to have a moment’s doubt that spending the last 17 years with them was the right decision.

Clearly I am of two minds, torn as to whether I could have or should have done things differently.  I think that if technology had allowed me to work differently, more flexibly, I might have kept working outside of our home.  But since I am ambivalent, I asked others for their retrospective thoughts and I am going to ask you for yours.

Looking Back

Sharon “I don’t regret giving up my career at all – though there were times when I wished I was earning money, and there were times when the tedium of motherhood made a regular job seem glamorous and fun.”

Linda “Staying home with my kids and beginning a new career as a writer and then editor was fantastic — but in hindsight I see that if I had stuck it out, I would probably have landed a position at a prestigious university in the area and achieved my original dream career and be doing something that I would feel good about.”

Mary Dell “I was gung-ho about working as a new MBA and loved my Manhattan job, before I had my first baby. Then, with a small child at home, an hour commute each way, babysitting to juggle and a husband who began traveling quite a bit, the stress began to outweigh the pleasure.  I was a pretty tired mom when I arrived home to greet my firstborn and he deserved better. I hope that as I stepped down from the workforce, to job share, and then to stay home full-time, that both kids got a more engaged mom than they would have otherwise. I know it made me happier. ”

Amy “I don’t handle stress well and I know for me personally, that I would not have balanced work/home well. What I wanted most, was to be fully present and enjoy my kids and, for me, staying home was how I accomplished that. I did begin to feel regret as they grew. I began saying to my husband “what was I thinking?” as I moved into the “what do I do now, I’m 50 and jobless stage.” But in the bigger picture, I know it was right for me and them.”

Pam “And sometimes I feel like a ‘loser’ for not working outside the home! I also have to say that working in a male-dominated environment as I did I was able to get the male perspective on things – and believe me, they have as many concerns about their children as women do. They just don’t have these guilt games thrust upon them by our culture.“

The term ‘mommy wars’ suggests that I could or should be on one side or the other, but I am on both.  I am simultaneously glad that I had the luxury to spend years with my sons and regretful that I passed up a career that might have been something.

The reality is that, to some extent, I had a choice, something most men I know never had. The fact that it’s not a perfect choice, is laid out by Michael Winerip when he discusses how both he and his wife each took a decade on the home front and a decade as the primary breadwinner.  Each lost something in their decade at home as they did in their decade in high career mode.  Men are not immune to the pull of the home front.  Recent Pew research found that only 23% of mothers felt that they spent too little time with their children while 46% of fathers felt their time was inadequate.

If there is one thing life teaches us it is that we never get to wind back the tape, never again watch a movie with our 6-year old cuddled in our lap or spend hours sledding on a snow day with our 10-year old.  We can go back to work, but we cannot go back to their childhood. Work is still there, the children are not.  I am not naive enough to think I didn’t make a professional sacrifice but not foolish enough to say that many who worked full-time didn’t make a personal one, as well.

You?

I would love to hear about your experience.  As your kids grow up and leave home, how do you feel about the decision you made to stay in the workplace or to become a stay-at-home parent?  I am putting together a longer piece on this subject, a retrospective from the viewpoint of women whose children are grown or nearly grown.  If you would like to share your thoughts (anonymously or for attribution) on your decision to stay or leave the workforce during your child-rearing years please contact me at grownandflown@gmail.com or leave a message on our FB page https://www.facebook.com/grownandflown.

+ Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Comments

  1. Such a great point, LIsa. The “mommy wars” are thrust upon us by outside forces and we don’t have to buy into it. I stayed home with my kids, for the most part, as they grew up, and am glad I did. I have the same professional regrets you mentioned, but not the magnitude I would have felt had I made the choice to work. And I stress, that in my situation, it was a choice. I’m always acutely aware of the good fortune I had to have had the choice. I know many women do not – esp, and obviously, single mothers.

    I’ve had female friends and female family members who had the choice and chose to pursue their careers. And did it beautifully – with close bonds with their grown children, strong children, well educated children, curious, well balanced children.

    I have no regrets. When we do the best we can and we look into our hearts before making a big decision like this, we are at peace.

    • Barb you are so right about the choice. It is the luxury for a family to live on one income that brings this entire issue up. I wish I were like you for I did not find peace with this issue. I feel like I should have worked and just as strongly I felt as though I should have been with my boys. It pulled at me all of these years, thus the post. You are right, women do it well both ways, thanks for jumping in here.

  2. I never felt torn about it. I always wanted to stay home with my children, and I did. No regrets here.

  3. What an excellent article here! It is all about finding peace with our decisions and making our plan that best fits who we are and how we parent. It’s all grey… no black and white parenting. The key word to the mommy war is peace. Peace within…

  4. I think we are being played. As you say, conflict sells. We women need to support each other. It takes a lot of fortitude sometimes, because you don’t always have the energy to stop an angry retort and remind yourself that the person you’re responding is probably just being played by the conflict-provokers. I’d suggest keeping this in mind: we can remind ourselves that every woman is doing what she feels is best, and what she is capable of. Conflict in this area serves no one. When I was a divorced mother, my son’s step-mom had two children with my ex. She stayed at home and I worked, and we went to all the school activities together and looked out for each other. We joked that between the two of us we made one perfect mom for our three kids. BTW, now I’m a SAHG (grandma) so I’ve been on both sides of the street, and I can tell you, nothing is perfect! So have a little compassion, everybody.

    • You are so right about compassion and wow! what an amazingly wonderful family. Your son was very lucky to grow up in such an understanding family. I like SAHG, think it has a future, thanks so much, Lynne for adding your thoughts here.

  5. I was in my third year of university when my first son was born. Before he actually “popped” out (bad description, I know), I was determined to put him in daycare and continue on with my school as if nothing had happened. How much could a baby affect my life? As if LOL.

    When I saw his little face, it didn’t quite work out that way. I ended up staying home and going to school part time, sharing the load with my husband who was also a student. It took us longer to finish – and my husband really just kept going – but it was worth it.

    When my second son showed up two years later, I couldn’t keep up. Luckily, I’d finished my first degree, and I chose to stay home at that point. Then we had a third, and me staying home seemed like a done deal.

    Eventually, I began working part time in the fitness industry. This gave me a little freedom to do things on my own, while still the flexibility to be there for my kids.

    I’ve never regretted staying home with them. I will say though that I wish I could’ve duplicated myself so that I could’ve gone after the career that I always dreamed of having. I did go back to architecture school and then teacher’s college years later, but both were very hard to manage.

    It makes me angry sometimes when I go out with my husband – say to a party or some other social gathering with people we don’t know – and people only want to hear about his job as a surgeon. No one cares about my job as a stay-at-home mother/part time fitness instructor/wanna-be architect. I feel sad about that, because I think, “Damn, I’m just as smart as he is. I have ideas to share in this world.” That makes me upset.

    I don’t know how to reconcile my conflicting feelings on this issue. I’ve always taken my job as mother to my children very seriously, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. I just wish other people valued it the same way I do.

    Great question!

    • Amanda, I am with you, and hence the conflict. Same job as my husband, that is where we met, and although I am so glad for the years with my sons, it is my husband who has the career. I think you have summed it up so so so well, thank you.

  6. This is a great article. I am on both sides too. I never worked outside the home…I was a stay at home mom until I HAD to find a job in the last year and had to work outside the home. It has been a very difficult transition to not be there for all the things at school, pick ups, helping with homework and being too tired to make dinner. Add to that being a single parent and I’m just plain exhausted.

    But, here’s the thing that I think. Being a stay at home mom is WORK. Just as hard and taxing as working outside the home. It’s just a different kind of work. Both are equally important and both are equally difficult and both have their good points and bad.

    There shouldn’t be any mommy wars, as we are all in this mommy boat together. At least that’s what I think. We should support each other!

    • We are in the mommy boat together and I could not have made it through these years without other moms lending a hand. Staying at home is work, at one point when I went back to work, I thought it was a huge relief and many other moms have told me the same thing. Thanks so much, Lee.

  7. I always knew I could never be a SAHM. It’s not in my genes. I need something outside of the family and that’s the right choice for me. My kids are happier when mom is happier and it helps teach them that women can work. However, I also made the choice to not put my career first — late nights, always being on the computer. I’ve figured out a way to be a WAHM. It’s not always ideal but it works for me. And I believe the choice others make are just as right as mine.

    • Key phrase, which I should have thought of (!), “kids are happier when mom is happier”. Great thought and it sounds like you really made it work, thanks Jennifer.

  8. Lisa,

    Great question and great piece (as always).

    I never will regret my decision to stay home. I loved, and still love, being a mother. When our son was eventually diagnosed with Learning Disabilities, I knew what my job was beyond being a mom.

    Our public school system was horrific for kids with LD, so my “job” became being his advocate, learning all I could about rights and the law, and eventually coming up against many angry people in the school’s administration when I fought them for giving my son what he needed/deserved. Eventually we put him in private school with others with LD (mega bucks but so worth it) and today he’s a sophomore in college and flourishing without needing ANY help! Did I do the right thing? You bet.

    I think there are, sometimes, women who look down their noses at those of us to choose to stay home. I can’t honestly say there are none. I’ve had the displeasure of that experience. But that is their problem, not mine.

    My personal proof that I did the right thing is in that happy, confident, intelligent young man who smiles and tells me he loves me every day.

    Cathy

    • Cathy, You bring up such an important point, that I hope to get into in a longer piece. Life happens, things happen with our kids and even if we are sure being a working mom is what we want, our family may need otherwise. Sounds like you did amazing things for your son, you have so much to be proud of! Thanks for this important story.

  9. So well said, as usual.

    I grew up in a family where my parents ran a business together. There was a span of a few years when we were small that we had a babysitter on Saturdays, but otherwise my mom arranged her work schedule to be home with us. Looking back I don’t know how she did all she did, carving out her own career as an artist and running a gallery and doing all the cooking and cleaning and sewing. My dad is lovely and kind, but not to be counted on for practical things.

    Maybe being raised by artists set up the whole sense of what my choices were in a different way. Now my husband and I run a business together and arrange our hours based on our kids’ schedules. There have been very few instances where I felt torn about going to work. Much of the time I’ve been able to bring my kids with me if I wanted to. There was a year when my husband was deployed in Iraq where my youngest was with me all the time, and we put a sign on the door of the store that read, “Open by appointment or chance” so I could work around my son. When my husband isn’t deployed he’s the stay at home parent.

    My husband and I worked hard to create a life where the choice to be home or work has not been much of an issue. I like the balance we’ve struck. I wish more people were in a position to have something like it.

    • Korinthia, flexibility is every mother’s blessing. I truly believe that as more employers become more flexible women will stay in the workplace and have the kind of experience both you and your mother were able to carve out. So many jobs still require rigid attendance and make the parent part of our jobs hard to uphold.

  10. Lisa – everything is right on the money here. I think most moms typically have doubts about whether they are doing the right thing. Whereas our generation didn’t have as much of a choice, today’s moms do – and that’s great! The unfortunate part for women is, if they do choose to stay home and raise ether kids for 10 years or so – getting back into the workplace tends to be harder, thus the reason for the call for more workplace flexibility, placing more value on women’s contributions, etc… What’s so amazing is that so many of these women are choosing to forge their own career paths from home, as writers, editors, fitness instructors, etc… which allows them more flexibility than the daily grind. I think that says volumes about the creativity and drive of today’s moms! They are bound and determined to find a combination that works for them!

    • Thanks Ellen, it seems like the technology is a huge aid. When the kids are in bed, if you can get just a bit of a jump on the next day’s work, it is a huge benefit. In a 1990s world this was not really possible.

  11. I just emailed you my thoughts on this subject. Great piece!

  12. Carpool Goddess says:

    I was a SAHM, but I could see the struggle that many of my full-time working friends had. They loved their work and success, but for many it came at a price that tore at them.

  13. This is such a great subject. I gave up what I thought at the time was my dream job to stay home with my daughter, that was 1993. Today, I could have easily done that same job from home.
    I loved staying home with my kids, but I also found myself alone. At the time my decision was certainly a minority amongst my friends. I had to listen to the snide comments of “well that’s all you do is stay home.” I remember getting so angry one day at my friend and I barked backed with “well, you’re paying someone a hefty sum to do a portion of my job.” I felt I was always defending my decision….ugh.
    I always kept busy dabbling into volunteering, especially when the kids were in school and working part time here and there over the years. I wouldn’t trade the time I had with my children for the world. My kids and their friends who also spent a lot of time in my home, are very open with me about their problems, concerns and love.

    • Aghhh…a real battle from the mommy war, really hard. I hope we have moved along and it’s clear that all moms work and work hard. So glad that you jumped into the conversation, thanks.

  14. This is such a timely question for me! Yesterday I had my dissertation defense hearing. I passed, and actually the hardest question that my dissertation committee asked me was: “What are you going to do now?” They all expected me to either name a few academic professor positions that I would be applying for or to name a nonprofit where I wanted to do research. But I just said that I would be freelance writing for a while. Their eyes went completely blank. I could have just said that I wanted to become a circus performer. I want to write. Not only because I love it, but because I love the flexibility it provides me to stay home with my toddler.

    • Jessica, It seems that for most of us flexibility, if we have the choice, is the operative word. Congratulations on your PhD, such a huge accomplishment. And to have done it with a toddler, you already know much about work-life balance, I imagine.

  15. Great post babe, when I lost my job due to budget cuts I was forced to be a SAHM and while I loved spending time with my son I hated it. I was NOT meant to be at home. But I can say I’ve been on both sides. When my MIL, SIL, and mother would say see how hard it is to be a SAHM, I would reply, but you have never been a working mom so you can’t compare, ONLY I CAN and I have to say they are equally hard and equally wonderful.

    I love my son and fight for him, educate him, nurture him, care for him, model how to be a good person, I want him to be the best man he can be. I know that his time at daycare, an educational daycare, is giving him more than I could. I didn’t like playgroups, socializing with mommies I didn’t like, hobnobbing with ladies who chose to be stay at home moms and could afford all the luxuries I couldn’t (live in a stepford wives type of town), I didn’t like playgrounds with crazy moms and mean kids.

    My son gets the best of both worlds, and I love working. I was meant to teach and meant to be a mom. BUT, I would never preach or judge, each mom needs to do what is best for her and her family. AND no other moms should judge each other, we need to support and protect each other.

    Again great post, Happy Saturday Sharefest.

  16. Vinma says:

    I read your post in a certain turning point of my life. I have 2 children and I just returned to work after the birth of my 2nd baby girl, just 2 weeks ago… Going are tough at the moment. Both she, I and my family are still getting used to the new routine. I miss her and my first born son terribly while I am at work and feels guilty all over every day. The thing is I cannot imagine living without my career. I was always career oriented. I want to stay full time with my babies but at the same time, wants to make a mark in my professional life. I work in a bank so there are options for flexible hours. Currently I am waiting for an approval from my company to reduce few hours of my work week so that I can spend some more time with my kids…that is a start and I will see where that goes… I loved your post..exactly my thoughts. I write about work life for mothers once in a while.. really feels in tune with this topic. Found you are sharefest at SITS :)

  17. This is a great article! I decided to stay at home with my children, and once they all went to school I used the time that gave me to start blogging. Now I’m a professional blogger and I can still be there when the kids get home from school. I love it.

    • Surely the best of both worlds for you. FInding what works for each of us is more than half the battle.

  18. This is so very true! I’ve waged the ‘I’ve wasted my degree’ battle several times with myself! Thank you so much for this post I needed it!

    Visiting from SITS!

  19. I finally found a way to juggle both. I work 7a-11a Monday through Friday. It brings in enough income to help, but I am no longer missing out on things.

    Stopping in from SITS Saturday ShareFest

  20. I definitely fight this battle within myself. I just upped from part time hours to full time hours and I am terrified of making it all balance. I had always thought I would be a SAHM but it just didn’t work out that way. I telecommute so I feel like I straddle the work and home life in a weird way because I am home but home is also work. I don’t begrudge others their choices and don’t see myself at war with anyone else but I do say I get jealous of other moms. Mostly because they look more balanced than I though I imagine they too struggle.

  21. Well said. There is no right or wrong answer here…it’s up to each individual mom and family to decide how to balance their own needs. I stopped working corporately years ago and never went back. My children are teens and tweens now and I choose to work from home at my own business because it allows me the flexibility that I need with my family’s busy sports schedule. As long as they are willing to put in the time, I’m willing to help them pursue. Obviously, its a personal choice. Wonderful post!!

  22. KG says:

    Stopping by from #SITSSharefest.

    I’m a stay at home mom with my 2 year old – when I’m not doing an install, or shopping for an event, I’m with him in the house. I do have times that I have to stop to play with him, feed him, to workout but I’d rather do this for my entire life than be far from him everyday because I’m working a 9-5 which is always more than 8 hours with transportation.

  23. I’m stopping by via the SITSSharefest.

    I stay at home and sometimes I wonder if I should work. If I’m showing my kids that I do enough. But in the end, I know staying at home is what is right for me. I have tons of respect for working mothers.

  24. {Melinda} I totally agree that the war is within ourselves. I have been a SAHM, WAHM and work-outside-the-home mom at different points. None of them are easy. None of them leave you completely content with what you are doing at that moment. You always feel like you should be doing something else — like some part of your life is not being tended to properly.

    I’ve come to have peace with the fact that there are seasons. During the hands-on years of motherhood, I am going to have to sacrifice and that’s okay. They are worth it. Now that they are teens, I’m getting to pursue some things I couldn’t when they were little. It come back around. I don’t regret any of the sacrifices I made in my worklife for my children. I truly don’t.

  25. Visiting from SITS!

    This is a struggle I wage daily. I chose to go back to work, soon after my twin boys were born. My husband stayed home with them and he worked in the summers when I am primarily off work.
    I regret not being home and spending time with them every day. I regret not being the one to play with them and learn with them.
    But, I didn’t have a choice. I made more money than my husband and I needed to make money to support my family.
    I feel really lucky that my husband was able to stay home and we didn’t have to do the early morning daycare drop off.
    Like most women I struggle with this daily, but in the end I have two healthy boys and a job that pays for my family to live well.

    • Kerrie, you are exactly what I was thinking when I wrote this, thanks so much for sharing you story, it something that weighs on so many of us every single day. I would love to get in touch with you and hear more.

  26. I don’t have kids – but I think you’re right, any “war” is usually within the mind. At least of the women I know, I don’t think anyone would criticise another’s choices, when we all know how difficult it is to carve a path through life.

  27. only you could write a post that elicits such warmth and support from so many women when so much of the writing and comments in the last few weeks have been vitriolic. I assume most the rock throwing comes in reaction to the new CEO of Yahoo, her nursery and her no work from home policy.(i do wonder, though, how that nursery in the office is going to work out, once that baby’s mobile). i thought we’d fought these battles among ourselves in the 60’s & 70’s and put them to rest. it was wonderful to read all these supportive comments from other mothers – no matter stay at home or working outside the home, we’re all working mothers. i stayed home but once divorced decided to sell the house and use my share to continue to stay at home. i had to work after that-no choice. my first job was in publishing and i loved it. for two years it was good then my boss wanted me to expand my horizons, start to travel and learn to become a publisher . it was tempting but i had no one to stay with the kids and they were having a hard time with me working as none of their friends moms worked outside the home. i quit, moved and found a job that didn’t do much for me but it paid the bills. i have lots of guilt and lots of regret for the things i missed. I carry it around with me like a basket of dirty laundry. I think in this economy, more of us don’t have a choice about working than do. but whether we have a choice or not, we should all strive to be like the women who commented here and the women who write this blog.

    • Sandy, thanks for your very kind worlds and sharing this story. I think over the course of our kids growing up we try so many different things (I have) and depending on how the kids are doing we see what works. I would love to hear more or your story!

  28. I also have to comment on the notion of “choice” because I think the vast majority of women who work outside the home do it out of necessity rather than choice. I think they are too busy grinding it out to have much of a voice in this conversation. To have a choice seems like a luxury. I didn’t have a choice until my kids were well into their teens. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to be home with them for a few years. I really enjoyed it. That said, there is a boredom factor to being home. And a stress factor when you work! What a choice! :) Have you read Linda Hirshman’s “Get to Work”? When it came it in 2007, it pissed a lot of people off, especially women who stayed home. But for me, it resonated. It resonated, and yet I like(d) being home. And yet, being home is/can be boring! I am a bundle of contradictions.

    • Pam you are so right. Going to get a copy of it now, thanks for the suggestion. Choice is a luxury, and you are so right that this should always be remembered. I am with you on the contradictions, hence the post.

      • I’ll be interested in your reaction to the book. I think it pissed so many people off that it largely ended up getting ignored. But she had some real truthful things to say, in my opinion.

  29. Never in a zillion years was there ever any decision to work or not to work. I despise daycare and nannies. I know. I’m insufferable, but you asked, right? I wanted to be a mom, a 365/24/7 mom. I had a college degree and beyond, I was literate, intelligent, and I wanted to be the one to see my baby’s first smile, first everything. I wanted to share every moment of his life, enjoy him, teach him, enrich him, play with him, and change every single diaper. I’m not sorry. I would do it over again. I have no regrets, only years and years of memories of a joy so immense that it continues to fulfill me. He will and forever be the best thing I ever did in my life.

    • I did ask and am so glad that you told me. SO many women feel as you do, and to be happy with your decision is truly the best. I would like to talk to you more about this…

  30. I don’t regret my decision to leave the workforce and stay at home with my kids. However now that my kids are older, I know it will be hard to re-enter the work force with the type of position I would want. Plus my kids are heavily into sports and their schedules would make it difficult for me as well…and I want them to have those experiences. So I am trying to make my own way with my own business. That said, I wish everyone could simply understand that we all have different needs and make different choices, based on what is right for ourselves and our families. It’s hard enough without us judging one another.

    • When you are ready an incredible organization run by my friend Carol Fishman Cohen called iRelaunch has books, webinars, conferences and research to help you get your career started again. Could not agree with you more that each parent has to do what works best for their family, without judgement.

  31. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. As a work-outside-the-home mom, I long to spend time with my kids. Then again, I think about the luxuries I DO get by going to an office (hello calm and stress-free lunch), and appreciate it more. My husband and I do hope that I can stay home eventually, but I’m hoping to fulfill one of my earlier dreams and eventually start my own business. Who knows what I’ll think in the long run, but reading all of these perspectives was certainly very interesting.

    • One of my favorite things about working outside the house? Reading the newspaper uninterrupted…really. Good lucky Leslie, it sounds like you have some great plans.

  32. “Luckily” for me I didnt have a college degree or career, just jobs and titles, so even if we hadnt decided before marrying that I would stay at home, in our area it would have been more costly for daycare than my take home paycheck. Well, for a daycare with which we would be comfortable entrusting our babes.

    Being a stay at home doesnt mean I dont miss the office life. Getting my foot in the door, being promoted and receiving raises, interacting with adults and learning from mentors were all very fulfilling aspects of corporate life.

    There are parts to both lives I love(d) and parts I could do without. But, once the boys are both in school I look forward to returning to an office. Until then I will write…well, after too.

    Absolutely loved this piece. I also appreciate that you put the male perspective in here. My opinion is if you ever have to err, let it be on the cautious side. There will never be an opportunity to get that time back with a child. Like you said, there will always be an opportunity to work.

    • Marcia, I could not agree with you more. I think the reality is that some type of part time work is the holy grail. Not easy to find, not easy to manage but in the long run a great solution for many parents. SO so so glad that you shared your thought here.

  33. Brea says:

    I agree that my mommy war is definitely with myself. I drop my son off at 8, my husband picks him up at 5, and I arrive home to greet them. I don’t so much feel judged by others, as I am critical with myself. The sad fact is that while working isn’t a choice for me, I feel like I’m not getting enough time with my son, and even if I did stay home, I’m don’t think that I’d be good at it (I have a 2 year oldm and patience isn’t my best virtue). So I’m failing in both my real life and my imaginary life.

    I don’t believe that my son is worse for the wear, as he loves his excellent preschool, but I surely am. I never expected myself to feel this way, and if I have a daughter, I will definitely counsel her to enter a field that has much more flexibility than mine. I hope that I eventually have peace with my situation, though I fear that it will only come in 20 years when I know that my son (and any future children) are thriving and show no signs of neglect.

    • Oh Brea, this break my heart. Like you I am filled with conflicting feelings about what I have done, but please know that you are trying your best and be kind to yourself. It is very hard to know what is right and since kids and marriages change what seems right a one point quickly become untenable. Flexibility seems to be the holy grail for mothers and so few jobs offer it. I am so glad that you are here and that you shared this. Thank you.

    • v says:

      I know this post is a few months late, but I’m going to reply. Not to be judgmental or nosy, but are you really sure that you have to work? If you are truly unhappy juggling both, it is possible to stay home.

      Most of my neighbors are probably shocked by the amount of money our household pulls in because they are probably making twice as much. We live in a very good neighborhood with good schools. We don’t have cable, or cell phones (well, 1 pay as you go that I put $100/ year on for emergencies), economy internet. I’ve learned to cook from scratch because I have the time, but not the money for prepared foods. We limit eating out to special occasions. So our food budget is small, but we have really good food. We have older model cars that we paid cash for (no car payments). Our only debt is our mortgage; we have both long term 401k and short term savings. And because you’re cutting your income, your tax bill will go down drastically. I think many today think that living on one income is out of reach financially when it can be done and done well. IF you are truly unhappy, you can make it happen.

  34. a says:

    This website is great 5976abdf788d1ea2e5e6a084f8c0e33c

  35. ekSi says:

    I stumbled upon your blog when I googled “Working Mom Regrets”. I’m torn between staying at home with my 18 months daughter (and I’m 6 months pregnant) and staying at work. I earn quite a lot and I have my parents to worry about, apart of my own family. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t plan for their retirement, thus their life will one day depend on me.

    I live in Jakarta, Indonesia where good education are expensive. I have so many things on my plate, I feel that I couldn’t just quit the job and stay at home.

    I’m saddened to the fact that whenever I took a week or 2 weeks leave, I noticed a vast improvement in my daughter behavior, development and vocabulary. I feel that she has a great potential waiting for me to open up. Right now she’s taken care by a nanny with supervision by my parents. I couldn’t expect the caretaker to take her into level of knowledge I could have provided.

    I wish I could just quit. But I could not. I feel so guilty to my baby girl :'(

    Anyway, it’s good to have read your thoughts and others :-)

  36. I did a thesis in grad school on “the cultural contradictions of motherhood”. As long as our society insists on the daddy provider, mommy caregiver ideology, the mommy wars will continue. There are other countries where parenting is much more valued for both genders!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I stayed at home and now my youngest of six is 16 and I am looking for part time work. The one thing that suffered is my confidence. Sure I had misgivings at times when money was tight and is at the moment but when I weigh it all up I am glad I was there for the formitave years. They have turned out to be really steady people who work hard at school and college and in their part time jobs.

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