It’s a few months now since I made the decision to be a stay at home mum and yes there are ups and downs (as with any job I’m sure) but on the whole I am really happy with the decision I made. Monkey and I are very busy and we have lots of fun together and I love being the one to see him grow and learn day by day. Yet for some reason, I feel being a stay at home mum is a difficult thing to be proud of.
One of the mums I have been getting to know at baby class asked me the simple question of ‘do you work?’ and I really didn’t know how to answer it. I just said ‘no’ and then stopped. I almost felt like I should justify the reasons why I don’t work or be self deprecating about it. I daren’t be proud of the decision as I run the risk of offending them and their decision. It’s a really hard thing to talk about with other mums who do work, as they either can’t understand why you don’t want to work, or they would love to be able to not work but can’t afford to. Either way I don’t like getting into the conversation about it. There’s kind of an ‘oh’ and a taken aback look which makes me feel really uncomfortable.
Trying to justify my reasons for staying at home almost implicitly criticises their decision to go back to work, even though that’s not how I feel. As I have mentioned a few times, I don’t judge other people for their decisions, we all have to make our own decisions that feel right for us. But if I say ‘I couldn’t bear for someone else to tell me about his developments’, it comes across almost like I’m saying ‘how can you bear to have someone else tell you about your child’s development?’ So I don’t say anything and I don’t explain my reasons because I don’t know how to without it being taken the wrong way. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone.
One of my good friends is currently on maternity leave with her second child and is talking about when to return to work. She was asking me the other day about when I thought I would want to go back to work and what I would do, as if it was a given that of course I will go back to work at some point soon, even if not to the job I had before. It felt weird having to explain that no, I don’t think I am going to go back, at least not until after we’ve had baby number 2, and potentially not until they are both at school. It’s like it doesn’t compute why you would want to do that. I know I am not the only stay at home mum in the world but I don’t seem to know many who can empathise with me on this. Both my mum and mother in law were stay at home mums but they were different times then and it was much more common.
Society has changed so much and there’s always something in the media about motherhood. You’re criticised one minute if you work, then criticised if you don’t work and it’s hard to know which way to go. There’s a lot of pressure to be a supermum who works and is successful at work but also raises her children well and does the best things for them, but I don’t understand how you do that. I think being a mum is a really hard (though massively rewarding) full time job and I don’t know how I personally would manage a full time (or even part time) job at the same time. I think one or the other would suffer, and well if I am going to do something I would rather do one thing well than multiple things badly. And what’s more important than raising your child?
Again this is all my opinion and based entirely on me. I really don’t mean anyone to take any offence to this because we are all different and have different capabilities and are in different situations. I know that I am massively fortunate to be able to stay at home and I know that if I wasn’t able to stay at home that of course I would manage to juggle work and baby. Because if you have to do it, you just do.
I suppose maybe that’s it, maybe I can’t feel proud of being a stay at home mum because it’s really only luck that has enabled me to do it. I am lucky that hubby earns enough for all of us. It’s not my hard work that lets me live the way that we do. I can’t say that I earned loads of money pre-baby so now we can use savings to live off, I wish! Maybe all my talk about worrying whether I offend other mums isn’t the crux of it at all. Maybe, I just feel a bit humbled by the fact that they do manage work and children but I don’t because I am lucky and I don’t have to. Can you be proud of something you got through luck?
So, ok, maybe I struggle to be proud of how I can be a stay at home mum, but I wish I could feel proud of the fact that I am being one. But that brings me full circle to the beginning of this post. How can I proudly wax lyrical about how good it is for monkey to have me be at home with him, without implicitly criticising mums who go back to work? I don’t know how to do that.
It’s a difficult one and I don’t think I know the answer. This has been a bit of a rambling post I know, but it’s something that has been on my mind this week.
You are not alone in these rambling thoughts! I, too, have chosen to stay at home as I see that as the most important thing I can do with my time, but like you, have very much an ‘each to their own’ attitude with this. I actually started my own p/t business, too, so I do sometimes tell people that when they ask – depends on my mood that day! It means when they’re at school I’ll work more hours on that, but around them so I’d still be a full time mum first in my mind. I think you do what you & your family are happiest with, and don’t overthink it or feel guilty for your ‘luck’ – the time’s precious – enjoy it 🙂
Thanks Jocelyn 🙂 I like the idea of doing something similar when they get to school age too, I will want to work then but would also love to be there when they come home so you have the best of both worlds I think! Thanks, I really do overthink things sometime! Must worry less and enjoy it more 🙂
hi ladies, i was a stay at home mum after my 2nd child as childcare for 2 was more than i earned! I went back to work in jan after my son went into full time reception, Ive got to say for me i really regret going back, I hate being at work i dont enjoy it at all i cant even think of a career that is worth me missing out on there growing up after all to me 5yrs old is still my baby ! I hate not being available to drop them off and pick them up everyday and having to arrange someone else to pick them up etc when im at work and the fact that i never seem to get time off in the school holidays which is 13 weeks a year !…….. sorry im ranting but the whole thing is stressing me out, i just keep thinking is it just me ???
No you rant away Emma! Ranting definitely makes me feel better so hope getting it off your chest helped? It must be hard to go from being a stay at home mum and there for them all the time, to feeling like you are missing out. I’m hoping that when it comes time to return to work that I will be able to work hours that fit around school so I can still be there for them, but maybe I am being unrealistic or naïve. I obviously don’t know your situation but I hope you can find a solution. For one thing though I am sure you aren’t alone in feeling like this!
Great post, this is exactly the same situation as me and completely sums up how I feel about being a stay at home mum. You are not alone!
Thank you, am glad to hear I’m not alone as it does feel like it sometimes! x
Pingback: Why I love being a SAHM | Becoming a Stay at Home Mum