As previously discussed, both here and between couples and families tracing back for a few decades now, the decision to either stay at home or go back to the office is one that takes a lot of number-crunching, back and forth, and even second-guessing at times.
Rather than hypothetically discuss how I will feel once July has come, I decided to invite actual SAHMs and WMs to answer questions around their choice. By the end of this post, we should all feel confident about our own decisions and have an even stronger respect for women who have made them differently.
The questions that I asked were as follows:
What factors went into your decision?
What do you love about your decision?
What is one thing that you envy/admire about the other side?
Was your decision the same as you always thought it would be before babies?
What is one piece of advice that you would give to new mothers before making this decision?
Have you ever felt judged regarding your choice?
How would you defend someone else who made a different choice?
Do you think that moms will ever quit bullying/guilt tripping each other altogether?
Our interviewees are April (SAHM mother of two), Sharon (SAHM mother of six), Emily (working mother of one), and Alison (working mother of one).
All are beautiful women with strong reasons for their own structure, guidance for mothers-to-be, and support for their fellow woman.
So let’s get started.
- What factors went into your decision?
April: “We didn’t want strangers watching our kids. If family or friends couldn’t keep them, I would stay home, and my husband wanted me to stay home just as much (if not more) as I did.
Sharon: “My mother worked all of the time and I wanted to be there for my children. I wanted to be the one that my children bonded to.”
Emily: “I wanted extra income in order to provide a better life for my child and I, and to further my career.”
Alison: “We are not financially able to live off of one income and still afford the lifestyle that we are accustomed to.”
Right away, we begin to see that a big part of this is financially straining. Additionally, Sharon shared tips for saving as a result, “I learned to make laundry soap, hand soap, releaser, and learned to sew to save money. I also began walking for exercise and used work-out videos at home to forgo the cost of a gym membership.”
- What do you love about your decision?
April: “I love that I get to see my kids every day. Every milestone, I get to witness. I’m the one teaching them everything they know and need to know. They’re only little for such an extremely short period of time and I can’t imagine missing any of it!”
Sharon: “Seeing my children morning, noon, and night!”
Emily: “I love that my son knows that Mommy will do whatever it takes to provide for him.”
Alison: “After being on bed-rest for three months, and out on maternity leave for another three months, I never knew how much I would actually miss working. I love getting out of the house and seeing my co-workers, but most of all, I love bringing home a paycheck.”
- What is one thing that you envy/admire about the other side?
April: “I envy the freedom of being a person aside from the mom part. Staying home, you lose your sense of self and it’s so hard. I admire working moms because it’s a tough choice deciding to leave your babies, but staying home is not for everyone!”
Sharon: “Having things. Maybe newer cars and money to take the children places.”
Emily: “I envy them being able to see their child learn and grow with everything firsthand instead of having to hear about it.”
Alison: “I want to soak up all of this time with Eliza, because she is growing so quickly. If you can financially stay home with your baby for at least the first year – do it. Babies get sick constantly in daycare, and at 8 months old, Eliza has already had ear infections, stomach bugs, and bronchiolitis.
- Was your decision the same as you always thought it would be before babies?
April: “Yes. Before we had kids, we wanted for me to be able to stay home with them. And if we have more, I’ll stay home with them too.”
Sharon: “I always wanted to be a SAHM; I dreamed about it. The economy has made it necessary now for me to have a part-time job. Food prices. Doctor bills. Dental bills.”
Alison: “Before having a baby, I would always say, ‘I’ll never be a stay-at-home mom,’ but now I wouldn’t mind staying home with her for at least the first year. I have had to miss a lot of work because of how often she gets sick from daycare. I am down to one vacation day until September of this year.”
- What is one piece of advice that you would give to new mothers before making this decision?
April: “Make sure you set time aside for yourself!! Even if it’s just running to Sonic for Happy Hour or going grocery shopping alone.”
Sharon: “Are you prepared to not have some things? I didn’t mind not having jewelry or luxuries. If you think you will want to buy things other than you need, you may need to rethink being a SAHM. Maybe take a part-time job and see how that goes.”
Emily: “Make sure that you find a good nanny/babysitter for your child They will be their second mommy for all intents and purposes. Choose very carefully.”
Alison: “Daycare is very good for babies, because it teaches them social skills. Eliza has learned sooooo much from daycare and she loves other babies.”
- Have you ever felt judged regarding your choice?
April: “Well, by one person; no comment.”
Sharon: “I have felt judged, but then I look at the sweet faces of my children and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”
Alison: “I have never felt judged for being a working mom; I have been judged for not breastfeeding.”
- How would you defend someone else who made a different choice?
April: “Everyone has to do what they think is best for them and their family. Either choice is a tough one, in my opinion.”
Sharon: “Making the choice to work and use some kind of a caregiver is totally personal. My mother couldn’t stay home, not because of money, but because she just went stir crazy being at home. It is up to the person; if that’s not you, you shouldn’t stay home so that your children have the best of Mom time whenever you get home.”
Emily: “They are doing the best that they can for their baby and their family.”
Alison: “Breastfeeding is the best for your baby, and staying home makes that much easier. I beat myself up every day because I gave up after two months. It was so hard working AND breastfeeding a colic baby.”
- Do you think that moms will ever quit bullying/guilt tripping each other altogether?
April: “OMG, I wish! I don’t understand that at all. We’re all in it together trying to figure it out, doing the best that we can, and the last thing that I wanna hear from Susie’s mom is why the pacifier that I’m using is the wrong one. Like, really? I love hearing why moms choose certain products and how they do stuff, but I don’t want to be judged by other moms on my choices. Now I do not take offense when it’s life-threatening, like car seats and how the straps need to be. That is something not to take lightly and I’m thankful for my mom-friend that corrected me. THAT’S the kind of moms everyone needs in their circle; not Ms. Goody Two-Shoes “perfect” moms.
Sharon: “I think judging others will always be happening. It has been happening since the beginning of time. We as women must overlook others and rise above it. Being women, we know other women can be. I pray and I let it go. Prayer has been my go-to more and more as I’ve had my children.
Allison: “I don’t ever think moms will quit bullying or guilt-tripping each other. Every baby is different and sometimes you just have to use your mommy instincts. I had an extremely colic baby that cried 95% of the time up until she was four months old. I never thought I would be co-sleeping with my six-week-old in the recliner and taking baths with her at three in the morning.”
I was very pleased that not every one has felt judged for their choice to either stay home or re-join the workforce, however, in their closing statements, it is evident that they have felt judged for other decisions that they have made in motherhood. All the more reason for my recent post about Mom-Bullying.
I believe the general consensus is that every child and every family is different. Whenever you bring a baby into the world, you are making a decision to sacrifice selfishness for the betterment of the baby’s life. There is going to be a loss of monetary items and financial flexibility, or a loss of quality time spent in the daytime hours with your baby.
Those same women who make those choices are also gaining financial comfort for their family and providing things that they otherwise couldn’t have, or making the most of Kodak moments while their little one is still little.
It’s not easy to think about sometimes, for Mom or Dad, and it won’t get easier. But as you’ve read here, we are more than capable of supporting someone who thinks differently than we do. We need to continue to contribute to that and lift each other up.
What are your responses to these interview questions? Please share.