There is no way to win.
After surviving a barrage of judgement about my selfishness in being a working mother, I arrived at work today to find an article in the Daily Mail accusing stay at home mothers of wasting their education. Arguably, I am wasting mine working in advertising anyway so it may be a moot point.
Maternity leave was my first taste of stay at home parenting. I hated it. I loathed that the only topic of conversation was babies. I was terrified of losing my identity. Most importantly, my body and mind revolted against losing my financial independence. It galled me to ask for money to buy bread or have to justify that I wanted a new pair of shoes.
Being a stay ay home mum means working 24 hours days, seven days a week, with no salary, medical benefits and little thanks. It takes enormous self-confidence, superior planning skills, the driving skills of Michael Schumacher and a repeat script of Xanax.
There is no right answer. I wish I could stay home with my kids while they are young enough to want me. In 3 short years my eldest will desire an ocean between us and rather die than be seen in public with me. Then it will be too late.
Of course, if I wanted to reenter the workforce at that point I would probably end up as a receptionist wasting all that education anyway. Last year I took my father aside and thanked him profusely for my education and apologised for not realizing a good return on investment. He laughed.
I am not a fan of extremism in any form and the arguments presented on this topic tend to swing wildly from end of the spectrum to the other with little balance in between. Some say that parents should be separated from their children for more than a few hours a day. Dr Phil says that quality day care can provide more socialization and pre-school skills than being sat in front of the Disney Channel at home for 8 hours.
I am an only child. My first day of school was traumatic. There were other children. Lots and lots of them. My children all went to daycare at 3 months when I had to return to work. Their best friends are still those they made in the first week. They enter social situations with a confidence and easy-going attitude that was completely alien to me as a child. It did them the world of good.
I want my children to look back and be proud of me. Everybody does. You can earn that respect whether you choose to stay at home or work.
Sadly, work is not a choice for many married and single parents. Perhaps in a country with benefits it doesn’t matter, but down here South of the Equator no work means no pay, which equates to no school fees.
And stay at home moms work. They work bloody hard. Perhaps I work because subliminally I need to have my self-esteem and worth boosted by a paycheck that says “Job well done”.
Also, I hate housework. I really do.