The Choice To Stay At Home:
Society and the Mom

Last week after a doctor's appointment, I had to stop by the pharmacy to fill out a prescription for my daughter. (She's better now, just so you know.) I had Eden with me, and an old lady in line behind me commented on how cute she was, as old ladies are wont to do. The woman must have been about 70. She then went on about how she had a number of children, and about how she raised hers at home. It was better for them.
For whatever reason, the woman serving us at the till decided to insert herself in our conversation. Her addition to our discussion was that women are much better educated these days and have more opportunities. Therefore they go out to work, as they should.
Since this women had effectively just painted all stay at home mothers as uneducated, and since that is certainly not the case for myself, and since there was nothing I could possibly say without be rude or snide, I simply kept my mouth shut and left. I'd been served and there was really no reason to stick around.
The belief that stay at home mothers are less educated, less intelligent, less fulfilled women leading less important lives is fairly common. If you talk to a well to do woman who has chosen a career path, it is likely that she will question your choice to remain at home with your children. Often, the question "do you work?" is asked, as though children are not work. No one respects the fact that it was their mothers who stayed at home and made them what they are.
Mothers are the shapers of society.
And perhaps that's the problem with this generation.
Their parents, and especially their mothers who chose to stay at home and care for them, gave so much. Now, their ungrateful children take it all for granted and do not do the same for their own children.
Now, I recognize that there will always be exceptions. Sometimes, it is necessary to work outside the home. Single parents are a prime example. As far as two parent families go, when is it necessary to work and when can you get by on one income?


Craig said...

I don't know is saying that women are more educated now than they were in the past is an insult to women. First of all I don't necessarily equate education with intelligence, I can assure you I have met many educated people who practically seem to be very stupid. That being said my wife and I had our second child last year and we split the parental leave, she took around 7 months and I took 5. We both work and have above average income but we still found it hard especially when she was off because unlike my government employer hers doesn't top up her salary. Now I am not saying that we scraped by but we do have a certain standard of living that we enjoy. I know that many families don't have it as good as we do but I don't think our kids suffer because we both work. With the high prices of homes in a good neighbourhood and all of the other expenses that go along with that it would be impossible for one of us to simply stay home. In a perfect world all children would have a stay at home parent and we could all live happily ever after...but we don't live in a perfect world.

Eldon Murray said...

Amen, sister Ruth!

Society has led women to believe they must be successful and prosperous while they are young, get a career, settle down, then have kids. In the past, it was the opposite, with women believing in kids first. Thankfully, my mother married young (19), had me a year later, then my brother and sister. She worked as school bus driver for a bit when I was 11, but continued to homeschool us even then. Now, me and my siblings have moved out, my parents have an empty nest, and guess what? Her old desire to become a nurse has returned. In two months, at age 43, she is going back to school to become a nurse. She is a smart woman, and will have been both a stay at home mom, and spent time as a professional in the work force. Why don't more mothers go this route? Which is more important when you are young, raising children, or becoming a 'real woman' in the business world?

I have friends my age (22) who are nurses now, but know they will step back for a family without hesitation, able to return to that field after their kids grow up. Work you can put on hold, kids you cannot. What we need here is really a change in the Canadian ideology. Hopefully, the choice in childcare $100 is a small start. Thank you Stephen Harper (and the rest of the CPC)

Ruth said...

"we do have a certain standard of living that we enjoy"
And that, Newf, says it all. See my post on budgeting on a single income.

Eldon, congrats to your mom. She has her priorities straight! Good for her for going back to school at age 43. She is a good example to us all.

Anonymous said...

I had a boss once who was only interested in her career until she had her first chid in her late 30's. She was a Vice president in a 500 employee corporation and didn't really view her paid employment as being very important compared to her responsibility as a Mom. I don't know if she went back to work or not.
My own wife does a superb job of homeschooling and maintaining our household of 8 children. I can't assure you that her 9 years of university help her that much in many of the responsibilities she now carries, but the influence she has on our children is so much more important than anything else she could be doing right now. I think that a career might seem easy compared to her current work load. ( I farm full-time, so I'm able to help out too - although at times my occupation seems to add to the financial pressures)
I agree that the education thing is vastly over-rated. Most of the people I went to university with were only there because they wanted a high paying job. My Father only had a Gr. 8 education, but he was more interested in reading and learning than most people I meet.

Anonymous said...

There are many differant combinations that will work so you can have both career and family.I had children Young by todays standards I was 20 at the time of the first one. We did not believe in the daycare option so opeded for doing shift work. I worked days he worked evenings(you can do that as a Chef).After they where all school age I took a potition that matched their hours and on the occation that we required someone to care for them we had family and freinds. It took a great deal of balancing and orginization and effort on everyones part. My girls had no choice but to become independant and helpful. And now many years later(the youngest is 17) They are bright,well ajusted, independant young ladies well on there way to there own careers- (one is 1 year away from being a teacher, one is 2 years away from a degree in buisness and the third will probably be an artist) knowing that it is possible to have it all if you are willing to work for it.

vicki said...

Anon and Anon...wonderful testimonies! I did both. While I worked in nursing I felt torn and stressed. When my husband and I decided we would try living on one income it was tough but worth it.And when people asked if I worked I said 'Yes...I'm a domestic engineer'...it was fun!

Mousie said...

I might have been inclined to casually drop that Master's degree of yours into the conversation. One need not be uneducated to be a stay at home mother.

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