Thursday, July 7, 2011
I'm watching Father of the Bride with Steve Martin and he was talking about parenting and how things change as your children become adults and it got me thinking about my choice to stay at home.
I have a friend who knows that for herself, she needs to work. And she is a better mom because she works. I have other friends who aren't working because of the economy and they want to be working. I'm not one of those women. While I am not a total feminist, I also don't mind that I stay at home. I like it. I like being there in the morning to put Lizzie on the bus with kisses and prayers to go with her throughout her day. I like knowing that I am at home when she comes home so she and Sarah can each tell me about their days at school if they need to talk.
I tried working. I even loved my job working at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines. I was good at it, but every day I went to work I was torn in two. I felt as if I was not doing my job as a mom, like I was failing Elizabeth. This feeling was made worse when even after I left my job, Lizzie was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder. I was consumed with remorse and guilt as if I had failed her while Chris was deployed (I continued to work while he was deployed until after Labor Day). It was the worst feeling in the world. So I waited until she was in school to begin thinking about finishing up my college degree. I even thought about starting while she was in Kindergarten, I'm glad I backed out at the last minute. I had a feeling that she was going to need me more during that year and I was correct AND I was also pregnant with Beka so I wouldn't have done very well between worrying about Lizzie and morning sickness every evening.
The interesting thing is most mom's cannot agree. There is a line drawn between mothers who work and those who stay home. While my friends and I don't have this problem, I have seen it at work in other areas and on television when working mothers feel that stay at home moms look down on them and vice versa. The truth is, every woman is different. My friend, Lisa is a good mom, she's a good mom because she works and she knows she needs that time each day away to be an adult so that when she comes home to her two cuties, she can be a better mommy to them. I can't fault her for that either, nor would I. She is a very good mom and working in no way diminishes that.
For myself, I need to be at home. In part, so I know what is going on, and in part, because the girls do much better when I am at home and I am not torn in two pieces. Chris and I discussed me going back and finishing college and going to work, but we both agreed, that Beka needs to be in school. He told me, he never wants to hear me cry at night again because I know we need for me to work, but I feel wretched and as if I am missing all of the good things in the girl's lives. Of course, there are things we do so that we aren't in the position that means I absolutely must go back to work.
First, we live within our means. This means that we are not under financial pressure for me to find a job. This also means that Chris doesn't feel like he absolutely must work overtime either. While he is working overtime right now so we can pay off some debts we accrued while he was unemployed, soon it will not be an absolute necessity. Second, we don't do set aside money that is "his vs. her" money. Chris realized while I was in college that just because he doesn't always see the things I do for our family, I do a lot more than he originally thought. So yes, Chris goes to work and earns a pay check, but it is our money because I work just as hard at home as he does in the workforce. Finally, we work together to make our finances work out. This means we buy used cars instead of new; we discuss purchases over $20 with the other before we just go out and buy stuff and we make sure we discuss our bills before each payday and work it out together. We've discovered that this does several things, it means one person isn't solely in control of the finances. If I died tomorrow, Chris would know what bills to pay and when and where to find all important paperwork and I could do the same if Chris were to pass away. This also means that no one can point a finger at the other for spending money we don't have. This is incredibly important since we each have a debit card.
Are we still struggling a bit? Yes and I could probably look for a job and it might help a bit financially, but it wouldn't help us out emotionally. Sarah is preparing to take her GED test and SAT's this means I need to be at home while she is studying or she won't have the peace and quiet she needs. Also, Elizabeth and Beka do much better when I am at home - do they fight still? Oh yes, they fight indeed, but they also know that at any point in time they can come and the computer/tv or electronics go off and I will sit down with them and listen. The one exception to this rule is when I am on the phone, then they must wait patiently until I am finished.
If you are a single mom or a woman who has to work - my hat is off to you. I don't know how you do it, but I have great respect for you to work and take care of your family is no easy feat. If you are a stay at home mom, my hat is still off to you too. Neither one of you is more important or a better mom than the other. You are both doing the best you can, some of us just have a different set of rules to work by than others.
Have a good week.
Love in Christ,