Occasionally when I tell other women that I am a stay-home mom, I get the comment, "I could never do that. I HAVE TO work for my emotional sanity. I just can't stay home. In fact, I think I am a better wife and mother because I work."
Before I start my griping about this comment, let me just say that I really do believe that women are better wives and mothers when they have something ELSE going on in their lives besides their parenting--some hobby or passion that they make time to pursue. In fact, a husband who doesn't make sure his wife gets such time to pursue something else will pay the price eventually, I think, if only at empty-nest time when she discovers she has nothing else. But in this post I am talking about women who work full time.
I hate this comment (above) for two reasons:
1-It completely makes light of my sacrifice. Yes, unlike many women, whom I envy, I see staying at home as a sacrifice that I make because I believe it's the right thing to do, and because I can't stand the thought of someone else raising my kids. It's HARD for me. I hate the implication that I'm somehow less of a person (more simple-minded?) because I apparently find ultimate fulfillment in changing diapers and and doing lamaze breathing for the fiftieth time today to keep from screaming at the five-year-old whiner.
2-You cannot convince me that a woman who works full time is truly parenting her child. (Yes, I think that God probably steps in and makes up the difference in the case of single mothers or women who truly must work in order to provide the basics.)
I had an experience this month that illustrated both of these things for me. I went to a conference that was Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 5:00. I was lucky to have Grandma and Grandpa staying here at the house to parent the kids for me. And here's how it went:
It was WONDERFUL. It was so very much fun. I got up early, prayed with the kids, kissed them, and left. I had fantastic days doing interesting, invigorating things. Things that were so interesting that I even forgot to eat--wasn't hungry, even--and realized how much of my eating at home every day is due to boredom.
After a busy, exhausting and thrilling day, I would drive home in time to feed the kids, kiss them all soundly and put them in bed. They were so very sweet and so very cute because I had been away all day. I adored them. I was a better mother. For the two hours or so that we were together.
I can see how a woman who works all day would say that she can't imagine quitting and staying home with the little guys all day. When someone else parents for you, all you have to do is be the kids' buddy, kiss them, snuggle them. Then you get to go be important at work. I imagine that to a woman used to working, the thought of a whole day with just the kids sounds impossible.
It even sounds impossible to me a lot of the time, and I do it every day.
Anyway, that's my little tirade. I'm glad to be back in the thick of things with the guys and find out what their lives are like. We don't really have a lot of deep, bonding discussions or "moments" together, but just being the one who nags about the homework or chores, who debates whether to accept an invitation with them, who makes them eat carrots at lunch, who snuggles them at reading times and slaps their little bums affectionately as they walk by--just BEING here--makes me a part of their lives, makes me their parent. And that, hard as it is, boring as it is a lot of the time, deep down feels pretty darn good.