There are two very definite ends of the spectrum here and then a lot of gray area in between (Please Note before you go all crazy on me these are NOT directed to anyone in the comments of my last post).
Position #1: You Should Stay At Home With Your Children You Selfish B.
Some people believe that women should only have children if they are going to not work and devote 24 hours per day to raising their children. I mean, why else would you have children if you are basically going to be ignoring them and pursuing your own selfish career/life? Once you have children you should have absolutely nothing that is for yourself, whether it be a career, a pair of new designer jeans or a dinner out once or twice a month with your husband. If you are a person who cannot AFFORD to stay home, then you should have budgeted or waited to have children. It would take 10 years for you to be able to afford to stay home? Well, lots of people are having babies in their 40s nowadays...why can't you? No matter what the financial situation, if you WANT it enough, you can make it happen by simply moving from your home to an apartment, cutting out any and all expenditures (date night? what is date night?) and so on and so forth.
Let's take a trip waaaay down to the other end of the spectrum.
Position #2: Stay At Home Moms are Lazy and Eat Bon Bons All Day Long
People on the other side of the debate often think that SAHMs are just plain lazy and a throwback to our grandmother's day of the women raising the children, cleaning house and having dinner on the table when the husband gets home. Your days are spent lunching with other SAHMs, doing some light dusting and playing patty cake with their little ones. When the little ones nap, you probably watch Days of Our Lives while eating delicious bon bons. Their lives are in no way challenging or difficult, as they have so much spare time on their hands.
Neither of these ways of thinking are REMOTELY true and if you find yourself even marginally buying into either, well, you should be ashamed of yourself because both of those are the most ridiculous things I have ever written. Unfortunately, I know there are people out there that think that some or all of those little gems are true. They're what I like to call delusional or just plain judgemental (again, this is NOT directed to anyone who posted in the comments).
First of all, for the Working Moms out there. You go girls. You've got so many balls in the air it is ridiculous, yet you keep on juggling and making it work for your family. Some of you NEED to work. You need it to make ends meet. No amount of wanting or cost cutting will make it work. You just need that extra paycheck to live in the way that works for your family. Some of you WANT to work. You need the adult conversation, ::gasp::, and you enjoy talking to people who can actually piece together full sentences and people who don't usually drool on you. You may love your job. You may have worked long and hard to get to this place in your professional career and it probably is amazingly good for you both as a women and as a mother to be this professional person on top of being a mother, even though it is difficult. Just because you have children doesn't mean that is the only thing that defines you as a person. You are a better mother because that is not the only thing you are. Both of these types of women do NOT love their children any less than one who stays at home with them.
For you Stay At Home Moms out there. Damn girls, it is NOT easy. Before my maternity leave I thought of all these amazingly productive things that I would be doing as I would have ALL of this spare time. Paint the kitchen cabinets, learn how to use my sewing machine that I got for my birthday back in November, take up knitting again and catch up on my reading... Do you know how many of those thing that I did? None. Not one. Staying at home is just as exhausting as being at work. Being a mom is a full time job, for REAL. Incredibly enough these little people need attention 24 hours a day, yes really. No lunching with the ladies when you have a screaming toddler on your hands. I've tried cleaning the house on my days off...ahahaha, right. There is always cleaning to do, shopping to do, cooking to do, laundry to do, activities and doctors appointments to go to, and I'm assuming if you stay at home you are doing the all of it and then some. And you do NOT get paid in money but in the fact that you get to see every little detail of your child growing up. It's amazing. I'm fairly certain soap operas and bon bons do not factor into the equation but lucky for you little hugs, little snuggles and that quality time with your child(ren) most certainly do.
Being a working mom is not for everyone. Being a stay at home mom is not for everyone. You do what works for you and your family. No one else can or should judge your decision on what you need to do to make your life with your family work.
For myself. I'm going to lay it all out there. I wish I could stay home with Lucy, I truly do, HOWEVER... we own our (modest) home, we do not want to sell it to move into a duplex, condo or an apartment. We love our house and have put much time and effort into making it a home. We look forward to the summers Lucy will spend exploring our large yard and helping us plant our vegetable beds. Hopefully she will lean how to ride a bike in the safety of our quiet cul-de-sac and go trick-or-treating down our street. Also, the former realtor in my wants to scream when people say "you could sell your house and move into something less expensive so you could stay home". Have you looked at the downward spiral of home prices lately? With the depreciation of the housing market, closing costs and realtor fees we simply would not be any better off in somewhere smaller. As far as spending that is not necessities, we do go dinner out once in awhile, although when we do it is our "date night" which is something we need to reconnect as a couple. We have no credit card debt and a very small school loan. We own our cars free and clear. I cut coupons and shop at the inexpensive supermarket, instead of Whole Foods where I wish I could shop. I buy clothes at Marshalls and TJ Maxx, if at all. There are things we spend money on, but we save and plan way in advance for those and it is simply a part of our life that we enjoy, like traveling (with Lucy). That is something we are planning on doing as a family and are not willing to give up. We want her to explore and appreciate the world around her, its as simple as that.
My job affords me excellent pay, medical benefits, life insurance 401K and stock/bonuses that make us be able to have a decent savings account in case of emergency, a college account for Lucy, as well funds for our own retirement. I believe both of the latter are gifts that keep on giving for your children, the fact that they don't have to pay 100% for college themselves (by the time she goes college will approximately cost $300,000) and she won't have to worry own mom).
Quitting my job is not an option right now. End of story. In the end, I'm just not willing to quit and live paycheck to paycheck and give up the safety net that my job provides us with. Does that make me a bad mother, no. It makes me a smart mother. Right now if my husband lost his job we would be fine. He was out of work for the three months that I was on maternity leave, if I didn't have my job this would have been a complete disaster. Because I did have my job and had saved a hefty amount for my leave it was a blessing. Both Rob and myself got to spend that time with each other and with Lucy and it was incredible. It was the best.time.ever. So... my job, although it wears me out, is a blessing. We waited long enough for Lucy to come, so suggesting that we should have waited longer is ridiculous. I love my life the way it is, and although someday I do hope to stay home with her or work for myself, I'm happy where we are now, exhaustion and all.
Phew. That was a lot, but I really felt the need to get it all out there. I would love to stay at home with Lucy, and for the people that it does work for I envy you. In the end, as long as you love your children fiercely, and let them know this every single day, you are a good mother.
"The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous."
"She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along." -Margaret Culkin Banning
"The phrase "working mother" is redundant."