Stay at Home Motherhood: The Third Way No One’s Talking About

A lot of the recent discussion about stay at home moms has centered around wealth (or lack thereof).

In the wake of the Rosen/Romney controversy, some commentators described not working as a luxury afforded only to wealthier moms. Other news outlets refuted that assertion by using data to characterize stay at home moms as poorer and less educated than their working peers.

Yes, some women do get to make an easy choice to stay at home, because they have a husband whose income provides much more than they need. Others have the choice made for them, because the childcare costs would exceed the amount of money they could make.

But some of us don’t neatly fall into either of those categories.

Mr. Andi is an engineer working as a white collar middle manager. We have a nice home, one new car, and a twelve-year old truck. We don’t go out to eat very much (and when we do, it’s always someplace inexpensive), though we do enjoy Chick-fil-A breakfast most Saturday mornings. We rarely go out as a couple, because babysitters are expensive, and I shop Target and consignment stores for my clothes. I plan our meals around what’s on sale at Publix that week, and I don’t have a nanny or a cleaning lady.

We are comfortable, but we are far from wealthy.

I have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an MBA. When I was pregnant with Sarah Kate in 2002, I selected a daycare for her, and while the cost was significant, it would have easily been covered by my salary. There was no question that I could afford to continue working, and I wanted to work. A goal-oriented career woman, I never planned to stay at home with my daughter.

Yet here I am, three weeks shy of nine years of joblessness, with no plan to return.

Many days I miss working. My diplomas hang on the wall near my desk where I sit typing this post. Time and time again I find myself wanting to remove them, because they scream at me that I wasted time, money, and part of my youth obtaining degrees that I don’t now use (and may never again). I’m particularly bothered by the MBA that I spent two years in night school working on, when I could have been at home with Mr. Andi, enjoying our years together before we had children.

I also sometimes wonder if Sarah Kate won’t be properly motivated to achieve because her mother doesn’t work. I want her to be independent, able to support herself. What is she learning from me about the need for independence and the possibility of a rewarding career?

But I don’t work, and there are two reasons why: Sarah Kate and Nathan.

Therapy and doctors appointments are time consuming, and they aren’t temporary anomalies – they are long term commitments. But therapy time is actually fairly limited – the truth is that much of my children’s “therapy” over the years has consisted of doing things in specific ways as part of our daily routine. Some of it is natural and easy to incorporate, but much of it requires significant adjustments on the part of the caregiver (i.e., me).

With quality childcare in such high demand (I heard a statistic earlier this week that some places have a two year waiting list – do you sign up as soon as you start dating someone?), I imagine I’d have been hard pressed to find a quality caregiver who was willing to go the extra mile for my child. One mother of a girl with Down syndrome shared with me recently that when her daughter was an infant, she had to depend on a 75-year old family friend to care for her daughter until she could find a daycare who would accept her. That family friend cared for her until she started school, and still does in the afternoons.

And then there are the health concerns.

Sarah Kate was a preemie and at risk for serious complications from typically mild childhood viruses. We weren’t able to take her out in public, and had to limit visitors to our home (all of whom were put through the sterilization ringer immediately upon entering) for three months after she was released from the NICU. She has proven over the years to have a healthy immune system, but many preemies do not, and we couldn’t take the risk.

Children with Down syndrome are more susceptible to illness, so it’s likely that Nathan would have gotten sick a lot more often over the past two years if he’d been in daycare. Look at what happened with the chickenpox, and that was after having had the vaccine.

The year that Sarah Kate had her rhizotomy, she spent six weeks doing intensive physical therapy for four hours every day, and had one to one-and-a-half hours of therapy every day for an entire year. How would we have done that if I had been working full time? Perhaps we could have depended on a friend or family member to help shuttle her back and forth, but we didn’t live near any of our family, and still don’t. At any rate, even if we had that option, the person we depended on would have had to be someone who stayed at home – either another parent or a retiree.

On paper, someone like me has a choice of whether or not to work.

But the most critical issues for someone like me aren’t related to education or money. Moms like me are, in a way, forced to stay home, because we either don’t have anyone willing to care for our children, because we fear that we will endanger our children’s health by sending them to daycare, or because we won’t be able to provide them with the interventions they need to maximize their potential. But I wouldn’t change it if I could, because as tough as it sometimes, it’s vitally important to me to be there all the time for my children.

I’m not a religious zealot, a prisoner of patriarchy, uneducated, or old fashioned.

I’m just a mom doing the best I can.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ll babysit for you anytime, as long as you introduce me to the mysteries of Chick-fil-A breakfast. I’m far from making these kinds of decisions for my own life but I always thought I’d put my kids in daycare, until I worked in one. Now my mind is completely changed. Of course I’ll have to decide what’s “right” when the time comes. Honestly though I think there is no “right” answer.

  2. Anna Theurer says

    Spot on, Andi! I stay home with Ellie for all if the reasons you listed. I always planned on staying home for the first year and yet it has been 2.5 years. With all of the therapies, I coukdn’t imagine being back at work. Yet, my student loans and diplomas are taunting me. Anyway, excellent post.

  3. says

    Totally. We’re not in a fantastic financial position, but we’re making it work. While I planned to work more after Cora was born, after she was diagnosed with Ds I realized that it just didn’t make sense. Once we were through heart surgery I probably could have gone back, but at this point I doubt I could find anyone willing to do all the things I do with her. Sometimes her schedule is doctors visits on top of therapy appts, but most of the time it’s us living our lives out in the world interspersed with very conscious activities I do with her ALL THE TIME. And I don’t want to compromise that. In the process I’ve realized that I don’t really want to be back at work. (Although I do work very part time at home during naps and while I let her watch Baby Signing TIme.)

  4. says

    You know…it’s only been pretty recent in our human history that the issue of mom’s working outside the home even became an issue. I’m glad that you confirmed your perspective on how it is with your SN kiddoes when you do have enough to hang in there without a second income.
    None of your education is a waste…there is always something of value you take away from it that will help you later. You don’t know what the future brings and you may be inspired to come up with a way to work with other parents of SN kids to create alternative solutions to the challenges we face.

    • Andi says

      I actually agree with you that all education is valuable – I clarified that in my Seven Snippets post today so people don’t think I believe it was a waste. Sometimes it *feels* like a waste, but I know that it wasn’t. I have used a great deal of my education – particularly the MBA – in my volunteer work and in “consulting” for Mr. Andi. :) One volunteer position that I took four years ago was heavily communication-related which forced me to dive into social media. The result….this blog!

  5. says

    Hear, hear. This is so true. Thanks for adding your “third path” to the debate. However, I think the issues around Privilege and the choices wealth provides are still relevant. Imagine if I had Romney amounts of money for Malachi?! I guarantee he would be walking (or at least sitting!) by now! ;)

    • Andi says

      Don’t think I wouldn’t take the money if it was offered to me! Sarah Kate would do the SPIDER program at Children’s in Birmingham Every. Single. Year. if we had more money, but at $12,000 a session, it’s just not feasible.

  6. says

    I don’t “fit” either. I don’t stay home with my kids. I have a full time job outside my home, but I take my kids with me. I think it’s the best of both worlds, but I’m sure someone would argue with that!

    I think we’re all just moms doing the best we can and we need to support those choices, even when they differ from our own.

    I can’t wait to participate in Seven Snippets tomorrow! It’ll be my first time!

    • Andi says

      Looking forward to seeing your snippets, CJ! Your job does sound like the best of both worlds!

  7. ch says

    Love, love this post. So absolutely true. As an educator who adopted LC during the school year, I had no “medical leave” to count towards maternity leave, so I had two weeks at home with my newborn daughter before having to return to work full time. The demands of caring for a tube-fed infant preparing for open heart surgery were instrumental in making up my mind to stay home and, since then, the incorporation of therapy protocol into our daily lives has sealed the deal. I OFTEN miss doing the job I was good at…especially at the end of one of my many “I did not see my life heading in this direction” days. But I wouldn’t give up this front row seat for anything or want my kids reflecting any parenting mistakes other than my own. :o)

    • Andi says

      That’s exactly the position I’m in, Courtney. I have “How did I get here?” days, though less and less often now after nine years. Usually it’s on a particularly bad poop day :) Yes, I did technically have a choice, but the other option was not a good one. Could we have made it work? Yes, because you do what you have to do, but it wasn’t worth it.

  8. says

    I choose to stay home after my daughter was born because my husband had a job where he was traveling frequently. We decided it would be easier. Then when she was only 14 months old we found out we were pregnant again. This time it was with triplets and they were born 12 week early. All 3 have been diagnosed with CP.

    Choosing to quit when I did was a God send, as there was no way I could have worked while pregnant with the triplets. I was exhausted most days and unable to move, then bed rest at 20 weeks. Now, like you mentioned throughout your post, I am the best person to provide the daily care my triplets need to reach their potential. Putting them in Daycare or getting a baby sitter who has the equipment and training to help them isn’t a real option.

    • Samantha - Australia says

      My goodness Christina… triplets would be difficult enough with a toddler as well… but all with CP…. you must be exhausted :(

  9. Lisa says

    Maybe there’s even a fourth way! I’m a writer/publicist and work from home — I have for 17 years, long before I was married or had children. When the children were small, we had a part-time nanny, but I was never out of earshot and could pop in for lunch or during therapies. When Cooper was 18 months, we put him in a church preschool a few mornings per week, mostly so he could socialize with typical peers. It was the best thing we ever did! He was so inspired to do the things the other kids were beginning to do — walking, climbing, running, sharing –I could go on. When I look back on it, it was really a great step into inclusion/mainstreaming that served him well. We continued with a combination of preschool and sitters until they were both school-aged, and now I get most of my work done while they are at school. It has worked out well for me, but as you and others have pointed out, it’s really about doing the best you can for your family and we all need one another!

    • Andi says

      Nathan will begin a Mother’s Day Out program this summer, progressing to a preschool as he gets older, and I can’t wait. I sort of wish I had started him in the fall, but I didn’t feel he was ready yet, and none of the local preschools had an opening after Christmas. He’s so energetic that I think being around other kids his own age will be great for him. He will transition into the public school preschool next year, but I will probably try to keep him in the private preschool, as well.

  10. Carole says

    Andi, great article about the choices everyone needs to make for themselves and their unique situation. And I know your education has been put to great use in your volunteer work and who knows what that MBA will do to help our entire organization in the next few years! Looking forward to seeing you at convention! Love you!

  11. says

    Another excellent post, Andi, to which many can relate. However, I’d like to point out a subtle psychological construct regarding choices: If you feel you have no choice your mental perspective is decidedly different than if you feel like you have chosen the best choice for yourself. I disagree with your concluding sentence to make my point.

    “Moms like me are, in a way, forced to stay home, because we either don’t have anyone willing to care for our children, because we fear that we will endanger our children’s health by sending them to daycare, or because we won’t be able to provide them with the interventions they need to maximize their potential.”

    You represent endangering your child as not a choice, but it is. (Plenty of parents don’t see daycare as endangering, or don’t know that it might be.) You are actively making a choice against daycare and I encourage you to have and share that empowering thought.

    • Andi says

      “Forced” may not have been the best choice – “pressured” is probably a better one. I stand by the statement because the truth is we ALL have a choice (barring some form of captivity!) to work or to stay at home. Making less money than it costs to put a child in daycare is a good reason to stay home, but if a mom wanted to work badly enough, she could still choose to work – it would just be a financially losing proposition. She is not “forced” to work, either, though most people would probably use language like “she can’t work” or “she’s forced to stay home.”

      There is no doubt that I could have worked at any time over the past nine years, and I freely admit here (and I did so above, as well) that I wouldn’t change it if I could. But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel a strong pressure to stay home, and that staying home was never my first choice.

      • says

        Where does that pressure come from?

        I would decide that the life I was living IS my first choice. In fact, I did. And do. I wouldn’t stay in a perpetual state of helplessness or feeling trapped. That is what the ‘no choice’ attitude foments.

        • Andi says

          The pressure comes from within, as I alluded to in the original post. Staying home is MY first choice, as well, and I’m happy with my choice – if I indicated otherwise that was not my intent. The fact remains, though, that I do (at times – not always) feel that I didn’t have another (good) option, and many moms who enjoy working and chose that path instead occasionally long to be at home like I am (I know this because I’ve heard my working friends say it).

          I’m not unhappy, I don’t view my situation as negative, I don’t feel like a victim, and I don’t – on the whole – want anything other than exactly what I have. But it’s also not a life filled with sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns every minute of every day (is anyone’s?), and on those less-than-sunny days I do wonder what else I could have done or accomplished if I had chosen a different path. I don’t think that’s a product of having two children with special needs – it’s just part of being an imperfect human being.

          • says

            “I don’t view my situation as negative, I don’t feel like a victim”

            But your original text expresses a negative attitude & that you do feel like a victim. Only w/ probing questions have you reversed the message here in comments.

            I’m sure you have a wide readership, Andi. I ask you to use discretion in how you influence other mothers with your words.

          • Andi says

            I appreciate the conversation we are having, Barbara, and want to point out something else. I sat on your latest comment for a little while because I wanted to go back and reread what I had written considering your perspective that I characterized myself as a victim. I fully expected to discover that I had, indeed, portrayed myself in the way that you described (unintentionally, of course). However, when I did so I was actually surprised to find that I sounded less so, not more. I understand your issue with my statement that I was “in a way, forced to stay home” but I feel that I made it fairly clear why it feels that way sometimes. I stated unequivocally that I am satisfied with the choice I made, which should have been indication enough that I don’t feel victimized. Some people might read this post and feel the way you do, but I hope that the full body of my writings on the blog demonstrate that I’m not unhappy with the hand I’ve been dealt (in fact, today’s post details one reason why I prefer the life of a special needs parent to that of a typical parent).

            Having said that, I do think there’s value in revealing that at times I do struggle with the hand I’ve been dealt – to hide that part of my (overall wonderful) life would make me feel dishonest. I also subscribe to the belief that only those who have known sorrow can truly know joy, which is to say that the things that are difficult are worth it because they stand in stark contrast to the beauty and joy that I am surrounded by at every turn.

            I do appreciate your comments, as I know you’ve been on this road for much longer than I have. This discussion has prompted me to add a “snippet” tomorrow to ask readers how they perceived what I wrote – I may find that they agree with you! I would ask you a couple of questions, though – Have you met a lot of mothers of children with disabilities through the years who wore the cloak of victimhood? And if you have, do you think that may have colored the way you viewed my post?

            Have a sunny day!

  12. says

    This is said so very perfectly. I do resent when people suggest that we are fortunate to be able to ‘choose’ to live on one working wage. I have two degrees and was a teacher for nine years but I have a new job now and it’s just like you said. PT, OT, speech pathology, hydrotherapy, how would I ever find an employer who was willing to give me the time off to take my son to all these appointments? I wouldn’t. But I love my new job. I don’t intend on returning to paid work, I just wish sometimes people would understand that yes, we made a choice, and it was the right choice, but it has nothing to do with money or luxury.

  13. says

    Your points are well taken, Andi.
    Yes. The thought many (many, but not a statistical report) parents who remain (but the word ‘wallow’ comes to mind) in some form of dysfunctional response to a child’s diagnosis. Yes. Many do well, more like you. And then there many who are struggling, in between & susceptible to the messages social media now offers.

    Certainly every blogger has the perogative to vent on their personal piece of cyberspace. I am also witness that kind of venting devolving not only for the writer bbtbbbubut for the readers who comment into

    • says

      My apologies for the dropped sentence. I was trying to respond on a limited tablet late last evening. I’ll try again below.

  14. Kelley says

    I have reread your post and I personally do not feel you charactized yourself as a victim. I totally get what you are saying. Even though I do work Full Time but when my husband lost his job last summer and we lost a great sitter which was the only person I would trust with my baby girl, we decided at that time he would stay home. Yes we make less money but we make it work and yes there are days I wish he was working and I was home with my baby girl or that we were a 2 income family but I also wonder at times about my choices in life and what if I had chosen a different career path or decided to stay home. I think for you unlike me having a blog, you can put these thoughts out on the world wide web, but I know you are not alone in your thoughts and for someone to say they don’t have these thoughts then maybe they are not being truthful to themselves because as you said our lives are not all rainbows, unicorns and sunshine. I love my life and my family but that doesn’t mean I don’t wonder sometimes about the choices I have made in my life, because as you said we are all imperfect human beings and we all want to grow and learn. I know my baby girl is teaching me to “dance” and learning to go at her pace, which actually is pretty fast and stopping to listen and look at the birds and whatever else she finds interesting. Sometimes I feel like with my older 2 I may have missed the boat and “didn’t stop to smell the flowers” but my baby girl is making us “stop an smell the flowers” and enjoy this life we have been given and not to worry about every little thing because it will all work out in it’s own way. We have also decided that for the summer she will not be getting the privatetherapy(PT,OT,ST), but of course Mom and Dad will still be doing stuff with her. I think she needs a break and honestly I even wonder if she needs the PT and OT. They say she is actually were any other “typical” 2 year old is. We know she still needs to work with communication, but that continues to improve everyday. As I recently told family in my monthly family email, this is still a new journey for us and we are still learning and we are not perfect on this journey and we will make mistakes but our Little “Sunshine” will lead us in the right direction. We just have to stop and listen to what she is trying to tell us. Besides she was an inspiration for her Big Sister who just wrote a Speech about her and the Buddy Walk and in turn her Big Sister won the School Speech Contest.

  15. says

    Picking up from where I left off above….

    Certainly a blogger can and may benefit from venting on their own piece of cyberspace. But I find your post much more declarative than personal venting. You appear to ‘define’ the third ‘way’ while I see full-time employed and SAHM as two ends of a spectrum of individualized family styles. Likely I would not have questioned a post that posited – own your employment decisions as a mom of a child with disability – here’s how I did it.

    Part of the tact in leaving my comment was to tease out your personal reasoning. I would like to segue away from the term ‘victim’ and concentrate on the reader response to your post – the majority of whom will not leave a comment and for whom I meant to answer your question:

    “Have you met a lot of mothers of children with disabilities through the years who wore the cloak of victimhood? And if you have, do you think that may have colored the way you viewed my post?”

    Yes for a cloak of – something less-than-ideal-adaptation to their child’s disabilities, if not ‘victimhood’, and definitely, yes, for my years of experience as influencing how I interpreted your post.

    Victimhood is but one less-than-ideal emotional response to parenting a child with a disability. I’ve seen parents devolve into perpetual anger and in part I blame the ‘fight’ method, the ‘warrior mom’, overture to all professionals are bad. Perhaps I over-estimate the ripple effect of each negative post, but then, no. I’ve read blogs by parents of children with special needs extensively for the past 4 years. Some persist as a negative downward swirl that suctions others without a person to go to for encouragement. Perhaps my sensitivity to professed negative effects of a child’s disability on a parent is a bit high.

    I’m thinking of the (many) mothers I have met in the privacy of their homes, in the early days after diagnosis with a dire prognosis (often after pressure to terminate before birth) who will enter the internetz and find words saying that (also) you can trust no one to care for your child and you will have to give up your career if you really want the best care for your child. My own memories of blotting the tears of a mother holding her beautiful newborn finding this post – definitely influenced how I interpreted your words, Andi.

    Is it possible to put yourself back in that place, just after your daughter’s diagnosis? How would you respond to this post in that time in your life? For every one who agrees with the ‘third way’, how has this post encouraged you in making your own employment decisions?

    • Andi says

      My daughter wasn’t diagnosed until she was older – instead, she was a preemie who, though of small gestational age, practically sailed through the NICU. When I spoke of pressure earlier, I accepted the responsibility as my own internal struggle because I do believe that all decisions I made were my own (and of course Mr. Andi’s). However, there WAS a certain amount of pressure placed on us to stay home – not in a “day care is bad” or “no one else can care for my child like I can” kind of way, but through dire warnings from neonatalogists about the risks of taking Sarah Kate out in public. We were given strict instructions in her first six months of life not to let anyone other than close family near her, and to make sure that anyone who did visit was free of illness and “scrubbed down” before they were allowed to be around her. So while, yes, the choice was mine, it did feel at the time like no choice at all.

      As to whether the nine years that have passed since that time may have clouded my perception of those days – no, I don’t think they have, because I faced similar circumstances two years ago when Nathan was born. The decision to be a SAHM permanently didn’t truly happen until 2010. When Sarah Kate was younger, I kept thinking that after this or that event I would return to work. First it was when I felt she was healthy enough for day care – by the time that happened, she had the diagnosis of CP. After that, I thought I’d return to work once she reached preschool age – by that time, she was undergoing her rhizotomy, and the associated therapy, for a year. Then, I decided we’d wait until she was in school and if things went well the first year, I’d return to work. Things went well, but the economy tanked and I became unexpectedly pregnant, so we decided to wait one more year. When Nathan was born in the spring of 2010 and we were told he had Down syndrome, I shelved the possibility of working permanently. Not to say that I will never work again, but it was at that point that I realized I didn’t care about having a career anymore, and felt that my place was at home.

      I have no doubt that you have met many mothers in their homes with tiny infants and tears over the years. I was one of those mothers at one time, and in fact I wrote a post about it last year, Advice for My New Mom Self, where I shared the things I would tell that younger version of myself. Those days are hard, to be sure. But those of us who initially shed tears grow into mothers who fight battles at IEP meetings, petition our town councils for funds for boundless playgrounds, advocate for inclusion and acceptance, and a million other things on behalf of our children and the community of which they are a part. The pain and sorrow don’t last forever.

      Finally, I can’t predict or anticipate how any one person will interpret what I write here. If my blog isn’t someone’s cup of tea, there will be another blog out there that will be. As much as I want to and try to help everyone who visits, it’s just not possible. I do have enough mothers – especially mothers of very young children – emailing me to know that a large portion of what I share here helps at least a few people. That is the best I can do.

  16. says

    Well. Quite the conversation :)
    Choices is a funny concept. Often something that feels like a choice really isn’t much of one since we are actually moved towards a conclusion that fits what we already value (if that makes sense). There are so many layers of choices that you speak to Andi. The choices around finances. The choices around parenting style. The choices around treatment/interventions for the extra challenged. The choices for vocation/employment/education.
    I myself found that, because we did not have any medical challenges during Kayli’s early childhood, I wanted to return to work and we had the great fortune of having our EI services tied to a fabulous inclusive pre-school setting which made it easy. I was tremendously impressed by research about pre-school’s positive influence both over immune system (which proved true for K but sadly not for me!) and her social and developmental progression. Again that was influenced partly due to the only child issue and her longing to be with other children was evident from a very young age as was her strong positive influence by having role models.
    But of course I’d been working fully in my field for almost 20 years when K was born so really it was difficult for me to conceptualize life without work (that is starting to change). Work has always been my haven as a mom – children 24/7 and I would lose my mind I think. sigh…
    But I know from my sister who homeschooled her kids successfully and took the pay cut and went back to work after they were grown somewhat successfully that any which way you do it is just fine. I respect (and am a bit jealous) of SAHM’s . I can see that they have a more integrated lifestyle than I.
    It is only now that I consider and am starting to see a need to cut back on work and spend more time developing a lifestyle for my daughter as I anticipate more social stressors. And of course, to fully discuss this would take a whole book….. I’m sure I’m leaving alot out since I rarely have time to formulate a thought beyond a fifteen minute stretch :)
    Love this discussion tho. Respecting all perspectives is where it is at….
    Barbara- love ya but I’m with the speak from the heart group and not so worried about measuring. I don’t hear victim but I can see how you might worry about triggering that response.
    As for the wealth issue- I certainly think that not having the burden of juggling finances in our choices re: employment can make them ALOT simpler (think Nannies, paying for day care etc.). What would I give to be able to work 3-4 days a week?

    • Andi says

      Love this: “…we are actually moved towards a conclusion…”

      So true, and a beautiful way to say it.

  17. Kim says

    This is a really interesting discussion.

    I am the mom of 2 typical children. All I ever wanted to be for as long as I can remember is a mom. I wanted to stay home and raise my children. I wanted to volunteer at their schools. I wanted to go on field trips and cheer them on at all their after school activities. And I was super lucky that my dream came true.

    My kids are now 16 and almost 13 and my 17 year marriage ended last year. I went to college for the first time at the age of 42 and am now seeking employment for the first time in 14 years. (I taught at their pre-school while they were in the pre-school, not their classes but it worked well and was a job I LOVED, sadly it just doesn’t pay enough for me to support two teenagers on my own.)

    Through the years of living my dream, there were moments where I was envious of working moms. They went to an office where there were no screaming kids. They had lunch hours (sometimes with friends even!) as opposed to a handful of cheerios between nursing and grocery shopping. They had vacations where they had special time to enjoy their families, where my situation was a bit more of “same stuff different location” kind of thing.

    I agree with starlife about being moved toward choices based on our values. I truly wanted TO BE A MOM. I did not want to pop out a kid and pay someone else to raise it. That was my value. That stated, my sister in law is one of the best moms I know. I often think she’s a better mom than I am. She works full time. So I see that being the best mom doesn’t necessarily mean being a stay at home mom. Lesson learned.

    There are pros and cons to everything in life. And although I totally get that my choice was made for different reasons than yours, Andi, I think that ALL MOMS GO THROUGH very similar emotions. Suddenly our lives are not our own any more. OUR CHILDREN COME FIRST NOW. And we make every decision based on what is best for them. And no matter how good or right that decision may be, no matter how little our regret, I think every once in a while we all have a moment of wishful thinking … or … I’m not sure how to word what I’m trying to say … but a “if only I could have this instead of that” moment. The reality is, had you gone back to work I really think you would have had the same exact feelings you have now they just would be expressed a bit differently (ie, “having” to work to pay for xyz).

    Bottom line, it’s my opinion that every good parent often feels they have “no choice” from time to time and, more often than no,t it’s true because they already made the choice to do what’s best for their kids, whatever they believe that is and whatever the sacrifice to themselves.

    • Andi says

      Beautifully put, Kim. I couldn’t agree more – with everything you said. Thank you for contributing to the conversation.

  18. Janet says

    I enjoy your blog! I’m not in the same boat as you- I have no children. I did, however give up a lucrative career to serve adults with developmental disabilities. The absolute best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Your blog helps me understand the families of those I serve. Your comment on your diplomas “taunting” you struck me. I no longer technically use my education or Bachelor’s degree either. I have never viewed it as wasted time, though. The time and money and effort I exerted while earning my degree shaped me as a person. Had I not spent those years and money, I could very well be a
    different person with different viewpoints and perspectives. I fear I
    would never be in, let alone enjoy, the field I’m in now had I done
    anything different in my past.
    I don’t think your children, or anyone else for that matter, will see your choice as settin an example for no motivating oneself. I see it as a much needed example in this world for choosing to put the needs of others above oneself- even when there is a personal cost. You have chosen to set your family up for success- nothing to sneeze at!

    • Andi says

      Thanks so much for your perspective, Janet – and for giving me a little bit of a sorely-needed “talking to”. I may clip the next-to-last sentence and post it on my wall!