Disclaimer: This is a touchy subject and these are merely my opinions. What works for my family may not work for yours. We are all individuals with varying outlooks, values and priorities, and I am respectful of that.
I don’t know about you, but in my day, way way back in the dark ages (80’s!) it was considered the norm, in my experience anyway, for the mum of the family to stay at home, take care of the children and run the house. Old fashioned as it may seem, and taking women’s lib out of the equation, it was a set up that worked for many families. My mum was always there to greet us when we got home from school (usually with a plate of fruit shaped into a smiley face!), and this wasn’t because she is intellectually incapable, she has two degrees and is one of the wisest people I know; it was because, for my parents, being a stay at home mum was valued just as highly, if not higher, than my Dad’s very successful property and surveying business. I’ve lost count of the number of times I heard my Dad tell people that Mum had the harder job. I had always envisaged that when the time came for Ste and I to start a family I would finish paid employment and start working at home, investing in my family and helping build my children up into strong, well-rounded, confident members of society. What I hadn’t anticipated was the reaction I often get when I tell people I’m a stay at home mum, and usually from other mum’s no less! Generally preconceptions include but aren’t limited to, that I’m lazy, sponging off the state, intellectually subnormal and therefore incapable of forging a career for myself, I’m selfish etc etc. It got to the point where I’d apologetically say “I’m just a stay at home mum”, when people asked me what I do. Just a stay at home mum. JUST a stay at home mum! I’m a life coach, counselor, nurse, cook, teacher, cleaner, book-keeper, artistic director, personal shopper, gardener, laundry maid, advocate, intercessor, and more. I am not JUST a stay at home mum. I am mad with myself for feeling guilty about doing what I think will give my daughter the best start in life! I am cross that I let society devalue my role as a mother, when society’s opinions are really not that high on the importance scale. I am saddened that us women aren’t more supportive and encouraging of each other’s lifestyle decisions, and more respectful of the fact that what might work for one family might not be right for another.
I realise that these days, with the economy the way it is, house prices, inflation and cost of living rising at a rate that far exceeds the rise in wages, it is far harder for most families to have a parent stay home and look after the kids, however we’re proof it’s not impossible. We do it on less than the average UK wage. In my opinion being financially broke now is far easier to fix in the long run then trying to fix a broken family, and please do not think for a minute that I’m suggesting that all kids whose parents work end up broken, because I’m absolutely not, but it scares me that so many children are spending the first four or five most formative years of their lives learning behaviours and values from caregivers that may not reflect the values of their parents. We have had to make significant cut backs, we are on a strict budget, we rarely holiday anywhere but my parent’s place in Pembrokeshire, I can’t just go shopping like I did when we had a relatively significant disposable income, we seldom eat out any more, but it is totally worth it. We are willing to take that financial hit. My mind just doesn’t compute working 40 hours a week to pay someone else to bring my child up; the child that we prayed for for years, the child that we vowed we would bring up to the best of OUR capabilities, and I am done feeling guilty about trying to do that.
So what is my point in writing (aside from allowing myself a little vent)? I figured I can’t be the only parent out there with ‘guilty SAHM syndrome’. I’m interested to hear your stories and views.