Hello friends! Do you remember when I wrote this post a little while ago? It was a hard post for me to write, and an even more difficult story to have lived. Something struck me, however, when the comments started rolling in. It was some version of the popular phrase,
“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
Yep. Sums up how others will react to our parenting choices, no matter what they are.
So I decided to do something about it. Since writing is the thing I do, I reached out to some wonderful writer mommies who I knew had stories to tell.
Over the next few weeks, they’re going to share their stories here.
Today’s first post in this series is written by a friend of mine who has been both a “working mom” and a stay-at-home-mom. She’s seen and heard it all, and she has been kind enough to share her thoughts with us all. Many thanks and welcome to Leanne!
On Working and Staying Home
Before my husband and I became parents, we were unsettled on one important issue. Would I stay home with our kids? With his education and skill set, we knew he would always be the main supporter of our family. What we couldn’t decide was whether or not I would continue to work once children came along.
As my husband and I discussed the pros and cons and all the various reasons for one side or the other, we still came up undecided.
We finally agreed that I should give working a try, but I could stay home if that’s what was best for our family.
As we neared our first wedding anniversary, we found out we were expecting our first baby. We were over the moon.
However, I had just started an accelerated Masters program for teaching. I was working full-time at the same university where I was earning my degree. With the significant employee discount, I knew I would be a working mom, at least until my program ended.
I took the appropriate action, filled out all the right paperwork, and found a loving daycare center. When our sweet baby boy was born, I immersed myself in being his mommy. For the first several weeks, I didn’t allow myself to think about anything but him.
Soon enough, though, my leave was over.
From relatives, friends, co-workers, and complete strangers, I heard a wide variety of judgmental and hurtful comments about my decision to go back to work.
I could never let someone else raise my child.
I would never choose to work.
Children should always come before anything else.
A mother’s place is at home.
Going back to work was painful enough, I didn’t need anyone else to make me feel worse. It took me a long time to accept that I was doing what I felt was right for my family, and it wasn’t anyone else’s business.
I definitely had hard days as a working mom, but overall, life was good. The only times I doubted myself were when someone offered an unsolicited opinion about me working outside the home. It would often take weeks for me to recover, but eventually I did by remembering it was my life.
I eventually completed my Masters program and was lucky enough to be hired in the local school district. I was cautiously optimistic about teaching at a struggling school. The first week of school drained me to the point of sickness. I thought it was the challenge of a new routine, a long commute, and difficult students.
To my surprise, I learned that I was also pregnant with baby #2.
I made it through the school year by the skin of my teeth. We happily welcomed our daughter into the world, and I enjoyed our long summer break together. I made the difficult decision to go back to work that fall because my husband and I were trying to dig ourselves out of a bit of debt. Within the first month, however, it was clear that my heart wasn’t in it.
After a great deal of thought, discussion, and prayer, my husband and I agreed it was time for me to stay at home with our children. It wasn’t an easy decision, but peace enveloped me as soon as we made it.
It didn’t take long before the opinions started rolling in.
Obviously, you can’t handle it.
Kids who stay at home aren’t as socialized as kids in daycare. Your kids are going to suffer.
I would never be able to stay home all day long.
It must be nice to get to quit.
You better be careful or you’ll lose your identity.
You must be crazy. If you quit, you’ll never be able to teach in this district again.
I thought I’d learned to trust my own instinct, but I allowed these comments to pierce my heart just the same.
Even after being home over a year, I still hear snide comments every now and then, and they still hurt. What I’ve come to realize is that someone will always have something to say about my choices.
As mothers, we must learn to trust ourselves. What works for one family may not work for ours. What one family experiences may not be our experience. We all come with our own unique circumstances. Only we know what is best for our families.
When it comes to making a difficult decision, be sure to include God. Pray for guidance. Seek support and encouragement from others. Treasure those sweet little gifts from God and know that they love you no matter what. Make peace with what you decide. And take what others say with a grain of salt.
Leanne Willen enjoys writing about faith, family, and finding happiness. Her blog, Life Happens When, encourages others (and herself) to embrace the moment and enjoy the journey of life.