The great internal debate of being a working mother or stay-at-home mother is almost as old as time, but not quite. Women didn’t always have the freedom of deciding whether or not they would stay home to work inside the home or work outside the home. Until modern times, legal and cultural practices, coupled with religious and educational stipulations, restricted women’s entry and workforce participation.
Modern women have more freedom than previous generations, and with more freedom comes more choices, and with more choices, comes more critics. The recognition of women’s intellectual and professional interests can result in the role of a homemaker or stay-at-home mother being frowned upon or belittled by mothers who work outside the home. On the other hand, family life is one of the most critical aspects of our society, and to choose to work outside the home and have someone else assist in raising your children can earn disdain from mothers who stay-at-home in the trenches of family life and child-rearing.
The desire to seek professional or intellectual activity is not a rejection of femininity or a lack of enjoyment in raising children. It is also not an act of selfishness. Women thirst and strive for an abundance of roles in the world today, some for vanity and fame, or curiosity and adventure, others for service to society, and some for economic prestige. There are still familiar stereotypes aimed at women with ambition. If a passion for career achievement is the priority, your atonement for this choice is the guilt for your children’s perceived or actual neglect.
Deciding between roles as a mother is a mortal dilemma. This decision will be hanging around for generations to come unless we can change public opinion. Our society is a patchwork and a melting pot of modern and outdated practices and beliefs. Do we fall back on our conditioned thoughts that we hold the majority of responsibility for our children’s welfare, or do we lean toward the new reality and possibilities that have emerged with side effects that are still somewhat unknown?
Each avenue that a mother might take has its frustrations, dissatisfaction, and challenges. Many mothers experience the total exhaustion of working all day, then coming home to a full evening of cooking, cleaning, feeding, and caring for their children. Perhaps, you spent all day every day caring for and educating your child, feeling as though everyday blends and fuses, anticipating the deterioration of your identity.
Luckily, these frustrations and choices are not inherent but are a result of fixed society norms. Not every mother has the experience of mental conflict in her choices. Neither are the constituents of the two options at war with each other. Parents make decisions to work or stay home for a variety of reasons: maybe it’s because childcare prices are out of control, or they enjoy what they do for a living, perhaps both parents need to work to pay the bills, or it may be because raising children is a more significant contribution to society than sitting behind a computer desk all day. Whatever your reason, the choice is just that- yours.
We would love to continue the conversation with you on your choice to work or stay home and why.