Thursday, December 10, 2009


I have gone round and round and round with how to write this particular entry. I struggle, as I think many women do, with my decision about whether I should work or stay home with my children, and what I think the effects of either choice would be on them. The majority of the voices in my world are against women working. Some of those voices are quiet or subtle, others are quite strident. I've heard it called the mommy wars and that's an incredibly unfortunate name. First of all, being a mother ought to be anathema to anything warlike. Secondly, this is really something society in general, and mothers as a group, should be able to move past. It is ridiculous to think that any one answer could possibly be the best one for the millions of different women and families in the world. I have chosen to work because, on balance, that has been the better choice for our family, for our children, and for me.

This whole issue has re-surfaced for me recently though. Our family is at crossroads right now - not at all in a bad way, but we face a lot of big decisions and changes. In this case, the major part of the decision is mine to make, with a lot of input from my husband, but ultimately mine. Over the past several years I have worked towards a degree in my field. This opens up options for me to work in a number of contexts and capacities, part time or full time, in a more relaxed setting or in a very intense and competitive one. I could stay local and we could remain in our community, or I could search nationwide and we could move (closer to family, to a new, more interesting area, closer to activites we enjoy...) None of these would be bad choices and I am very aware of how fortunate I am to have options like this. Clearly though, this choice will impact the rest of my family as it will bring change in routine and possibly even in home and geography. It also has major implications for my husband and his job.

These new opportunities have led me to revisit my choice to work and have a career in the first place. The bigger issue though has to do with how uncomfortable I am making a decision that will impact my whole family, and especially my husband, so fundamentally. It's not just the fact of making the decision; although, I am notoriously reluctant to want to make big decisions for other people. There is a bit of anxiety over "what if I fall on my face after asking everyone else to uproot themselves on my account?" Moreso though, I struggle with the fact that this decision is about me and following my goals. I am also notoriously bad at having things be about me. Then there is the added irony of my driving the direction of our family at the same time that we are working out the how's and when's of a dynamic that has him more in charge.

There are some potential upsides for the rest of my family to all of this. My husband travels quite a bit for his work, and his job is, for him, just a job, stressful and not fulfilling in any way. He is maddeningly responsible so he has never allowed himself to consider other work options. He wouldn't risk not being able to support us. My choice may provide an opportunity for him to explore doing something he feels would be more meaningful. It may also provide an opportunity for our family to have more time together overall. And the kids have a huge sense of adventure so they are having fun imagining all the fun places we may choose to live.


  1. Those are some big decisions... but it sounds like your family is very supportive. I don't have any advice but I wish you the best in whatever you decide.

  2. Neither staying at home or working makes A Good Mom. That comes from the quality of the mothering. Which in turn comes from mom doing what she wants to, whichever choice she makes. Whatever works for each family is what is right.

    (Plus, giving your kids the example of you following your dream is a terrific lesson.)

  3. Ally,
    Thank you. They are supportive, it makes all the difference.

    I need to be reminded of that sometimes, Thanks.

  4. I would agree with Jz! There is nothing wrong with following a dream.

    Also remember one element few take into consideration when they talk about the big debate between working and staying home; retirement. Which ever you decide, still put money aside for that. And no, I'm not just talking about social security (which probably won't be there anyway).


  5. Mouse,
    That's a good, hard, practical thing to consider, beyond the more emotionally charged aspects of the discussion. Thanks.

  6. Our family has been very blessed by having my wife stay home to care for our daughter and our home. It has helped to keep all of our stress levels lower.

  7. epaster,
    I recognize that having one parent at home would ease a great deal of the stress of running a home and raising a family. In our case, this was not the right balance for us.

  8. to have had my wife stay at home with the kids would have greatly increased the stress in our marriage and on our family. It is great that it worked for epaster and hopefully it worked for his wife although we cannot assume that. Either way it does not work for all.

  9. Sir J,
    That's exactly it - each family should work to find the solution that is the best one for all of it's members. Thnak you.

  10. I know you'll find something that will work out best for you and your family, and I don't think it's wrong for a mom to work. Kids like their parents to be happy and content... not in their face 24/7... lol

    Of course, there's always the option of working from home. I don't know if that's possible in your chosen field, but if it is, maybe it's something for you to look into. It wouldn't matter where you live, you can still provide an income for your family and your husband would still have an opportunity to find something more satisfying for himself, and you'd be home for the kids. Just a thought...