Monday, March 8, 2010

What Am I Missing?

I wanted to write about moms working outside of the home. It's a dynamic topic, and one that I openly admit I don't understand the other side of. So, here is what I do understand, from my perspective.

First, Biblically

Should women work Biblically? YES, YES, YES! The Bible spells out clearly that women are to be productive members of their household. The Proverbs 31 woman was entrepreneurial, selling her goods while running her household well. The modern woman might have an Etsy shop in the same spirit, or simply do the work around the house that it is customary to pay others to do for us, like making all our food from scratch or changing the oil in our car. It is not wrong for women to make money for their families; it is right. But it seemed that the Proverb 31 woman's work did not take her away from her family much.

Second, The Time-Money Debate

This isn't about how much money our time is worth. This is about what we think is more important to our family, our time or our money. My needs list is simple: food, shelter, clothes, and love. We are willing to make the trade for me to be able to stay home with the kids by living in a small apartment with no yard, having a twelve-year-old car, and having me do a lot of household labor that others take as though they are granted.

You may be thinking, "but I don't want to live like you." Unless your husband works at Walmart while going to school, you probably don't have to live exactly like me.

I have a hard time understanding why someone would choose money over time. I don't know any kids who would rather have more toys or a bigger yard (parks are free around here) than a mom who is home with them. The only reason I can think of is if there is debt that cannot be handled with one income.

Third, Pleasure and Satisfaction

I admit ignorance on this one. I worked as a grocery store cashier for five years until I got pregnant and I loved that job. I loved that job more than most people love their jobs. I got to meet people all day and chat. I had my favorite customers. I understand that work can give a sense of accomplishment: I was the fastest cashier on the front end.

My three-year-old, Daniel, and I have been working on our writing goal. Instead of wanting to write "Daniel", he wants to write "Thomas" (the train, not the brother). We started with "T" because it's pretty simple, and he mastered it quickly and started identifying T's wherever we went. Then we went to "A", which is also pretty simple to write. Then, I wanted to do "S", since it's his favorite letter. It is hard for him to draw, and it sometimes came out looking like a backwards "Z", but every once in a while, his "S" is perfect, as good as the "S" I put on the page for him to copy. I have never felt so deep a satisfaction.

What am I missing? What is work offering moms that I don't understand?

95 comments:

  1. I was a SAHM and now am back in the working world. My daughter is 21 years old. Like you, I taught her to write, count, colors, shapes, etc. While I do enjoy working now, I would not trade the time I had with her for anything.

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  2. Emily,
    I completely agree! I worked in a billing office locating missing customer payments before having my kids. It was very rewarding to use my office skills and help people out too. I actually planned on going back to work after my maternity leave was over. I thought I would have NO PROBLEM leaving my baby with a sitter everyday! Well I look back and laugh about that now. After I held that baby in my arms there was no way I was going back to work! I believe that once you have a baby YOU should raise it, not a daycare worker. Just my opinion.

    Now I do understand single mothers who have no other option but to work and place their baby in daycare. I actually applaud them because I can only imagine how hard it is parenting alone.

    God Bless,
    Melissa

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  3. "What am I missing? What is work offering moms that I don't understand?"

    Perhaps a lot of the moms who are working aren’t doing it because they want to. Not every woman has a husband or partner to rely on for monetary support, that person could have died, left or just never been around.

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  4. I was a sahm for the most part when my kids were little. They are 12,10,8 now. I did work for about a year, when my daughter was 2 1/2. But I only worked 4pm-12am and my husband was with the kids when I wasn't. It worked for us during that time. I think it all depends on a familys situation. Sometimes you need to money to survive. BUt, sometimes like in our case in order to put the kids in daycare-all three of them when they were little, would of been crazy because I would of never made money.
    Some women get satisifaction by working and thats okay. I can tell you, if I ever have another child I will stay home as long as i can ;) Those years you can never get back and being home raising your child 100% of the time is awesome :)

    mary
    http://www.mrsfrugalista.com

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  5. Melissa and Holly, I understand about single moms working outside of the home. I wasn't really talking about them. There are lots of married moms that could stay home, and I was wondering what the appeal of working is.

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  6. I have been a SAHM for 20 years and have enjoyed every moment. We are not wealthy in fact my husband is now a pastor of a very small church, but I have done all I can to stretch the money.

    You needed always live in a small apartment, as we live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, raise our own food(chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, sheep, goats) and a garden. I also make my own cheese and use milk from the goat.

    Life is not what the world says it is.

    If one makes the decision to stay home, it will be possible. If one decides to buy into the worldly idea that two incomes are needed to survive in todays world then that is the only way they will survive.

    Proof is all around with many stay at home women. We are not wasting our time, or judging those who work. We are here to show that it it possible to do so.
    Jennifer

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  7. You aren't missing anything if you are fulfilled. What a wonderful gift to be able to be with your children so much. I am about to be 27 and have been with the same company almost 4 years. These people have become very good friends and some are like family. I love being able to contribute what I do to our income (I feel like I would put too much stress on my hubby if I were to stay home), my income gives us room to do the "extras" that we enjoy, without worry. Like everyone says, you have to do what is right for your family. I love that my baby gets to be around other babies all day and learn from them as well as myself. Yes, I miss him all the time, but I am working to provide for him and I also get to enjoy my job at the same time.

    I really enjoy your blog...your topics of conversation, your recipes and frugal tips! I am currently trying to save more money and do better at "making do". I am a lover of convenience!

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  8. I agree with holly, not everyone has the luxury of having no debt. I have mountains of student loans, and right now there just aren't good jobs available. So I'm stuck working two jobs that both add up to less than full time for less than half of what I was making before. It's an incredibly frustrating situation, and I don't even have kids. I can't imagine what I'd do if I had to choose.

    But on the other than, there are women out there who do prefer to work. Either they feel that they are serving the greater good by doing work that's incredibly meaningful (like working to find a cure for HIV, or helping the homeless find jobs, or protecting the environment through educating kids about recycling)... or they simply make more money than their husbands; which makes it more practical for the husband to stay home with the kids. Just because the mother isn't there, doesn't mean that there isn't a parent around.

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  9. I stay at home with my child and I love it. I am not going to homeschool her unless something big changes, but we are learning to read (she's three), learning to cook, learning to sew, count money, paint, grow vegetables, fold laundry, clean, identify birds and plants (all in moderation to her age)--and we talk and play oh so much--and it is precious to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything. We spend a lot of our time ministering to other families in need that have children...I find that it is an incredible way to teach her about Jesus...Jesus gives some families money and then he gives other families us...and we share our money and our time and love and they get to eat food and have clothes...etc...and she really gets it.
    katie

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  10. It is an interesting question...and I don't think it is a black and white sort of thing...I wrote three posts b/c I really wanted to explain things well and apparently typed way too much for one post:
    My mom taught 10 years and then had two children, stayed home a year with each one and then went back to teaching...but we had an hour in the car with each other and time with her as she worked in her classroom after school and nights and weekends--we raised 2 acres of orchards and gardens as a family and lived a basically sustainable lifestyle on 65 acres...and I never remember needing my mom and her not being available...and when she retired, she had basically lived with and mothered 900 5th grade children in an arena where Christian families are disappearing fast...it gave us an incredible sense of equality that i really cherish...we were the most important things in the world to her...but only as valuable as every other child. I don't wish our life had been any different, though in my teenage years, I wished for the freedom my friends had to go and do and basically make a family of peers--but, nope...my parents really really believed in bringing people and families from our "outside lives" into our family...and they really really believed that a family should spend most of it's time with the family. But, my mom always seemed really tired.
    I wanted the same life I grew up with--only a little less tired...
    katie

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  11. My little sister had a wonderful plan. She is a very talented architect--the valedictorian her year of one of the top programs in the country with job prospects galore...in that field, you basically apprentice 3 years and then sit for a lot of exams, get your license and then can work wherever, whenever for the rest of your life...put in three years and then you can work on the side, part-time, from a home office and raise your own children--good plan, eh?
    but she got pregnant as a surprise gift in their first year of marriage-- as they were renovating a house, in her first year of the apprenticeship--with twins. So, she stayed home a year with them and is now working part-time (as that is the only way to make the renovation sell-able--and she is not a money-waster either--they are doing everything themselves--everything) and I watch her girls 1/2 the week and a friend watches them the other 1/2 week...and she has to do that for 18 more months, pass her tests, and then do whatever she wants...in the meantime, her girls are doing wonderfully...and feel very very loved and safe. Although, I know she is really looking forward to more time with them, on the short days with us, it is really just two hours of playing she is missing and an 1 1/2 hr. nap...and God gave her this incredible talent and she spends her part-time work time with a bunch of very very creative people who always thought Christians were a bunch of jumper-wearing bible-thumping weirdos...and now they have this other beautiful picture of Christ through my sister who outshines most of them and is uncompromising in her faith and so willing to love them generously.
    I don't see anything wrong with any of us...We all have used the talents and resources God has given us to do the best we can for our families and our neighbor. None of us are any debt other than a reasonable home mortgage--and my parents paid theirs off 12 years early because of good saving and planning that they taught us.
    I'm sure any or all of us could have changed the way we do things, but, to me, they seem like reasonable, joyful, responsible lives that are being lived to God's glory.
    katie

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  12. Hmm, well I respect your first two points, because that's your own perspective. But the last one? Truly, teaching a child the letter 't' will never be so fulfilling or challenging or exciting to me as my job (outside the home). I work in product design - every day I get to meet new people (adults! people i can have proper conversations with!), and work on new projects which test me mentally and intellectually.

    You can argue (and I'm sure you will) that you can get mental stimulation/adult conversation from your husband, but for me that wasn't enough. Talking to one adult for a few hours once he's home from work, however much I love him, isnt enough for me, and if I spend 60% of my day in the company of young children with no adults I get very lonely and very unhappy.

    So I guess my job is important for me for the company, and because it gives me something interesting to do every day. Again, you can argue that teaching children requires ingenuity and is a challenge, but not in the same way, and not in the way that makes me feel fulfilled (just like some people are cut out to be school teachers and others arent).

    In my opinion, being a stay at home/homeschooling mother is one career choice, but it doesnt suit everyone, and certainly not me. And unhappy, unfulfilled parents = very unhappy kids.

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  13. I am a SAHM, so maybe I don't really know what I'm talking about. :)

    I used to have a career before babies, and I really, really liked it. The logistics of managing that career, as well as managing a household and parenting my boys, is just more than I can handle these days, though. If I were a more organized person, or if I needed less sleep, or if my husband had a less demanding career, I think I'd still be working.

    I really loved that job (I was a midwife), and it was very fullfilling in a way that motherhood isn't. I love motherhood/homemaking, but it's just not the same. I have no plans on going back (that logistics thing), but I can see why someone would choose to go back if they had different family circumstances. Midwifery is special. Motherhood is also special (and I'd make the argument *more* so), but it's not the same. At all.

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  14. I've been in both situations. I went back to work full time six weeks after I had my first daughter-reason why is my husband was self-employed and my job had the health insurance. However, after my husband got a job with benefits I quit and have been a sahm now for over three years. Now we have an HSA that we pay 100% for and is not tied to my husbands job, but we did not know this was an option when I was working.
    sara http://myfrugalfunlife.blogspot.com/

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  15. The simple answer to the question, Emily, is that we're all different.

    There is no need to have to understand the other side of the coin. Understanding of how other people do things isn't a requirement to making how they do it right or wrong.

    I work outside the home because I do have debt that one income can not take care of. I own my home, and have some school debt that must be paid off. I do work reduced hours and that helps our children remain primarily with one of us.

    I make a generous salary for working part-time so for us, the numbers work out better for us if I work. I'm not buying my kids toys or yards. I'm simply working to pay of debt and having no debt would put our family in a better place, for my children too.

    Would I stay home if I had no debt, you bet. But this works for us for now and we're happy.

    Happy parents is incredibly important to happy children. It really doesn't matter what another person's family does. If you and your own family are happy then that's all that needsd to be understood.

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  16. I myself have an on again off again struggle with this very subject. I was a WOHM when my oldest was a little one since it was necessary for me as a single mom. I have been a SAHM since I was about 6 months pregnant with my 3 year old. I enjoy staying at home but I very much loved working too. I was a hairstylist. The things I miss most about working is the immediate feedback. I used to get praised lots as I was very good at my job. At home it seems to be *my job* to do whatever household chore and I dont get that type of feedback. Also While I was working I had people to talk to all day long who had things to talk about other than what was going on in my house. At home that is the majority of my conversations. I do feel for my family being at home with the children is where I am supposed to be for now but I do long for the day I can go back to work as well. Too bad there doesn't seem to be a middle ground in our situation.

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  17. I too work full time and love my job. We need my income to pay the bills, but could downsize and live with much less. But, we don't want that. I want my children to have everything in life including loan free college tuitions, to fresh foods, eating out, vacations, etc. I work hard to provide that for my children and that is my choice. I spend every waking second that I can with my children and they are thriving in all areas. They love to go to daycare and learn so much. We are all much happier that way. My marriage is wonderful. Because I work, I am able to have someone clean my house every couple of weeks, so I can devote all my free time to my kids.

    I think it is all a personal choice. If I could stay home with my kids, I would not do it. I have no regrets. I am sure there are many who do, but like I said, it is a personal choice.

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  18. i have an interesting perspective on this discussion, I think. when child #1 was born I went from teaching full time to staying home, which was what I wanted to do, but it was not a good fit. I ended up with severe post partum depression (not just from staying home, but that contributed to it). When I started to think seriously of suicide, we realized it was time for a change. I sougth medical help at the direction of my godly pastor, but I also went back to work part time, teaching three hours of the day while child #1 was at grandparents. I felt soooo guilty because being a SAHM was what I wanted and felt was necessary, but I was mentally and emotionally more stable by having to get up, dressed, put makeup on, and see grownups everyday.

    After two years of working part time, I joined a playgroup and found a way to make (a lot) of money working from home. the playgroup provides the grown up conversation, and the freelance writing provides what I need in terms of fulfillment and mental stimulation.

    Prior to my experience I felt moms who worked and didn't Have To were wrong. I felt they were selfish, didn't care as much about their children as they should, and etc. I was wrong. I needed to experience the severe depression, the literal need to get out of the house and be around big people, before I could possibly understand. So now I realize that there is right and wrong to both situations. Everyone has to do what they feel is best for their families.

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  19. Rachel in floridaMarch 8, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Emily, I think it is a difference in the personalities that are given to people by God. Our pastor did a sermom on this yesterday, about how the different parts of the body work together, but all are vital to the church. He used a group of people going on a trip to Arkansas as an example. One would say "Okay, let's go!" One would say "but why are we going?" The next would say " I know a great place to eat when we get there!" And the next would say "Is this what everyone wants to do?". They all have the same goal, but have different concerns about getting there.

    I guess it's the same with a wife and mother. One says "I love to work, and it benefits my family." One says " I like being at home and tending to the children." and the next says" I like to do just a bit of both". If you don't have the personality of the mom who goes to a job every day, then it is hard to understand.

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  20. I guess I lucked out , I trained to do something I did not enjoy and held a job doing it for years (data collection & hard travel) then I just came to the conclusion I was so unhappy the money wasnt worth it so I decided to do what made me happy and while it wont buy me a new fur coat it provides.

    I guess its perspective of what makes people happy , and different things make different people happy. I am not exactly a kid person , i love my children and i take care of and love them but I am not a fluffy cuddle mommy. I am a hard working , ground digging happiest when I see my kids at the table eating to their hearts content on food that I grew with my hands and sleeping at night in clothes that my hand made.

    Some people like chocolate , some vanilla , some rocky road. God created the colors of the rainbow to color the earth , and so he planted seeds of different delight in different peoples hearts.

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  21. What are you missing?

    a) Maybe you're missing the question of why fathers would want to work outside the home. Why wouldn't they rather stay home with their children?

    b) Maybe you're missing the fact that mothers (imagine that!) might have careers far more satisying than teaching a child his/her letters. Good grief! This is not setting the bar very high.

    c) Maybe you're missing that there are mothers out there who think they are just as responsible as fathers for protecting their children.

    Just a thought.

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  22. I absolutely HATE saying this but I am a psychiatrist and the thing I've seen the most in stay at home moms is Depression.The sense of fulfillment you get by being capable of being on your own,the power,and the knowledge you get from higher level education is undeniable.I have a child with autism and I know if I did not work as a Dr myself I would killed myself long time ago with a child like him

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  23. I'm teaching my little sister with down syndrome to read; it's a delight and a triumph as she sounds out the letters to read the word! It is as satisfying as any other work; you're quite right, Emily. Thank you! :)

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  24. I've done both .... working was nice, gave me a break. But it came with a sidecar of mommy guilt that left me ill, in a real true meaning of that. I love to be home, but it gets very boring. I don't know what I'll do when the kids are all in school though. Guess it all depends on how many household repairs need to be done at the time. HAH!

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  25. Unfortunately in my life, there is no option but me working. Here is a little bit of our story if you're interested (you don't have to post it, it's more conversational and another perspective as to why someone may work):

    We are stashing away money like crazy so I can stay home after we have the next baby. We live in a pretty high COL area (Chicago), and unfortunately, my husband's pay doesn't (yet) make it possible for me to stay home. Our medical insurance sucks out a lot, and with deductibles, etc., we're eaten alive. To be honest, I work for the insurance. It comes from my husband's job, but with that amount taken out of his paychecks, we wouldn't be able to live, so I work. I wouldn't look for state insurance, but even if we were going to, DH still makes too much money to qualify. I make much more money than we need, but my job won't let me go part time. I have tried (I'm a music teacher...they said there would need to be a medical reason for me to switch). I could teach lessons out of my house, or do in home daycare, but frankly, I'm too scared to leave my job for income that is so touch and go.

    We eat very frugally...everything from scratch and I shop for deals. We cloth diaper and I breastfed until DS was 8 1/2 months old (sadly after I went back to work my supply plummeted).

    So my reason to work has nothing to do with debt...it has to do with the state of our healthcare system (I won't get started on that topic because it will open a can of worms, I'm sure).

    So until we have enough saved before we have our second baby, I work. But I try to think of things very positively. My hours are great...I get home at 4:30 every day, get a lot of days off for holidays, and have breaks for Thanksgiving (1 week), Christmas (2 weeks), spring break (1 week), and 10 weeks in the summer for summer break. Not every working mom has that and I'm lucky. I do take a lot of my work home and stay up late after I put my son to bed to get it done, but I still consider myself very lucky.

    Just another perspective :)

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  26. I have a 9, 3, and 1 year old. When I was pregnant with my first I was a fulltime nanny. I planned to go right back to work and take him with me. Whoops! I couldn't do it! I ended up giving my car back to the bank so that I could stay home with him. Then I started working retail when he was 2 and a half. That was very hard for me, I worked until he was 4 then I got pregnant with my daughter and I have stayed home until just a few months ago when I started doing janitorial at night, I worked with a crew and I really enjoyed it BUT I left for work in the evening and got home at 1 or 2 am. It was good for awhile but it got hard, especially for our oldest, he really needed me to not be exhausted all the time, help with homework, etc. So I quit. Eventually when my kids are older I will work, I do feel fulfilled when I am working but this is my time with my little kids and I do enjoy it!

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  27. Great and provacative post. The comments have been so thoughtful and reflective. To me, it boils down to that everyone has to have a PURPOSE in life. That purpose is dynamic and ever changing. It is a give and take situtation. Sometimes, a woman will feel the purpose of her life is to stay at home and other times work outside the home. I don't think any purpose is wrong; just where a person is at in their life.

    I personally, like being a working Mom and I like that my life is more than just four walls that surround me. I think that is good for my daughter to see.

    But, I have to say if I had three children, then I think my purpose would be to be a SAHM. When they are all in school, then my focus might shift. College isn't cheap.

    Just my two cents. Great post.

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  28. Emily, I don't agree with many of your opinions, but I'm with you on this one. Of course I know that in many cases, two incomes are needed to sustain a family, and the option of having a parent SAH with the kid(s) is simply not possible.

    But in a lot of cases, it is. I SAH and we had to make some budget adjustments to be able to afford for me to do so. I really liked the job I left, and I do miss working, but to me, nothing compares with the time I spend almost 24/7 with my son. I have the whole rest of my life to work, but my son will be a little boy for just a few short precious years.

    We do not live in a big, new house, and we do not drive nice vehicles. We don't go on expensive vacations. I can't imagine returning to work and giving up all of my precious time with my son, just so we could have these things.

    Now, on the other side of the argument, I will say that though some dual-income families are affluent and could certainly afford to live on just one of those incomes, many working moms are working because they have to, not because they want to. In today's society, it can be exceedingly difficult to live on just one income.

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  29. The appeal of working is that when you are a SHAM, there is absolutely no time away from "work." Being a mommy is a 24/7 job and some people do not have the tempermant for it or the desire to do it. I'm just fine going to work all week. I miss my son but I'm glad that I have a chance to miss him because it makes the time with him that much more special for me. And I don't think there is anything biblically wrong with that.

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  30. I'm going to guess that part of your fulfillment from teaching your son his letters comes from his own pride and interest in learning. And I will further guess that you hope he continues to feel an interest in learning, and pride of accomplishment as he masters new skills and knowledge. Some of us were lucky enough to have that satisfaction, pride, and continued appetite through many years of education. Is it your hope that your sons eventually come to a point at which the skills they've learned no longer have any application in their lives? When Daniel mastered the letter T, did you have some timeline in mind, for when he can, and should, stop writing Ts and find fulfillment without literacy? Is enjoyment from exercising skills, for money, really foreign to you?

    Also, you seem to think fulfillment from work and fulfillment from motherhood are mutually exclusive. I work part time right now, and stay home with my children 5 days a week. It works for us now, and I do love mothering my children. But if and when I find a job in my field that I would really enjoy, I will take it, full time or not. I will still be fulfilled by my time with my children, and my husband and I will still be their primary influence. But I'll also get other fulfillment.

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  31. My husband provides well for my family, and I was able to stay home with my children and finish my degree. Now, my kids are in school and I am going back to work.

    Here is what going back to work gives me: 1) a reason to get dressed in the morning, 2) a consistent schedule, and 3) a sense of intellectual accomplishment. Many women can get those things at home with their children. I cannot. Left to my devices, I am happy to spend my days looking unfit for public, having no where very important to go. I stay up too late and get out of bed at my leisure.

    Now, there are many reasons why I wouldn't trade staying home when my kids were little, and to some extent, spending days in jammies on a night owl schedule is no biggie when you are home with babies/toddlers. I know, though, that my children could have benefited, too, from having me spend those years in a more productive routine.

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  32. I am very happy with the comments I have gotten and and thankful that the tone has been above reproach. There are a few things I wanted to add about fulfillment and boredom. I feel like with staying home, I can pursue what ever endeavor I want once I have the basics (housework and cooking) covered. During each pregnacy, I have devoted a few months designing and sewing baby girl dresses (then given most away with the arrival of each boy). I have been able to paint back drops for my church for skits and VBS. I even spent six months building a fairly popular, money making blog. I can pursue many things, and I am glad that my children get to see a Mommy who can follow her dreams, one at a time.

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  33. You can follow your dreams, because they are things compatible with staying home. If someone's dream is to reach a certain rank in the military or research cancer treatments, they are not going to be able to do that and stay home with their children. Work offers some moms the opportunity to pursue dreams that cannot be attained only after the household chores are done.

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  34. I guess I would ask the bigger question of why aren't there more part-time liveable wage jobs available for both genders?

    I have always WOH part-time since having children (minus a six month leave when my second and in our case final child was born). Most of that time my partner (DH in my case) has worked full-time. The past 15 months DH has been laid off and a full-time SAHD. He likes it more than either one of us would have every imagined. That's different than he wouldn't love to have an opportunity to work part-time in his field or to have a small farming opperation that he could do some of the work while caring for chidren, but do the bulk of on the days I don't have WOH responsibilites.

    Ideally, both life and marriages are long and both partners get lots of opportunity to WOH, raise children, volunteer, and have their own interests/hobbies/passions too.

    Having both partners in a partnered relationship work part-time would be the ideal in my world (boy thats a lot of parts lol). That way you can have no daycare expense, shared responsiblities for household tasks/childrearing,and nice home/work balance and hopeful enough of that green retangular stuff that we to exchange for adequate food, housing, and even a bit of fun.

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  35. I think the poster who said we're all different said it best.

    We all have different backgrounds and educations.

    We have different "needs" lists. Mine includes being able to provide more for my child than just the basics. Does that make either of us wrong? No. It just makes us different.

    We also have different goals for our parenting. Daycare has been truly wonderful for my child. I have never not been there when she needed me... but then, I have a flexible job and an understanding boss. She spends every day with her best buddies and with caregivers who truly care about her. Are they helping my husband and I raise her? Yep. And I am okay with that, because they're about a million times more creative than I am and she's getting wonderful things from them.

    I'm also very happy that my daughter will see that Mamas can be successful in their careers as well... I am the breadwinner and got here through hard work. My Husband is proud of me, and thinks I am a great role model for our daughter.

    Different strokes for different folks.

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  36. I worked at home doing tax bookkeeping when my kids were under 5. Then I got an offer for a better job outside and the little one went to preschool at a christian church for 1 year until she was able to go to a full day K=1 class. The oldest was at the same school then and we were only 2 blocks away.

    I missed adult contact when I worked at home. The kids didn't provide the interaction that I needed (this was years before the internet).

    JMHO

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  37. I work part-time because I made terrible financial choices leading up to becoming a mother. My husband and I created some stupid debt. Now he works full time and I work part-time to chip away at it.

    My mother takes care of my two girls while I work from 7-noon 5 days a week.

    If I could go back in time and tell myself anything it would be to live debt free. That allows more freedom than you can imagine.

    I have a degree, I could make much more money than I make right now if I worked full time. But my kids are little and not in school. Having to spend just 1/2 the day away from them kills me.

    I like my job. I love the people I work with and they know I have small children at home. They work with me on scheduling and special days off. I couldn't ask for a better job. Yet every day I drive to work I wish I was at home.

    Lesson learned. Joanna

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  38. I think another thing is this. 25 years ago most moms stayed home. It was a different economy and such, but the point is they got together for playdates, could meet up at the local park, could run accross the street for a cup of sugar and conversation, etc. Being a SAHM wasn't so isolating. I felt incredibly isolated when I first became a SAHM, because everyone i knew who was my age or in my station of life worked, so I couldn't call up a friend. Facebook (I wasn't on FB at the time, finding a new churhc with other SAHMs, and joining a playgroup has helped some, but that takes more effort today than it did in our parent's generation to meet other likeminded mommies.

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  39. But you've kind of defeated your own purpose with that last statement there. If you're home but on the computer all day long, or paying attention to other things all day long, and not playing with/teaching your children anyway.. how are you any different than a mother that works out of the home?

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  40. I stay at home becouse my mom worked. I missed her so much, and she was a single mom, and had to work. Back in those days there were no background checks and I was abused badly by babysitters. I am so gratefull I can be at home with my children. For me, there is no way I could go to work. Today I know there is great care out there, and I have wached many children and been a nanny for years. I love kids, I can be around them all day. When a mom has to work being able to watch her child an loving them so she knows they are safe is very fullfilling. My kids also get love too. I missed my mom, we were never close, She loved working. Before she died she felt bad that she had to work, but I know she did her best for us kids. She sent me to private school. I had nice clothes, but what I always wanted was time with her, not to see her rushing around, to pay for things I could have done without. Tammy

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  41. Working part time out of the house works best for me and my family. We could live off my husbands income no problem. All our basic needs would be met with savings at the end of the month. We drive used vehicles and moved to live in a lower cost of living area to buy a less expensive house. I work to provide the children and myself with the extras that we would not be able to afford; ballet, swimming classes, camping, vacations, 4H, Guiding, "me" time, a new pair of cute shoes or a skirt, dinners out, education savings for the children, preschool, time out with friends ect.
    None of those things are more important than my children but I am important too and so is my sanity. To take 20 hours a week and leave the children in the care of family is fine with me and the children and is worth it to me so they children can experience other things they wouldn't get with just me being at home.
    Another driving force is the what if of if my husband died and I was a SAHM who hadn't been in the work force for 10 years, it would be more difficult to get a job than someone who was already working part time asking for full time.
    I feel I'm setting a good example for my children seeing that I do not need to rely on a man for everything and if I want something I can work for it.

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  42. While working is not for everyone, being a SAHM is also not for everyone. There are pros and cons to both. I work, my mother works, and my grandmother works. Growing up, I felt like my mother was ALWAYS around. I never felt that she was spending less time with us because she worked, and I also felt proud of my mother (and I still am). I remember taking so many trips with her and her just being around to teach us and play with us and spend time with us. Her working didn’t seem to get in the way of her mothering. She also managed to get a healthy dinner on the table every night and help with homework.
    Some women work because it makes sense financially. Eating all organic meat, produce, and dairy gets expensive. Taking your child on trips gets expensive. Family vacations get expensive. These are all things that may be important to some of us. I would like to show my child the world, literally. That costs money, and living on two incomes makes things a bit more affordable. Sending a child to school or daycare only takes part of their day. I don’t consider that “allowing someone else to raise your child”. Also, as far as homeschooling goes, I would like to think I’m a semi intelligent person, but there is no way I have enough knowledge or understanding of the subjects to teach my child chemistry, physics, calculus, etc. Maybe that’s just me, but I would like my son to be able to compete, and if he learns fundamental math and science skills from me, that will not be cool! Now, on the extreme end, I have seen women in my neighborhood who don’t work AND have nannies to help them with the kids. I don’t really get this, but who am I to judge? I just find it odd when I see a woman, a stroller, one child, and another woman to help with the kid. I don’t understand the point of the nanny if you’re home all day lol.
    I think the main reason for working, aside from finances though, is to show your kids, and daughters especially, that women can have and be successful in careers outside of the home. A woman can be a doctor, an engineer, nurse, teacher, whatever she wants. I believe that it is important to set that example, but that’s just my opinion. Being a SAHM is certainly also a respectable and worthy career, but it’s not for everyone.

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  43. I have five children under the age of 7 and I also have post-graduate degrees. It's not always mutually exclusive. I recently made the decision to stay home for two more years and then go back to work. I used to be an art teacher, but since I started having kids - I've also had time to work towards these degrees. I'm lucky in that my husband works for a local university and I can take courses there for next to nothing.

    I stay home now because it would not be financially reasonable for me to go back to work just to put three kids in day care. As soon as my 3 year old goes to full-time school in the fall, I'm back to work. Why? Not because I have to - we're comfortable without me working, but it's not about the money.

    It's about the satisfaction I get from having intellectual discussions with my peers, especially in a collegiate setting. I might not miss teaching younger students so much (I've practically got my own classroom at home). I need to be a smart mum and a happy mum to be a good mum to my kids. When I stay at home, my kids might get more of me, but they don't necessarily get the best of me. I want them to be proud that I continued to go to school and teach and be someone that they can look up to. Staying home with my kids forever will not necessarily mean my kids are raised well - if I work hard, teach them the right things, and fulfill my own dreams as well as help them work towards theirs? Then I've done my job.

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  44. I was a full time working mom from the time my oldest turned one. I didn't even take a full six weeks off with my second. Not working the full work week, I would go in during off hours. I did that because I felt I might be replaced, which is what happened when I had my first. Looking back I regret that a lot. My baby missed out, I missed out.

    Really, it was a normal thing for me to work full time, my mom always did. We are both nurses and had the higher incomes. I realize now that I could have managed to stay at home even just part time if I had become more frugal, etc. But also during a period of time my husband was not working regularly. This was likely because he didn't have to...because I was working and supporting us. Yes it caused a lot of resentment on my part. If I had realized this back then, I would not have worked so hard. I really wanted to be a SAHM.

    Well, God answers prayers, but not always in the way we'd desire. I ended up being diagnosed with cancer three years ago. I am in remission but have long lasting complications/damage to my heart and the major veins in my chest. To repair that I would have to have a hideous set of surgeries that the vascular surgeon can do, but does not want to do. That's how bad it is. And unlike other cancers that are solid tumors, lymphoma is not solid-it can't usually be surgically removed. It is still there in my chest compressing my heart, though it is dead scar tissue now. I had to have surgery to place a window in the lining around my heart to drain the fluid because it was drowning my heart and would continue to do so if it were just drained. Yikes, I didn't mean to go on that much...but now you atleast know my story right? LOL

    I'm on disability now. So through all of that, I got my wish. I stay at home. My husband has had to man up and work full time consistently, which he has. Fortunately, he has a very easy job that is mostly done from home.

    The bad news...my girls are older now. Their precious younger years are gone forever and I missed them because I feared that if I didn't work we would not be able to afford to take care of them. I would love to have a third child now that I'm home and I would relish each and every moment of that. Sadly, my husband does not want anymore children. (Hey if you have any tips on how to change his heart on that, let me know. I would never want to "trick" him into a pregnancy. It's very important to me that his heart is in it).

    I am happy to be home when the girls get off the bus from school. It's nice that their "work day" ends at the end of the school day, instead of when my "work day" ends, as it was before. So there are some good things still.

    On the other side, I will admit that I miss the interaction with other adults that I had while I was working. I've not been able to find other moms to bond with. And due to my health and the emotional fall out that goes along with it, I ended up with a self imposed isolation. Even from speaking on the phone with friends. So most of my interaction is online only. This is a bad situation that I've created and I know it's unhealthy. It's my goal to start reconnecting with the outside world. So that is the only benefit that I can give to working if it is not necessary for financial reasons.

    OK, I have turned this into a long off topic ramble. Hopefully though I have given some insight mixed in.

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  45. I do not want to go into my personal fiances in detail, but I will share a little bit about why I am a working mom. First off, I work part-time. I'm out of the house about 6 hours/4 days a week (with childcare 3 of those days). We could survive on my husband's income, but we would not be able to own a home, have a good, reliable car, have good health insurance, and finances would be a big worry. I already shop discount for groceries and clothing and we live pretty modestly. I do save quite a bit of money, but it's not enough for me to stay home full-time. And my child is well cared for by a friend in the short time she is away from me. It gives her a chance to play and interact with other kids, and gives a SAHM (my friend) a chance to earn a little money.

    I am doing the best I feel I can with our family's circumstances. This maybe isn't what others would choose, but that doesn't make it wrong.

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  46. I work full time, many days from home. I have a graduate degree, language skills, am smart (smarter than most) and get satisfaction for solving complicated problems that would never be encountered sitting at home. My job gives me tremendous satisfaction. I have travelled the world. I have solved problems saving companies millions of dollars, and have earned as much in my career. I am ALSO a loving mother. I have loving children who have wanted for nothing, not my time nor my affection. I have used wonderful, ridiculously expensive in office child care. I nursed my children 100%. I am more than just a mom and just an employee. I am not stressed out. I am a leader in my church. Have a loving husband. I write all this not to show off, but to dispell a myth that staying home is the sign of a functional and loving family and that going to work is equivalent to a dysfunctional family. I have spent a fair amount of time around women who do not work. They generally over exagerate the amount of happiness and sunshine they get from staying home all day with their children. My daughter's desire is to become a geneticist and cure diseases. I would never encourage her to study her passion and then give it up. You can do both. I have.

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  47. I'm with the other Chris. I want my partner and I to both have part-time jobs. He currently does and I am currently living off of savings and a small WAHM income. I hope to begin teaching again in a year or two when my second child is a toddler. Off the top of my head I would say 10 hours a week would be nice.

    I love having my own time and getting out. I believe it's important for a woman to have her own income, savings, and skills apart from her partner. As someone who never believed they would be divorced (or a single mother) I am glad my mother raised me this way.

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  48. I am a very intelligent woman with a high IQ. I don't feel like God gave it to me to stay at home. No, my house is not always clean but I do get plenty of time with my children. I teach special education and I think that we absolutely need positive, Christian people in the lives of these children. If I didn't do it, who would? If all Christian women stayed home with their kids all the time then we wouldn't even be fulfilling the great commission anyway.

    ~A

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  49. SAHM who work in the homes can still neglect their children if they allow the "work" to become too consuming. I think in both cases..working SAHM and working outside the house moms have to find the best balance for their children and themselves.

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  50. I personally do not care what other mom's are doing as long as they are fulfilled and doing the best job they can at what ever they choose to do. (while raising productive well rounded citizens of course :-) With that said, when the family is in debt because of past financially mistakes, I believe everyone should be working, full or part time to get it paid off. For example, one thing that has bothered me in my SAHM community is women racking up a bunch of student loans, then become a SAHM. If you want to go to college and be a SAHM that is just fine, but to go to school and leave the debt for your husband to work hard to pay off does not seem very thought through to me. I have a few friends in this exact situation. Friends who have husbands paying for student loans even if the husband never went to college!
    I personally took out student loans to go to college but I was sure to have them all paid off before we started a family and I began stay at home. I did not want my husband to have to carry that burden on top of supporting everything else for our family of 5.
    So, if the reason a mother is working outside the home is because of debt or student loans, I simply would say "poor planning" but unfortunately necessary.
    I love reading your blog, and am glad you are still sharing!

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  51. Hi Emily! I found your blog through a site I'm on regarding, can you guess?, the controversy of your other blog. Shocker, I know. Anyways, I'm reading your old blog from the very beginning and am loving it so far. Do you do things I don't? Absolutely. Does that mean I think you're wrong? Definitely not!

    Anyhoo, I am a SAHM to my 16 month old and have been for...1 week! :D My husband and I have a lot of debt but we paid off $5000 of it in less then 4 months so I could stay home. The rest, we're working on and our goal is to be completely debt free by 2014 at the latest (it's a lot of debt). I will only be a SAHM until our kids are in school, I'm currently going to school to be a teacher. At that point, we'll have more debt because we'll have student loans from my education to pay off BUT all of our other debt will be paid off so we'll have ALL that money to throw at the loans and get them paid off.

    Wow, I just said a lot. Anyways, thanks for your blog. I'm really enjoying this one and your other one. I'm impressed by your ability to stay strong through that horrible thing you went through with that lady. ::hugs:: Keep up the good fight mama!!

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  52. i teach a room full of children their letters and numbers. some of them have the saddest home lives you will ever hear about. i see working as an extension of ministering. yes, i get paid for it- but so do pastors. and i like that i am setting an example for my kids that we minister to others in EVERYTHING we do. or at least we should. i won't pretend that this is the sole reason i work, but it is part of the reason.

    is working outside the home biblically wrong for women? absolutely not. and i think the sooner women stop questioning the "other" camp and start being far more supportive of each other the better things will become in general.

    teaching a child at home is no more or less imprtant than teaching a room full at school. or of caring for the sick. or anything. God dives us gifts, talents and abilities and He expects us to use them.

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  53. Emily, i'm a little confused by this post. Point one seems to imply it's ok for a woman to work as long as it doesn't take away from the home. By the rest of the post seems to imply it's not ok to work, at all. which is it?

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  54. I'm a teacher, so I work from 8:30 to 3, 5 days a week. My son is in daycare and he loves it. Like a previous poster said, I don't want the bare minimum for my child. I want to give him the world, not just the basic necessities. I feel like I value the time that I do have with my son more because I'm not with him ALL day long.
    And, although I work, my son knows all the basic colors, his shapes, can recognize the letters A-Z and 1-9, and he is only 22 months old. Working makes me a better, more productive mother, not a bad mother or a mother that values money over time with her family.

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  55. I like my sanity. Therefore I work. Staying at home 24/7 is not for everyone.

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  56. Emily,
    I loved your frugal blog but I love posts like this even more. I can't get out of the habit of checking your blog and was so excited when I saw a new post was up!
    I hope you are enjoying having less stress in you life.
    Eliza

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  57. Previous posters have made good points. I haven't read all the comments yet but think about women who had a profession they loved and found fulfilling before they had kids. (Especially if they married later in life, were trying to finish school before starting a family, took a long time to conceive, etc.) In many professions, taking years off in order to raise your children full-time can kill your career. So if the mom takes 5 or 10 or 18 years to stay home with the kids, what happens when her kids are out of the house (or in school or whatever her time-line is)? In many cases the woman would have a very difficult time getting back into the field at anywhere near the same place.

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  58. Health insurance. I have to work-from-home (which takes time away from my family) for health insurance. It's that simple. My insurance plan takes about 50% of my check. 25% of my check goes to childcare and the rest is what makes us able to afford high-quality, organic foods.

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  59. I stay at home and always have. It's what I always wanted and I'm grateful that it has been possible. But I don't think that every mom must stay home, I think that having choices is key. I also agree that I wish there were part-time work available that paid decently. I used to do R&D for a major corporation. They do have part-time, but they wouldn't allow me to go part-time for various reasons. And you can't really walk in the door to a part-time position there. So now any part-time options I'd find pay $10 per hour at the most. And with the economy the way it is now, probably less. Now that my youngest is almost 6, I'd like to bring in a little income, life gets expensive as your children get older.

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  60. I need to post again as I was feeling a little sorry for myself with my first post.

    My working life wasn't ALL bad though.

    -I previously mentioned the interaction I had with my co-workers. That's a big thing that I miss.

    -Agreeing that talking to my husband as the only adult each day gets old. We are able to have provocative conversations, but we also have differences of things we enjoy.

    -For the kids, they have always enjoyed being around other kids. If they were cooped up together 24/7 they'd be very sick of each other. Both girls, close in age-instant BFF's right? Wrong. Christmas vacation away from school shows me that they need to get away from each other and us. They need to have their individual friendships.

    -I would not be happy to think that I contributed nothing financial to the family. Even now that I'm home, I have an "income" on disability. If I hadn't worked for many years prior and paid in, I don't think I'd be eligible now when there is a real need.

    -We were/are able to have extras. We never went overboard. However, it's nice to be able to buy things we want or for each other...just because. To have holidays with "extra special" gifts that the girls just wouldn't think possible. Taking a few short vacations a year. Take a longer out of state vacation or cruise every other year usually. Enroll the girls in any activity that interests them.

    We recently took the girls to their first concert. We splurged on a hotel that was right across from the venue and it was fancy. So we had a long weekend living it up like the rich people do with valet parking, room service and lush bedding.

    We chose not to spend above our means on a huge home or new cars, etc. That enabled us to do more, experience more and I guess have more (though that is something I'm trying to cut back on).

    -You have to do what makes you, your husband and children happy. We live in a small home and could have moved to a much bigger home before I got sick. We chose what suited our needs only.

    Because of our closeness in the home, because it's small and open, we spend all of our time together when we're at home. We're in the same room chatting and bonding. We do lots of different things in home and the girls do lots of activities out of the home and school.

    We recognize the need to have time away. Time exploring our individual interests. If we were all home together all the time...me because I'm disabled, my husband because he works from home and say if the girls were homeschooled. We would probably be on bonding overload.

    So, there you have my more upbeat reply. I DO regret not soaking up more of my girls younger years.

    As far as frugalness, I am thinking more about it and where some changes would benefit us. However, I also know that life can is short. I want my family to be happy-to make the best of it. I don't want to be miserly or cheap. I love giving. Our ultimate happiness will be in Heaven of course, but we are here now and we don't take our money with us. So I don't stress the pennies.

    I've mentioned prior my isolation. Those circumstances were extraordinary. It takes time and baby steps to get back to life. Even if it will never be as it was.

    Phew-another windy one from me. Oops.

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  61. Soneone upthread mentioned how teaching a child to write letters would not be as fulfilling as their job. To that I say we are all different, teaching my daughter to read, count, and write was more fulfilling to me than anything I could be paid to do. I was a SAHM and loved it. Other moms work outside the home and love that. I guess we all have to make the desicions that best fit our own family and circumstances.

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  62. Well said, Emily! I absolutely agree with everything you said. I am still a SAHM/housewife even though my kids are both in school full time.

    God Bless!

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  63. When my daughter was born I stayed home for 3 months. That was enough for me. I felt the walls closing in, and I knew it was time to go back to work (that along with the check book at a zero balance). At that time, my husbands income fell in the grey area; he made too much for us to get any help ie. WIC, but not enough for us to live on. My sister in law sat with my daughter while we worked, which was a blessing. Just because I worked outside of the home doesn't mean that I didn't teach my child her ABS's and 123's. I've thought her those along with a sense of pride, being self suffient and not helpless, how to be a lady and responsibility. My husband taught her how to fish, hunt and use power tools. My daughter is now 16 and has decided that she wants to go into the military. She want to experience everything the world has to offer while working. I am very proud that my husband and I helped to shape her into the young lady that she is. Being a sahm doesn't make you a better parent, it just means that you stay at home and work.

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  64. I agree that, as a society, we put far too much emphasis on stuff rather than people. I know people who could EASILY stay home, EASILY, and decide to work outside of the home. They could even have very nice lifestyles still and stay home. They want to work to have more. They simply do. Ask them, they will tell you.

    Then there are those that think we NEED so many of these things. Oh, we need newer cars because (fill in the blank). Oh, we need a bigger house because (fill in the blank). No, you WANT those things and are willing to make HUGE sacrifices in your child's life for them.

    You are right, the Proverbs 31 woman did earn money, while taking care of her home. Many women in the Bible would have worked this model in their home (selling their wares in the marketplace or to those within the community while also taking care of their children). We also have to remember, children weren't treated as they are now (both bad and good). Those kids (unless infants) would have been working WITH Mom. They would have carried what they could, helped Mom set up, helped Mom mix, pat, press, hang, etc. They wouldn't have been in their room full of toys playing, watching TV in the living room/their bedroom, or at daycare. They would have been by her side working. There is huge merit in this. Yes, kids need time to have fun. And they did back then. But fun was not an all day event like it is now.

    We need, as a society (because both men and women need to make a change on this one), start valuing families over financial gain. Our children are suffering for these decisions.

    And yes, there are those who absolutely could not make it with just the husband working. Those are much fewer than society wants to make it out to be. If they lived smaller lives, many of those could come home as well. And yes, there are single parents out there that have no choice but to financially support their children by working outside the home. My Mom was one. This is a fallen world where we have made our own choices instead of following God's design for marriage. So, again, the kiddos suffer because of it. Sad.

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  65. I am a working mother. Here are my answers.

    1. So how is having an etsy shop that much different than having a career? I have a hard time believing that someone focusing on a job at home is REALLY paying attention 24x7 to the kids.

    2. I have a college degree. I make way more than the average income. Paying for daycare is a no-brainer. I bring home way, way more than I pay in daycare.

    3. Working in a challenging environment stimulates me. When I am pushed to my full potential, I am a better person, and a better mother. It also shows my son that yes, women and men are equal, and he can pursue whatever path is right for him. Who knows...maybe he will want to be a stay at home dad!

    My job pays me well. We don't worry about food or rent--it's not even a stress to pay the bills. I worked hard to get to where I am, and I enjoy the security my working provides.

    I am also not perfect, despite my hard work. ;) I appreciate that my son gets exposed to different people with different philosophies at his daycare. I hope that if I am horribly deficient in some area of my parenting, that his being around other people will expose him to those varying ideas, and he will be a more rounded and healthy individual because of it.

    On top of that, my little boy LOVES going to daycare. He has lots of other little kids to play with, gets to run around outside a lot, and do tons of fun activities. He misses it when he doesn't get to go for awhile.

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  66. Emily,

    Would you consider bringing back FAQ Friday? You left so many questions unanswered and I have so many more. You could only answer what you feel like answering and could even skip it some weeks if you wanted to. I think adding the FAQ back to your website would be very fun. I really looked forward to Fridays on your other blog and I know you said you did too.

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  67. i agree with ginny, it never hurts to learn a trade, because you never know what life is gonna throw you. in lean times, i have had the option to help my husband meet his goals, and since we always worked around each others scheduals, the kids were never without the family unit around them.i do advocate staying home, at least until they are in school, if at all possible.(not applicable to homeschooling family, naturally). but a little part time job during the day when no one is home is a terrific mood booster, and does bring in grocery, or gas money, and is not detrimental to the family. a happy, sane mother radiates her good feelings to the rest of the family,and provides a positive role modeling.

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  68. For me, I love my work. I am a teacher and I think that I owe it to all of those who taught me to continue in the tradition. I don't just think that I have a responsibility to my own children, but to all children. I am able to work part-time so that I can have a balanced life with time for my family, my students, and time for myself. While I love spending time with my son, I am also part of a larger community that requires my resources as well. My son doesn't require my constant attention now that he is a little older and takes a great deal of pride in what I do. He also has learned that he isn't the center of the universe, that other people matter as well, and that he also will need to serve his community.

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  69. What about "she considers a field, and buys it?" Is working in real estate acceptable for that reason? Lydia was a seller of purple cloth.

    The fact of the matter is, that women have always worked. It just isn't until the industrial revolution that working became separate from home. A washer woman could wash clothes at her home. A farmer's wife could take the children along with her to her field.

    Childcare was also not the exclusive domain of the mother. Often older children and grandparents watched after children while mother was being a maid, or helping father in the cobbler's shop. Many women were governesses for the upper class while someone else raised their own children. Look at wet nurses, who were the bottle feeding option for the upper class. Their children would be deprived of proper nutrition and their mother so they could be available to nurse the children of the upper classes.

    I think this idea that Christian women don't work outside the home is a modern one, which reflects the extent to which the industrial revolution has changed our society. Why is okay for men to leave their family to work but not women? It used to be that families worked together, on the farm, for the landowner, in the village. It also used to be that a child was raised by relatives which were not necessarily the mother.

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  70. With so many thoughts, there was one that stuck out to me that I wanted to write on, and that is the dynamics of Biblical work.

    It is absolutely Biblical to work. Someone mentioned real estate, which doesn't take you away from the home. My dad was a realtor and he was in his home office all day. He had office duty at the realtor's office one day per week. When he went to show houses, he often brought me with him. That is a fine example of work that doesn't take you away from the home. Selling fine clothes is another example of what the Proverbs 31 woman did.

    The Proverbs 31 woman was so productive, she had made enough garments and blankets to cover her family, then had many more to sell in the market. Because of modern conveniences, many women stay home AND get very little done. That is not Biblical.

    Having small children around while being productive does a few things. 1) It sets a good example. 2) Being around allows you to stop, and instruct children as they go, show them what is right and what is wrong as things come up. 3) You can pause your work at any time. There are very few things I do that cannot be suddenly halted to soothe an owie or read a book. This is a great advantage.

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  71. "The only reason I can think of is if there is debt that cannot be handled with one income."

    Ding, ding! I'm not going to sell my house just to stay home with my daughter. While I do miss spending more time with her, I HAVE to work. I don't have an extravagant lifestyle. We go without many things. But we do choose to own our own home and have a few extras, all of which require me to work. My daughter is not losing out on bonding with me because I work. She gets an opportunity to play with and learn from other people while I work. And she loves it.

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  72. Once upon a time, I was a working woman and wife. And then I FINALLY got pregnant with my first child (after over 1.5 years of trying). We were living nice and comfortable and we planned that I would be right back in work after baby came. I lovingly filled out her daycare registration and turned it in, securing her spot. For some reason, it was exciting for me to think about bringing her into daycare (at my work) with all the other working moms. Well, I had her and felt completely suffocated at home and I brought her in for her first day at exactly 4 weeks (after a c-section nevertheless). In the next 3 months, my world changed. I had this fantasty world that I would work and bring her home and still be this fabulous parent to her, but in essence I was waking her up, bringing her to daycare, peeking in at her at naptime, taking her home late afternoon, feeding her dinner, giving her a bath, and putting her to bed. I wanted to cry when she would smile at command at her daycare caregivers and I would have to work for that same smile. It was like I was a stranger. And considering that she was spending most of her awake moments with people other then me, it was no wonder. It was NOT what I dreamt that being a mom would be all about-giving all my energy to my job and other kids, all the while missing those precioius moments with my own. And I was really depressed, every day, for months about it. Then my husband offered to take a more demanding, slightly higher paying job and we decided to make some sacrifices; and although I would be choosing to basically give up on my BA in education while still paying all my loans, it was still one of the happiest days ever. And I gave my notice and haven't looked back since.

    The last 6.5 years have gone by in the blink of an eye. Its really bittersweet. But I would be even more sad if I had missed over half of those 6.5 years like I had originally planned to. I know some people have no choice BUT work to their necesities (food, basic clothing, basic roof over head) but there are also so many people that do have a choice, and many choose to work for bigger and better "things" for their family. Well 50 years from now (at least FOR ME) having had those extra things isn't going to matter worth anything compared to these precious moments and memories I have been able to steal back from the "working mom life" i had originally planned for myself.

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  73. What does working offer me?

    It means that my homeschooled children have the money for violin lessons, museum trips and private French tutors. It means that we're able to live in a modest 1200 sq. foot home instead of a cramped apartment. It means that I'm able to buy them plenty of organic meat, fruits, veggies and dairy products. It means that I get to put a few hundred dollars each month into a retirement account so that I'm not a burden on my children in my old age.

    Being a working mother doesn't necessarily mean putting your children in daycare either, for what it's worth. I've carefully arranged my working hours around my husband's schedule so that one of us is always home with the kids.

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  74. I work outside the home for the one reason you mentioned: bills that are greater than my husband's income. Yes, these bills are because of our own ignorance, and we are paying the price. Thankfully, our son is of school-age, so I only work part-time during school hours, so I am home with him in the afternoons. We are working to get to a point where I can stay home so we can have more children. We both want myself to be able to be home when we have another child. Kudos to you for making the sacrifices you need to make to do what you feel is best for your family!

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  75. I don't love my job, but I trained long and hard for it and racked up mountains of debt. My husband could never earn as much money as I do so I work and he stays home. But really ... even if I did not need to work to support my family, I would do it anyway (though probably in a different job!) I am a good mom because I bring home with me from work a genuine excitement to see my son and the important lesson that he is the most important thing to me but not the only important thing in my life. I think all kids need to understand that. He will also grow up seeing a strong woman financially and emotionally supporting her family and I think that is as good a lesson as teaching him how to write letters (which I am sure I will also do as he gets older - the two are simply not mutually exclusive).

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  76. I'm a working mom with no regrets.

    My career as a licensed psychologist is a calling from God, which I obeyed. I've helped many children and adults recover from abuse, trauma, grief, etc.

    On the home front, I spent lots of time with my child, and a great deal of it was true quality time. We cooked together, gardened together, went on outings together, discussed our days and what she was learning at school, read together and discussed books, made crafts, sewed, explored music, and built dollhouses. I was her Girl Scout leader.

    One thing that working allowed me to give my daughter was security. We didn't live extravagantly, but there was money for food, clothing, dependable shelter, health care. I also was able to give her the example of independence and education. She was educated by credentialed teachers during the day and by our time together in the evenings.

    Did I miss anything? Nope.

    If you look closely at Proverbs 31, that woman was unbelievably independent. She's not just described as being in the home; even if you do make that argument, in an ancient agrarian society, pretty much everyone worked from home and traded at market. Shops and other types of non-home-based businesses came about much later; centuries later, really. There weren't factories and other places for outside employment until the Industrial age. And, women have always worked. The idea of the SAHM came about in the Victorian era. Sure, women in other ages worked *around the home area*, but there was childcare provided by older women. You got more work done that way.

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  77. I work outside of the home, spend time with my daughter, write a blog, spend time with my spouse, clean the house, run the errands and generally kick butt.

    And my husband? Does the same exact stuff.

    We are equal and we run our family equally and we have a wonderful life.

    So I guess to each his (or her) own!

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  78. You still get a million comments even though you moved.

    This is going to sound so ungodly, but I'll say it anyway. I worked outside the home for 2 months about 3 years ago. It was a 2 month professional organizing contract. It was fabulous. I made a gob of money and had a blast. It was only my sense of what God wanted me to do that keeps me in the home. In other words, I do not do it because it is fun. It's just plain hard work. But I have a definite call from God to do this. I don't expect everyone to feel the same way.

    And I would be one of those moms who has suffered from depression also. And yet, I consider even that to be a sacrifice worth making for the glory of the Lord. My depression didn't last forever, and neither do my kids. I suspect that the hard choices I've made (like choosing to be home with the kids) will have longer benefits than the money and sense of fulfillment that would have been gained otherwise. I personally envy those who "love" mothering tasks and homemaking naturally. I found it to be tough. And yes, I've been at this for 19 years, and yes, I am enjoying it now. Would I turn the clock back 10 years for all the money in the world? Absolutely not. Those were tough times. tough times, indeed.

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  79. My perspective is a little different in that I am raising an only child. It was important to me that my son have as much time to socialize with other children as possible. I didn't want him to be the stereotypical only child. So, while I completed my degree, he went to daycare. After I completed my degree, I went back to work part-time and then when he was 3 years old, full-time. I waited until he went to pre-school to go back full-time. We spend a lot of time together in the evenings and on the weekends. He is 9 now. He loves school and playing sports. I think we made the right decision for our family. In the end, each family has to decide what works best for them. We do not live in a one size fits all world.

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  80. Emily,
    I think whether a mother chooses to stay home or to work outside the home is based financial circumstances more so than fulfillment.

    My husband works with several women who would rather stay home with their children however because they made bad financial choices before having children are not able to quit and go home.

    Yet...
    I have a friend who goes into the office twice a week and still homeschools her children. She is able to find child-care through the grandparents.

    I also know of a mother who works two part-time jobs and homeschools her teens.

    I don't think working outside of the home makes one less of a mother, or love ones children less. Nor do I feel choosing to stay home living on less makes one a better mother or love ones children more.

    What I do believe is that whether one choose to stay home full time or not is a family jurisdictional issue and the church and others have no business meddling in the affairs of others.

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  81. The big problem for me in these posts is the apparent judgment of working moms. There is a consistent message here that working moms must be able to justify their need to work and lifestyles to the satisfaction of the few self-righteous SAHMs who believe their sacrifice is nobler.
    SAHMs make great sacrifices for their families. They give up careers, adult interaction, and financial rewards in return for the precious time with their children. Working moms also sacrifice. Working moms give up time with their families in order to provide financially. Neither are making a sacrifice any greater than the other - it's just different.
    Kids of BOTH kinds of parents grow up just fine and well-adjusted.
    The problem here is a lack of respect for different lifestyles. It is not ok, for me, to give up my job and live in a teeny apartment with kids stacked in a 4 high bunkbed. That choice doesn't work for us. That doesn't make either of us wrong, it makes us different.

    Many rail against the negative feedback about your lifestyle choice. But there is great hypocrisy in defending that choice when others' choice to live differently is denigrated.

    I work. I am a good Mom. We live in a big house. My children will have college tuition paid when they need it, and I am proud of that. That's my choice.

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  82. I was lucky enough to be a SAHM for 5 1/2 yrs after my 2nd child was born. I would choose to stay home, but dh can't work now due to health problems, so I had to become the income earner. It's easier working now that the kids are teenagers. I'm not sure though I would've wanted to live a total "paupers" life in order to stay home. With decent income we have been able to have some extras (though we don't live too extravagantly, that's for sure!) and a couple of family vacations - lots of memories and positive things in that too.

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  83. my question is why do the "sides"- stay at home moms and working moms- feel threatened by each other. and don't say they aren't threatened because if they weren't they wouldn't be trying to convince the other side that their way is better. what about coming alongside of each other and supporting each other? that seems far more Christ like than trying to make women who do things differently than you do feel like crap

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  84. I totally agree. It is good to see you back blogging :)

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  85. This is a great discussion because its something I have struggled with. I have an engineering degree and my husband will graduate with a nursing degree in May. I have gone from wanting to be the bread-winner, to wanting to be the SAHM. But honestly, in the end, its not about what I want, its about what God wants. As of now I do not believe that it is God's will for me to not work outside the home at all. He has blessed us that I will be able to work a few days when my husband doesn't work, and the other way around. One of the reasons that I think I will continue to work is because God has given us a heart for missions and giving. We can live on one income, and we have been the 6 years we have been married. However, if I work part time, the entire amount that I make can be given as an offering. We can bless other people through that money. However, my decision is and will be based on two things. One, that me working outside of the home is not detrimental to my family, because I believe that would be unbiblical. Second, that it is God's will for our family. As soon as either one of things change, I will gladly SAH full-time.

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  86. I'm a social worker. I take children away from horribly abusive situations every day, and make every effort to improve their lives. I go to work every day and know I'm making a difference. That is what drives me. It is difficult and exhausting and sometimes I'm sick of humanity but in the end I know I helped one little girl's life when I took her away from her child molester father.

    That's one part.

    The second part is security. You might be fine trusting god but I'm not. If my husband were injured, or sick, or laid off, I know I can bring in a salary to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I was a SAHM. And then this recession hit and my husband was laid off. I went back to work. I was lucky that I hadn't been out of the work force too long that it impaired my ability to find a job. I'll never SAH again.

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  87. I'm commenting about your PREvious post on this post since it's your most recent one. I just wanted to say that I am relieved to read that you had haters on your blog. No one ever commented on mine until I became so close to being debt free. Then people cowardly posting as "anonymous" would write things that are trying to instigate an argument, but they're completely stupid. 1) They clearly didn't read the whole blog or didn't read the whole entry 2) they just don't have the thinking capacity to even know their argument is completely wrong or pointless 3) they think they're fighting me but what do I care about them?

    It's funny and I keep their comments up because I'm pretty sure anyone with half a brain can see the comments left by these people are so dumb, they couldn't have passed high school.

    Anyway I found a cool blog, thanks!

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  88. I really think the Proverbs 31 woman today may work outside the home. The context in the Old Testament was an agrarian society where men AND women worked mostly from home on their land. Unfortunately, the shift in the location of the workplace has made family life more difficult. I think the challenge for Christian women face is how to balance the shift in the location of the workplace and the early years of childhood. One way to deal with this is to be willing to find creative jobs. I am not a mother yet, but I am in graduate school so I can teach at a university someday. Hopefully, I can teach part-time or online, so that I can do something I love and use gifts and passions God gave me for teaching history and government AND be a mom!

    On another note, I think that women have more difficulty with competition and jealousy, so that is why we have a hard time accepting that not every Christian family looks the same. I find myself judging women without fully trying to understand their unique position and unique personality and gifts.

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  89. I've also done both, but I when I worked it was definitely because I had no choice. Staying home with my children...nothing can beat it. No amount of money. Although, we are blessed to live on one income with our children (and ourselves) getting plenty more than "basic" needs... We take our role as parents very seriously, and our family comes first.

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  90. Emily, you hit the nail on the head with this one.......I used to work in day care and saw the ramifications of institutionalized child care on the children I cared for......I actually had one child tell me that he wished that I was his mommy because his "real" mom was gone all the time and I was able to spend everyday with him.

    This is just an example, but it cemented my belief that I needed to be home for my little men......I do work very part-time to be a helpmate with my husband, I also am a grocery store cashier and for some reason do love my job, I get to work with people of all ages, and I do know my customers by now. (okay I really don't like working on express :) )

    I work primarily nights, if hubby is unable to watch the kids, my mom does. That is the extent of our "childcare". If I had to pay for someone to watch my boys it wouldn't be worth it.

    Often people asked me why I gave up being an Early Childhood Educator and I tell them that it does not make sense to put my children in day care, so that I can care for children during the day that are not my own.

    My oldest will soon be nine and my baby just turned five, these years are so fleeting, and I do not regret the sacrifices we made so I could be there for them. I also pick up my boy's from school for lunch, to see them running and calling "Mommy", is the greatest feeling.

    My position as a Mom may be low paying, but I am rich with hugs and kisses :) And that means more to me than any monetary wealth in this world :)

    Mom in Canada

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  91. I have been a homemaker for nearly all of the 31 years of our marriage. For 26 of those years I was a SAHM, and now our three sons are all grown and on their own. My perspective is a little different, then, as I'm looking at it from the "end" side of the process. I'll just address two areas that have affected me:

    1) I always assumed that when the children grew I would look around for something interesting to do out in the world. I did not reckon on developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. If I had been already working and a valued employee I expect my employer might have been willing to work around the limitations this condition places on me. As it is, prospective employers can't be expected to be all that interested in hiring someone without job experience who has significant health restrictions. We are fortunate that my husband is a very good provider, but I never really reckoned on not being able to get a job when I wanted to.

    2) The question of guilty feelings. I know that it is a foreign concept to young mothers (it was to me when I was there) that someday one or the other of these dear little ones we are entrusted with may grow up to dislike us, or blame us, or marry someone who resents us, etc. But I'm sorry to say it sometimes happens. It happened with one of my own children. This past five years of dealing with his rejection of us has been the hardest period of my life. It continues to cause tremendous pain. But what it doesn't cause is guilt. I know I was the best mother I could be to him. I know I put him and his welfare before my own for 18 years. I know that I was there for him whenever he wanted or needed me, that I was there when he got home from school and loved him dearly. I am grateful beyond words that I don't have to ask myself "would this have turned out differently if I had stayed home when he was growing up?" My conscience is clear on that point at least.

    So there are huge consequences no matter what you choose. As for me, I chose as I did and I have no regrets. We must all just do that - choose as best we can with lots of prayer and then accept what comes as a result.

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  92. Anonymous @ 4:33 - What does IQ have to do with this topic? MANY people who are very intelligent do a wide variety of jobs (from burger flipper to CEO) including staying home to raise their children. It's not a waste to do that job anymore than it's a waste to ONLY be a teacher. (yes, I have heard that said to teachers)

    If all mothers stayed home with their children the great commission could easily still be done. Go ye into all the world doesn't mean you can only do it if you work outside the home, ridiculous. Being a stay-at-home Mom doesn't mean you never leave your front door. I guess I could say while you are working, I have the opportunity to witness to those you will never come in contact with. Think about that before you try and dig us with the great commission. I see mothers you will never see. I see business owners and employees you will never see. So, let's be careful towing that line out there.

    Of course, I also teach special needs children...my own. I have two of them with multiple special needs. It's a hard job but one that is very, very rewarding. So two thumbs up to you for being one of a chosen few that are blessed enough to get to spend time helping these kiddos be the best they can be.

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  93. As you acknowledged, many mothers work because their income is necessary to feed, clothe, and house their families. Assuming we are talking about those who do not technically need to work, but choose to...

    Before I had children I had a pretty interesting job. Yes, there were negatives - wearing business attire, commuting, dealing with difficult people. There were also positives: the sense of carmaraderie, feedback, creative control, interesting challenges to overcome, plus the whole paycheck and benefits thing.

    But the biggest difference between working outside the home and being at home with the little ones? Life used to be much neater.

    I'm not just talking about crumbs and laundry, although that is a big part of my life now. Things used to be more structured, more black and white. I had a clear job description, a general idea of my daily responsibilities, feedback from my boss, and a quarterly review to see how I'd met or exceeded the goals we set together.

    Now I am accountable for everything, all day, every day. Not just a section of a project, as part of a group, inside a larger organziation. Now the buck stops here. Nutrition? My department. Education? It's up to me. Scheduling? All me. The way my children treat people, their tone of voice, whether they control their temper, their vocabulary - pretty much a reflection of me. For better or worse. No one, other than my husband, shoulders any of this burden and there is no way to tell if I'm doing everything (or anything!) right. There is near-constant problem solving as each child goes through a development phase or displays a brand new challenging behavior. And there is no easy answer - what with a dozen different parenting philosophies from which to choose. There is no outlet for frustration. A mother cannot snap at her child at the end of a 12-hour period of togetherness. My kids need my love and patience every minute they are awake, even when I am frazzled.

    Sometimes it is exhausting.

    I could trade some of our time together and go back to work, where things are a lot less chaotic. I could share some of the responsibility of raising my children with a trusted caretaker. I don't know that it would hurt my children at all.

    But it would hurt me! I think of my youngest child leaving our home and starting a life that is all her own, and I know that day will come far too quickly. I don't want to miss out on this time in my children's lives. They are constantly learning, absorbing everything around them like sponges, saying the most surprising and interesting things, and still willing to include me in their funny little adventures and games. There are times every day that I think, "I'm so thankful I'm here to see/hear/do this."

    I guess I'm too selfish to work outside the home and let someone else make those memories with my children.

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  94. Emily, some careers are a lot more involved, complicated and engaging than being a grocery store cashier. I know you may have loved that job but it wasn't a life long dream that you fulfilled by working at the grocery store.

    I, however, had always wanted to be a doctor. I worked hard to become one and feel that I was truly making a difference in the lives of my patients. When I had my daughter I took off six months but I still yearned to work. My career is more than a job, it is an ambition, my dream. I have watched patients through multiple stages of their lives. I know their families, their history, as they know mine.

    My daughter has a strong, intelligent, educated, independent and capable role model in me. I never once put my job before my daughter but I didn't give up on my life's work because I had a child.

    It is possible to have the best of both worlds. It's not an either/or situation. The world is not divided into black/white, good/bad. There are many shades and being a working mother is simply another shade of life.

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  95. It offers them a paycheck so they can live in a very small apartment, pay for food, utilities and their no car payment car's insurance. And even perhaps a little bit of hope that their family will continue to help out with daycare so they don't have one more expense while they scrap by.

    How do I know this? I lived it - especially after my first husband was gone.

    I do love being a SAHM now but if times got tough I would go back to work because I had to in order to provide for my family.

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