As some of you may know, the Stud and I are expecting our first baby early this Summer. In addition to the many hands anxious to rub my belly, I have also been an a magnet for many strangers more than happy to offer their advice on everything from how to deal with heartburn to how to prepare for labor. Many of these random conversations occur at restaurants, the local pharmacy, supermarkets, etc. A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a veteran mom while waiting in line at the supermarket after a long day at work. The exchange went a little something like this:
Veteran Mom: Look at you! You're adorable! When are you due? What are you having?
Me: Thank you! Having a girl. And I'm due early this summer.
Veteran Mom: Nice! How exciting!
Me: It really is! I'm really looking forward to taking time off from work to hang out with my Mini-Me.
Veteran Mom: Time off?
Me: Yes! I plan to take at least 3 months off from work.
Veteran Mom: So...you're not going to be a stay-at-home mom? How unfortunate!
Me: Unfortunate...what do you mean?
Veteran Mom: When I decided to start a family years ago, I couldn't think of going back to work and allowing someone else to raise my children. It just didn't seem right. I think that the universe wants mothers to be home and not in the office. That's the way it should be. You really should reconsider returning to work. You'll be a better mother...I promise you!
Me: Okay. Thanks! Have a great day!
Interesting conversation, huh? What's more interesting is that I have had similar discussions with other strangers that have the same opinion as Veteran Mom. After having these conversations, I find myself with conflicting feelings...and I don't like conflict! On one hand, I feel guilty. Am I really disadvantaging my child by choosing to return to work instead of being a stay-at-home mom? Am I being selfish? Am I not affording her the best possible life? On the other hand, I feel angry. How dare these women judge me for wanting to return to work?! I worked hard to get where I am professionally, and I shouldn't be penalized for choosing both a career and family. After all, plenty of women work and raise their children and do a damn good job at it. And at the end of the day, it's none of their business anyway! Like I said...I hate conflict!
Now as you know I am an attorney by trade, and I have a full time career that I've spent the last 10+ year nurturing. In fact, I owe Sallie Mae what seems to equate to my first born to finance the education that has allowed me to further my career. And in spite of any complaining I may do, I enjoy my career. Before I became pregnant, I never imagined that when we did decide to start having children that I would take a hiatus from the working world...it was never something that we considered. But there may be a reason for that. I grew up in a family and in an environment where the women all worked. My mom has been working since I was born, and I'd like to think that I turned out okay...right? And it wasn't just my mom. My aunts worked after having children. My grandmother stayed at home, but she worked as the neighborhood babysitter. And all of my friends' mothers worked. I, myself, have had some type of job since I was a teenager, so the concept of working is a natural one for me. Please don't get me wrong...I do not intend nor do I desire to work in the traditional sense for the rest of my life. But at the tender age of
27 32, I have no immediate plans of retiring. Should I feel guilty about that? And if so, why?
Here's the thing...not every woman with children wants to be a stay-at-home mom, even if she has the means to do so. Some women are just not about that stay-at-home life. But is it society's job to make these women feel awful about their decision to have both a career and a family? Why the judgment? While I respect Veteran Mom's decision to not return to work and stay home to raise her children, it's just not for me...at least it isn't for me at this point in time. I just wish those who share her views would respect my decision and not make me feel guilty about it...what is good for you is not necessarily good for everyone. And don't assume that I will not be just as good of a mother as you, or better, simply because I have a career. I would rather you keep your opinion, and your judgments, to yourself. But that's just my opinion...I'm not saying one way is better than the other, but I think that both options should be respected.
Now, I want to hear from you moms out there...both stay-at-home moms, and those moms that leave the home to work. What's your opinion? What has been your experiences? Do you have a preference, and if so, why? Let me know ladies! And if there are any gents out there with an opinion, I'd love to read it! Have a great week!