a women’s choice
I had the strangest conversation with a middle-aged (I'm picking in her 60's) woman recently whom I met through a friend, it went something like this…
Her: So what do you do Tammi?
Me: I’m a stay at home mum
Her: Goodness, don’t you find that terribly boring? What do you do with yourself all day?
Me: There is never a dull moment in our house. Some days are cruise-y while others are full on from the time I wake till the time I tumble into bed.
Her: Full on doing what?
Me: Um, looking after my home and family.
Her: How tedious!
Me: Actually, I really enjoy it. It’s given me the chance to be at home with all of our babies until they started school and allowed me to pursue crafty endeavours, build relationships with friends and do volunteer work when I am able. Besides, I’ve always wanted to be a mother and housewife…I’m living my dream
Her: I couldn’t think of anything worse. How many children do you have?
Her: Good grief! Five? What on earth possessed you to have five children?
Me: We’ve always wanted a large family
Her: Well I hope you’re done
the conversation continued for a few more minutes, before I excused myself, and as much as I wanted to ask her what concern it was of hers, I restrained myself as she was just expressing her opinion, however negatively it came across. I did however leave that conversation feeling a little judged and criticised for my choice of ‘career’ (yes I do consider my role in life a career choice) and it got me to thinking “why is it that being a stay at home mother is not considered ‘good enough’? and why do we criticise those mothers who, for whatever reason, return to work?" Whatever happened to supporting a women’s choice, whether that be making a 'career’ for themselves as a homemaker or in the workforce?
I was reminded of that conversation today when a friend and I were discussing this very issue. The negative opinions of those who cast judgement or are unsupportive of stay at home mums both saddens and angers me just as it does when the tide is turned on working mums. It seems that no matter what decision we make as mothers, there is always someone who will frown upon it and make us feel inadequate. While I find my role to be both challenging and rewarding, raising the next generation is the most important role I have ever undertaken just as it is for any parent. Just because I choose to be a stay at home mother doesn't make me any better or less so than my fellow mothers, it makes me me.
I get that some women choose to return to work after having children, I admire those who can maintain a healthy work/life balance and I completely understand that some, through necessity, need to return to the workforce but I don’t get why those who can and want to stay at home are pressured to do otherwise. How about we offer encouragement and support to all the mothers in our lives whatever path they have taken. Accept that their choice is theirs to make and let them know what an incredible job they are doing..kind words go a long way. And know that YOU too are doing an incredible job!