Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stay-at-Home Moms and Working Moms

I've been meaning to write about this topic for a long time, but I've been avoiding it as it just seems so rife with controversy. And yet, it's one of the most helpful and illumniating discussions I think any new mom could possibly have.

I for one, searched high and low for any advice/research on this with very little to show for it. During my maternity leave, I contemplated not going back to work and tried to find advice indicating either way, whether I should or not. I don't have the financial resources to not work for the rest of my kid's childhood, but I can for a period, and I wanted to make sure I stayed home during the most "crucial" period, if that makes any sense.

Frankly, I never realized I would even have this 'conversation' in my head about whether to stay at home or not. My mom always worked a full-time job outside of the home and that's what I considered to be totally normal and what I would obviously do too. But now that I have Judah, I wonder...I wonder what's best for him?

I'm happy to work. I'm happy to stay home with him if it would truly benefit him. I'm NOT happy to stay home with him if it doesn't really benefit him that much because in order to stay home, I'm giving up (a) a lot of sanity and (b) a whole lot of financial stability.

So I wanted (and still want) to know--does the kid need you most as a baby? As a toddler? As a young child? When is the really crucial, counts-a-lot period?

I was really disappointed in the dirth of data out there. I thought I could just google "child development, stay at home" and good stuff would come out. Turns out, this is a highly explosive super-charged politically nuclear topic that is far from cut and dry.

I hate how the media turns everything into a cat fight. I've found that in real life, women on both sides of the spectrum are truly compassionate and generous to each other.

Being a mom is the most challenging, heart-rending, brain-bending, back-breaking work possible and real moms know this and are incredibly supportive of other moms--on both sides of the aisle.

So if you have any views on this, you're a seasoned mom (read: anyone with a kid older than mine--18 mo) I'd love to get your perspective on child-development/attachment/bonding/etc.


1 comment:

Attorney at Large said...

Obviously, I'm seeing your post rather late, but thought I'd throw in. My take is that either way, your kid will probably be fine. Seeing mothers work is good, and having mom at home is good.

In my case, my work burnout hit at exactly the point when my kid started indicating she needed a lot more from me than she was getting on evenings and weekends. I stayed home with her starting when she was almost three, and -- job market being what it is, plus we adapted, painfully, to life on one income -- here she is almost five.

IMHO, the toll either working or staying home takes is on the mom, not the child. It's exhausting to work and then parent and then work after your kid goes to sleep. But it's also exhausting to spend all of your waking hours with your kid, especially after they hit 3. (That it's demoralizing sometimes and doesn't come with a paycheck also is hard.)

Having done both, I think working outside the home is easier. There is more juggling and time management difficulty (and illness is a nightmare), and you have to offload more tasks (cleaning, cooking, shopping) to other people, but the perk is that you get time every day when you are a grownup around other grownups and that time is invaluable.

Even that said, my kid did benefit from having me at home at that particular time. She needed a lot of work on executive control, and that is what I did. It was hard and if you read my back posts, I almost went crazy, but it ultimately helped her a lot. So there's that.