I like being a stay-at-home mother — is there something wrong with that?
"Is it really that outlandish that someone might enjoy being a stay-at-home-parent?"
The decision to return, or not return to work after having children is often a financial one, but not always.
Writer Kristen Aspevig recently spoke to Today's Parent about her unexpected decision to stay at home with her kids: "The plan was to take a year of maternity leave, like all my friends. I’d completed a PhD and then worked and qualified for a year. A year seemed a long time to be away from work... Three years and another kid later, I still don’t want to go back to work."
Another thing that surpised Aspevig was people's perception of her decision: "One of my husband’s colleagues recently asked, 'what's next? You do want to go back to work, don’t you?' At my book club, when I tell them I’m going back soon for financial reasons, but I don’t really want to, someone suggests that maybe I’ve 'just never found a job I really liked'. I’ve worked as a bookstore clerk, foot messenger, lemon inspector, barista, elderly support worker, sustainability/diversity analyst, advertising semiotician, university instructor, film consultant, account manager and even, video game avatar. I’ve enjoyed many aspects of these roles. But I’ve finally found a job I really love; being at home with my kids."
Many Irish women in particular, make the decision not to go back to work because our broken childcare system makes it financially inviable. But is it really that outlandish that someone might enjoy being a stay-at-home-parent?
It's a privilege, and I know many women and men who would jump at the chance. That is not to suggest for a single second that it's not work — nobody is expecting it to be an extended holiday. But the opportunity to be the full-time carer for your children when they're young is something many would choose if it were an option, financially speaking.
Why then, do women feel questioned when they decide on this life for themselves?
There's a feeling that educated, previously professional people are wasting their talents at home, but let me assure anyone that feels this way, it takes a lot of skill to raise a child.
It requires knowledge of an ever-changing set of subjects that we're constantly upskilling on, as our children grow.
It takes good judgement and the ability to operate on instinct, quickly and often.
It requires good time management, logistical knowhow, physical strength, patience, compassion, imagination, unending energy and a list of many other attributes that make someone a great worker — whatever field they're in.
Did you feel judged for your choice to return, or not return to work after starting a family? Let us know in the comments.