Sometime between the 1950s and the New Millennium, motherhood has been redefined. For many, working both outside of the home, as well as caring for one, two, three or more children are just what today’s moms do because of the economic pressures of raising families in today’s economically challenging times. There is another point of view that seems to slowly be prevailing as the “new norm” for today’s educated mom. Many women have decided to leave the workplace, and their upwardly mobile careers, to stay home with their young children. Many women also decide to make this a permanent choice, or a long-term one, eventually taking part-time jobs, or waiting until children are either in high school, or college before returning to work full-time. Some women (usually feminists) argue that educated women with degrees and advanced degrees are wasting their talents staying at home when they could be integrating into the world’s corporate, political, academic, or social atmosphere’s as a voice for women in the workplace. For many women, who have already tried to balance working and parenting have found that trying to do both is a disaster because it is nearly impossible to do both really well. Women who hold full-time jobs and have children in either daycare, pre-school, or with relatives most of the day, may have to struggle with asking an employer for days off when children are sick, have doctor’s appointments, field trips, or school closures. Many working moms with infant children, and decide to continue breast feeding, have a particularly difficult time finding a private place to pump their milk, and an employer, sympathetic to her mission, who would allow frequent breaks in her very demanding workday.
In a recent article, a mother shared her story about how she tried to balance both, but had to quite her job because she could not quit being a mommy. She was often tired at work, missed deadlines, frequently absent, and exhausted to the point that she could not be fully engaged at home with her daughter. This was particularly challenging during the first few months of life when the baby had not established a routine sleeping schedule.
This debate has gone on for decades now, especially since the 1970s when the feminist movement was well underway and created the image that not only do women have the full rights to work and parent, but that they should. The passing of many bills, such as “Equal Pay for Equal Work” at the federal level made it easier for women to work outside of the home because they were now being paid closer to their male counterparts. While this fight was going on nationally, something else was happening. It is no surprise that divorce has increased since the feminist movement has permeated our society. It is no surprise that fatherless homes have increased over the past few decades, as has single-parenthood. It is no surprise that violence in the home, in schools, and in communities has also increased substantially. You may argue that none of this has to do with deciding to be a full-time parent, but you cannot deny the parallels of the degradation of our culture with the minimization that being simply a “mom” isn’t enough and that women who are educated and have a choice, should do “more” than just become housewives and mothers. Although there is no clear right or wrong way to the way in which families thrive, there are undeniable differences in the energy level and satisfaction for women. Although many women find it more gratifying to work outside the home, many do so at greater sacrifices than their husbands. As women, we are just wired differently and often will take on more of a load, than do men, who also work.
A recent article shared the ambitious plans of a pre-med student recently married, with plans to start a family right away. She had a choice to become a Medical Doctor or Nurse Practitioner and was considering how having a family would impact her decisions later in life. It is smart to plan, however, even the best made plans, can become derailed due to health, finances, lay-offs, relocations, and on and on. The advice she received was not to worry about the details of her life until they come up, but to make plans for an ambitious career, rather than to take a less demanding and ambitious path. To her, having a family was a major deal, rather than a small detail to have to worry later about. She was lucky because she had a choice. She was married, and had done the academic work to prepare her for her next degree. Her husband worked, and if she chose the less ambitious route, they would still be okay financially because they were making plans as a family unit, and would likewise deal with consequences as a unit as well.
For many successful “working” women, they attribute the dedication of a mom to parenting them as a critical part of what who they are and the responsible choices they are making now as adults. However, many successful “working” women, had great examples of mothers who successfully balanced both parenting them and working, and because of that modeling, they are now equipped to provide the same modeling to their daughters. The choice is a very personal one, although our choice will have external impacts. The parenting style we choose will later produce, for better or for worse, children who become adults, and adults who enter into the community. The reality check will be later when we evaluate whether our children (or adults) have become menaces to society, or contributing members of society. This criteria has more to do with what “type” and “style” of parent and how much time you invested in nurturing your child’s emotional and spiritual development, than whether you worked full-time or not.
There is more to this story to tell, there are so many layers to peel back on this onion. Please check back frequently for more articles on this topic. I would love to hear your story as a working mom or stay at home mom. Please leave a comment. You can also subscribe to my articles by clicking on the icon above.