I recently read an article that is making the rounds on Facebook. In it, the author pens how she has regrets about becoming a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). Don’t get me wrong, I understand that with every decision, there are regrets, and also realize that being a SAHM isn’t for everyone. However, I was a little floored at the depth of some of these regrets. The ones that surprised me most were that she felt she was letting down the feminists that paved the way for women to hold careers equal to men, and how her kids viewed her as doing nothing with her life.
While I couldn’t disagree with her more, I am not picking on the author—I am guessing that many SAHMs have also felt this way. This woman has been the only one I found to voice it. She also writes some other regrets that could have been paraphrasing my thoughts, namely concerns about not using her degree and becoming out of touch with the working world. These are two of the major concerns I had, and still have, when I made the decision to leave my career. Reading this article not only left me flabbergasted, but also left me starting to doubt if I had indeed made the right decision when I chose to stay at home.
Although I can’t explain why, one morning later that week I woke up proud as fuck to be a stay at home mom. My brain must have rewired itself while I slept to give me a bolt of confidence, but I suddenly embodied a much braver and more confident woman. I didn’t recognize her at first because I don’t get to see her that often, which is a real shame, but there she was, unbridled and fiery. Why the hell would I feel bad about my decision? I elected to accept the most challenging career of one’s life: raising a child. Oh please, it’s not that hard you might say. I would answer that you probably didn’t stay at home and try it out then.
While I don’t decree that it is the only job that women have to at least try, I do decree that it is one that should be valued equally to others. This is one of the reasons why I was so prickly when reading the article. I’m not letting down our former female voices who fought for our equality, but doing them proud by making a choice. Feminism is about the ability to choose anything, and be anyone, you want to be. For me in the near future, it is being a mom. And I would make the comparison of mothers to childcare providers (one is paid and one is not) to stress the importance of child-rearing, but even childcare providers and, to a degree, teachers, are often looked at as little more than snot wipers, or in the best case overlooked entirely as to how important their profession is.
If we don’t teach our children to value what SAHMs do as an important contribution to society, then how will we ever change this stigma? Being a SAHM should never be expected of a woman, but should be seen as a valid and elemental part of the workforce. What more important job is there than raising our future generation to be healthy and well-adjusted children? SAHMs do a lot, and are an equal part of the partnership of a relationship.
As far as returning to the workforce, I have no doubts that it will be significantly challenging for myself if/when I go back one day. I could try to pursue some degree-using activities to keep my resume current, but even if I choose not to it is a shame that my alternative career will be looked at as wasted years by a boss at my next interview. Just because I traded keyboards for diapers and meetings for food-flinging food introductions doesn’t mean that I am a less qualified candidate than someone else. If you are arguing experience year for experience year then yes, obviously, I would lose out there. But quality? I don’t lose that just because I get peed on more often than you do.
For me, all of this boils down to being able to be confident in myself and my decisions. No one will ever agree entirely with every decision you make, but the decision you make is right for you. My choice is valid, and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. Aaaahhhhh I feel a sense of freedom in making that statement. It feels good to be free. And isn’t that what feminism is all about, anyway?