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Why I Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

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I know, not people's favorite source but I thought it was an interesting read.


Why I Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom


The most expensive decision of my life I made alone. There was no realtor, no car dealer and no travel agent when I chose to leave the paid workforce. There was just me looking at my husband, my children and the chaos that was our lives. At no point did I calculate the lifetime impact of diminished earnings and prospects. I looked at the year we were in and the following year, and I bolted.

No part of my brain sat itself down and thought, What is the price, both in this year's dollars and my lifetime earnings, to leaving the workforce, and is it a decision that I might regret a decade or two from now? At no point did I examine the non-monetary cost that would loom just as large. At the time, it seemed forgone: We had two demanding careers, two small children and another on the way, and two adult lives hopelessly out of control.

One day I was working on the trading floor of a London bank and the next, I was on the floor of my children's playroom. Not once did I think, at age 33, of what the job market would look like for me a few years down the road. Therein lies my most expensive mistake.

I stayed home with my kids because I wanted to be with them. I had a job that allowed me very little time with them on weekdays and I felt our time was short. I did not stay home because I believed they needed me or that the nanny I had hired could not do a great job.

Now, on the downslope of parenting, I have misgivings about my decision to stay home. While I don't know any parent who regrets time spent with their kids, especially kids who have moved on to their own lives -- and I include myself among them -- in hindsight, my decision seems flawed. Although I am fully aware that being a SAHM was certainly a luxury, staring at an empty nest and very diminished prospects of employment, I have real remorse.

I let down those who went before me. In some cosmic way I feel that I let down a generation of women who made it possible to dream big, even though I know the real goal of the Women's Movement was to be able to dream anything. One summer in the 1970s, I read The Feminine Mystique while curled up on a couch in my grandparents' home. The book spoke to me and my mother and my grandmother spoke to me, warning me not to tread the path they had taken, leaving the workforce after their children were born. But the book and my mother spoke to a young ambitious preteen, not a young mother. Betty Friedan or not, I stayed home for almost two decades raising three sons.

I used my driver's license far more than my degrees. I got my driver's license after a short course and a couple of lessons in 11th grade. My post-secondary education took six years of hard work and yet, for years, I used my drivers license far more than my formal education. On one level, I felt like I was shortchanging myself and those who educated, trained and believed in me by doing this.

My kids think I did nothing. They saw me cooking, cleaning, driving, volunteering and even writing, but they know what a "job" looks like and they don't think I had one.

My world narrowed. During the years at home with my children, I made the most wonderful friends, women I hope to know all of my life. But living in the suburbs among women of shockingly similar backgrounds, interests and aspirations narrowed the scope of people with whom I interacted. In the workplace, my contacts and friends included both genders and people of every description, and I was better for it.

I got sucked into a mountain of volunteer work. Some of this work was deeply meaningful and some of it trivial in the extreme. Whether it is sitting on a hospital board or raising funds for a nursery school, volunteer activities involve a flurry of activity, but at the end of the day, those who are running the organization carry on and my job was over.

I worried more. Being around my children so much of the time gave me the chance to focus on them at a granular level. And I feel fairly certain that neither they nor I benefitted from the glaring light I shone upon us. Helicoptering takes time, and I had the time. If I had worked outside our home I would have still worried about them, but might have confined my concerns to more substantive matters.

I slipped into a more traditional marriage. Before our children were born and when they were young, my husband and I did the same job. We left in the morning together and came home together to stare at each other and at our small children through a blinding haze of exhaustion. In every way, my husband sees me as his equal, but in the years that I have been home, our partnership has developed a faint 1950's whiff. He doesn't ask me to run to the dry cleaners or fish store, but let's be fair, they are both closed by the time he gets home.

I became outdated. Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, I worked in banking on Wall Street in a technologically cutting-edge department. Just as I mastered every new computer, it would be whisked away and replaced by newer, faster models. I was au fait with software the public wouldn't see for years and anything I didn't understand was explained to me by MIT-trained analysts. I have kept up with technology, but not in the aggressive way I once did in my job. In my world, I often use my young adult kids as tech support and endure their snide remarks and eye-rolling, knowing deep inside that at one time, it was very different.

I lowered my sights and lost confidence. But far and away my biggest regret about my years at home was that I lowered my sights for myself as I dimmed in my own mind what I thought I was capable of. I let go of the burning ambition I once held because I didn't feel as though I could hold it and three babies at the same time. My husband did not do this, my children did not do this, I did this. In the years that I was home, I lulled myself into thinking that I was accomplishing enough because I was. I was raising my children and as any parent who had spent a day with a child knows, that can fill all of the hours in a day. What I hadn't realized was how my constant focus on my family would result in my aspirations for myself slipping away. And despite it being obvious, I did not focus on the inevitable obsolescence that my job as mom held.

If I could wind back the tape, have a do-over, what would I have done differently? Looking on at my grown and nearly-grown sons, I am grateful for the gift of time we had. Yet, I wish I had tried to keep a finger, a toe or a hand in the working world to ease an eventual return. I did not have a job well suited to part-time work, and work at home was technologically impossible at the time. But, the solution required imagination, not capitulation, and with hindsight, I would have recognized that over time, my parenting and career would both ebb and flow, but neither would -- nor should -- ever end.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grown-and-flown/why-i-regret-being-a-stay-at-home-mom_b_3402691.html

by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:15 PM
Replies (31-40):
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:43 PM


Quoting RandiBear:


You sound like you're projecting...

Quoting 2Gs:

It sounded like she took 30 years off doesn't it?  Then got fat, and then her husband left her.  Now she's bitter and is blaming it on all her "sacrifices".  Clearly I'm reading between the lines.  But who says shit like this?  Did she mail that to her kids?  I bet they are thrilled they have her as a mother.

Quoting jessilin0113:

From the sounds of it, she was out much longer than that.  Until her kids left home, unless I'm way off in my reading (full disclosure, I skimmed...)


Quoting 2Gs:

OK this is very interesting to me.  I work for a bank and I have an MBA and on July 8th I will quit my job and become a SAHM for 3 years (or longer if my luck holds out).

I would say the person who wrote that article is a huge loser who needs meds.  I FULLY plan on coming back into the workforce in 3-5 years.  I didn't go to a top business school only to never work again.  I have NO WORRIES in ANY ECONOMY that I am not employable.  The women who wrote this SURELY could get a job if she tried.

fuck her.






This was my thought as well.

Some one being so nasty, ugly and upset over some one else's experiences usually means they are not happy with their own.

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:44 PM

 I don't know.  I've been schooling or co-ordinating classes all of these years. I also run a business.  But I've been home and it has been a good thing for all of us.  I've handled all details for everyone and made my husband's life a thousand percent easier too, so that he can focus on what he does best.  It's worked out well. 

Quoting Sisteract:

What do SAHs do once the kids are in school all day?

The gym? exercise? lunch? cocktails? Volunteer (may as well work)?

I would have felt guilty.

 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:45 PM


Quoting TranquilMind:

 I don't think it is easy.  I do think it can be done.  I'll be doing it myself in the not-too-distant future. 

Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting TranquilMind:

 Oh, for goodness sakes.  She needs to seriously get over herself.

Staying with the ONLY CHILDREN you will EVER HAVE for a few short years is worth it.  Too soon they are out the door, and any intelligent woman can recreate herself for a current situation (though everyone, in the workforce and out, deals with inherent ageism). 

You did what you did and you can't look back.  There's no point.  Just move on (and I'm speaking as a 50+ woman here, so I know what I'm talking about). 

You don't agree with the premise of her situation.  Okay.  You don't have to.

But if you think it is that easy to reinvent yourself, get yourself back in to a career you left, you need to realize you are wrong.  Not every one is that lucky to be able to step in to a career they left.

Believe me, I know.  

I do not regret the years I had with my older girls.  But I absolutely regret making the decision to leave my career behind.  One of the worst decisions I have ever made.


 

It can be done for many.  For others, depending on circumstances, it is indeed harder.


smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:46 PM

See, I like to be a SAHM because I am passive. I couldn't take office politics. I just don't have that competitive drive. I do have a history of picking jobs where I work by myself. Pizza cook, retail stocker, chemical technician so being home is perfect for me. 

Quoting Sisteract:

It's about control.

Many XX are super controlling. Sometimes children are treated as possessions-

Quoting UpSheRises:

Never felt like I had to be around to sniff every fart to be considered an actively involved and dedicated parent. I just dont understand that argument.






turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:46 PM

I had 4 under 5 ...when hubby came home telling me of how he had a hard day, he would literally be met with the stare of death LOL

He learnt fast not to mention anything about work and to release me of all children while I go sit on the toilet and watch paint peel LOL

Quoting SilverSterling:

I don't resent mine for working because I would rather him be gone then here to be honest... I miss Adults... Play Dates doesn't equal adult conversations to me.. I am also a tom boy I get along better with guys then girls... sorry Turtle didn't mean to run off on a tangent...


Quoting turtle68:

I loved working....

other than the last point.  I could of written this.

I actually resented my husband working.



RandiBear
by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:48 PM

 

Why should they work if they would rather volunteer and they don't need the money? I really don't get why everyone is so obsessed with a "real job."

Quoting Sisteract:

What do SAHs do once the kids are in school all day?

The gym? exercise? lunch? cocktails? Volunteer (may as well work)?

I would have felt guilty.


 

SilverSterling
by MrsSilverusSnape on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:48 PM
1 mom liked this

OH That I hate... I have told Him to stuff it a few times when He comes in cranking about a bad dayat work... 

Quoting turtle68:

I had 4 under 5 ...when hubby came home telling me of how he had a hard day, he would literally be met with the stare of death LOL

He learnt fast not to mention anything about work and to release me of all children while I go sit on the toilet and watch paint peel LOL

Quoting SilverSterling:

I don't resent mine for working because I would rather him be gone then here to be honest... I miss Adults... Play Dates doesn't equal adult conversations to me.. I am also a tom boy I get along better with guys then girls... sorry Turtle didn't mean to run off on a tangent...


Quoting turtle68:

I loved working....

other than the last point.  I could of written this.

I actually resented my husband working.




smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:49 PM
1 mom liked this



Quoting Sisteract:

What do SAHs do once the kids are in school all day?

The gym? exercise? lunch? cocktails? Volunteer (may as well work)?

I would have felt guilty.

I will be expanding our homestead. I want to start baking more homemade bread. Having nooners with DH since he works from home. 


SilverSterling
by MrsSilverusSnape on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:50 PM
1 mom liked this

All mine are in school now.. Since there is little I can do around their Schedules I will find something to do that pays even if its just writing.. I understand being bored and depressed..

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:50 PM
1 mom liked this

Our choice are our own to make.  Some times we have regrets, other times not.  Hind sight is 20/20.

My personal feelings stem from my own experiences.  

I begrudge no woman who makes the choice to remain home with her children.  I begrudge no woman who makes the choice to work.

What I do feel every woman should do is educate themselves and never allow themselves to be completely consumed by the family.  You never know when things may change.  Finding  yourself so far out of the loop is difficult.  

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