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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 (41-50):
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:51 PM


Quoting FromAtoZ:


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.


My friends sister left her career as a geneticist....5 years she was gone, she did get a leg in from friends but she more of less had to restudy for a couple of years to get up to scratch.

She had help otherwise she would never of been able to get back in without going back to college again.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:51 PM
1 mom liked this

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.


 

I short circuited my career to follow my husband around the country for his- I did this 5 years ago at 50+ years- it is damn near impossible to get the kind of job I had before and I have had Zero career lapses- 

Most have no idea just how hard getting back in (even if you've never been out) actually is, especially if one is over 50.

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting turtle68:


Quoting FromAtoZ:


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.


My friends sister left her career as a geneticist....5 years she was gone, she did get a leg in from friends but she more of less had to restudy for a couple of years to get up to scratch.

She had help otherwise she would never of been able to get back in without going back to college again.

Had I moved back home, I am sure I could have found my way back in to my field.  Seeing how I am not able to do so, and I could not up root my daughter after all she has been through) it has been hard.  The 'market' is next to nothing in this area.  But I continue to try.  

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:53 PM
1 mom liked this


My husband works from home so there would be days he would come downstairs and tell me to take a bubble bath while he watched the kids if he heard a lot of noise coming from us during the day. On the flipside, there are times he would get calls two o'clock in the morning and I knew he needed a break or a nap. 

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...





TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:54 PM

 I know it is hard over 50.  That's why I will either head into something regarding elder law or start my own business. 

I have this fantasy of being one of those people on HouseHunters International that can buy a beach mansion while working from home on the internet....;)

Quoting Sisteract:


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.

 

 

I short circuited my career to follow my husband around the country for his- I did this 5 years ago at 50+ years- it is damn near impossible to get the kind of job I had before and I have had Zero career lapses- 

Most have no idea just how hard getting back in (even if you've never been out) actually is, especially if one is over 50.

 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:54 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Sisteract:


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.


 

I short circuited my career to follow my husband around the country for his- I did this 5 years ago at 50+ years- it is damn near impossible to get the kind of job I had before and I have had Zero career lapses- 

Most have no idea just how hard getting back in (even if you've never been out) actually is, especially if one is over 50.

Exactly!

I have been trying for nearly 3 years now.  I have taken refresher courses on line.  I've had a few interviews.  Even though they are not to 'discriminate' based on age, they do.   That lapse in work, regardless of how good I am, hurts  you.........deeply.

PestPatti
by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:55 PM


  My mother was a stay at home mom, I decided long ago that wasn't the life for me.

  I worked while my sons were growing up, my parents watched my kids.  After my mother and sister died, and my oldest son went into the AF. I had a mini melt down, I took a year off, then worked part time until 4 years ago.  

 You have to live with choices made, regret and bitterness isn't a good trait. 

lifeforchrist
by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Amen

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). 


Mommabearbergh
by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:56 PM
Honestly I loved being a stay at home mom. My dd and I had a schedule and set activities. Some days we went out some days we stayed in and when dh got home. I went to college at night and finished my degree. Now I am a working momma and I miss the days of being with my dd
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Jun. 20, 2013 at 9:56 PM
2 moms 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 do nothing :-)  I watch TV, go on the internet...may do washing or housework, visit other non working friends.  Lunch on the beach.  Depending on the time of month...I do some work LOL

I dont feel guilty.  I feel like Im on early retirement.

I worked 30 years and was a SAHM and a working mother as well as now I am a WAHM.

I deserve to do what I want :-)

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