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Stay-at-Home Moms: Will Your Kids Judge You for Choosing Them Over a Career?

A Huffington Post contributor regrets staying home to raise her children instead of getting a job.

by
Paula Bolyard

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July 1, 2013 - 8:30 am
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In a recent article at the Huffington Post, Lisa Endlich Heffernan said that she had regrets about her decision to forgo her career in order to stay home with her children:

Now, on the downslope of parenting, I have misgivings about my decision to stay home. … 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.

One of Heffernan’s reasons caught my attention: “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.”

I’m not sure whether that is a true assessment of the way her children really feel about the time she spent at home or a projection of Heffernan’s insecurities, but in either case, it’s a sad reflection of the devaluing of the “work” of motherhood in our culture. Anyone who has ever taken on the challenge knows that although it’s not a 9-5 “job” in the traditional sense, the rewards and accomplishments last far beyond a bi-weekly paycheck and deposit in the 401(k).

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Top Rated Comments   
Will your kids judge you for not putting them ahead of your greedy, capitalist hunger for money and prestige?

Face it, you're a mom, you're getting judged one way or the other.

I can't help but wonder how many moms have felt the following as they approached death's door:

"I wish I hadn't spent so much time with my children when I could have been working."
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
That author is a sad caricature of a wannabe feminista. She bought the load of horsesh*t they sell, but didn't want to pay the price for being politically correct. Too bad they don't value women's choices and the inherent value of women's work, but that feminists for you.

Did you notice that all the talk in that column was about ME ME ME and not a word about the children, other than the throwaway line about hiring a good nanny? I think that tells you all you need to know about that woman.

As for me and my household, I worked in management in computer programming before I had children. I was offered an astonishing promotion just 2 months before I gave birth to my firstborn. I turned it down and left the workforce and have never once regretted it. Who is the most important person on an aircraft carrier? The Captain? The pilots? The guys in the bright vests waving their arms around dramatically to guide the planes in? Nope. It's the guy who cleans the toilets. Full-time mothering is a lot like that; in between the moments of divinity and awe, it's routine work that many people find unpleasant; yet without it, the community can't function. Witness the socialist cultures in which children are institutionally creched and schooled rather than being mothered.

Just two months ago, I got my first paying job in 18 years ... I'm making $8 an hour working part-time for the local high school. I'm delighted to have this job, as a way to move outside the home again and do some work that I hope will result in better stewardship of taxpayer dollars. I'll probably never work again in my old field, as I am entirely outdated (as sulky-mom notes for herself), so it's going to be a change for me. No resentment here, just glad to have any job in this "recovery" economy.

I have already done the most important work in the world. That author could be as satisfied, but she chooses to place her mind in the wrong hands. Sad at best.


Oh, and my children don't appreciate my years at home with them, either. But ya know what? They'll come around, especially when they have their own. I fully expect them to do what I did ... phone their mom someday and say "Mom, I'm sorry I was a jerk and I understand much better now." That'll be a good day.


41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kids appreciate that they have a stay at home parent as long as the parent is able to convey sincerely that time with their children is their most valued treasure.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (51)
All Comments   (51)
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The voice of experience here. I am a DVM, and I didn't want to stay home with my kids until I had one. I was fortunate that I was able to work part time when the kids were young, and I home schooled my daughter. She is now 31 and has worked as a teachers aid. She told me that I taught her more in one week than the public schools teach in one semester. She doesn't like daycare.

When I was a child, my mom worked full time from the time I was 9. I wanted her at home with me, even into high school.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I strongly suspect this woman saw motherhood as an obligation, rather than as a privilege and blessing.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
That job has NEVER gotten the respect it deserves. That being said, I think it's good for women to have some sort of education/career training before they get married and have children because you never know if they will end up divorced, widowed, or with a disabled spouse who can't work.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
well, my spouse and I have judged our working mothers, who worked from the time we were young. to us, they failed. (though my mother-in-law was such a lousy mother, it might have been better that she worked and wasn't around her children. her now adult grandchildren go out of their way to avoid her.)
we chose that our children would have a mother in the home. our now adult children have expressed gratitude for our choice.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was a stay-at-home-mom and I home schooled my 3 children for 8 years. I LOVED staying home with my kids and educating them. Divorced ruined that. Followed by a 2nd marriage, then widowhood, and now an imminent 3rd marriage. I now find myself in a small community far from my children and former friends and acquaintances. My 2 older children are off living their lives and I rarely see them. My youngest will be gone in a year. I've never thought about whether they do/will look down on me because I never had a career. But I find myself looking down on myself and comparing myself unflatteringly to others who seem to have accomplished so much more than I have. I regret not having a career because that would have provided a built-in community. Of course, I can never know what my life woulda-coulda been like had I had a career. Perhaps the divorce would never have happened, because financial strain was an issue. Perhaps I would still be in my original family home with my kids returning frequently on holidays and vacations. I'll never know. At this stage, there are no second chances.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
It sounds like that mother taught her children all the wrong values if they don't appreciate what she did in raising them by staying home. They seem to value things and only realize that her choice to not work outside the home denied them more things. And if all they value and recognize as important are the things and the amount of things in their lives, they will always have empty existences and wonder why they never feel fulfilled no matter how many things they manage to surround themselves with.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
If these kids are still in their twenties, they may wise up in a few years....One hopes.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I did not read the article. I will reply to the Headline/question. My kids will remember my managment of my families finances.My kids will appreciate the cookies and snacks had waiting for them when they walked through the door. They may appreciate my dancing into the walls with them,(no one was hurt). They will remember my efforts at farming and carpentry. they will remember the rides to all the after school activities. They will be aware of the financial sacrifice we try to mitigate at this time when they have evolved into their own lives. They will appreciate that I now work 6 12 hour days a week in my husband's business and that I still have time to counsel them when life is pressing.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
This marriage and birth rate drop every time a hard progressive is in power. Until O, this meant Carter's years were the nadir of family formation in all of American history. It's not a straight-line drop.

Remember the wildly exaggerated wedding dress silhouettes of the Reagan/ Bush years? The NYTimes wedding pages also beefed up, then, too. What we value, gets bigger. Hand-knit socks used to be cutting edge technology- that's when nobles wore long socks with tops that flopped over the edges of their boots. What's interesting on Kate is that she's got a silhouette from the thirties-forties-ish. It's a toughwedding dress, really. It's built for war-time.





37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I suppose my second question is: since this is all built around money- and she's clear that she made good money- and she's rubbing elbows with the fabulously wealthy- is this a complaint that her husband didn't step up and make more bank? She might be okay if she were, say, Melinda Gates wealthy?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
The author of the Huffington Post article is a best-selling author. She wrote a book on philanthropy based on interviews with women such as Melinda Gates. Very possibly, she's just had a book proposal denied. It's a brutal market for paper books right now.

As for her children being graceless, ungrateful and rude- that's on her. She modeled contempt for housekeeping and mothering. And, well, they are obviously unmarried, and without children. They haven't got the love of their life explaining to them that this...stuff...takes...work. I don't know that they can get married, either- she's obviously made it clear that only certain types of women can be brought home as nice girls. And, well, they want a nice girl who is devoted to them- which means one who would likely stay home.

I'm sorry she volunteered for busy work. Or that she is not satisfied with it. Or, perhaps, she's just not that good at it? She keeps commenting about how the coordinators get paid. She hasn't been invited to be hired, so I sort of wonder if she's any good at what she does. Did she not take any of this seriously?

I mean, if she wanted that high-flying life, she ought to have hired a maid to go along with the nanny, and then barreled on.

And, well, I do feel sorry for her. The people who venerated women going to work, and putting children in care, were all really emotionally built around the idea they would die when they retired. The writers who wrote the theories, expected to die younger- 60's- rather than 80's- like beloved grandmothers. Built into that expectation was that they didn't expect to need to be wise. When a few of them didn't die, they resorted to suicide.

She might have had the outer form of a housewife, her inner life is that of a drone before the loom.


37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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