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I Was a Stay-at-Home Mom and Have Zero Regrets

mother's anxiety

During Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, a controversy arose about the president allegedly funneling money through his wife's law firm for state business. When asked about it by a reporter, Hillary Clinton responded in her trademark caustic style:

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.

Hillary likely thought it was virtuous to derisively dismiss stay-at-home mothers — housewives — who were putzing their lives away wiping snotty noses and baking cookies all day instead of participating in some meaningful paid labor.

The day Hillary made that comment I was at home with a 6-month-old baby. I remember thinking that she was a judgmental elitist who had no idea what I did all day and I was angry that she devalued stay-at-home moms without batting an eye.

When my husband and I got married, we made the decisions that if we were blessed with children, I would stay home with them. We started planning for it from Day One of our marriage — doing our best to live within our means and not become dependent on my income, which we anticipated would disappear once we had children.

It wasn't easy — there are sacrifices when you choose to live on one income. We drove high-mileage cars (which my husband maintained and repaired), lived in a small, one-bathroom house with a "one butt kitchen," and shopped for our clothing at yard sales and thrift stores. Things eventually improved as my husband advanced in his career, but there were a lot of Hamburger Helper years in the interim (ground beef was 89 cents a pound back then). I am blessed to have a hardworking husband who joyfully provided for all of our family's needs over the years and who also made sacrifices so I could be home with our children (the '68 Mercury Cougar comes to mind).

Of course, this also meant that I gave up having a career of my own. In fact, I was out of the workforce providing unpaid labor as the caretaker of our home and children for 17 years. My husband reminded me recently of a comment I made to him a few years ago as our kids were getting ready to leave home. I told him I was pretty sure I was unemployable after being out of the workforce for so long, but thought perhaps I could get a job as a Walmart greeter. (God is sure full of delicious surprises.)

I'm not here to judge mothers who work outside the home. I am in the "trust parents to make the best decisions for their own families" camp. But I am saying that I have not — even for one minute — regretted my decision to stay home with my kids. I had the privilege of wiping their snotty noses 24-7 and teaching them to read — and spending hours reading to them each day. I taught them to bake cookies, to throw a baseball, and to clean toilets. I homeschooled them and taught them to love learning and be curious about the world around them and to be suspicious of people who sound like they're selling something. I was blessed to be able to do all of these things at a leisurely pace without having to rush back and forth to daycare or to school while trying to squeeze in all the mothering between dinner and bedtime and on weekends. I had dinner on the table every most nights when my husband arrived home from work and our family enjoyed leisurely meals together.