“When are you returning to work?”
This is one question that is often asked of me by friends, family and other random people when they find out I'm a first time mom and our plans are for me to stay home and care for my son. I often get a surprised or shocked look from them and sometimes their assumptions of me change.
“It must be so nice to be able to afford to stay home!”
“What do you do all day?! It must be soooo boring!”
“Oh, you're one of those moms.”
What do they mean by “one of those moms”? If they mean that I'm a mom who understands the importance of parental bonding in the early years of life then they're on the right track but there's much more to it than that.
My entire day, all 24 hours of it, revolves around running the household and making certain that my son has all of his needs met. That means planning and making meals, kissing boo boos, cleaning EVERYTHING, playing with toy trucks, doing laundry, reading stories, teaching the 123s and the ABCs, cleaning poop and pee off various surfaces, being a disciplinarian, having tickle fights, dealing with tantrums, tripping over mounds of toys, experiencing sleep deprivation and having complete and unconditional love for my son.
There is obviously much more to the job description than that so we'll just say it's a demanding and sometimes tough job and I'm happy to do it. Being a mom is a job in and of itself and my work started when that child of mine was growing inside my belly.
We've looked into daycare but the cost is exceptionally high where we live. The average cost for day care here in Toronto is between $1500-$2000 per month. That means that if I decided to return to work nearly all of my personal income would be going to pay for daycare alone. The high cost of daycare is one of the many factors leading more parents to stay home and care for their children.
Even if the cost of daycare was more reasonable I would still feel the same about staying home to care for my son.
Other than the cost of daycare being high, I believe that especially in the early years of a child's life it is important for parents to do the majority of the raising. It just doesn't sit well with me to think that my alternative would be to come home everyday from a soul sucking office job (been there done that) and be too mentally/physically exhausted to enjoy time with my kids and take care of their needs to my best ability.
A big concern for me is that my son would be spending more time with a paid worker than with one of his own parents. They say that a child's personality and character develops as a result of how they were raised in the earliest years of life and so during this very short window of time, I think it's best that my husband and I be the primary guides on morals, behavior, etc. I don't want someone else to do my job while I'm miserable earning just enough to pay them to do what I would be happy doing.
My husband works very HARD every single day at his job and although his work is not physically demanding it can be mentally exhausting. It makes me happy to be able to make home cooked meals for him and my son and also to be the wife and mother that I expect myself to be. By being a stay at home mom I'm not only caring for my son I'm also more present and there for my husband.
It's shocking how many people make the assumption that stay at home moms are “being put in their place” or that they are just pressured to take on the traditional role of a woman. I in no way feel like a “servant” or that I am any less of a person because I'm the one staying home to care for my son. My job is as equally important as my husband's. We are a team and raising a child takes a lot of work and I am proud that I can say I am a stay at home mom.
A mother should not feel as though she has to choose between the corporate world or her children.
I've chosen to be a stay at home mom because it's the right choice for my family and I. We all have to make choices in our parenting and sometimes it's difficult. Some parents may feel differently than I do and that's ok. Everyone parents their children in the best way that they see fit.
I have returned to work. It's not in an office answering phone calls or analyzing data in excel sheets in a small cubicle like I did for years before. This is the most important job I could have ever taken on. I'm certainly not perfect but I'm doing my very best to be everything that my son needs me to be.