North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

October 16, 2013

Danielle Cater: The benefits of stay-at-home and working moms

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — If you are a mom, then you probably get looked down on by some people whether you chose to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. Either way, there are pros and cons and either way, there are people who want to argue for the other side.

I was raised by a working mom. I think she may have been some sort of morphed alien super mom because she was able to perfectly balance her home life, church life and work life; because on top of being a mom and an employee at a credit union, she was also a pastor’s wife. Yes, she was wonder woman, and not many women could pull off such a task.

I’ve never gotten the privilege to be a stay-at-home mom. Many of my friends were able to stay at home with their babies after they were born, but I wasn’t afforded this opportunity. I’ve had a job since I was 15, so I probably wouldn’t know how to react to not having a paying job. I enjoy being able to know that I put some of that money in the bank, and I don’t feel at all guilty when I go to spend that money. But many stay-at-home moms feel as though they haven’t contributed to the banking account, so they aren’t entitled to the money. One only needs to look at the cost of sending a child to school or daycare to know that the stay-at-home mom does, indeed, contribute to the financial needs of the household.

Let’s give credit where credit is due right here. I have never felt as though staying at home would be something I would be interested in doing. When I am at home I work twice as hard as I do at any other time. When at home, there is always clothes to be done, dishes to be washed, floors to be scrubbed and toilets to be cleaned... the jobs pile up just from our existence in the home. Of course these jobs stay on the mind of a working mother, but when people are in the home all the time, it is a more constant job to keep it clean. When I leave for work in the mornings and take the kids to school, I know that when I set foot back in the door, the house will be just as I left it. But when a family spends all day in a home, it takes all day to mess it up and all day to clean it up.

I enjoy my job and although it brings its own stress into my life, I try to balance that with my home life stress and make myself be a well-balanced person. I like knowing that I am doing my part to help out the family, to help out the economy and to help my daughters know that there is nothing wrong with a momma who has to work outside of the home. We can love our babies just as much as any stay-at-home mom. We can be great wives to our husbands and we can do our parts around the home and around the office to make the lives of those around us a little better.

There are some women who just were not cut out to work outside the home. The stress is overwhelming and the guilt leaves them feeling awful all the time. To those women I say, stay at home. Do you jobs at home and don’t worry about what others think about you. I happen to enjoy working outside of the home, but I could also see the perks to getting to stay at home all the time.

I personally would go stir crazy, but many women find peace and solitude with their home stays. They enjoy home-schooling and getting to do the little extra things around the home and in the lives of their children that working moms don’t get to enjoy. They can make exquisite dinners that take longer than the 30 minutes my family allows me to prepare dinner before their horns begin to show.

They can do the house chores while their husband is at work so that when he gets home they get to enjoy the evening with him.

Working moms often have to scurry around while the family eats and does homework in a frantic effort to get the house picked up and presentable. It can be exhausting, but either way you go, there are good sides and bad sides. Stay-at-home moms get the down time, the thinking time, but I’ve seen many stay-at-home moms who resent their children and husbands when they stay home and don’t feel like they have a life outside of the four walls of their homes. If you find yourself in this situation, but you still don’t want to get a job, consider volunteering at local charities so that your mind can be put to good work, but you won’t feel confined to your home life all of the time.

If you’re a working mom who feels like you are watching your life pass you by, consider taking on less stress at work or asking someone else in the household to help you with the cleaning and cooking. Most of the time you don’t get help around your house because you just simply haven’t asked for it. Men and children are slow to step in and offer help if it looks like mom has it all under control without them. Let them know you need a little break for yourself and I can guarantee that they will agree that a happy momma makes a happy household.

Working or staying at home, make the most of your home life. Don’t resent your family and don’t miss out on their lives. Prioritize so that you won’t look back on these years and see that you did it all wrong. You’ll never regret spending quality time with the ones you love, but you do still have to stay true to the responsibilities taken in all areas of your life.