Why being happy as a stay at home parent is truly rebellious.

It’s become a part of the collective unconscious that value as a human is only equated with being paid for your work. I catch myself feeling sad at times for not feeling satisfied with my life. But then I’ve had to examine why I felt that way.

I keep (mistakenly) thinking that if I’m not getting paid for contributing to the greater good like I did when I worked (I worked in a clinical laboratory setting for 12 years), I’m not really contributing much at all. But really, I am contributing, and in a major way, to my children’s overall growth and development and letting them know that THEY MATTER MORE to me than my career ever did.

How can I contribute to the greater good if it doesn’t start at home? What a hypocrite I would feel like if I outsourced my parenting for the sake of my personal development? Furthermore, it doesn’t take a paid position to for me to develop as a person (though I wouldn’t turn any money away if anyone felt they wanted to compensate me for being a SAHM).

It’s not fair that we can’t make room for both, but I’m glad my career is sacrificed and not my time with my children. While I did get praise and pay for what I did when I worked, ultimately, I was just a cog in the wheel – a means to the end for my boss.

I’m pretty confident that I’m intelligent enough to figure something out when the time is right – if the time becomes right. It may not and that’s okay too.

In the meantime, I’m working on being fully present to being here in my current role as caregiver to my children, their first teacher in life, and as a homemaker.

Highly intelligent women (and men) who take care of the family shouldn’t have to be weighed down with lost dreams and struggle with our identities. What a waste of time and energy. We are the same caring, intelligent people we were before we became parents, it’s just our priorities have changed to focus on the care and development what I feel is the greatest contribution to society – healthy, happy, deeply satisfied children who grow up to be healthy, happy, deeply satisfied adults. I think it’s incredibly brave to go against the mainstream view that women need to work in order to be valuable. I actually feel proud of the fact that I am able to go against what society tells me I should do or feel. I feel quite the rebel at times (and I need to remind myself of how good that really feels – to have the freedom to buck the tide – even if it’s a bit lonely at times).

Someone once said on a message board that they felt like they had to work in order to be a role model for their children – modeling the importance, validity, and feasibility of a woman’s/mother’s career.

I responded:

I didn’t get my drive to have a career from my mother having a job, but because I loved science and I was good at it and I wasn’t really planning on getting married and having kids (they kind of both just happened). I think it’s too stressful to add that burden on my shoulders. My girls will know (because I will tell them) that I worked for a time and loved it, and came home for a time to be with them and I loved that too. It was just a little complicated to do both for a while.

I think it takes bravery to stand up to what society says we should do as women and do what we feel is right for our families. While I’m glad other women have paved the way so I could work when I was childless, I resent the idea that the only way to have an identity is to be paid for what I do.

It’s part of the reason we (American stay-at-home parents) are so deeply unhappy. We look to outside reassurance (via paychecks and other job related perks) to validate who we are. But we don’t need to. What we do as stay at home parents is as valuable as what we did before we decided to start our families. The question shouldn’t just be when is “society” going to value what we do at home, but it should also be when am “I” going to value what I do at home?

I know I am making a difference – I see it in the attitudes and happiness of my children and the satisfaction of my husband (who is a wonderful, contributing partner to the homemaking/child-rearing aspect of our lives).

There will be a time when I work again – when the time is right and I’m fully inspired to do so. In the meantime, I’m going to be working on prioritizing the things I do at home so that I can do more of the things I love doing (creating, playing with my kids, planning a garden, teaching my girls about the world around us, living simply and mindfully).

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4 Responses to Why being happy as a stay at home parent is truly rebellious.

  1. Jillian says:

    I just randomly found your blog and I wanted to tell you that you write beautifully, and say very wonderful, real, and inspiring things about your life. I encourage you to keep writing as I’m sure you’re a source of comfort to many people, and I have to say, coming from a very emotionally restrictive family… your daughters are luckier than they’ll ever know.

  2. Spacemom says:

    Hey there!
    I have found that some of my SAHM friends love it, and others hate it. I think America has this stupid puritan work ethic that teaches us that we are worthless without work. Then add what we were taught as kids… girls can do it all! Have babies! Have a career! Have a great life!.
    The truth is… We can’t do it all. Even when our husbands are true partners in the parenting situation, we can’t do it all. It SUCKS.
    Society is not ready yet to allow an even footing for women and men to be both employed and raise a family.

    I am glad you are doing well with your plans. I know that I haven’t the patience to be with my kids all day. I wish I did.

    The best thing that parents can do is to teach our kids that whatever lifestyle they choose, as long as it isn’t destructive, is a good one!

  3. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Jillian – that is my reason for writing – that I can help inspire others in some fashion. It’s important to me to let others know that they are not alone – regardless of what they are struggling with. The human experience is full of hurting people. It’s just a flawed world that we live in and the only thing we truly have to give another is our compassion and understanding. Prosperity comes and goes, we age, we get sick, we die. I’ve always wanted to lend support to as many people I can while I’m here.

    Thank you for commenting. It helps to know that what I write does help others.

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Spacemom – believe me, I know it’s not for everyone. For the first 2.5 years of being home with little ones, I didn’t think it was right for me. I was being driven to depression for a while, and it’s taken me blogging about it to deal with it.

    I was a little worried about hurting other mothers who choose to work. I did work for the first 2.5 years I was a mother.

    My aim is not to hurt those who are okay with working outside the home. For them, if they are doing what they think helps them be better mothers, I do not sit in judgment. I’d rather a mother be happy working out of the home, than at home miserable because that’s not good for the family.

    I wasn’t happy working though. Not completely. I was gone 11 hours a day (8.5 hours work time + 2.5 hrs commute time).

    There was no time for my husband, or me. My husband worked the night shift 2 weeks out of 3 (after he’d gotten laid off for a year). We never saw each other. That was no life for us.

    Unfortunately, for me there was no compromise – no part time work available, and nothing close by. I painted myself into a corner with the career I chose. I should have worked on getting my master’s in analytical chemistry like I planned. There are at least chemistry positions nearby, but nothing in genetics.

    At any rate, I’m going to make a followup post because I don’t want to hurt working moms. That’s so not my point.

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