Why I Do Not Regret Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

Why I Do Not Regret Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

I can’t say that I don’t have any regrets in my life. Who can? Every day I regret what I’m wearing, something I ate or somewhere I went. However, I don’t regret any of my major life decisions. I am very happy with my life right now and my major life decisions are what got me here.

italy all 300x247 Why I Do Not Regret Being a Stay At Home Mom

Lisa Endlich Heffernan of Grown and Flown published an article on The Huffington Post, Why I Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom. She gave nine reasons that she regretted her decision. Lisa and I are actually both members of the Generation Fabulous: Voices of Midlife blog and our kids are about the same age, but we couldn’t be any further apart on how we feel about having been stay-at-home moms.

Before I go on, here is a little information about my life to put everything in perspective. Before I had my kids, I graduated from law school and hated working as an attorney. So while I had always pictured being a working mom, the decision to stay home became much easier. However, after about five years I became antsy to do more but I still wanted to be home with my sons. I found entrepreneurial ways to achieve that goal. I began by selling Tupperware for a year. Then I taught CPA review classes at night. After that I ran a business for seven years that was a computer school for young kids. I worked in the office in my home and hired others to go and teach. Not only was I still home with my kids, but they tested out every piece of fun, educational software we used in the school. Total win-win situation. After that, I went on to get my MLS degree and did it completely online. Finally, when they were both in high school, I did get a full-time job.

I would like to address each of the nine reasons Lisa regrets staying home.

1. Letting Down Those That Came Before Us

My feeling about the Women’s Movement is that they opened the door to giving every woman a choice. Women should not feel that they have to work after childbirth any more than they used to feel that they had to stay home. What good was the Women’s Movement if we have no choice?

2. Not  Using Her Degree

Life is long, hopefully, and a degree can come in handy at any time. When I left my law job, I never knew there was even such a professional career as academic law librarian. However, when my sons were teenagers I found this out and got my Masters in Library Science (completely online so I was still home) and then got a job at Hofstra Law School, a job that required both a law degree and an MLS (although you would never know it by the salary). Even without a new job, learning can often be its own reward, especially since tuition was not nearly as expensive back in the day.

3. Kids Thoughts

Sometimes I’m not sure what my kids thought about what I did when they were growing up. I was home, but I did have my business. However, I know that they loved the fact that I was home. So even if they thought that was all I was doing, to them, that was still a very positive thing. As long as they have good memories of me from their childhood, I’m good . And now they think I have the coolest job in the world. How many parents not only keep up-to-date with pop culture and technology but also write a blog about it?

4. The World Got Smaller

I do agree with this. During the time that we lived in the suburbs and raised our kids, most of the people we met did have “very similar backgrounds, interests and aspirations”. However, at the time, we made friends with our kids friends parents and had fun because our kids were having fun. We had family barbecues, vacations and more and at the time it was great. Many of these friends I began to lose touch with as our kids grew older. Again, that was a temporary time in our lives. After my sons left for college, we moved back into the city and the world of variety.

5. Volunteer Work

Because of all the part-time jobs and businesses I ran, I did not do very much volunteer work, although I was on some school and JCC committees. Lisa’s regret is that her volunteer work ended while those that work there still have jobs. I’m sure I did much less than her, but how could you ever regret anything that you’ve done that will help others?

6. Worrying More

I know that when my sons left for college I worried much less because I didn’t know where they were going or how late they were staying out. Would that theory have applied when they were young kids with a nanny or in day care? I don’t know. It might have. This one is a toss-up.

7. Traditional Marriage

I agree that our marriage did become more traditional than if I were working. However, not completely. I was never very good with domestic chores and did not suddenly become a domestic goddess.  My husband worked late and rarely knew when he would be home and since I hate to cook – no dinner waiting on the table. He usually ate at work. I was a stay-at-home mom to be home for my kids. Not to cook and clean. I did what was necessary and we did have a cleaning service once a week and we were fine.

8. Technologically Outdated

One of the best ideas that I ever had was to open the computer school when my kids were young. It was actually a franchise, Computertots, and I bought the rights for Nassau County, Long Island, where I lived at the time. This was 1992 and families were just beginning to purchase PCs. I knew very little, but the franchise included training and something about it called to me. This changed my life and that of my kids. I really think that I might have never become tech savvy had I not done this. And who knows if my sons would be working with computers the way they are now.  And I did all this while being home.

9. Lowered Ambitions and Confidence

When my sons left for college and I quit my job at Hofstra Law to move into the city with my husband, I first tried looking for another full-time job. My confidence did take a big hit, but I think it was much more due to my age than to the fact that I hadn’t had a typical career path. However, not finding a job lead me to writing Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology and this is my favorite job of all time. So I definitely have no regrets there.

Lisa also describes the decision to stay home with her kids as the most expensive mistake she ever made. Even with the different jobs and businesses I had, I did not contribute to the family nearly as much as if I had a full-time job all along. Not even close. So my decision to stay home with my kids was the most expensive decision I ever made. But I will never, ever consider it a mistake.

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Comments

  1. Very interesting counterpoints. I would agree with you in that I have no regrets about being a stay-at-home mom, either. I did part-time work for our business and lots of volunteer work. If there is anything that gave me pause about being at home, it was the difficulty of finding work after my kids left – but like you, I found my way to blogging, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

  2. Interesting perspectives from you and Lisa. You both give such compelling arguments! I don’t know if anyone EVER feels 100 percent comfortable with this choice. At least, I didn’t. There are clearly advantages and disadvantages to both situations. The important thing is being confident that you made the right decision for you and your family, I think.

  3. So glad that you have no regrets – best way to be :) x

  4. I love construction discussions, and this certainly is one.

    I, like you, was comfortable in my choice to decide to stay at home. I appreciated Lisa’s point of view, yet I don’t have one single regret about staying home. I seized each moment of being with my son, making sure his educational and social needs were met. Along the way I worked part-time, volunteered for nonprofits and wrote articles for magazines. Not once did I regret my decision/ I knew that the “feminists” had worked hard years before to allow me to have an easier time to make my own choice. I thank them for that, and I thank my husband supporting me with any choice I made.

    Yes, getting back into the workforce is harder, but I love a challenge, I’m learning something new every day, and I’m living my passion. Life is good.

    Wonderful post.

    • Oops!!!! I said, “I love construction discussion” – SORRY!

      I meant to say, “I love constructive discussions” – I better proofread my comments more closely.

  5. I really think it is a personal choice and you need to do what is right for you and your family. While I LOVE being home on maternity leave for 1 year (I am in Canada) staying home full time would drive me crazy. My ideal situation would be working part-time and home 2 days a week with my kids

  6. Jennifer, This is a great post and while I tried to state my arguments clearly, like every complicated matter in life I can really see both side and have at times felt differently. I am so glad that you made these wonderful, well written arguments, it makes for a great debate! Loved this.

  7. I would probably put myself in between you and Lisa. While I did not have a full-time job while I raised my kids, I did lots of free-lance editorial work from home. I then went to culinary school and became a pastry chef that eventually took me out of the home, and then started my own business that brought me back into more of a free-lancer’s world. I loved being home with my boys and would not have been happy being away from them for hours and hours at a time, but then again, I was never quite satisfied being a free-lancer/part-timer. I always felt as though I was selling out by not working full time and achieving what others who were did. It was a conundrum that lasted until both boys were out of the house and I could do as I pleased.

  8. Regret? I definitely do NOT regret my choice to stay home, personally.
    Have I had misgivings?
    You know, I wouldn’t even classify my thoughts on the matter as misgivings.
    I’d say it’s a very human thing to do, no matter what choice one has made, to reflect back on and consider those choices.
    Whether a person has chosen to stay home, or whether a person has chosen to stay on the job, when the time comes for the kids to leave home, OF COURSE people are going to think through how they feel about the choices they’ve made.
    In my opinion, there truly are drawbacks to choosing either path.
    When all is said and done, I made what I believed to be the best decision I could at the time, given what I believed to be true about life.
    I’m still comfortable with the choices I’ve made, but I can also assent that there have certainly been downsides to my choice.
    For me, one of the drawbacks has been less income.
    I can live with that.

    • This is how I feel. There have been downsides, yes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. What I gave up wasn’t worth as much to me as what I gained.

    • Lucretia Pruitt :

      This nails it for me, too.

      There’s no guarantee that making a different choice would’ve resulted in a better outcome rather than a worse one – but the outcome I have is so wonderful, I wouldn’t risk it!

      • Jennifer Wagner :

        Lucretia, that is how I feel. Since I am happy with the life I have now, how can I regret any of my decisions leading up to it?

  9. …. and that’s the way you should live life. With no regrets!! :)

  10. I”m with Mindy in that I’m somewhat mixed. I never had a traditional career path and I sometimes think about the what-ifs and though home with my kids, I always had a little something (and a lot of something) going on on the side. Uh, work-wise, I mean. Honestly, a lot of my concerns are financial. I’ll have two kids heading to college before I know it. And with insurance costs that have double in the last ten years, plus increasing taxes, the thought of college tuition, even just part of it, on top of that gives me ulcers. But like you, I’d call it more of an expensive decision than a mistake. I cannot imagine how hectic and stressful our lives would have been with my husband and I both working full-time.

    • Jennifer Wagner :

      Kim, Its funny because before I had kids I couldn’t imagine life as a SAHM, but now, I can’t imagine having worked full time. In addition to not being with my kids, what you said about the hectic and stressful life is so true. I think my husband and I would have killed each other.

  11. I think you both had compelling arguments and agree it is a personal decision for each of us!

  12. I really enjoyed your article! Thank you!!

  13. I love your counterpoints to Lisa’s post and interview. I sincerely appreciate and understand all Lisa said, but I think I’m more in line with your view. That may be, though, because I never actively pursued a career outside of writing, which is something that could be done from home. Sometimes I needed to fill in with jobs, but they were just that — jobs. At home, I always wrote. I honestly don’t believe I’m any further ahead or behind because of my career vs. mom choices. I’m pretty much right where I’m supposed to be, I think, with (thankfully!) years ahead of me to make heads or tails out of what I’ve learned.

    Great post. Thank you for putting into words some of my same thoughts on the subject.

  14. I think it’s great that you are able to be a stay-at-home mom and to be able to spend time with your family whenever you want.

  15. Lucretia Pruitt :

    This resonated with me in all the ways that Lisa’s made me want to argue against. My heart goes out to people who truly have regrets about the choices they made – not because they made the wrong choices, but because they believe that making a different choice than they did would’ve resulted in a more satisfying or better outcome.

    I tell my daughter all the time that while hindsight allows us to see what resulted from our choices, it does not allow us to see what would’ve resulted from a different choice. It is easy to say “if I hadn’t been at that intersection at that time, I wouldn’t have gotten hit by that car!” but it is not easy to say what *would’ve* happened instead. Perhaps being in the car accident kept you from being shot by some lunatic at the mall because you weren’t there. Perhaps you would’ve bought the winning Lotto ticket instead of buying one an hour later. The possibilities of what happens down other decision paths are endless, unpredictable, and vary wildly in their outcomes.

    All we can say is that we *think* we might’ve gotten an outcome we would’ve preferred had we made different choices. Or that we are happy that our choices turned out so well, when they might’ve turned out so much worse.

    Pardon the rambling zen moment… it’s just that I can’t help but think that I am blessed to have had choices when it came to working, staying at home, or working from home as a mom, when so many other women did not. Generations before mine had no choice but to stay at home. Currently, 59% of US households with kids have 2 working parents (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm) and 67.1% of US households with children headed by women with no spouse present had working moms. Not all of those have the option to stay at home, some surely wish they had the ability to ‘regret’ the results of that rather than the results of not being able to.

    In the end, we make the best choice we can, given the information we have and based on who we are and what are situation is. Regrets are illusions.

    • Jennifer Wagner :

      I also feel that I was very lucky to have the choice to stay home. I was also lucky that when I went back to work I was able to choose lower paying jobs that I loved rather than higher paying jobs that would have been much more stressful. But that doesn’t mean that the extra money would not have been a big help. But it wasn’t a necessity.

  16. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru :

    I never regretted staying at home to raise my three children. If anything, the discipline, initiative, and self-confidence I acquired while pursuing my college degree helped me to be a better mom. It was hard work with huge payoffs. My kids often thank me for “sacrificing” to stay at home when they were growing up. I will always be grateful I had the opportunity and thank my husband for making it possible.

  17. For each mom this decision is going to vary widely, whichever decision each mom reaches is the right one for her and her family. Unfortunately with this economy in still very much in recession, some moms don’t have a choice, they have to work, and that is where so much resentment comes in. And when moms poke jabs at other moms for their decisions, it feels less and less like a supportive community which is what it should be. I personally do not have kids but as a former Special Ed, I saw both sides of the scenario SAHM and Working Moms and hated to hear them getting into heated battles about who was doing it better.

    • Jennifer Wagner :

      Tracy, this isn’t a mommy war issue about whether moms should work or not. This is about two moms that both stay home, and now after our kids are all grown, one mom regrets staying home and one doesn’t. It is all about looking back and regrets.

  18. I love being a stay at home mom after working for many years and having to take my baby girl to daycare. This past year and half of being home with her has been wonderful!

  19. Very interesting read. I am currently a stay-at-home mom with a 10-year-old son. When my husband became a long-haul truck driver, we decided it would be best for me to stay home. This would save us from having to spend money on after-school care and gas. Plus, I would be able to spend more time with my son. I missed a lot of his younger years because I was always working crazy hours. I volunteer a lot, including at my son’s school, and I finished my education online during this time. I am starting to get a bit antsy, but I pick up contract at-home work when I can, which fills in the gaps. Overall, I am happy with my decision. Kids grow up so fast, and we don’t get this time back. Its important to spend it with them while you can.

  20. That’s the whole point. We have choices. You can’t disagree with the the author who has regrets because you just had a totally different experience! Maybe she didn’t have your entrepreneurial spunk. Maybe volunteer work just wasn’t fulfilling to her. I’m blown we still have this argument in 2013 when every family is different and the economics of each are different. I’m sad that so many women are throwing that woman under the bus for expressing HER perspective on HER family impact.

  21. Mary Liwanag :

    Thanks for writing this piece! I have struggled with my decision to stay home. When my husband was laid off, it was hard for me to find work. I had been home for 13 years! I did find something and still had time to write. Please check out my blog athomewithocd.blogspot.com. If I had not been home to shepherd my son through mental health issues, I doubt he would be the same self assured and independent young man. I agree with you, it was an expensive decision, but a worthy one. Be well.

  22. Actually for me as I stay at home now, I am finding my college education coming in really handy with my blogging business. For me it isn’t an expensive decision, as yes I am not bringing in as much money, but with 3 little boys I would be paying my wages in daycare. Basically paying for working. I assume if you make a lot more than I did you would be losing money by staying home. For me, that’s just not true. Right now anything I make is money in our pockets, plus I get products, that save us money.

  23. When I work. it is a family thing. I ask often what my kids would prefer me earning a pay check to do special things or me being less stressed and not have one. Either way I am very thankful I have the option. I do what is best and I also have no regrets.

Trackbacks

  1. […] while her kids were young; Lisa Heffernan’s regret that she didn’t continue her career; Jennifer Wagner’s argument in favour of staying home …they’re all smart, reasoned articles from women I respect and […]

  2. […] own thoughtful insight into this always volatile topic — people like Sharon Hodor Greenthal, Jennifer Comet Wagner, Karen and Wendy Irving, to name a few. These are all women with whom I feel a kinship. I have, […]

  3. […] while her kids were young; Lisa Heffernan’s regret that she didn’t continue her career; Jennifer Wagner’s argument in favour of staying home …they’re all smart, reasoned articles from women I respect and […]

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