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.
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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