Everyone has his/her opinion on the working-mom vs. the stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). Here is my unwavering opinion: Both are equally difficult. Do what is best for your family.
My background is in education. This means I have had a lot of contact with infants, children, teenagers, parents, and fellow teachers. This also means I have heard a lot, because schools are gossip factories.
“That mom works full-time. It’s shameful how she neglects her children.”
“You’re going to drive yourself insane as a SAHM. Your child will be socially awkward.”
Here is the thing. Some moms send their kids to daycare because they know their kids would learn more at a daycare with teachers who are educated and trained to teach than to keep their kids home all day and struggle to learn how to educate and entertain their little ones. Some moms work because they have a salary that makes daycare tuition worthwhile, and as a result, they can offer their children better healthcare and meet other financial needs. Some moms prefer their children to socialize with other children. There are plenty of good, logical reasons for a woman to be a working-mom.
Other parents know that for their family, daycare is not a good option, and that’s okay, too. This is my case for my family. This is where I feel God leading me.
First of all, there is no way I could find a job that would fit our needs. Currently, my husband is on vicarage (a one year pastoral internship) that is five to six hours away from the seminary (his graduate school). We will be moving back to the seminary this summer, a few months before Baby’s due date. For the next year, my husband will be a full-time grad student and also working part-time. We will be moving again sometime during Summer 2016. Where and when depends on what church the seminary sends my husband to for his first Call (job as a pastor). As a result, I would need someone who would be comfortable hiring a temporary employee who just gave birth and will need flexibility to stay home when the baby is sick, and the employer would have to pay me enough for me to make some sort of profit once daycare tuition has been included. Fat chance.
Secondly, I have worked in a few daycares. One daycare I worked in was a wonderful daycare that followed state standards closely, had a nutritious meal program, an educated an experienced director, and a priority in Christian education. What more can you ask for? However, no daycare is perfect. My morning shift consisted of working in the room for infants 6 weeks to 6 months of age. One day, I was holding and soothing a baby who was sick and having a reaction to his breathing treatment. My co-worker (who was older than me and had superiority at that daycare) yelled at me for “coddling” the baby. According to her, babies need to cry it out no matter why they are crying. While it is true that daycare infants need to get used to not being held 24/7, if they are sick and on medication known to cause irritability, a responsibility to soothe and comfort exists. I hate to think about what went on in that room with that co-worker when I was working elsewhere.
Many daycares hire wonderful teachers who are educated and experienced. The aids, however, are often uneducated and inexperienced, who are simply looking for a job to get them through college. I constantly dealt with aids who would ignore the kids, tell them to “shut up,” text instead of supervise, or who would sit in a corner and gab about their sex lives within hearing distance of little ears. And all this, happening in one of the highest-rated daycares. You can do all the research and observing you want, but you will never know what truly goes on, moment-to-moment, at your child’s daycare.
In other Christian schools and churches, I have run into child abusers, pedophiles, and rapists who were trusted as Christian adults and who had good standing, but they knew how to fake it. It’s more common than people think.
I want to know my child is not ignored or exposed to adult content. I want to know my child is in a Christian environment where the Bible is important to each and every employee. For those who can trust and not worry, props to them; I truly mean that. However, I am not someone who has the personality to trust strangers or acquaintances with my infant/toddler. The experiences I have had in combination with my PTSD and OCD would send me over the edge.
Thirdly, I have a BA in education. I’ve studied early childhood, elementary, and secondary education. Why not use it for my own child? Why not homeschool my child during his/her infant and toddler years? This is not only something I have the ability to do; it is something I have the passion to do. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a child learn something new, feel proud of himself/herself for learning, and take those little steps towards independence. It’s beautiful, and it has been emotionally overwhelming teaching other people’s children; I cannot fathom how much more so it will be to teach my own child and watch my own child’s milestones. For me, this is a beautiful opportunity, and I’m going to take it while I can.
My mother was a SAHM until I was in 6th grade, and it was one of the very best parts of my childhood, and according to her, it was one of the very best parts of motherhood. I want my child to have a similar experience, and I want to soak up every minute of early motherhood that I can.
Some people say that by homeschooling my child during the infant/toddler years, I am denying my child the chance to socialize. They beg me to at least consider doing daycare once a week. However, that’s one more plus to having a church family. My child will grow up going to church and Sunday school at least once a week. Tack on all the activities we’ll be involved in since my husband is the pastor, and my child will have plenty of socialization with people of all ages.
Will I have rough days? Of course.
Will I wish for a break from my 24/7 job? I’d be a fool to deny it.
Will I grow tired of changing diapers all day? For sure.
Will our finances struggle? Definitely.
I was tired taking care of 8 infants at once.
I was exhausted refereeing (err… I mean teaching) 30-100 students at once.
I was often overwhelmed in an extrovert’s world when I am, without a doubt, an introvert.
I have never been financially well off. I know how to live without.
So again, for some families, a working-mom is what is best. For other families, including mine, a SAHM is what’s best.