Celebrating Five Years of Public Stupidity, The Post

Today is the fifth birthday of this website. The very first post I wrote which has since been removed along with almost a half a year of posts ended with this poem:

Carnation milk is the best in the land;
Here I sit with a can in my hand.
No tits to pull, no hay to pitch,
You just punch a hole in the son of a bitch.

By everyone’s favorite commenter, Anonymous.

I included this poem on that first post because I didn’t know yet what I wanted to write about. I started this website as a place to throw around my creative energy, and this poem was one of the only ones I knew from memory (BYU should be proud of its alumni!). In the beginning my logic went like this: who wants to read about the sex I’m having with soap stars when I can recite poetry about milk cartons? The bigger story that never got told was why a soap star was sleeping with someone who was reciting poetry about milk cartons.

All of this is to say that under different circumstances this website could have turned into one dedicated to cows. I could have been a cow-blogger.

To celebrate this anniversary I wanted to open up comments around a discussion that has a lot to do with what has happened here over the last year, a topic I will be discussing on a panel at SxSW in Austin in less than two weeks. Never did I imagine that the website that once got me fired would one day bring in enough money that it would support my family. Never did I imagine that by the age of thirty I would be working my dream job.

At the same time I still consider myself first and foremost a stay-at-home-mom. That probably doesn’t compute to some people and I’m sure it doesn’t fit some people’s definition of what a stay-at-home-mom is supposed to be, and that’s fine, whatever. I still spend the majority of my time awake with my daughter, I still take her on long, leisurely walks in the morning and sit down at the table with her for every meal. My life after making this website ad-supported is not much different than my life before except that I now have adult company all day long. And I don’t think I would have agreed to do this if changing my life that way had been required.

A couple days ago I got an email from a reader named Sara (hi Sara!) who asked if I’d comment on what law professor Linda Hirshman recently said on “Good Morning America” about how it’s a mistake for educated women to stay at home with their kids. It’s not a new argument, and my first reaction is: she’s trying to sell something. I understand the basis of her argument, that by choosing to stay at home with our kids instead of using our education in a professional environment we are waving our middle fingers at the work feminists have been doing over the last century. But I don’t agree with it.

So I went and read some of her work online, and she’s always careful to point out that by claiming that we’re making a choice to stay at home we are only copping out, that somehow the choice to stay at home is invalid. Wow! As a mother I’ve never heard that before! My choices are wrong! She should write a book about how she knows which choice is the best one. Oh wait! SHE HAS!

My reaction then, I guess, is that here is my middle finger and here is me waving it at Linda Hirshman. This IS my choice. It is mine. I want to be at home with my child, not because my husband said I had to want it, or because my mom said that I had to want it, or because I am blinded by society’s bias toward women and their role in the family. I had the option of going to work outside the home or staying at home with my kid and I made a choice. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything more fundamentally feminist than exercising that choice.

The real crime here is not that educated women are choosing to stay at home with their children, it’s that many women who want to stay at home aren’t able to because of their circumstances. I know how lucky I am to have options. And it is in those options that I as a woman have power, power to choose the direction of my life, power to wave my middle finger at anyone who thinks it is their right, their moral compulsion, or their obligation to a seemingly fascist ideal to tell me how to live my life.

What I want to know in comments is what did your mother do? Did your mother stay at home? Did she work? And how did you feel about what she did? If you could change anything about what she did what would that be?

Also, what do you hope your daughters grow up to do?

  • http://www.evilsciencechick.blogspot.com Evilsciencechick

    My mom stayed at home during our “formative years,” and then basically worked full time as a volunteer Super PTA mom, pushing at the state level for legislation to help education.

    It didn’t seem odd to me that she didn’t have a paying job outside the home – I think it was a choice she made.

    I’m working on my PhD, and I can forsee in the very near future that a conflict will arise. Will I stay at home when I have kids? Would that mean “wasting” my PhD? There are plenty of women in my department who are establised professors and researchers, who have had kids and still made a career for themselves…but I have a hard time imagining myself in that role. I’m not sure I have the proper mentality to be a “have it all” woman. I envy those that do, but I’m not entirely sure I could do it.

    Honestly, I have no idea what I’ll do. But whatever I chose to do, it will be MY decision. and I will NOT be pressured into making a decision that is wrong for me by ANYONE. and that’s the best I can hope for any daughters I may have.

  • erat

    Why I’m commenting, I don’t know. I figure after comment #50 you’ve tuned out. I know I would.

    Anyway, here’s my story. My mother did both: stay at home with us and work. She did the former before the latter. When my brother and I were old enough to be left parentless for a few hours a day she returned to school and got an Associates in something general that I don’t recall, then after that she worked. My parents were still together through this process and my father made enough to support the family so this was her choice more than anything.

    I figure she just wanted to get the hell away from my brother and I. Who knows.

    My parents ended up going their separate ways but we all get along much better because of it. Some marriages simply aren’t meant to be.

    Now, as for what I want my DAUGHTER to grow up to be… At what point did SONS drop in the food chain?

    (Don’t mind me, I’m just being a dork. My wife and I have no children, nor do we plan on having any. So I guess the question does not apply regardless of the gender.)

  • http://thispieceofwork.blogspot.com Amy

    I can’t imagine how you’ll get through all these comments, but in case you do . .
    My mom had an in home daycare when I was very small (under one), and then stayed home until my sister and I were in school. She went back to school at night and while we were in school (my little brother stayed with my grandmother then)and when she graduated (I was about 7 or 8) she started working, full-time.
    I absolutely LOVED that she worked. I LOVED being able to tell my friends that my mom had a job, I loved having the key to my house in my back-pack, I loved feeling independant and grown-up and proud of my mom. I’m not sure where all that came from, but I definitely felt glad that my mom did not stay home from second or third grade on. I don’t know if I would have felt the same way had she been working when I was younger–but honestly, I don’t remember at all being glad that she was there. I didn’t give it any thought one way or another, until she went to work, and then suddenly I was aware, and I liked it. Maybe just because I was suddenly old enough to be aware of such things. Who knows.
    Currently, I am a SAHM to my 3 year old and 1.5 year old. I love being a SAHM much more than I thought I would (though I also hate it more than I thought I would), and I plan to stay home until the kids are in school. I’m really glad to have this time with my kids, and I feel blessed that, so far, we are able to afford it.
    But I have always planned to go back, and I look forward to that, in some ways.

  • lilsarah

    My mom worked on and off while my brother and I were little. When we were a little older, she ended up working at a doctor’s office that provided my brother and I will free healthcare while she was working there.
    While I don’t have kids yet, I know that when I do, I want a stay at home PARENT if we can afford it, at least til they begin school. More and more men I know are open to the SAHD idea. I will probably have a PhD by time I am a mother… and I’ll still stay at home if I can’t. I don’t thing time spent with your family is ever a waste of any kind. I worked at a daycare for awhile and there were kids that were there from 6 AM to 6PM and I am the one that saw their first steps and heard their first words. I don’t want that. As for my daughter, it’s up to her. Like you said, excercising your CHOICE is power.

  • jesslin

    My mother stayed home with us mostly because she didn’t really have the education to do much else (not that she isn’t an intellectual), but also because at the time the Church really looked down on women in the workplace. One of her closest friends got shit all the time for that. But her friend knew there was nothing wrong with what either of them was doing, that they were both providing for their children in the different ways they could. To me, that’s feminism.

    When she did go to work I was in grade 9. That was awesome for me because we had more money to do things (we weren’t so poor anymore), and I had a couple hours of freedom after school. Now, I’m faced with the same decision and its reprocussions on my future family. I’m considering going to law school for Human Rights/International Law – but I don’t want to be one of those career women who – as they’re exercising their feminist right to work – they in turn are forced to neglect spending time with their family.

    I want my children to grow up knowing they can make whatever choice they want. That my girls can choose, and my boys should support their wives because no choice is a wrong one.

    Anyways, those are my thoughts. Congrats on your blogiversary, Heather. I just want to say that reading your blog for the past couple of years has given me new information that will help me be a much better mother when the time comes. And for that, I cannot thank you enough.

  • http://www.consolationchamps.com/ James McNally

    Ulp! Over 1200 comments. You’re probably not even reading these anymore.

    My mom stayed home with me, an only child. It was great. The odd thing was that my dad had a great white-collar job at IBM but we lived in an apartment with a lot of two-income blue-collar families. Hardly any of my friends went beyond high school. A few didn’t finish. Some went to jail. I never felt like I was missing out on suburbia or a house or anything but in hindsight, we could have had those things if mom had went to work. But I wouldn’t have had such a great relationship with her.

    She died when I was 22, from lung cancer. She was just 43. So I’m very happy she stayed at home, and what she “accomplished” was being a phenomenal mother and my best friend. I admire her for choosing that.

  • http://marginalthoughts.blogspot.com/ danielle Brown

    First- wow…almost 1500 comments. No wonder your’re up for a bloggie…I’m happy to have 3 hits a day!

    Second- to answer your questions. My mom was a student and a lawyer while I was growing up. The student part I don’t remember well…she took a lot of night classes and did some internships during the day, but I never felt she wasn’t around enough. You know, always made it to the events that mattered. Once she started practicing she did the normal 9-5 thing, coming home and cooking dinner, spending time with the family, and going to bed. After going through a horrible divorce in my mid-teens, she rightfully recieved enough in the settlement to not have to work. So for my entire high school career, and most of my brothers and sister’s childhoods she was a stay at home mom.

    As far as how she feels about all that, I can only speculate. She mentions a lot how she wishes she was around more for my childhood like she was for my siblings, and feels like she didn’t do the best job with me. But, I think I have told her enough that she was a wonderful mom and that as far as I’m concerned I turned out okay! I know she was glad to be able to get out of the legal world when she was finally able to stay home – she practiced family law and found it diffacult to watch the children of divorcing parents go through the whole ordeal.

    It’s interesting that you ask this question now, because currently my mom is faced with making the decision of whether or not to go back to work. She says that if she does it will be teaching, so an entirely different path. It makes me happy though that she has this choice…to do whatever she wants.

    And as far as my daughter goes (if I am blessed with one): All I want is for her to grow up to be happy…regardless of her path.

  • Womanwithkids

    My mother was a SASM, but more because she didn’t want to work versus wanting to stay home with us. I remember thinking that I wanted to be a better example to my children, on working hard and providing versus sitting at home.

    PS, Congratulations on five years and a great blog!

  • http://www.siliconashes.net/~imbrium Imbrium

    My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and now that I’m out of the house (for nine years now) she’s a housewife. My mother worked off-and-on when I was a child – teaching painting, and in a jewelry store for a while – but she was always home to be “mom.”

    I have no problem with her being a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes I wish she’d done more with her life. When I was younger she was involved in my school, and girl scouts, and soccer, and so on…but now she just sits at home and watches TV and paints. And I love her, but sometimes that makes me sad. She doesn’t even really have any friends. Her whole life has revolved around my father and me, which makes me feel grateful and angry and guilty.

    I don’t know if I want to necessarily be a stay-at-home mom. I’m not sure I even want kids. But I -do- want to not have to work to survive. I want my (hypothetical) husband to support me and give me the opportunity to do whatever I want – write, knit, teach, volunteer, follow my passions – which may or may not include kids. It’s selfish, and it’s not the feminist party line, but it’s true nonetheless. I want the opportunity my mother had; the opportunity I sometimes feel that she squandered on daytime television.

    And my (hypothetical) daughter? I want her to do whatever she damn well pleases.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/theclaesons/ c a s e

    No other success can compensate for failure in the home.

    I think that says it all. Why make the choice to be a parent only to abandon your children? It’s a choice that absolutely baffles me.

  • http://almostlucid.com Almost Lucid (Brad)

    My mom stayed at home with my sister and I, following the death of my dad in a plane crash when I was 1. The money from life insurance and the sale of his business sustained us, essentially giving my mom the option of retiring from teaching to stay home with us.

    She never remarried, and was an amazing single mom. I wouldn’t change one day of my childhood. She was willing to step out of the “female” role and become both the nurturing mom and the unwavering disciplinarian. She encouraged my writing and music, and still got out in the yard to throw baseballs for me.

    I married a woman who became a teacher, and is able to spend more time at home than many moms due to her schedule. I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be happy with dropping off the kids at 8:00am and picking them up at 5:30pm every day of the year. That just wouldn’t cut it for me, because I know that time is important. I would change my schedule to be able for them to be at home with me/us more.

  • Susie

    My mom worked. Which on its own, isn’t unusual, however I grew up in an affluent suburb of NYC in the 70s. Moms there didn’t work outside the home. In fact, my elementary school didn’t even have a lunch program; the kids went home for lunch and then came back for the afternoon session. There were a handful of kids (3-5, depending on the year) who stayed at school and ate in the art room with a big German lady named Mrs. Bodenheim. I will never forget her or her big black hair, but I digress…

    One day, someone came up to me on the playground and asked me if I was poor. Since I was only 6, I didn’t yet understand that couldn’t have been poor living how and where I did, so I went home and asked my mom. She explained to me that she had been fortunate enough to attend good universities, and she really wanted to go to work. She liked her job, and when her workday was over, she liked to come home to me. She said that when I grew up, I could do whatever I wanted to do with my life; I could have kids, I could be a doctor or a lawyer, I could get married or I could decide it wasn’t for me. She told me that when I was a grownup, I would have the skills and the intelligence and the soul to make my own choices.

    I was fine with her working. Why shouldn’t I have been? She loved me and did so many special things for me. Now that I’m an adult, I understand that given who she is, she couldn’t have been as good a mother to me if she had stayed home. She’d have been so unhappy, there’s no way she could have been as present for me, had she not had a job to go to during the day. Also, she had some really kick-ass jobs, and she topped it off with getting her law degree at age 50, and becoming a family court judge in her 60s. (She’s now 72 and shows no sign of wanting to retire, by the way.) She couldn’t have been a better role model — she taught me I could do whatever I wanted to do. So of course, I became a stay-at-home mom. And my mom is fine with my choice.

    I want for my daughter the same thing my mother wanted for me: I want her to be herself and make her own choices. She’s only four, but she’s loaded with opinions and personality already, so I have no doubt she’ll be fine.

    Oh, and the one thing I wish my mother had done differently? I wish she had learned how to change a diaper.

  • NMR

    My parents were divorced when I was small and my Mom always work to support us (Dad didn’t help much financially). I am now 27 and have just now come to fully realize in the last few years how hard it must have been for my mother to raise a child as a single mother and work full time. I have always been ambitious and driven and done well at school and never ever envisioned being a SAHM (probably because I never had one). But, I am now married and have been out of grad school and working for about 2 years, at the job I always wanted, and I can’t imagine anything better than having kids and being able to stay home with them. Even a good job that pays well doesn’t fulfill me in the way I thought it would, not in the way that I imagine being a SAHM will. I doubt I’d ever give up on working completely and would probably go back once my kids were old enough, but it’s amazing how much my priorities have changed now that I’m really thinking about having children and have been in the work force for a little while. I am envious of those women who stay home with their kids and Heather, I think your job sounds like the best ever. Congrats to you and Jon.

  • Memphis Steve

    My mom stayed at home. I don’t know if she regretted it, but we were better off for it. I think it’s a huge mistake to assume that an educated, intelligent woman staying at home to raise her kids is somehow a loss to society. Her kids are going to learn a lot from her, and better that they learn from her than some uneducated, unintelligent person at a random daycare. If she has only 2 kids that is still 2 kids who benefit from her intelligence and the things she teaches them. It’s an investment in the future of our entire society. Somehow we’ve switched from a society that views things long-term to a society that just wants quick money and power right now. It’s a mistake and we’re already paying a price for it.

    As for what I want my daughter to be, I suppose I’d like her to be the same that I’d want my son to be. Whatever they turn out to be good at and enjoy, I hope they both get to do it and get paid well for it. If my daughter decides to quit and stay home to raise kids I won’t view that as some sort of mistake. Who better to raise her kids than her or their father?

    I think feminists are way too focused on money and power. They have been so busy trying to change the definitions of marriage and family that they’ve lost touch with reality. There is more to life than a damned job. And no job is more important than family.

  • http://www.geokaz.com geokaz

    My mother, unfortunately, didn’t have much of a choice. She had been unfortunate and unwise enough to marry an asshole. So when he decided to leave her holding the bag (or the baby, so to speak), she raised me on her own while working AND going to school full time. She had help from my grandparents and extended family, but it was the babysitter who got to hear my first word and see my first steps and it still makes my mother cry to this day. She wanted to have those moments, but she had to become an educated, self sustaining person in order to physically support our little family instead. There was no choice involved. These are enormous, terrifying shoes to fill as her daughter. My son was born just a month ago. I have plans to stay at home with him indefinitely, which translates into until the creditors duct tape me to the wall and make me sign my life away. The thought of being away from him for even a second makes me shudder, though I feel slightly ashamed to admit this, probably as a result of the Linda Hirshman’s of the world. I feel like I should whisper type this… I have a degree in women’s studies. Seriously. I own feminazi boots and every Ani DiFranco CD she’s every put out. But I would sell every single album (except maybe Out of Range) to have the chance to stay at home with my son until he’s twelve and too embarassed to nap with me. This is more than a choice- it’s a privilege I feel lucky just to enjoy.

  • Jessica

    I salute and join you in waving the finger at Linda Whatsername. Feminism should be about choice. Odd how she, a woman, has made a career of judging other women – and doing it in the name of feminism.

    My mom worked as a teacher (o.k. school librarian) once we went to school so she kept the same hours as we did. When I was in high school she went back to school, got her MBA and became a super MEGA consultant for one of the big five firms. (You have to keep in mind that she had me when she was 18… so – plenty of time to fit it all in.)

    I work from home and both my son Owen and daughter Ruby are in daycare full-time, but I have the flexibility to respond when they are sick, etc. I thought I would want to be a stay at home mom when I was pregnant with the first one, but it turned out not to be true. Needed time to myself and time to “check things off a list” – so I’m super ANAL – can’t help it.

    One of my favorite husband quotes EVER is that before we were married he said, “If we get married and have kids, and one of the kids is a daughter, and she turns out to be a lesbian… I will be SO PSYCHED!” I love this man.

    On the same subject – GAY CHILDREN – Do you have THE Music Class in Utah – It’s a brand or something, but with a kind of ridiculously unoriginal name. Anyway – it’s this expensive weekly introduction to music and my gay male friends are so excited because Owen spends each Saturday morning waving a chiffon scarf around while shaking his booty to “Go West” by the Village People. My friend Jesse says I’m doing great “pre-gaying” work with my son.

    So the answer to the question about hope is that we hope our children are gay… however they defines it.

  • mochamomma

    Mom worked at home and then for my dad when we girls got older. She regrets it because she loved staying home and soon after, I got pregnant at 14. Of course, I felt sad when she worked, but by then (they separated at the same time) The Guilt had kicked in for her and didn’t hit me until much later.

    She pushed me to get an education and I took that baby (then, age 3) to college and lived in married housing. Mom still encouraged me, though not in the traditional sense: she felt bad about quitting after 2 years and wanted better for me. For a while, I had that I CAN DO IT ALL crap shoved down my throat and worked, got pregnant again—and again—(she bestowed fertility to me) and taught high school with a growing family. Finally, I decided: I DIDN’T WANT IT ALL.

    After 2 years off, I’m back and getting 2 master’s degrees. Not because I want it all. Right now, I want THAT. My baby didn’t turn out to be a statistic (and neither did I) and she will turn 20 soon. She’s in college doing what she wants, and my mom taught me that THAT was what she wanted for me along. And her wishes for me aren’t lost on me. Even at 34, I still cherish her choices and allowing me to make my own mistakes. There is Guilt no more.

    I wouldn’t change a thing about that.

  • http://clevelandhappenstance.blogspot.com SnogAsh

    My mom worked, thank goodness. I never felt her absence and consider my independence a direct result of not having been coddled. Now that I’m grown up I find inspiration in her life, that she went to law school with a toddler and an infant and didn’t let anyone tell her how she was going to live her life.

  • mommafoofoo

    My mother was working towards a PhD at a smarty-pants university when I was a child. Everyone told her she couldn’t have a successful career in academia and raise us, even her feminist group.

    She is an extremely successful academic, but I have almost no memories of her being a part of my life when I was a kid. When I skinned my knee I ran to my older sister, not my mom (or my dad).

    When/if we have kids, my partner or I will be a SAH parent. We will never be as high on the socio-economic scale as my parents because of it, but that’s okay.

    I want my daughter to do what she wants. If she chooses to be a retro housewife, I won’t claim it is feminist just because she chose it, but I won’t need her to be a feminist anymore than I need her to be religious. I do want her to lead a fulfilling and conscious life and decide for herself what is important to her.

  • HeyPaul

    My mother worked full time–first in a hospital, then and still in local government. My father wasn’t all that stable and didn’t earn enough to support a SAHM–and we didn’t have high standards either. At the time, I probably thought it was great that my younger brother and I were left to our own devices (no babysitter either). Looking back from adulthood, I believe we would have been better off with at least one stay at home parent. But with my father’s alcoholism, drug problems and general unreliability, there was simply no way for my mother to stay at home and still feed and clothe us. If I ever have a daughter, I hope she gets a good education and enjoys what she does–whatever that may be.

    In other news: wow, over a thousand comments!! And I think I saw maybe two other male names. I assumed most of your readers were women, but I never thought I was in such an elite group–men who read dooce.

  • Hanna Cooper

    I doubt I’ll add much more to the conversation being the 1420th+ comment, but clearly you’ve hit a nerve here. Love to hear more about how SXSW goes for you.

    My Mom stayed home with me until I was in 1st grade, then worked part-time until my parents got divorced when I was in 2nd grade. She went back to school and then worked full-time. This was late 60′s-early 70′s (I’m 38). I missed her when she went back to work, but it wasn’t really a choice. The consequence for me of that experience is that I’ve felt that it was necessary to support myself financially.

    Now as a parent, I myself have struggled with how to figure out work and family/kids. I have 2 kids, almost 1 and almost 3. I quit my job 4 months into my maternity leave because going back to work became untenable for a whole wide assortment of reasons (my mom died, my boss offered me nothing of interest to do part time, I was ready to go out on my own). I started my own consulting and coaching business, and have been working part-time from home for about the last 2 years. My kids go to a homebased day care blocks from our house 3 days a week while I work, and have fun there. It’s a pretty good gig, though I still worry about my choices regularly.

    I’ve got plenty of education, and used to judge college-educated women who stayed home with their kids. I’ve now been on both sides, and know neither is easy. I’ve felt guilty when I work, I’ve felt depressed when I’m home with kids exclusively. I love my kids, and my work is less important to me than ever. And, I seem to be a better mom when I’ve got non-kid projects, like work, in my life.

    What I hate is that few mothers I know feel totally content with their choices (these are people who have a choice; knowing here that we are talking about people who can choose to stay home financially). Talking about this with my mother-in-law, who supported their family while my husband & his brother were little when their dad was in school, we agreed that what’s frustrating is that nothing much has changed on this issue since feminism: she dealt with the same things as a young mother.

    It’s back to Judith Warner’s big picture message from her book: let’s get organized so that we can change the social structures so that all women can work or not as they see fit, while their children are well-cared for. And let’s stop giving or taking guilt for whatever we do choose.

  • Angela

    I think no one can tell us what is right for us or our children. Being a stay at home mom has been the best thing I have ever or will ever do. That being said, I have seen some women stay at home that maybe shouldn’t have. Doing it so they could watch TV and eat cupcakes, never actually loving or teaching their children. Some kids would actually be better off in daycare and I think the trick is knowing ourselves enough to know if we are made for this brand of work. Not everyone is the same and it doesn’t make anyone better or worse. Just think people should better self evaluate before choosing the direction of their and their childrens lives. If you F**k up parenting then you srewed a person up…more people should look at it more carefully.

  • http://www.blissfulreminders.blogspot.com/ katbliss

    My parents owned their own business, and the office was at home until I was in high school. My mom was always home when I left for school and always home when I returned. She worked her ass off during the school hours so she could take my brother and I where ever we had to go after school.

    Now, I do exactly the same thing. My husband is a general contractor and I run the office from home. I only work a couple of hours a week as I have two girls (ages 9 months and almost four)not in school. I have spent much time on this subject on my own blog and I have felt guilt for my choice to “stay home” for so many reasons.

    The truth is, now I realize what my life as a SAHM is all about. It’s simple… maybe my children will change the world, or maybe their children will, not necessarily by doing great things but by being kind people. Simply put, my “job” is to raise people who will contribute to society in a positive way. It doesn’t matter to me how they do it, just as long as they are happy. Nobody else is raising my kids and I know our values and morals will be instilled in my children simply because they are with me everyday. Sure Dylan is known to say Shit every time she drops something, but that’s OK with me because I know exactly who she learned it from.

  • Marissa

    AH my mom worked – and my dad was home during the day for me when I got home from school. It was great – he’s hands down a better cook than mom so dinner was always good. He showed me how to cook, how to flick towels and made me do my homework before mom came home. Then when mom came home from work, we had dinner together, then dad went to work.

    Wouldn’t trade my childhood for the world and I would love to one day marry a future stay-at-home dad. I don’t believe in daycare either way.

    That being said – I hope my future children, if I have them, make the decision that is right for them.

  • Jordan

    When I was growing up, my mother worked part time as a nurse at a hospital. She worked maybe 2 days a week (in addition to one Saturday or Sunday) from 3-11, which was nice because she was always there to get us ready for school, and usually made dinner before leaving for work. She was available to help with school projects, homework, girl scouts, as well as take part in things like the PTA. She was home for us. It was wonderful.

    The down side, however, was that my father worked sometimes as many as 60 hours a week to compensate the income my mother wasn’t pulling in by staying home with us. Although I appreciate both of their choices and had a wonderful childhood, I’m now 23 and have just recently had my first real conversation with my father.

    This all being said, I understand the sacrifices and decisions both of my parents made on our behalf, and undoubtedly I would not be the person I am today without them. I’m currently persuing my master’s degree in writing, and I know without fail, already, that whatever I do as an adult will come second to children. I don’t know if that means that I’ll be a SAHM or not, but I’d like the option for my children to grow up without them not knowing a parent, and also without them having to let themselves in afterschool, heating up dinner all alone. If that means that I work, and they have a SAHD, well, that’s fine too.

    As for my own daughter, should I have one, first and foremost I’d want her to be happy in whatever she decides to do.

  • http://www.anotherme.blogdrive.com VZfamily

    “The real crime here is not that educated women are choosing to stay at home with their children, it’s that many women who want to stay at home aren’t able to because of their circumstances.”

    Thank you SO MUCH for speaking for many of us working mom’s out here!

  • ugotsoul

    excellent article about mom’s and the big question about whether or not to return to work:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11569327/site/newsweek/

  • Lindsay

    My mom worked and it gave my brothers and me a sense of freedom, but one I would not approve of if I had been my mom. We definitely had the run of the neighborhood and could do whatever we wanted until she got home from work. I’m surprised we made it out of our childhood alive. As a result of being raised by a single mom (in my situation with my mom) my siblings and I really bonded – with each other, not with her. She never really knew us; never knew the daily ins and outs of her children’s lives. Although I am very thankful for the relationships I have with my brothers, I am still dealing with the detached mom thing. If I ever decide to become a mother, I will do whatever it takes to stay at home and raise the child, bond with the child, teach the child, guide the child.

  • moose

    My mom is a smart, well-educated woman who made the choice to stay home with us even though she enjoyed her career as a teacher. She and my father made sacrifices in income so that she could do this and, to the best of my knowledge, neither of them regret it. My brother and I were lucky to come home to a parent after school, less lucky in that she spent a fair amount of that time concocting strange whole grain casseroles for dinner. I believe both my parents did an excellent job (aside from the sugar ban that had me filching twinkies from the unsuspecting). All my mistakes are my own.

    My take on the subject as a whole is that a woman should be able to choose whatever will keep her happy and fulfilled, if she is lucky enough to have that choice. Choosing to go back to work doesn’t mean you love your children any less, nor does staying at home mean you’re telling Betty Friedan to suck it. I’m not a parent yet, but I imagine that if you are happy and fulfilled – doing whatever it is you need to achieve such a state – you will be creating a better home life for your children.

    I personally hope to be able to stay home with my children (while doing creative projects on the side), and hope to encourage them to do whatever it is they damn well please, with a slight emphasis on world domination.

    Congratulations on your fifth year of public stupidity!

  • http://nowseriously.blogspot.com LeafGirl77

    Glad to see your comments are back up. There have been so many stories that I’ve wanted to comment on.

    This story in particular, strikes a cord with me. My mom raised me while working. She worked in a factory. She worked real estate. Then when I was 16 she went back to school to get her high school diploma, then entered university…then got her masters. I’m SO proud.

    While I am currently doing my Masters, and support any and every woman working out there, I’d really love to stay home with my future kids. I really would. If we were able to support our family with my fiance’s job, and I could do pottery and take care of my kids, I would be in heaven.

  • Catherine

    My mother stayed home with me and my brother until we were in school. At that point, she went to work for my Dad (he had an office that she ran, so we all hung out there together) until we were in Junior high. She went back to school to be a teacher at that point, and can I just say I felt the loss keenly. It was a really tough transition. It felt like we were suddenly left alone. Of course, we were old enough not to be in danger or anything, but it was an emotional loss.
    As an adult I’ve made the choice to stay home with my daughter (with a son on the way in April), quitting my teaching career of six years to do it. I tried going part time my first year of motherhood, but it was terrible. I felt miserable and hated every minute I was at work. I just wanted to be with my daughter. It seems insane that a woman should do something she really doesn’t want to do so her education doesn’t go to “waste”. My education is being used every day to creatively parent my child. That is the best thing I could do with it.
    I hope to encourage my daughter (and son) to follow their hearts on this issue. If they want to be the primary caregiver to their children, they should have the right to do so, male or female.

  • Jacey

    My mom was not a SAHM. She grew up in Mexico, went to Yale, and became a teacher. She’s been a teacher now for over 30 years. There was only one occasion that required her presence at home and that was when I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when I was five. I was both too young and too sick to enjoy that time with her. I’m proud of my mom and who she is. I’ve always been proud to say my mom has the noblest of careers. She’s never used work as an excuse for anything. She worked everyday and still made it to all of my ballet recitals and softball games (she was always there for my brothers, too). I wouldn’t change anything about what she did. I’m sure it would have been wonderful to have her at home, but I feel she did more for my brothers and me as a mother and a teacher.
    I don’t have any children yet. I’m in college working on an Eng. Lit. major. Everyone has the same wish for their daughters: to grow up happy and healthy. If I ever have a daughter, I want her to grow up to be educated and independent, to never have to depend on anyone. It will be my job to present the world to her and let her explore everything it has to offer. I just hope she’ll take me along in mind and in heart.

    I love reading about the adventures you have with Leta. I’m sure she’ll grow up with you and Jon as her greatest inspirations. Happy fifth birthday, Dooce!

  • http://mishmoshpit.blogspot.com jamie

    In my early years, the parent who was not working stayed home…my Dad worked for NY Telephone, and there was a very long strike when I was little, so my Mom worked and he stayed home with me while he was out of work. When I was 3, my parents decided to move to San Diego so my Dad could pursue his dream of marine biology…!! Then we got there, poorer than dirt, and my mom stayed home with me while he pursued his classes. He eventually found a new career, leather design, and we went back to Brooklyn, where they started a business, and opened a leather store, so my mom mostly stayed home with me and later on me and my sister. My Dad eventually closed the store, and had regular jobs at leather factories, so my mom was home with us. My Dad then decided to branch out on his own again, and again we had a family business, and my dad worked out of our basement, so both parents were home, but my mom was the one doing most of the parenting. When I was about 14, and my sister was 8, my mom went to work outside of the family business, and my dad was working from the house. This was pretty much the way it was until I was about 18, and my parents split.

    This split brings me to your next question…whould I have wanted her to do anything different…and the answer is a resounding YES! But not in the way you might expect..

    My mom got married at 18, had me at 19 and spent the next 20 years helping my Dad get his business going. She sacrificed her own education, and a large part of her psyche to support him. 20 years into this, my Dad left…because he felt that she abandoned him after she got a job outside of the business, and began to pursue her education. It was a really tough time for all of us, but especially for my mom. And it just seems so unfair that when she began to have her own life he couldn’t take it. So, I wish she had been able to do that from the beginning, and is probably what drives me to be a working mom. I have 2 kids, ages 7 and almost 4, and I work fulltime. Its hard, and I feel guilty all the time, but I need to have my career, and I want my kids to know its ok for a mom to work or to stay home…but no matter what, a mother should never sacrifice her dreams and desires for their husband or kids, it will only end hurting someone in the end.

  • http://www.coloradothree.com Whatever…

    My mother stayed home until my younger sister was almost in school. She went back to school first, to become a teacher, and then taught Kindergarten. She worked at a school across town, so we did have to go to a babysitter before and after school, but it was probably an hour tops. As a teacher, she had the summer off and we would always take a family vacation. When I was in junior high we moved to a different state and she only worked part time. She still taught, but not in the public sector. She was usually home when we got home from school. I am glad that she was around later in my schooling as I am sure that kept me out of trouble! I don’t think I’d change anything.

    I have 2 daughters and honestly, just hope they grow up and do what makes them happy. I am happy being a SAHM, and on the other side of the coin, my younger sister never wants to have children…so she will be the career woman in the family.

    Amy

  • Liz M

    My mother graduated from university to become an elementary school teacher. She took a year off to have me and then a year off to spend with me. Money was an issue as my dad ran his own business, so although she would have liked to stay home she could not do so. I would love to stay home with any future children, but I think money will be an issue. (I have a graduate degree.) I would love my future child to stay home with his/her children…

  • http://three-part-harmony.com/heartsongs Karin

    My mom was a SAHM. I don’t think I really thought about whether I liked it or didn’t like it when I was a child because that was all I really knew. Most of the adult women I was close to as a child stayed at home with their kids so that was the norm to me. Looking back on it now, I am very grateful that my mom was always there when I needed her – only a phone call away. I hope that my daughter feels the same way.

    What I want for my daughter is to do whatever it is that she wants most to do – to live her dream. And beyond that, to live in a world where people don’t question a person’s choices based solely on their gender.

    Happy blogiversary Heather. :)

  • http://colleen.typepad.com Colleen

    I could go on and on about the debate about whether a “real” feminist would stay at home with her kids but it’s not worth getting into, here’s why:

    Feminism is about women making choices and doing what’s best for themselves and the people around them. There is no right or wrong way to be a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a caregiver, or the other dozens of roles that women play in their lives, some play several roles in just one day. It’s about having the choice to do whatever it is you feel is best for yourself. And any woman who would de-value the role that stay at home moms play in their families’ lives is no more a WOMAN than a woman who decides to stay at home. It’s about the choice.

    I realize my comment isn’t entirely on-topic so I’ll mention that my own mom worked. I think she would have even if she didn’t really need to. I see myself working outside the home at least part time when I have children, though there are lots of ways to work outside the home without actually leaving your house!

    I think it’s really neat that you’ve found a way to use blogging to attain your ideal family/work balance. I’m glad that you have the power to do that, it’s inspiring. I essentially get paid to look at blogs all day and it’s a pretty sweet deal.

    Viva la blog, I say.

  • http://starlit.lunardreams.net Natalie

    My mom stayed at home with my younger brother and I until we were both in school – then she went to work part-time. I feel we were both very lucky. And I have always known that, if circumstances would let me have a choice in the matter, I would want to stay home with my kids, as well. As it turns out, I am that lucky.

    I have never felt pressure to stay at home with my kids. In fact I frequently feel pressure that I should be working to make money. And that’s a sad thing.

    For my kids, I want them to make the choice they think is best – even if it disagrees with mine. And yes, boy or girl. My husband has frequently said he would LOVE to be a stay at home dad – however, he has the breadwinning job, a job that pays what would take me years to accomplish… and he doesn’t want to wait to have kids. In many ways I think men have it a bit worse than us women do… at least women are regarded as having a choice. I think it’s not as “acceptable” for a dad to stay home.

  • Em

    Wow – the opportunity to comment on ‘Dooce’ feels like a step into imortality: or at least like standing next to a famous celebrity….Happy Birthday, Dooce!

    My mum (spot the Brit) was at home with my younger brother and I until I was about 16 I think. And I’m really grateful for that – I can’t imagine what it would have been like any other way. She taught us a great deal even before we went to school and at one point was treking between two different schools, clarinet and violin lessons etc. And we didn’t have a car: if you couldn’t get there by public transport, you didn’t go.

    Now, I’m not sure how good this really was for her. My impression is that she didn’t really like us very much until we got older – or at least got thoroughly exasperated and hacked off with the endless bickering, wingeing and door-slamming. It was also meant that her job prospects were really dented. She was a librarian before I was born and did go back to that part-time when we were older but since returning to the States she has found it incredibly difficult to get a permanent position. Mainly because her age and her qualifications make her too expensive for the posts she has the experience to apply for. Very frustrating. And of course, in the States, this means gut-wrenchingly expensive health insurance (as in, you better hope your gut doesn’t wrench and need medical attention). And in addition: bugger-all pension to look forward to: she hasn’t worked enough years.
    So, I’m glad I had the benefit of her as I grew up but I do feel that it’s come at a huge cost.

    A tough decision but one that, ultimately, is any woman’s to make *on her own terms*. For myself, I hope that I will be lucky enough to have children in the future and my feeling is that of ‘why have ‘em if you’re going to farm ‘em out to someone else for a large proportion of their day?’ I hope I will like my children enough to want to spend that time with them. ;)

  • TNW

    My mom was (and is) a teacher and she worked during my entire childhood. That was her dream job and I am proud of her for pursuing it. Even though my dad worked too, my mom was the breadwinner in the family and that has really meant a lot to me personally. I know it doesn’t work out for a lot of people, but I LOVED being a latchkey kid-it gave me an opportunity to develop a sense of independence.

    My background is in feminist studies and my interpretation has always been that the amazing women who came before us fought those battles so that we could have the choice. I would hope my daughter would pursue the path that made her most fulfilled in her life.

    Thanks for all you do, Heather. According the feminist ideology, the personal is the political and your website is a beacon for strong, independent women everywhere.

  • Hanniebanannie

    My mother is my Hero.
    She and my Father decided together that she would stay home with us, simply because of economics, as a Clinical Psychologist he could make more money to support the family while she cared for us.
    However, she wasn’t your average stay at home Mom. She home-schooled both of us for a time, started two alternative schools so we could learn in smaller groups of kids and experience things like traveling the Oregon Trail in period costume, dyeing yarn with natural materials, and having “PE” in the great outdoors. We attended anti-war demonsrations with my Mom, and I played under the quilt frame while she created quilts for amazing people who furthered peace in the world. Because of her involvement making quilts I met Pete Seeger, Helen Caldicott, Rosa Parks, Mr. Rogers, Ceasar Chavez, Patch Adams and more. She was an amazing example of making positive change in the world while spending time with her children.
    When we hit highschool she had found a fantastic organization to work for long distance and added that to her plate while still being ever present for us.
    She showed me her IRS report once, where for 10 years or so she made $0. And she was so grateful that she and my Dad were able to make that decision.
    I hope to do the same one day for my daughters, show them that they can do anything they want and make the choices that are right for them- like you. My parents simply want me to be happy, and that is what I wish for my kids.
    Dooce- you rock, love reading you, if you ever come through Idaho you have a drinking buddy….

  • Special ED

    I just couldn’t resist chiming in on the “Great Debate” even though you’ve had 9 gazillion posts up to this point. I am a stay at home Mom. I always assumed that was the appropriate and logical choice and one that made the most sense from a PC point of view. But damn to hell the asshole who made me feel as though I had to stay at home. It just so happened that I became a stay at home Mom. It wasn’t a grand decision or big “Choice” necessarily, it just sort of evolved that way. What I’ve learned now that I’ve made this choice is that I love it and it is very important to me. I have 2 kids, 3.5 years and 6 months and life for the most part is terrific and I feel spoiled and blessed and believe wholeheartedly that it is a luxury to be home with my babies and witnessing their every move and poop. That said, it is also mind numbing and boring and tedious and frustrating and there are days when I’m great and days when I suck. Like any other job I’ve ever had. I just like this one more than the others. In other jobs I had I ended up hating myself and wanting to crawl under rocks on a continual basis and deny my existance. That’s not true in my current job and I consider that a triumph. But, I am also an actor (though not the sexy, soap opera, lucky enough to bed you kind) and believe you me, if the capacity to work was readily in my control I’d be working up a storm. If someone asked me tomorrow to do a show I love I’d jump at the chance and throw my kids to any wolf who wished to care for them. But then I also know that even if I did book said show it would eventually end and the choice to accept the next engagement would be mine. So my career is really more of a hobby when you get right down to it so it doesn’t count. Like other Moms who go to knitting or quilting bees. It takes about the same time and attention. So it’s easy for me to say I’m a flag waving SAHM, but in actuality I would work if I could in my chosen career. But I’d never work for work’s sake and I don’t feel as though society is missing out because my brain is not out there exercising its intellectual muscles. The world will get by and I think even though I’m smart, I add more to this great world in the reationships I have anyway and I nurture and care for people regardless of whether I “work” or not.

    Now, my mother on the other hand, worked and worked hard while I was growing up. She was a broadcast reporter for the local talk radio station and when she was home she was either talking about news and current events, or reading the newspaper, or watching the news or falling asleep on the couch. She had no interest or investment in me or my life as long as I stayed out of trouble. (Which I did because I’m a big dork.) This was reasonably acceptable to me at the time because her job sounded cool to my friends who were more fun anyway and her press pass got us into lots of neat places for free. But overall I’m left with a lonely isolated feeling when I think back on childhood and I am determined that my kids won’t have to endure that. Not that I’m the PTA type necessarily, but at least I’ll be there when they get home from school and might actually be interested in them and what they do. (Go figure…)

    Did my Mom and her experience overtly dictate what I do now? Probably. What do I want for my daughter? I want her to do whatever she damn well pleases. But for her kid’s sake I hope that means she wants to stay at home with them at least part-time. (This is a harsh admittal.) And I hope by then we’ve learned as a society how to incorporate that into the working model.

    I fully support you and what you do and all your success, even if you get so freaking famous that you technically are no longer a SAHM. Sometimes the world calls you in to a different place than you expect of yourself. My childhood could have been made 1000 times brighter by a consistent, caring baby-sitter. Instead I had The Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough to raise me and I suffered for it. So much so that now my potentially brilliant mind is being wasted nurturing and creating humans…..

  • http://www.smockblog.com jules

    My mom worked full time. All the time. My older brother and I were traditional latch key kids. We work our keys on a beautiful satin ribbon under our school uniforms. Mom worked at a fabric store, so we got the good ribbon! My best friend’s mom, when i was younger, dind’t work, and I think I was always jealous of that a little bit. Lori had great lunches, and her mom was a lunch monitor mom and would chaperone on field trips. My lunches were a salami sandwich under a an orange, topped with a frozen drink box that was carried in the long plastic bag the bread came in. There was no one to break up the fighting between my brother and I after school until dad got home at 4pm, and if you were sick, you were home alone. Tho we weren’t really ever sick.

    Looking back now, I wish my mom didn’t have to work. Sorta for me and my brother, but mostly for her. I know she would have rather been at home with us and done school functions and picked us up from school, but we needed the money, and she had to work.

    good grief, who knew answering this would be so emotional!

    I think i would be a great mom! I woudl stay at home if I could. I like to work, but If I had the choice. I’d make lunches for my kids, and chaperone field trips and make cookies for the bake sale. I’d take my kids to the park after school, or to the zoo, I wouldn’t be too tired to do their homework with them, or irritated from work and unintentionally take it out on them. I WOULD DRIVE A VAN AND BE A SOCCER MOM! (:3
    *smock*

  • saffyre9

    My mom worked full time until I was in kindergarten. Most of that time my dad was either unemployed or in school, so she supported the family. Once I started school my mom worked part time with really flexible hours, so she was always there when I got home from school, and always able to take a day off when I was home sick or to come on a field trip with me. When I started highschool she went back to work full time.

    To work or stay home often comes down to finances, and I think she was really lucky she didnt have to make that choice – she was able to work and pursue her career, while still being available to me.

  • everbloom

    My mother has a PHD and when I was born she chose not to go back to work. She also chose to go back (with my father) to our home country. Since then she’s gone back to collage and had some part-time work. It was always her choice not to work, however now that she does want to go back, she can’t (they won’t employ her).

    Without children, or a parter, I don’t know what I’d do. It would depend on the circumstances, but I’d always want the choice. I always thought the feminist movement fought for the choice. Otherwise, how much better off are we?

  • Ceci

    Happy anniversary!

    My mom was a SAHM until I was 12. She had had a career until she started having kids (working at the New York Times and U.S. & World Report). She tells me now that in the late 1960s and early 1970s (when my brother and I were born), you couldn’t do both. As a woman, you either had a career or you were a mom. After going back to work in the mid-1980s, she’s now an executive director making six figures and traveling the world.

    I’ve been on both sides of this issue. I am fortunate to be able to stay home with my two girls (age 3 and 4 months) and just work part time for my own sanity and to make some extra cash. But for the last two years I worked full time to support the family while my husband quit a toxic work environment.

    Anyway, I have a new appreciation for all moms–SAHM and moms with careers outside the home.

    I want my daughters to be able to do anything they want! I agree: the feminist movement was all about choice. We need to stop bashing each other. Hate to be a corn ball, but I think my bumper sticker says it all: every mother is a working mother.

  • Katie

    I feel like I’m writing to a celebrity…I’ll try not to think about it….

    I think that I am in a very good situation with my job and my daughter. I work for our family business so I am able to work part-time and spend the rest of the time with my 14 month old. My mother watches her while I work. If I feel like staying home all day, i stay at home all day. It is a situation not many people are blessed to be in.

    Keeping that in mind, If I wasn’t working for a family company I’d quit in a second and be a full-time mom in the home. But family is my life whether at work or at home so I decided to stay where I am.

    My mother stayed home but worked as an English teacher when my sister and I were older; so she had the same schedule as us. My mother-in-law always stayed at home. If my husband and I were so blessed to have mothers to do that, why would I short-change my daughter?

    I have two college degrees and there is no way that I’m wasting them. First, I never know when I may need them for another job years down the road. Second, by getting degrees myself, I have influenced my daughter. She will know that it is about choice. In my opinion, Feminism is not about abandoning the family and commiting yourself to work or self or making sure woman are always equal to men. It’s about having the CHOICE to do what you want to do.

  • http://gingerincognito.blogspot.com ginger incognito

    First-time commenter, so go easy, okay?

    Mom pretty much always worked outside the home, and mostly it was for financial reasons. But also? I think my sister was enough of a handfull that my mom preferred to be elsewhere during her tantrums. Mom’s a nice lady, but . . . she loses patience kind of quickly with her children, and if you aren’t helping her RIGHT NOW, well, then, you are working AGAINST her, and why must she do EVERYTHING? Of course, she’s yelling this at you while crying. And did I mention you just finished clearing up after the dinner you cooked in the house you clean in clothes you laundered? She works all day; she can’t do all that stuff, so you do it. But you are NOT HELPING. See? I don’t think she could have done well with staying at home. I think her automatic guilt complex melded with her martyr complex, and that caused her to feel kinda guilty about not being a SAHM, but that’s not what she would have been happy doing anyway. Does that make sense? Did I mention my family is crazy?

    I’m not upset she wasn’t home all the time. I had a lot of independence, and even though I was relied upon a lot, when I left home to go to college, it was less of a shock to my system. I think it worked well for us. Now, for my sister . . . that was another story. She could have used someone watching.

    As for my daughter, I hope she grows up to be whatever she darn well pleases. I hope she does whatever she wants to do, whether it’s go to college or not, be a lawyer or a waitress, etc. (Even though my mother-in-law and husband would disagree.) As long as she’s doing what makes her happy, I’m happy. Unless it’s becoming an “escort” because then we’d have to talk. . . .

  • http://q.t_pi@hotmail.com Jezzie

    I’d so buy your book, and give it to anyone who needed to learn to be sanely insane in a nutty fuckin world.
    My mom was an ….oh, i can’t do this.
    Being privleged and blessed enough to raise your children? and make a positive, creative, intellectual impact on the world? Priceless. You got the world by the balls, if not Costas.
    How about my friend Wendy? She would NOT like being a stay at home mom. She loves her daughter, and she loves daycare.
    Me? I wouldn’t miss one moment, one instance of a chance to be the teacher, one opportunity to show them the world outside four walls. Because of money, I settle for Montessori and Art High School. I’ll always try to lift them up out of the nest, and out of the box. Dooce, luv u like a cyber sister lady. Jezzie

  • DottyDi

    My mom worked because she had to. I wish she had been able to stay home with me. She wishes she could have stayed home with me. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m currently trying to work out a way to be home with them because I want to. I’m working on my master’s degree right now. So, I suppose going along with Hirshman’s line of thought, I’d just be wasting it? I think not.