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://arubagirl.typepad.com Diandra Alders

    My mother worked outside the home until I was 13, then resumed working again when I was 17. I never had any problems with her working or her staying at home.

    I think that having a choice and have the guts to make it is the true meaning of feminism.

    I hope my daughters grow up to be whatever they want.

  • http://bhappenings.blogspot.com/ betina

    My Mom (a first generation college graduate) stayed at home and raised 7 children. Overall I think this was the best thing for our family. That being said, it seems to me that my Mom gave too much of herself away to us and my Dad and got little in return (the subject of their marriage is a long sad story, perhaps if they connected better she would not be such a shell of a person right now). Now that we are all gone she is a little lost and is slowly trying to find a place in the world where there are no diapers or bedtime routines or carpools.

    I have 2 children and LOVE being a SAHM… but I do work 1-2 days a week out of the home as a Speech Pathologist. Any more than that would be torture, but I feel I need the time to get out and do something for me. At this point in my life I would say that working occasionally makes me a better Mom.

    This is definetly my choice. In order to make it so that I can quit at any time I need to, we don’t spend a penny of what I make, it just goes in the bank. I can’t imagine being compelled to work because we need the money or whatever. Really, working is just something I need to do so that the other 6 days of the week I can be a (mostly) sane Mom.

  • AEMom

    Hello Heather. I’m struck by how timely your post is for me and your following line resonates with me: “it’s that many women who want to stay at home aren’t able to because of their circumstances”. That is me to a T.
    My mom was a SAHM until my father left and she had to go back to work when I was 8. I’m an only child and 29 years ago, divorced parents were still fairly rare. We moved in with my grandparents and my grandmother watched me after school until she died a year later. Then it really went downhill. My mom tried her best, but she really didn’t juggle the working part too well. I would never tell her that, but it’s true. When I look back at some of the things that I was allowed to do or that she didn’t do, it’s scary. My mom was a great SAHM, but a not so great WM. As for me? I have no daughters, but I have 2 little boys. One is autistic and I now resent every minute that I work because I’m such a stressed out bitch trying to deal with my job, and my life and all the extra pressures of a special needs child. I have a Bachelor of Computer Science. I worked my ass off for my degree and I’m really proud of it. But I’d rather be at home because my kids need me. But if I didn’t work, we’d be living in a tent eating macaroni and cheese. I wouldn’t have my health benefits, and there would be no damn money to pay for everything. There is a small part of me that does enjoy working — the time with no small children hanging off of me and adult interaction. But I feel that society had failed us. Women have finally gotten to choose whether or not they want to work at a paying job on top of their non-paying job as a mother. But society is still set up for the most part to cater to a family where the father works and the mother is home with the children. Until society and the workplace becomes more accomodating to parents to lead more balanced lives, moms will still be running around like chickens with their heads cutoff trying to do it all.
    What do I want for my sons? Well, my wishes are simple. I want my autistic affected son to be able to be able to take care of himself and have a paying job. I want my other son to grow up and be happy and to be kind to others.

  • Rebecca

    Growing up poor, my mom worked her way through college and got herself a coporate job at a time when she was one of very few women in her field. She met my dad while getting her Masters and by the time they married she was in the position to buy them a home. My mom has always said that she wanted to have a big family and stay at home with her kids. However, at the time I was born, (her first) she was much more advanced in her career than my dad and being the primary bread winner in the house, she went back to work when I was only a few months old. By the time my brother was born (two years after me), my dad had been very unhappy working in a government job and since she had a stable career that she enjoyed, they agreed that she would continue working, while he took his own career in a different direction. My mom working allowed my dad to pursue teaching college courses, giving seminars, writing articles and books and eventually start his own business.

    Growing up in a very tight knit community with lots of family around it was never the case that my brother and I were left alone. We always were taken care of either by neighbors who lived only a few doors down or by other relatives in our own home. I felt like I was with family all of the time and since it was the only arrangement I ever knew, I didn’t have a problem with it. My dad’s hours put him at home with us during the daytime more often and I grew up very close to cousins and neighbors who were my age.

    When my dad turned 40 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died within a year. Looking back on things, my mom has often said that although she really wanted to be stay at home with us, her working allowed my dad to be happy pursuing his career interests in the short time that he had and after he was gone she was able to take care of herself, her house and her children.

    When my mom turned 50 she was given an early retirement package and she has not worked since. She has enough money to take care of herself and her house, her kids have been put through college and she can now do whatever she wants, whenever she wants and she’s spent lots of time traveling and enjoying her life.

    At 28 I am the same age as my mom was when she had me. However, I am no where near getting married and at this point sometimes wonder if I will ever have kids. If that day comes, I would have to weigh my options and decide what makes the most sense in terms of my own working or staying home.

    And for my own daughter, her happiness will be my primary concern and I will support whatever decision she makes.

  • Victoria_Sponge

    “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 just wanted to quote Heather, to appease Alison MH at #1235.

    Heather, my mother was a single mother and worked all the time to put me through school. I had friends in the next street to play with and I was glad she wasn’t there more of the time to get on my back about things. I did go a bit naughty and off the beaten path but nothing too bad. I don’t know how people manage to afford to raise kids, especially here in the UK: I’ve left it later than I’d like to to start a family because it’s only now, at 34, that I have a house, and only £3K debt, and a job where I can work flexibly from home, and Him With the Testicles has a similar set-up where he’s based in the office but can work at home one day a week if he wants to. I take my hat off to mothers everywhere. I’ll be joining you in late October.

  • 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

  • Tina Vance

    My mother stayed home until I was in elementary school, then she became the school nurse at my elementary school. At times it was like being under 24-hour surveillance, which is what I thought about it at that time. To be honest, I wish my mother would have started working earlier. I think there are some moms who want and need to stay home, because they truly enjoy it, and there are some who need to work. I’m one of the ones who needs to work, not only for the money, but also for my own sanity.

    As far as my daughter goes, I’d just want her to find her job satisfying and rewarding. If that’s as a bottle cap twister or if it’s as a neurosurgeon, it doesn’t really matter, so long as she’s happy.

  • http://www.monkeythoughts.com monkey

    My own mom was a stay at home mom most of the time. But I know she did it cause she felt my dad wasn’t providing the type of attention and care that we needed while she was at work. Shortly after my youngest brother was in school, she decided to work again much to my dad’s dismay.
    I personally am a working out of the house type of mother. With my first son, I really didn’t have the temperament to be a stay at home mom. Even with my second (who’s 16 months now), I felt overwhelmed at times when I’ve stayed at home. Honestly though, I do cherish every moment with my kids. I work because I enjoy what I do and because I need to. I think if I won the lottery though, I’d give up my job to stay at home with my kids. But I’m drawing the line at home schooling. I DEFINITELY do not have the patience for that.
    As I said to my mom, whatever makes you happy!

  • HannahBee

    My mother stayed home with me and my two much older sisters from when my oldest sister was born until I reached middle school. She always tells my father that staying home with us was the best gift he ever gave her. My dad worked ridiculously hard for the majority of my childhood, so having her around all the time was wonderful. I have so many memories of going on walks and outings with my mom when my older sisters were in school.
    My dad semi-retired while I was in middle school so my mom started working part-time to help out financially. Even though I didn’t like it for a while, it was good for everyone. She no longer needed to stay at home because I was the only one living at home by that time, and without her working, I think our relationship would have suffered. As it is now, we are closer than ever. She started working full-time a couple months ago for the first time in 30 some-odd years.
    I cannot even begin to express how much I appreciate my mother for everything thing she did for me and my sisters. She was always there and I always knew I had that support. I am a much smarter, well-balanced woman for having been her daughter. Despite any other ambitions I have, I only hope I can give my (future) daughters and sons the love my mother showed me and the love you show your daughter by simply being there.
    But, should that not work out, I just want my daughters to be happy and fulfilled and know that they are loved.

  • Aly

    My mom was in grad school when I was born and went to work right after she got her Doctorate. At seven, we moved to Europe with my mom’s job and my dad was a stay-at-home dad for the next three years. It was great!

  • 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!

  • http://www.shoesonwrong.typepad.com Annie

    I hope to one day be an SAHM because I’m a lazy ho’ who wants her husband’s money.

    Kidding. Please don’t delete this.

    Anyway. My mom was a SAHM, and while I didn’t always LOVE having her around, I am very grateful in retrospect. I wish that we lived in a society where more parents had the option of staying home with their kids if they wanted to.

    I’m a college junior, hopefully going to get a masters in something or other, and would love to stay home with my children one day. I think. We’ll see when that happens. If that happens. And I will never tell any one of my professors that because they would rip my uterus out with their bare hands and tell me I’m not fit to be a woman if I’m not going to use my education to climb the corporate ladder and stick it to the man.

    Because it’s a well known fact you have to be either an uneducated ingrate or a lazy whore to raise children full time.

  • Christinathemom

    Hey~

    Listen, my mom was both, stay at home and work in the world.

    I consider myself a pretty good person despite of my upbringing. I have a completely normal 18 year old with purple hair and 2 holes where the lip rings used to be. He is engaged to a girl with more metal in her body than the million dollar man.

    my six year old thinks she’s cinderell@ in real life and that’s okay by me. (being that she is blonde and blue eyed helps to pull that one off)

    I suppose anyone can find offense with any issue, given enough time to stew on it.

    In my experience, a lot of persons have too much time on their hands.

    love your site.. would buy the book if you ever wrote it and give it to all my friends as presents for every holiday.

    your awesome.. and your daughter will be one of the many in line to tell you so.

  • http://annejelynn.blogspot.com/ Annejelynn

    my mother had very little choice in the matter – she was terminally ill before I was ever born and didn’t have the stamina for fulltime anything. When I was a child, things weren’t too bad, in that she was very young and had an army of good friends and relatives to help her with me (her only child) before I joined all-day elementary school ranks… Thereafter, while I was at school, she was either at home resting, recouping from the morning routine with me, and trying to reserve her energy for when I would return home from school… or she was in the hospital and I stayed with friends or family, overnight. My father worked like a maniac to enable what had to be done – he carried us financially until she died in ’87. My mother could never do more than PT work and what she could, it was from home, always. But if she had been healthy? If she could have worked FT? She would have chosen to stay home – she loved being available for me and my playmates.

  • fixedupgirl

    My mother was married at seventeen, had three children by twenty-three and was divorced by twenty-five. She worked hard labor (road construction) for thirteen years so that neither my brother, sister, nor I could ever feel poor, malnourished, or unhappy. We always had beautiful Christmas mornings and travelled on family vacations. We knew not the extent of my mother’s sacrifices, but we knew we were happy personally. I believe she revelled in knowing her children never really knew disappointment. She did an amazing job sheltering us from the woes of a broken family and divorce.

    It was not until I entered college that I realized and appreciated everything she had sacrificed for herself, her dreams and goals, to ensure a good future for her children. She never had the option of becoming a stay-at-home mother, but she did everything in her power to keep smiles nipping at our faces.

    She finally graduated from college about two years ago, during my junior year at Ohio State. I was at her graduation and cheered as she received her BS in Finance. She now makes 80+ a year working for a medical equipment manufacturer.

    I believe, to her, all her hardwork has paid off. She has two daughters pursuing their dreams of becoming a doctor or lawyer, respectively, and a son that can support himself sufficiently. She was, and still is, a great mother.

    I admire you own perseverance in being a SAHM. I know not the experiences in raising a child, but Leta appears to make things far more interesting and happy in life.

    I hope my daughter (or son) in the future will do the same and display respect towards the personal choice of others. I think that would be my biggest hope: tolerance.

  • jessica

    My mom always worked. My dad used to tell this story about how she tried to stay home after my youngest sister was born, but she got too wrapped up in the lives of people on television…my dad would come home and she would fill him in on all the soaps. She didn’t last 3 months.

    I am a scientist, and now at the stage in my career where I have to decide whether to work for fame and tenure, or focus on children and family – both jobs equally demanding, but the latter has better perks, I think. My mom managed to have a high powered career and a happy family, but boy is she tired.
    It’s a tough decision to make, but I feel lucky that I can make that choice and not have it made for me.

    P.S.
    I love your writing, Heather. You are a fabulous story teller.

  • amandaMarie

    You go girl! I would LOVE to be able to stay at home with my child but our house hold requires both our incomes to “pay the rent”. My mom too was a working SAHM. She ran a day care out of a portion of our home. It was nice because she could be there when we were little as well as pay the bills. I love my kid, but don’t think I have the patience to deal with other people’s kids. I totally admired my mom for that. Keep up the good work and thank the gods you’ve been given this opportunity. Thanks for being a voice in a Fox News world!

  • aimee

    My mother was a full time worker/business owner. She worked 6 long days a week and was rarely able to attend our school events. We got sent to school when we were sick and if she did let us stay home we had to go be sick at her business in the break room. I do have to say she always made dinner though even if we did eat a little late. I know that the reason she worked so hard was to keep my brother and I in private schools, the best clothes, etc etc. In the grand scheme of things we all kmow that none of that really matters but she thought she was doing the best by us and I don’t condemn her for that. I wasn’t able to stay at home with my oldest child due to circumstances beyond my control but I did have the opportunity to stay home with my youngest and I am happy to make that choice. My hope for my daughter is that she will go to college and get her education and if she decides to have a family I hope that she will be in the position to make the decision to stay at home with her children.

  • http://childsplayx2.com childsplayx2

    My father died when I was six. My mother raised my younger brother and I all by herself. During that time she put herself through school, became a teacher and worked many other jobs to provide for us. I never questioned her need to go out in the world. I admired her strength. I still do.

    My daugther is 8 months old and I have spent a lot of that time thinking about how to support her in becoming a wonderful person and a wonderful woman. I think it’s up to her to decide what she wants to do. As a father who does not stay at home, I can see the allure of staying home and watching your children blossom each day – instead of getting the recap at the end of the day.

    I want my daughter to be educated – I think that’s important – but teaching her child her ABC’s and why the sky is blue can be more important than whatever you do punching a clock every day.

    Heather, thanks for opening the comments on this. It’s great reading some of the responses. It’s also cool to see the little scroll button the right shoot up multiple times as I tried scrolling past 1200 messages! =)

  • Christinathemom

    Hey~

    Listen, my mom was both, stay at home and work in the world.

    I consider myself a pretty good person despite of my upbringing. I have a completely normal 18 year old with purple hair and 2 holes where the lip rings used to be. He is engaged to a girl with more metal in her body than the million dollar man.

    my six year old thinks she’s cinderell@ in real life and that’s okay by me. (being that she is blonde and blue eyed helps to pull that one off)

    I suppose anyone can find offense with any issue, given enough time to stew on it.

    In my experience, a lot of persons have too much time on their hands.

    love your site.. would buy the book if you ever wrote it and give it to all my friends as presents for every holiday.

    your awesome.. and your daugter will be one of the many in line to tell you so.

  • http://livejournal.com/users/mightylaur Laur

    My mother was working as a corporate secretary when I was born, in 1985. She chose to stay home with me, and she and my father certainly didn’t have the luxury to. It was a personal choice, but there has never been a day that goes by that I am not grateful that there was someone waiting for me from the bus stop after school, who hugged me and wanted to know about my day.

    My mother went back to work when I was 11 and my brother was 9. She was the secretary at my middle school, and started on my first day of sixth grade.

    My father worked constantly throughout my childhood, traveling up to 30 weeks a year, and because of this, my relationship was strained until I was 16, when I finally pulled my head out of my ass after that obligatory teenage angst phase.

    I’m now attending a rather elite private women’s college. I took a seminar in women’s studies my freshman year, and we talked about the concept of working mothers vs. stay at home mothers. To my surprise, I was the only person in the fifteen person class who was not raised by a nanny. These girls justified their upbringing by reciting their mothers impressive resumes and professional accomplishments, and how that served as inspiration to them. My mom may not have a Ph.D. in microbiology, and she hasn’t written a book, but she has inspired me every day for the past twenty years. She made a choice, a choice not everyone agrees with, but it worked for her, and I am eternally grateful and in awe of her. Heather, one day I know that Leta will say the same to you.

  • Amber

    My mom stayed at home until I was in high school. It was really hard on me when she went to work which suprised us both because I couldn’t wait to get rid of her. She went to night school when I was little and earned her degree. She chose to stay at home with me and I thank her for that decision everyday.

    I unfortunately have not gotten my degree. Bad stuff happened and I left school but I will be going back in the next year. I love staying at home with my son. I did work for 5 months but it wasn’t worth it. Nothing compares to watching your child grow and learn on a daily basis.

    P.S. I love your site!

  • carmen

    Heather,

    My mom is an educated woman (bachelors and masters in agricultural sciences) and she was a SAHM until I was in grade 11. When I was younger I wasn’t aware that other kids didn’t get the opportunity I did, and in hindsight, realize just how lucky I was. I asked my mom today why exactly she stayed at home, and she said her decision came from (emotionally) not being able to send us to daycare, (and left out the extreme paranoia concerning her children part…). Some of my earliest memories are of me and my mom painting in my kitchen; something I still consider pretty special.

    However, as a very young kid I had some serious separation anxiety which may or may not have been a result of being used to my mom being there 24/7. Eventually preschool involved sprinkleing [make-believe] invisible dust on my head in order to make me let go of the death grip I had on my mom’s leg…(I didn’t intend that to be a horror story!)

    Nowadays a lot of people tell me that I’m EXACTLY like my mother, and it always makes me smile. I think that by being a SAHM, you are constantly (possibly subconciously) influencing your kid; depending on how you look at it, that can be good or bad. I think what’s important to realize here is that every mom/dad should have the right to a judgement-free decision on what to do in their life (even if this isn’t always the case).

    Your questions caused me to do a lot of reflecting today and I sincerely believe that my strong sense-of-self can be directly related to the strength and support I saw in my mother, every single day.

    If I am lucky enough to be able to choose to work or bring up my kids as a SAHM, I’ll choose the latter. My boyfriend has also expressed his desires to be a SAHD, so who knows, maybe one day we’ll be a SAHT (shit ass ho team).

    Hopefully opening the comments has been benificial and free of negativity.

  • 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.

  • http://www.booshay.blogspot.com Miz_Booshay

    Dear Heather,

    I grew up in a family of nine. My mother stayed home. She loved her children and it was apparent to everyone. Because of her love for us, I always wanted to be a mother.

    I do stay home with my children. I even homeschool them :o )

    The only thing I would change is that my parents died in a car accident when I was 16. I would love to have had my mother with me thru my adult years. I miss her love and laughter and joy. I wish she had seen us grow up…and seen all of her grandbabies.

    I guess losing your parents at a very young age puts things in perspective…
    I will never regret the time I have given to my children.

  • http://childsplayx2.com childsplayx2

    My father died when I was six. My mother raised my younger brother and I all by herself. During that time she put herself through school, became a teacher and worked many other jobs to provide for us. I never questioned her need to go out in the world. I admired her strength. I still do.

    My daugther is 8 months old and I have spent a lot of that time thinking about how to support her in becoming a wonderful person and a wonderful woman. I think it’s up to her to decide what she wants to do. As a father who does not stay at home, I can see the allure of staying home and watching your children blossom each day – instead of getting the recap at the end of the day.

    I want my daughter to be educated – I think that’s important – but teaching her child her ABC’s and why the sky is blue can be more important than whatever you do punching a clock every day.

    Heather, thanks for opening the comments on this. It’s great reading some of the responses. It’s also cool to see the little scroll button the right shoot up multiple times as I tries scrolling past 1200 messages! =)

  • tryshuffleboard

    My mom was a single mom who did not have a choice about staying home; she needed the income. There are three of us girls who are her offspring. My older sister worked for the longest time because she was absolutely committed to having a career in case she ever ended up single. She’s in a really solid marriage, and now her two sons are almost grown (one in college) and she’s at home, but without kids much at home. My younger sister has two kids and a home based business with her husband, so she sees a lot of her kids, and it’s been great for all of them. I work part time and have three daughters, all home a few more years. I teach at a community college and am blessed with only having to work a few hours all during their school day. I take summers off. This was my *choice* because I like teaching and I like having a job. I don’t make enough money for it to be about the money. Not everyone will see staying home as a great choice, but I agree that it’s a blessing to have a choice.

    What really burns my toast is the silly notion that it has to be one way or the other – everyone “should” work or everyone “should” stay home. Nonsense. Everyone should be lucky enough to be able to pick what they want, and there is no one size fits all solution. Nor are SAHMs in opposition to working moms. I made my choice, but I defend any mother’s right to make a different one.

  • Alison

    HI Heather — My mom was a SAHM until my dad divorced her — not her idea — and then she went back to work as a school nurse. So, you can imagine, it was hard to figure out how to skip school when she had access to the absentee list… After I got over the stigma of their divorce (if only it had been, say, three or four years later, when EVERYONE’s parents were getting divorced…) I actually liked her working. My sisters and I became very self-sufficient, and I think that has served me well in later years.

    So, naturally, when it came time to figure out how to raise our kids, we did the only thing that made sense — my husband stayed home full time. SAHD, or shit ass ‘ho dick, to paraphrase your own site! It worked well for us, and my two kids — now teens in high school — say that they really liked having their dad at home. They have really close relationships with him, and with me, and with each other. It’s pretty nice.

    What do I hope for my kids? That they are blessed with choices, and that they feel empowered to make them. And, when they make the wrong ones, that they have the strength and courage to do it over.

    That and, of course, that they worship me.

    BTW, I think you’re doing a wonderful job as a mom. I know it’s hard — but you’re definitely going to make it, sister.

  • http://somethingalways.blogspot.com shannon

    from 0-5, my mom stayed at home with my brothers and I. Then my dad walked out on us and my mom, who only had a high school education went to night school for years to work in the computer industry (this was early 80s).

    She died 10 years ago but I was proud she got a degree and had a successful career. I hope when I have kids I can stay home but I doubt that will happen because where I live it’s horribly overpriced and you can’t live on one income like the folks in Nebraska (where I’m originally from).

  • http://www.dykstraupdates.blogspot.com Angella

    Wow, I’m happy if I get more than 10 comments…
    My mom worked, because my dad left and she had to. But she kept working even after she remarried. I don’t think she would have thrived on being a SAHM like I do. I really don’t feel I missed out on anything, because she would work a couple of days & then be off for a couple of days, and we went camping every second weekend, because it would always be a long weekend for her. And half of the time, she was home when we came home from school.
    I’m similar to you, in that I choose to work from home. Yes, I CHOOSE. Why? Because I’m lucky enough to do what I LOVE, and also be able to do it from home. As does my husband. Plus, where else can you stay in your pj’s all work day if you want to?
    It also allows me to be entertained all day by my two boys. Who I hope grow up to be able to do what they love. And I’m pregnant with a third, and son or daughter, I hope that they, too, get to do what they want.
    Great post. I’m in full agreement. I’m guessing professor Linda either doesn’t have kids, or doesn’t have a maternal instinct, and maybe shouldn’t have them.
    Kind of like many famous feminists who write books on how to raise your kids, even though they’ve never had kids of their OWN. ‘nuf said.

  • arushingmd

    My mom did it all at one time or another. Work, stay home, go to school, work some more. I know she would have liked to be around more than she was, but she was a single mom and had me when she was 16. She did marry (more than once) and one of those times she did the SAHM thing. In retrospect, it was obvious she married for the security and it just didn’t make anyone happy. I’ll take the frazzled, working version of her anyday. She felt empowered when she was the one taking care of us and I respected her for it.

    My situation is much different, I am able to stay home because I have a wonderful husband who supports me and our decision and we are all happier for it. My old boss might argue I am depriving the world of something, but that’s just because he’s having trouble replacing me. I think I am providing the world with something, a happy, well adjusted child.

    If I have a daughter someday, I hope she gets a world class education and uses it in whatever way she chooses. Being a mom IS a job and I think it is a valid career path to choose, not the absence of one.

  • erinh

    Wow, does this topic hit home with me. I should probably start out by saying that I am 34 and have an 11-month-old daughter. I always wanted to go back to work and I did so and I am happy that I did, but it is much harder than I ever imagined. I’m lucky that my employer recently allowed me to go to a 4-day schedule so that I can spend more time with my daughter.

    That said, my mother worked part-time in social services until I was 3 and my sister was born. She then stayed home until I was 13, although for several years during that time she also was the daycare person for my 2 younger cousins, who came to our house every day. I think her reason for going back to work was partly financial and partly that she wanted to get back into the work world.

    But what I saw her go through when she went back to work was one reason that I would never stay home full-time. She had a really tough time getting a fulfilling job that paid decently. She was trying to re-enter the job market in the mid- to late-80s, so in addition to the long gap on her resume she was hampered by not knowing anything about computers. She had a few low-paying jobs that she just hated, and finally ended up spending a few years as teacher’s aide, which she liked but paid very, very poorly. Finally, *8 years* after she went back into the job market she was able to get a job that was related to her background and education, and paid halfway decently. So I saw her go through that and realized that if you leave the working world and then later need or want to go back (and you might think that you will never go back, but what if things change? What if your spouse dies, or you get divorced, or your spouse gets laid off or wants to go into something that pays less well, or you find yourself very unfulfilled when your kids are older and don’t need you as much), it can be very very tough, and I want to avoid that scenario myself.

    On the other hand, until I had a baby myself I never understood how tough it can be to stay at home. I really appreciate now what she did for me and my sister by being there for us. I think we would also have turned out well if she worked outside the home, but it would have been a different experience.

    What I think is really unusual though for their generation is that both my grandmothers worked. That’s right, in the 1950s and ’60s my grandmothers were working mothers. One grandmother worked at least part-time as a secretary because the family needed the money. And my other grandmother worked full-time and had 8 kids – yes that’s EIGHT kids – because she and my grandfather owned their own very successful business. She was the bookkeeper and office manager and a lot more for their business. She worked out of an office in their house, so she was home with the kids but always working. I would often go over to her house after school and she would usually be working in her office while we played or watched TV. I asked her once recently if she ever took a maternity leave and she said she couldn’t because there was no one else to do the work. She said, “I did work a lot of nights during that time.” Yikes. She is one of my heroes. But I do have the impression – although she would never come right out and say it- is that having a mother that worked so much, even if it was at home, was hard on my own mother. And that may have influenced her decision to stay home with us when we were young.

    Now what do I hope my daughter does? I hope that she has some sort of choice. I hope employers are more flexible and it’s easier to find good daycare when she a child. I hope she is not trapped into having no choice because of her financial situation. I couldn’t afford to stay home even if I wanted to, and I could just barely afford the pay cut from going to a 4-day work schedule. I think I would be a little concerned if she decided to stay home full-time without some sort of work because I’m afraid it would limit her options later on.

    I read a long article by Linda Hirshman and I was struck by how much she just doesn’t get what it’s like to have a young child. It’s obvious that she doesn’t have kids – I believe she mentioned it at one point in the article. Now, I realized when I was home on maternity leave that I am not cut out for staying home full-time. I need more structure, more stimulation, and more adult interaction than I would get staying at home. On the other hand, what I would really prefer is working 3 days. Because I don’t think that the Linda Hirshmans realize how little time you get to spend with your child during the week when you work full-time. I am extremely lucky because my company has a daycare on site so I can see my daughter at lunchtime. But my daughter wakes up at 6:30, I drop her off at 8, work till 5, leave daycare at 5:20, get home between 5:50 and 6, and she goes to bed between 7 and 7:30. Now because of that I make every minute of the time I do spend with her count, especially on the weekends. But I felt like Linda Hirshman was focusing on this idea that “women don’t work because men don’t do their fair share of housework and childcare and they don’t make as much money as men” and she was totally missing the point that it is damned hard to spend so much time away from your young child. You just miss them.

    Heather, congratulations on your 5-year anniversary. I love reading your site because I can relate to so much of what you write. Thanks!

  • girlpopx

    My daughter is about the same age, maybe a little older than Leta, and you are raising her by staying at home, and I am raising mine while working full time. I think both girls will grow up perfectly happy, healthy, and intelligent, because their mothers encourage independence and free thinking, unlike the above mentioned author, who is putting out a disgusting idea based on her disgusting opinions. I understand that she is entitled to free speech, but fuck, at least have something worth hearing.
    PS – You’re awesome.

  • Ann

    I am almost old enough to be your mother. I am the oldest of four. My mother had four children under the age of four by the time she was 24 years old.

    When the youngest went to school, my mother almost immediately went to work part-time. She did clerical work. She worked for the money. As we got older, she worked full-time, for the money, and then, for the benefits.

    I started working part-time when I was 16. As an adult, I have pretty much always worked, and was rarely not working by choice. I was a single parent off and on for over ten years, and I preferred to live in a house with my kids vs. a cardboard box.

    I didn’t finish college. Heck, it was the 70′s – I barely started. I’m not unintelligent, though, so I’ve been able to work my way into IT stuff, and am now paid pretty well.

    I work for three reasons: for the money, for the money, and for the money. The Mormons did a real number on me when I was a believer, and I felt incredibly guilty about “leaving my children for other people to raise.” Because, you know, I thought it would be good for my kids to be able to eat. Selfish of me. I’m mostly over it now.

    I think coming from a working-class background gave me a good work ethic (when I wasn’t getting high) and a healthy respect for the purpose of work: income.

  • http://www.pilgrimgirl.blogspot.com pilgrimgirl

    My Mom stayed home and raised her 5(!) kids until we were all in school. Then she went back to school and got her master’s degree and eventually went to work full-time.

    I’m following in her footsteps. I stayed at home with my kids until my youngest started kindergarten and now I’m working on my PhD. I go to class while they’re at school and when they get home we do sit around doing our homework together. I think I have the coolest life ever!

    I hope that my daughter will have the option to stay home with her children if she chooses to. But I also hope that she’ll have the freedom (both social and financial) to make any choice that she’d like to. I don’t want her to feel that being a SAHM is a cop-out!

    IMO, being a fulltime Mom is often just a temporary thing–just those years until the kids are in school. It isn’t an all-or-nothing decision.

  • John

    270 comments. Holy crap.

    Anyways, to answer your question. My mother worked for the first several years of my life. Once she got pregnant with my little brother, the doctor put her on bed rest for the last few months of pregnancy.

    After the birth, she went back to work for a little while, but then became a stay at home mom. Once we moved, though, and both my little brother and I were old enough, she took a job at one of the local elemtary schools to keep her busy.

    When I look back on things, however, I think she took the job she did not because she was bored or anything, but because she knew that her and my father would eventually get a divorce. After the split, she took on another part time job. While I didn’t have either of my parents home a lot, I think that was beneficial to me. I missed out on some positives of having a stay at home parent, but I gained a lot of positives by having two working parents.

    Either which way, you’re right. It’s a decision that must be made by the individual. It’s silly to think that by taking care of your child you are hindering the feminist movement.

    And if you ARE hindering them, kudos to you. That’s some power.

    AND happy anniversary. You should be very proud of yourself and everything you have accomplished.

  • Jessica

    Hi Heather,
    I love your site! I’ve been completely addicted for almost 2 years now. Thank you so much for everything you’ve shared about yourself. You have no idea how much its helped me. Every wonderful thing anyone’s ever said to you about dooce.com, let me just say, “ditto”…

    My mother stayed home with me and my older sister until I was in third grade. My father worked a 9-5. My mother had been an elementary school teacher before she had us, and when she returned to work outside the home, she became a substitute teacher in our school until she found a permanent teaching job a few years later. I am glad she stayed home as long as she did. There were kids on my school bus who got on at this other kid’s house because his mom ran a before-and-after school daycare for kids whose parents worked. I never envied them. My mom made my lunch every day and put little “Love you” notes in with it (I loved that!). She was there to put me on the school bus every morning, and she chaperoned all the school field trips, and never missed anything. I can’t think of anyone else’s mom who chaperoned more field trips than my mom…

    My mother often says she feels like she failed as a mother in so many ways. If I could change one thing, I would’ve wanted my mother to have less self-doubt in her abilities as a mother (and what she accomplished as a mother). I think she would’ve enjoyed the experience a lot more, rather than always worrying that she wasn’t “super-mom” (whatever that means). I suffer from the same inclination to compare myself to others and occasionally buy into the propaganda of what a good parent is supposed to be, but I want to try to avoid that when I’m a mom. I always remind her that neither my sister nor I think she was anything less than exceptional as a mother, and we cherish the time we got to spend with her during those years. I could not have felt more loved. And for the record, I think my sister and I both turned out well. We have great relationships with our parents to this day.

    I don’t have any children yet, but I think if we can swing it financially, I want to stay home with them at least until they’re in school all day. Sure, I have goals I’d be happy to accomplish in my current work situation, but I wouldn’t see becoming a SAHM as anything more than a change of industry. Since I’m hovering around that time when we’re actually going to start a family (married 2 1/2 years, and turning 28 yrs old on Thursday), sometimes its weird to think that even if that promotion is just one year away or whatever, just as I get to that point, I’ll be giving my notice and moving on to this motherhood challenge.

    To give you the flip-side of it, my husband had a stay-at-home dad (sort of) during his early childhood. His father worked 3rd shift for a few years, so he was home all day. My mother-in-law was a teacher. (There were grandparents living next door helping out too.) It worked well for them. I love that my husband doesn’t have any preconceptions about who is responsible for child-rearing full-time. He’s just as willing to do it as I am. But since he has the earning potential which would allow us to live comfortably on one income, its most likely going to be me that stays home. But it has nothing to do with me being a woman. We just agree that we want one of us to be home full-time when the kids are little.

    If I have a daughter, I hope she grows up to be happy. Period.

    Take care,
    Jessica :)

    P.S. This will make you laugh: I found this so random, but my mother once told me that if she could do it all over again, she’d let us ride the horses outside the grocery store more (y’know, the mechanical ones that cost 25 cents). She actually feels bad that she said “no” so often because she was in a hurry. “It would’ve only taken 3 extra minutes,” she said. I don’t think I had ever appreciated my mother more than in that moment that she said that to me. That lesson will stay with me FOREVER.

  • Fiona

    I was fortunate enough to have a SAHM, and now I am continuing the tradition. I went to college, was pregnant just after Graduating with honors (gotta watch those celebration parties), worked off and on for a few years, and now I happily choose to stay home. Both of my sisters work, one of them works 2 jobs, to support their husbands and kids, and both have told me time and again how lucky I am to be able to stay at home with my daughters. My girls know how fortunate they are that Mom is home with them, there’s no daycare to deal with, homework and dinner are done at a decent hour, but they also know I am here by choice and they will be able to make their own choice when the time comes. We encourage college, but it will ultimately be up to them, if that is what they want. Our home is happy and none of us would have it any other way.

    I have billed myself as an “Educated Mommy” for years and I don’t feel that staying home is a cop out. This job is just as hard, if not harder than, a traditional job. If anything, my education helps keep the house running, finances straight, with homework. This lifestyle choice also enables me to have time with my girls, for seeing all those firsts, because they are only young once, and not for very long. Nothing beats seeing the world through the eyes of your kids…..they have an incredible and innocent perspective on things.

    Thanks for all you do Heather. Keep up the awesome work. Leta is very lucky to have you and Jon as her parents; the world better watch out, because with your guidance, she is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

  • DesiDancer

    Happy Anniversary, Heather! It’s fortuitious that you mention this today; it was on my mind in the shower today…

    I started to type out my comment, but then I realized that I was so much more engrossed in reading everyone else’s comments. -I just wanted to say thanks for opening the topic, and thanks to everyone who commented. This has been a discussion in our home lately and I am so fortunate to be able to gain insights from all 900+ comments here :)

    wishing sweetness and dreams to moms and daughters everywhere!

  • C

    Man, I should have posted when there were only 80 comments.

    In any case, my mom stayed at home with us until we were about 10 and went back to work. I loved seeing her everyday. But I loved seeing her just as much when she came home from work at the same time everyday, in time for dinner with us.

    I am one of those “feminists” and I have nothing but support for SAHMs. I think the thing that might be missing in this conversation is mention of fathers. You and Jon have fashioned a lifestyle that allows you both to raise your child with a lot of love and without sacrificing your own livelihoods. I wish that my father had been that involved in my childhood–it definitely appeared to me that his job was more important to him than we were.

    It’s about quality, not quantity. My hope for my own (future) kids is that my partner and I will be able to have a meal together, as a family, everyday. It doesn’t matter to me if circumstances require the kids to be in day care all day because my partner and I want to/have to work. What matters is that we cultivate a shared home life that’s secure and loving.

    I don’t want to put words in Hirshman’s mouth, but I think that some of the concern about women not working is women’s views and voices and talents are thus eliminated from a lot of fields–politics, corporate, healthcare, military, etc. I think it’s wonderful that you have been able to share your talents and remain a force in the tech/creative world. I would find it sad if gender stereotypes are reinforced because women dropped out of the workforce in drastic numbers. I want brilliant women and driven women to be given the chance to move this country forward or fuck it up royally. So, the greater the pool of women out there working and networking and getting paid to do these things, the better in my view.

  • Suzanne

    I had the opposite experience of what many here have posted. My mother worked for the first nine years of my life, and then she became a stay-at-home mother. The transition was sharp. We moved from one coast to the other, and both of my parents changed positions, all at once.

    I remember my Working Mom as vivacious, happy, thin, and pretty. She wore colorful dresses, with jewelry, make-up, and coifed hair. She smiled. She laughed. She read interesting books. She was the life of the party.

    My Stay-At-Home Mom, in contrast, had a martyr complex and a double chin. She quit wearing nice clothes, since nobody saw her all day except for the kids (and she outgrew all of the old ones). Her conversations revolved around what was on Oprah. She became sullen, grumpy, and finally, depressed. I did everything I could to avoid her, and became self-reliant at a very young age.

    Finally, after I was out of the house, she sought help and started taking anti-depressants. I know that depression is a disease, but to this day, I associate it with staying at home with the kids. And I can’t help but wonder if my mother wouldn’t have gone through that decade of depression if she didn’t choose to stay at home.

  • kimmie

    Hi Heather! My mom worked outside the home the entire time I was growing up. She either worked for other companies or for my dad’s company. Then they divorced and she has worked as an AR accountant pretty much ever since.

    Praise God my mom did not do the stay-at-home thing with me. I’m 39 and I guess it was on the new side to have a mom that worked completely fulltime. But I’d be much more neurotic if she’d been in my life more. If I hadn’t had an escape from her. She might actually have succeeded in killing herself from the stress of being a mom more than she was.

    I have made the choice, like you, to work at home to be a pseudo SAHM. I have an office that I can go to – I own my own company with a partner. He works in the office and I work at home. I have an MS in engineering. The difference between us is that I send my children away during the day. My son is in kindergarten and my daughter just turned 3. She goes to mothers day out at two different churches and a friend also keeps her two afternoons a week. If I had to be with my children more I’d lose it. I’m just not good at it.

    But working at home gives me freedom to choose when I do have the emotional energy to be around them and not ruin them. I’m glad I have this option. I would not have had children had I thought I’d have to work 8-5 and have my kids in care from 7-6. I need the choice of when to be with them. BOY am I SPOILED!

    Thank goodness for my degrees, for my employment, for my partner, for my husband, for my antidepressants, and for my children. and for dooce.

  • Jean

    I hope you find my comment in this sea of fans you have. I’d love for you to know the effect you, your family, and this blog has had on my life.

    I live in Los Angeles, but I’m from Missouri. About a year ago I started to feel…oddly maternal. Like I needed to get the hell out of the smog and back to a place with neighborhoods and grass and parents pulling their kids in wagons. I always knew I wanted children, and I always knew I didn’t want to raise them in Los Angeles, but I never acted on it.

    Then one day (not sure- six or seven months ago) I saw a picture you put up of Leta sitting on your front steps. I could tell the sun was shining and the picture was so clear I could almost smell the fresh air. In an instant I knew that I had to move away from here, and to someplace where my children will someday be able to sit in the yard, and play with the dog.

    I’m leaving my big city career behind and I’m moving back to Missouri in May of this year, and I’m thrilled about it.

    And another middle finger wag at Linda Hirshman- In my ideal world I would be a stay home too. Fingers crossed. ;o)

    Thanks Heather, for all of it.

  • AggieJan08

    Howdy! As a 19-year-old college sophomore who has met the man she will marry following graduation and start a family with sometime thereafter,I’ve discussed this topic many times with my boyfriend.
    Growing up I was fortunate enough to live in a household with both of my parents. Their jobs have been rather flexible and accomodating to family life. My mom stayed at home with my brother and I until we were both in elementary school, when she went back to work as a nurse part-time. My father worked out of the home since I was about 7 years old.
    My boyfriend was raised in a similar household environment, so our views on the subject of stay-at-home moms are pretty much the same. His goal, post-graduation, is to start a career that will (financially) allow me the CHOICE to stay at home with our future children. Since I’ve seen the benefits of having a stable homelife with a stay-at-home mom first- hand,as well as from my studies as part of my major, I hope I will be able to stay at home with the kids.
    My parents have always supported me and encouraged me to do whatever my heart is put into. Naturally, I will do the same for daughters.

  • http://www.blisteredavalon.com April-Lyn Caouette

    Until I was in high school, my mother worked. She was overworked, always stressed, grumpy and unhappy. When she and my father first married, I don’t think she particularly had the choice – if they wanted a house, she had to work. At some point that changed, though, and when she was laid off, she decided to not go back to work. She’s struggled with this, too, but I think that she made the right choice – it gave her the option to volunteer and become more involved in my younger brother’s life than she ever was able to be with mine.

    I was actually thinking about this issue just this morning, wondering if I wouldn’t be happier being a stay-at-home housewife, when I do get married. I think I might enjoy the challenge of managing a household. And I consider myself a feminist, very much so. Now that women have the choice to work, they’re not allowed to choose the alternative? What a bunch of bullshit. How is that progress?

    When I have daughters, I hope they will do whatever makes them happy and fulfilled, whether that involves making lots of money or making no money at all.

  • http://makearteveryday.blogspot.com/ marcilambert

    my mom worked. my step-mom stayed home. i always thought i would work and i didn’t think it was a bad thing that either mom did what they did.

    after i had my first daughter, i went back to work. a few months later my husband asked me what i would prefer (work v. home) if money weren’t the issue. i said stay home.

    i spent months researching how i could cut back on expenses so that i could stay home, and quit when my daughter was 15 months. i did start doing freelance work in my field, and i could not have stopped fulltime work without that income.

    now i have two daughters (almost 3 and 5) and i still do freelance work from home. i can’t imagine working fulltime, and don’t plan to until the youngest goes to college. and i’m a pretty hardcore feminist. i don’t feel i’m a cop out — this situation works for our family. if i only measured myself by how much money i earn, then this would be the wrong choice.

    my wish for my daughters is that they will get life-expanding educations, experience the working world, have families and then figure out what is right for them.

  • Alisonmh

    The Mommy Wars, live, right here on Dooce…

    I just knew I shouldn’t have read through the comments, but curiousity killed the cat and I now I’m steamed ;/ These comments themselves represent this great divide between the SAHM/WAHM vs the full-time working mom.

    Sigh.

    Beth stated “I want to raise my kids, not a babysitter”. If you think daycare = babysitting, you’re right, it’s not for you! A daycare provider assists the PARENT in child rearing, and it’s a very important job.

    Kirsten in CO said “I believe that any family willing to make serious sacrifices can have a stay-at-home.”

    Shanna said “SAHM’s rule IMO :) ”.

    I think I am most steamed w/Kirsten’s comment. EVEN IF I WANTED TO, I COULD NOT STAY HOME…I owe $150K for SCHOOL…and you can’t discharge this debt through bankruptcy…only via DEATH (literally)- no one paid for my education, I did. Do I regret that no? Do I want to spend more time w/my son? OF COURSE…but in addition to the fact that I *have* to work, I want to work (which also goes to someone’s else’s comment that not everyone should stay home b/c they wouldn’t be good at it? Thus implying the SAHM’s are better suited for parenthood? WTH?) Should I not have gone to college, graduate school and law school? I don’t regret my choices…

    To say I become unglued when privileged (and probably white) folk say they make sacrifices…and seem to look down upon other’s work…it’s SO hypocritical!

    Another layer of this whole crazy topic is race & culture. If you come from a family where it’s an HONOR to go to college (whether you can afford it or not) and you’re the first *whatever* in the family; these are factors to consider too.

    Where is the love for full-time working moms !!?!!! I don’t crap on SAHM’s at all, all’s I ask for is the same in return.

  • Morgan Kent

    My mom is a psychiatric social worker so she is at home, at the mall and at work every other hour. When I was in elementary and middle school she worked full time and my sisters and I were left in the care of babysitters after school. I never felt neglected or really thought about it, but once she got her new job I realized how much I had missed having her around the house. She worked out of choice, but also earned her Master’s degree with my 2 sisters and I all under the age of 6. I plan to stay at home with my kids for the first few years as long as it’s financially possible, and I would hope that my daughters, OR sons, would exercise their right to choose whether they stay home or put their education to action in the business world. Love your site,
    MK
    loosegrip.blogspot.com

  • Karen

    My mom did a little of both during my growing up years depending on our ages and our family’s financial situation. While I’m sure that she probably hoped that her daughters would stay home with their children she has always encouraged us to do what is best for ourselves and families.

    I have a degree in social work and practiced for three years before having my first child. Staying at home was a welcome relief from the job stress and I’ve had no desire to go back. I feel like I’ve enjoyed the best of both worlds in the timing that was right for me.

    Holy freaking wow! I’m commenting on Dooce! Hi mom!

  • Lobsterchick

    My mom stayed home, not because she had a choice, but because it was the way it was done. She had a high school education, worked before she and my dad had kids, then stayed at home. She babysat inside the home, which is, in my opinion, still staying home. When I was in high school, in my “I hate my mother” phase, I scorned her for this. I had big plans, and anyone who didn’t have similar plans just SUCKED.

    Then I saw my sister have nervous breakdown after nervous breakdown. Four, at last count. She is mentally ill, but exacerbating that fact is some deep need in her to not only manage the lives of her three children but keep an outside job while doing it. We have to, on a regular basis, talk her down from trying to get YET ANOTHER part-time job. It’s frustrating, because when she falls down, her husband leaves the kids with family and tells them that their mom is “tired.” We tell them the truth, because we always have, and because we understand mental illness better than he does. The youngest kid is 10, and they’re old enough to know. If they’re old enough to know their being fed a line, they’re old enough to know the truth.

    When we explain explain explain why she shouldn’t feel obligated to have a job, we tell her this: Any one of us (me, included, though I don’t yet have kids) would feel lucky if we had a husband who made enough money for us to stay home with our kids. She shouldn’t throw away what others would be grateful for, especially since it puts her and her kids’ health at risk.

    That said: The Women’s Movement was about not letting others make choices for us. It wasn’t about putting outselves in charge and trying to make decisions for other people. Real feminists know that the movement was about the choice (a lesson that was really hard for me to learn when faced with the news that my 18-year-old niece wants to be a nun), not fitting into a mold. I want my daughters to do whatever makes them happy. Even (gritted teeth) if it means becoming a nun.