Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including Denise Cortes's personal reflections on the merits of being a stay-at-home mom.
I've had the good fortune of staying home with my children since I had my first bouncing baby boy almost 16 years ago. When he was 6 months old, the questions surrounding my return to the workforce started buzzing in my ear.
Surely you didn't want to waste your college education (which, ironically, I was still paying for).
Isn't it time to start contributing to the family finances? It's not fair to your husband.
You're "too smart" to just stay home all day.
Aren't you bored?
Your baby is so young, he won't notice you're gone all day.
I distinctly recall the feeling that I was being pushed into something I didn't want to do — not by my husband, but by society in general. Plain and simple, I didn't want to go back to work yet. The way I saw it, I already had a job — taking care of my baby! Who would look after him the way I did? Who would love him the only way a mother could? Who could I possibly trust to do this job — the job I was certain was mine and mine alone.
My "problem" was solved when I discovered I was pregnant again. My sons were a mere 15 months apart. And then almost two years after that, I had a third son. I guess by that time, I had officially had a "job" — taking care of three babies under the age of three. No one asked me about going back to work after that. I promptly turned in my Feminist card, took off my shoes and kept popping the babies out. Indeed, I did just that. It was never easy — being home day after day and living on a shoe-string budget.
Keep reading to learn more about Denise's internal conflicts about being a stay-at-home mom.
After reading an article titled, Why is it suddenly taboo to say mother should stay home with their babies? I was struck by the amount of vehemence the author said she received for her stance that moms should take time to stay home with their babies. Every woman's situation is different, and I would never cast judgement on working mothers because we are all working mothers, but I loved the sentiment in this quote:
"Despite the maelstrom of criticism I have received, my thoughts aren't anti-women. I'm not anti-women working. I'm not anti-men, or anti-parent — or even anti-feminist. I am one thing: entirely pro-child."
I grew up with a stay at home mom who found herself getting a divorce when I was seven years old. My idyllic family life was turned upside down and I spent the rest of my childhood with a mother who wasn't thrown back into the workforce. It was never the same. It wasn't bad, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the same. Like the author of the quoted post, I didn't want the same for my children. That experience definitely shaped my choices when I became a mother.
I still consider myself a stay at home mom, even though I work from home teaching art, creating art, and writing. I don't regret my choices over the years. But now, more than ever, I completely understand the sacrifices of being a working mom. The deadlines, the long hours, the traveling, the piles of unfolded laundry everywhere — it's difficult. I definitely couldn't have managed it when my children were very young.
Every year as my children mature and grow, I feel more confident about taking on more things outside of the home. However, first and foremost, my vocation will always be "mother."
— Denise Cortes