When I pictured my future, I never saw myself having a career outside of the home. My greatest aspiration was to be a SAHM (sounds corny, I know.) Unfortunately, like any aspiration in life, it has come with its share of challenges and insecurities along the way.
I always go back to the age-old question: Can women have it all? Here’s a better question: Is it okay to not want it all? Maybe for women truly “having it all” means that they have the choice to pick the path that’s best for themselves and their families.
I have to admit – I’m one of those women. I’m a mom who doesn’t want it all. I fully acknowledge that I function better when I can put most of my energy into one big thing, and for me, that’s my kids.
That doesn’t take away from the women out there that choose to have it all — raising kids, having a career, and taking on all of the responsibilities of a matriarch in general. Hats off to the ladies out there doing just that!
But let’s not forget about the moms who made a different choice. I tip my hat to the women who chose to put their own career aspirations aside to be a stay at home mom, because it was the best financial option for their family. I also commend the women whose aspirations were to have a family and give their all to help raise their children.
This article isn’t called “Empowering Women to Choose Their Own Destiny” (although maybe it should be). The reality is that even in 2019, there is still a stigma that comes with being a SAHM. I’ve seen it reflected in society. I’ve experienced it personally. I’ll admit it – I’ve even placed it on myself. I went back to work part-time so I didn’t feel like I didn’t have any aspirations in life when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”
When I was in college for Early Childhood Education, it was drilled into us that we would have a full career of teaching. We were trained and taught everything there was to know in education — except for the reality of life.
We never talked about what happens when you have children, how to handle maternity leave, the pros and cons of taking a sabbatical or leaving the profession to raise your family.
The expectation was that you would teach for 30 or more years and then retire. The pressure was immense. When I became pregnant, I didn’t feel like it was okay to resign from my career, but with a high-risk twins pregnancy, I knew it was for the best.
And that was just my undergraduate experience in my early twenties. Fast forward to today: I’m still encountering people down-grading women because, “All they do is stay home”.
Recently, a mom posted in a Facebook group how hurt she was from comments her friends made about her, “just sitting at home all day and not having to go and work.” A young girl giving me a manicure once commented that “it must be nice to sit at home and just order off Amazon all day”. Every mother knows that that is not the case, but that perception is still out there. WHY?!
Oh, and did we even mention the special circumstances that come with being parents of multiples? Having two at once throws a wrench into your financials, living situation, and so much more. These are realities that parents of singleton children just aren’t aware of.
In many cases, we have high-risk pregnancies, NICU babies, and children that require some sort of early intervention or additional medical services, like my son. We won’t even mention the cost of daycare (shudder). Those factors also play major roles in what we decide when it comes to working full time outside of our homes or staying home to support our families.
In 2019, we should be lifting each other up as women. I know, we hear that all the time. But when was the last time you heard that we should support women in whatever choices they make, even if we don’t agree with those choices?
We should acknowledge that regardless of whether a woman chooses to have a career or stay home to raise her kids, that role is going to be really hard. We need to reserve our judgments about the choices of others and stand up for all women when we do hear discrimination.
If you’re a stay at home mom struggling with the stigma, just keep telling yourself that you are doing what is best for you and your family. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone.
As mothers, we prioritize our families first. Not everyone understands that, but that’s okay because quite frankly, IT’S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. The more positive self-talk you can do to reassure yourself that you are doing what is best for your family, the less you will be bothered by what other people think. Honestly, do you want to associate with someone who judges you?
As women in today’s world, we are hit with so many responsibilities, expectations, standards, and judgments. We really need to start giving each other a break and giving more support. Hopefully, if we can start doing more of that, the stigma that women get for their family and career choices will start to erode over time.
Katie Snyder is a stay-at-home twin wrangler who spends most of her days being force fed Goldfish crackers while watching Sesame Street (her favorite character is Ovejita). Katie and her husband, Joe, live in Pennsylvania with their 2 year old twin boys, Henry and Barrett, and their two chihuahuas. One of their favorite family activities is going to Wegmans. Katie, a former preschool teacher and curriculum director, enjoys sharing her love of literacy with her twins. Their favorite book is “Goodnight Moon”.
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