So why don’t I stay home with baby girl?

Before I offend anyone, I should probably start out by saying that I think stay-at-home moms are amazing. They have the kind of creativity, passion and patience that I can only dream about having. In fact, I used to think I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. And maybe I will again someday, but not yet.

So it always comes as a surprise to me when someone asks “So, are you staying home with the baby now?” Oftentimes it’s asked as though the only correct answer is yes. Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? Especially now-a-days when working outside the home is fairly common. Especially if the person who’s asking is someone I haven’t seen for a long time or I am just meeting.

We hosted a farewell dinner for a good friend of ours this evening (he’s leaving the country for a couple of years), and some of my husband’s friends from college came. I hadn’t seen one of them in a long time, so it wasn’t unusual that he asked about the baby and how things are going. What I thought was unusual was that he assumed I would be staying at home. What’s more surprising to me: He was shocked when I said that I work full time outside the home.

I’m positive he didn’t mean to offend me, and I’m sure our conversation didn’t make a lasting impression on him, but it has me thinking. Why do I react so strongly when people make an assumption about whether or not I stay home with baby girl? I think I know the answer.

I feel like I should want to stay home with her. I spend enough time during the day thinking about her, why wouldn’t I want to be with her all day every day?

I’ll let you in on a secret: I work outside the home because I want to.

Still, I feel guilty about wanting to work outside the home when my beautiful little girl spends more than 8 hours of every day with someone else’s family.

But you know what? It really is what’s best for our family for right now. Her daycare provider treats her like her own grandbaby. She loves her and gives her the kind of attention that my daughter deserves during the day. Does she always do things the way I would? Nope. And that’s okay. She’s got experience from raising her own kids, and I learn a lot from her.

Besides, this way when I get home each day, I’m excited to see my little girl’s smile and scoop her into my arms. I’m excited to spend time as a family. I’m excited to take her for a walk or play with her blocks or do whatever else we’re going to do for the evening. So for us, for now, being a working mom is right for me. It’s right for my little girl. It’s right for our family.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Irene
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 08:58:37

    Dear Christi,
    I understand how you feel. I did stay home with my kids. But the reaction I got was dismissal from people about my opinions. Here I am a college graduate and spent one year in grad school, but until I had a full time job outside of the home, people wouldn’t take my opinion seriously! There is always going to be people prejudge against whatever choice you make. If it works for you, enjoy. Glad to hear that you aren’t letting it get to you!

    Reply

  2. Margaret
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 09:30:29

    I assume that your happy, healthy baby girl was next to you during this conversation — demonstrating love and attachment to her family. Of course you miss her when you are working, but when a caregiver is loving and a good role model, I believe the child gets some extra benefit in their life — especially, if as you say, it’s best for your family and you and your husband are united in your commitment to all that’s good about your joint life choices.

    My own daughter (elder of my two children) experienced a number of different caregiving situations in her life as well as lots of summer camps and so on. Guess what? At age 26, she has been complimented by many people on her self-confidence when meeting and interacting with new people of any age, and she has shared skills gained through all those summer camps and such in her own work in recent years, passing on enthusiasm and a joy of learning to new generations of kids that she has worked with.

    A work-and-caregiving arrangement can work great — or not. Same for a stay-at-home mom situation. Bottom line, though: a healthy baby and a healthy family are the goal, and the proof that your choices are working for you and your family.

    Reply

  3. Margaret
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 08:47:06

    And Irene is right that no matter which way you go, some will disapprove. Again, the happy, healthy child is the proof that parents’ instincts are usually right.

    Reply

  4. focusedonhappy
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 08:49:03

    Thanks, ladies. It’s nice to have the support of women who have been there and done that =)

    Reply

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