” Should we feel guilty about wanting more for ourselves than just being a mom?”
It’s the question posed by Parenting.com in their quote for the day.
NO. It’s an easy answer for me, removed from the day-to-day parenting now that my sons are adults. And, I’m not sure how I would have answered that 20 years ago, with a 5 and 9 year old. I wanted so much more and knew that I had lots to share with the world, yet I felt this societal and personal imperative to be at home with my children. I raised my children in the Deep South, in a small community with strong religious overtones; women worked and I did too for a few years, but the message was strong. Women belonged at home.
There have been heated conversations for years about mothers who ‘abandoned’ their children at early ages just so they could pursue careers. Sadly, some of the angriest voices have come from women. In the conversation about the new book, SuperBaby, moms are talking about the need for a parent to be at home with their young child, with the underlying fear that children will be irreparably damaged by a mother’s absence. In one forum I read a comment from a woman expressing guilt about her having to work and what that might mean for her child’s development.
In today’s economy, staying at home with children is a luxury that some women can’t afford. There is nothing to be gained by making these women feel guilty about the choice they’ve had to make. For other women, career is important and staying at home for a few years while childrearing could derail her career drastically. And, for other women, having a job provides a balance to their lives which being a stay at home mother can’t provide. In all 3 of these possible scenarios there is absolutely no reason to assume that children will not receive the love and care required to grow up as productive, emotionally stable individuals.
This is a challenging topic with research and heated opinions about what is best for the young child. What the quote seeks to get at and what I feel is important to address is Mom. Should a woman feel guilty for wanting more for herself? Note that the question isn’t addressed to Dads; it’s an automatic given in our society that men pursue their ambitions.
Motherhood is stressful, and it’s a 24/7 proposition. No one tells you that when you’re young and eager to begin a family. And, no one says that for 18 years you have to give up all sense of self and ambition or desire. Yet, that is the subtle message, so when we put ourselves first we tend to feel guilty.
I think it’s a personal choice, while acknowledging the difficulty in coming to a decision. Family influences, career choices, community support, and economics all play a role in the decision. Ultimately, for women who happen to be mothers, it’s about living the fullest life possible and balancing the various aspects. Motherhood, being one of them.
What do you think about this topic? I’ve interpreted it to apply to career vs. mothering but it can be viewed from other perspectives. Are you a stay-at-home mom?
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