In Praise Of Moms Who Stay At Home
By Abby Gardner
Throughout the entirety of my childhood, my mom stayed home with me, my sister and my brother. It was her choice, and one she realizes she was lucky to have. (She taught school for almost five years before I was born and earned a Masters Degree during that time, too. And once we were grown, she went back to the teaching.)
While she may not have gotten paid for her daily tasks, she was never idle … at least not in my eyes. I know I didn't fully realize it or appreciate it as a kid, but the things she accomplished were nothing short of phenomenal.
Not only did she have the three of us to contend with 24-7, she was the go-to woman when a class needed a room mother, the PTA needed a president, the silent auction needed organizing, or the Children's Museum Guild (her main charity gig) was short on people to “haunt” at their annual (and way fun!) haunted house. Then there were the thankless carpools driving us to and from any activity we showed interest in — where she would cheer loudly and smother us with hugs if things didn't go so well.
Mom was (and still is) the accountant for the family, taking care of the bills and balancing the checkbook. (I always got a kick out of my dad having to ask her for a check.) At some point during each day, she also found time to cook us a homemade dinner every night, possibly bake cookies, and get our lunches ready for school — oh, and you know, take care of my dad and be a wife, too.
So how did I benefit? Let me count the ways. Along with the all-enveloping sense of security I got from knowing my mom was always there, I grew up with the view of a woman running the show. (This is by no means a dig at my equally awesome father, who was simply running a different show outside of my daily eyeline — and to this day does the dishes every night.)
Never once in my childhood did I think of my mom as anything other than a take-charge force. She knew what she needed to do and how to get it done. And she sure as heck spoke her mind. The same held true for so many of my friends' stay-at-home moms.
My mom raised two daughters who are assertive and strong-willed and wildly independent. I know she would rather have us living closer to her in an ideal world, and I always kid her that she shouldn't have raised us so well. (She then smiles proudly.)
While I question how my mother physically accomplished it all, my bigger question is, how did she do it mentally?
Lord knows there must have been many a day when the utter lack of adult conversation was enough to make her want to beat her head against a wall. And certainly there were times when she must have been at her wits' end with all of those errands and clean-ups and fix-its and drop-offs. At least I have another grown-up at work, who I can vent to if someone or something is making me mental … and they'll actually be able to respond in full sentences.
As an adult, I sometimes felt guilty for the things I thought my mom had sacrificed to stay home with us. But when I ask her about it, she waves off the notion, saying she's never thought of it that way.
There are wonderful mothers who go to work every day (either by choice or necessity) and others, just as wonderful, who stay at home. And most raise some pretty great kids (if I do say so myself.)
Too often these days, I hear from mommy friends about women criticizing each other's life choices. Instead, we should appreciate and celebrate all the extremely hard-working moms — without judging whose way is better.
How ever do they do it all without ever seeing a paycheck?Istockphoto