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SALT LAKE CITY — When I was eight months pregnant, I announced to my bosses that I would not be returning to full-time work after my first baby was born. One of my male bosses simply looked at me, winked, and said, “Yeah, we’ll see you in six months.”
I remember thinking two things at that moment: 1. Is 8 a.m. too early for a philly cheesesteak? (Hey, I was eight months pregnant. My first thought was always about food.) and 2. He just doesn’t get it.
This boss acted like my being a stay-at-home mom was a whim — something I was going to give my best shot but ultimately would come crawling back for a job and a life outside of diapers and breastfeeding. Maybe he thought I would find motherhood too hard, or mind-numbing or unrewarding.
Being a stay-at-home mom was not a haphazard choice. It was something I wanted for me and for my children, not something I thought might be fun. For me, it was all part of the package of motherhood.
I realize that by extolling the virtues of stay-at-home moms, I open myself up to the scorn of the mommy blogosphere. So let me add that my choices are just that — mine. I don’t judge others for their choice to stay at home or to work because they have to or choose to or want to.
But often I find myself downplaying my decision to be a stay-at-home mom because I don’t want to seem like I think I’m hot stuff, or like I am more selfless or dedicated than working moms. I’m not. Every mother I know would readily give up everything for her child and none — working or not — would act against her child’s best interest.
Being a stay-at-home mom is the best choice for me and my children, and here’s why:
- Sometimes it is about quantity — Not every moment of motherhood is a picture-perfect picnic in a meadow. In fact, those are pretty rare. The real moments of motherhood for me are the day-in and day-out of being with my children while accomplishing the mundane tasks of life. This could be going for a swing in a sheet fresh from the dryer or tasting samples at Costco. Sometimes motherhood is about quality — those fun- filled moments that sear into your memory forever. But as a stay-at-home mom, I’m glad I’m there for all the other moments, too. They may not mean much individually, but they add up to a shared history with my kids.
- I want to raise my kids — I did not want someone else influencing my young children on a daily basis. I want to mess them up in my own unique way. But seriously, I am responsible for my children and want to share my values with them during this critical period of development.
- I am selfish — some of my decision to stay home with my kids is that I didn’t want to miss anything. I didn’t want someone else witnessing first steps or telling me about first words. I want to be the mom and get all the perks that come with it.
- I am at the crossroads — this is the biggest reason why I stay home with my kids, and it comes from one of my favorite talks by former LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson. He encouraged mothers to “take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going — when they leave and return from school, when they leave and return from dates, when they bring friends home. Be there at the crossroads whether your children are 6 or 16.” So I’m there. I’m there for those few precious moments after preschool when my daughter will tell me about her day. I’m there for morning pancakes and bedtime kisses and everything else in between.In some ways, my boss was right. I did return to work part time, cramming in writing and teaching whenever my children are asleep. But I’ve stayed true to my goal of being a stay-at-home mom.
And yes, some days of motherhood are too hard, too mind- numbing and too unrewarding. But five years into motherhood, I believe more than ever in my choice to be a stay-at-home mom.
Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for the Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister's nose.