The Mommy Wars: Was it Worth it to be a Stay at Home Mom?

Growing up in the 70s, I was taught that I could be anything that I wanted, that thanks to the women’s movement, women could now be whatever they wanted.

I think they lied. Because what I wanted to be was a mother – a full time mother. When employers ask me today what I did between high school and college, I say, “I raised my kids.” They give me a funny look and I feel like shit because I did do that. It was what I CHOSE; it was what I wanted. And apparently, by society standards, it was a bad choice. Ask Hilary Rosen.

Now, at the end of raising children, I ask myself if  being a full time mother was such a lofty goal when it is a job that ends with no benefits. Don’t tell me about the benefit of having three fully grown men as sons…I am blessed by them. But they are grown and gone. Where does that leave me?

You make your choice and live with it. And do what when the kids are grown and you’re left with that ‘earning potential’ 20 years behind you in the dust and a society that says you have no worth because “She’s never worked a day in her life.”? I venture to say that I don’t know a single full time mom who hasn’t worked her ass off – 24/7. We raised our children, we ran a household, we budgeted and planned and sweated and stressed over our jobs – no pay, no benefits, no vacations.

How about a little RESPECT for those of us who made the choice to stay home?

I wonder what other ex full time moms think of all of this? What does the younger generation think about it?

Would love to hear your take on the Mommy Wars!

About Karen Y. Hamilton

Walt Whitman says about his autobiography, Specimen Days “…At any rate I obey my happy hour’s command, which seems curiously imperative. May-be, if don’t do anything else, I shall send out the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever printed.” This is what I feel at this juncture of my life, the need to gather together memories of my ancestors as well as my own memories into some semblance of order. Because all of those fragments, all of the fragments that make up any life, become stories. I am the mother of three sons, who affectionately (I hope!) call me 'gypsy mom' because I tend to wander around a bit soaking in the universe's wonders. I am currently working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University. I have published essays with Heritage Press, Florida Living, and the St. Pauls Review. I am currently working on a book of poems about the Florida Everglades pioneers and a memoir about grief and the bonds of friendship. I live in my hometown, Jupiter, Florida and work as a freelance writer and curriculum specialist.
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4 Responses to The Mommy Wars: Was it Worth it to be a Stay at Home Mom?

  1. Nancy Wait says:

    I hear you! And yet this is not new. My mother raised five children in the 50s and 60s, only to find out by the 70s as a divorced working woman, that her earning potential barely kept her head above water. She was angry too, and her generation was never told they could have it all.
    We’ve been sold a load of _____ and as you say, we each of us have to learn to live with our decisions. I had my son late in life, and though I tried at various points to have a job outside the home, it was hard.
    What could be better or more important than a “care-giver”? And yet we’re either not paid or working for minimum wage.
    The U.S. is actually very backward compared to many European countries…
    Meanwhile, I hold Hestia, the goddess of hearth and home, in high esteem, and pray she will have a “comeback”!
    Thank you for airing, for ranting etc. – what can we do but commiserate – and know our own worth and respect ourselves for doing what was right (for us).

  2. Grace says:

    I’m not really angry about it. After all, it was a politician who said those things. Politicians are, by and large, in my opinion, idiots. They live in a world far-removed from the mainstream and don’t have a freaking clue.
    Hillary Rosen just proved my point.

    Like you, I also CHOSE to be a stay-at-home mom. I reentered the workforce last September after being a wife and mother for 28 years. I don’t have a college degree and I’m certainly not earning the big bucks but I’m delighted with my job and the people I work with.

    Granted, had I worked during my kids’ growing-up years, we would have more money in the bank and probably a new sofa by now but I don’t stress over that stuff.

    For me, I worry more about my own abilities as a mother. Did I cater too much to my kids? Are they a little too dependent because I was here for them all those years? Should I have….fill in the blank.

    “Society” didn’t tell us we have no worth. One politician did. And she’s paying for it. 🙂

  3. I am a dad and my children are 5&8. My wife works full time though two days are from home.
    For those who can and choose to be stay at home moms, I think that is great. It is an honorable thing to do, and I believe the children benefit in many ways.

  4. Tammy Hinton says:

    I’ve been both a stay-at-home-mom and a working mother. Society does not value the efforts of the mothers who chose to make raising children their career. Women unknowing played a part in downplaying the stay-at-home-mom job description once the average woman found finances made it necessary to work.
    Don’t be angry, it isn’t warranted and serves no purpose. When I graduated from high school there were two careers open to women: nursing and teaching. The women’s revolution changed that and made it possible for women to even think about being anything else. Subsequent generations have gained many rewards from their grandmothers entering the work force and should use opportunities to make history and create opportunities for the next generation.
    Use your energy to enrich the perception of the stay-at-home-mom. It will take women to get back the respect the position deserves.

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