I’m not going to tell you that the only place a woman can be is at home, barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen. I won’t tell you that because I don’t believe that. I won’t tell you that kids can only grow up to be wonderful, well-adjusted adults if their mothers stay at home. I don’t believe that either. But I will tell you that stay-at-home mothers are awesome. For most of my childhood, my mom was one. My sister is one. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law both were or are. My personal opinion is that having a stay-at-home mother is best for both mother and baby.
Course I say this all as a really newly married woman with no kids (and none on the horizon – this isn’t an announcement!), so take it all with a grain of salt. Some women don’t desire to be stay-at-home moms. I would challenge those women (and everyone) to think about what would happen if you changed your mind? I think it’s easy to be a 23-year old woman who wants it all: a career, a husband, a home, and a kid. And wants it all at the same time. That might be what you want today. But the day may come when that isn’t what you want. You could surprise yourself and want to stay at home. Then what? If you’ve already made choices that prohibit that (or makes it really, really difficult), then your decision has come too late. There are a few possibilities:
1) You prepare. Kids happen. You stay home as you planned. You’re happy.
2) You prepare. Kids don’t happen. You keep working, enjoying the financial rewards of a cheaper lifestyle. You’re happy.
3) You don’t prepare. Kids happen. You keep working, but you don’t want to. You’re not happy.
4) You don’t prepare. Kids happen. You keep working and you want to. You’re happy.
5) You don’t prepare. Kids don’t happen. No worries. You’re happy.
Best I can tell, preparing to be a stay-at-home mom (or to have one as a wife) is least likely to cause you regret, even if it doesn’t happy. It leaves you all the options. It doesn’t force your hand. You got choices!
From an article on boundless: (emphasis mine)
It had been four weeks since I had given birth to my daughter, and I was struggling to figure out just how I was supposed to hand someone my precious baby and spend my first day back at work without her. I hated to admit it, but Nancy was right. Somehow giving birth did change the way I felt about having children, motherhood and my career.
Growing up, the messages I received from every direction, including the media, parents, friends, family, teachers at school and my college professors were focused on career life and seeking fulfillment through work. Leaving your child, even a baby, in the care of others each day while you continue on with your career was something I always viewed as perfectly natural and normal.
And why wouldn’t it be? Why should a woman sacrifice her career because she became a mother? We don’t ask that of men, right?
For the first time in my life, I realized that maybe that old-fashioned idea that men and women are wired differently is true. Up until that point, I was dismissive of the whole concept. My sudden change in feelings didn’t make sense to me. I wasn’t prepared for any of this because I really didn’t think of the “stay home or not” question as an issue until it was too late to change plans.
The time to prepare to stay home with your children is long before those feelings hit after you become a mother.
Most of my friends and I, having found ourselves in similar situations, agree — the best course of action for any young woman who wants to keep her options open is to plan ahead financially for the possibility of being a single-income household. Doing this before you are even married will give you an even greater range of choices later on, should you, also, have a change of heart.
There are other benefits of preparing to be a single-income household than just being able to be a stay-at-home mom. What if one of you loses your job? What if an opportunity comes up to take a much lower paying job (such as working for a ministry or a church)? What if you have a sick parent that needs full-time care? Think about giving yourself the option of being a stay-at-home mom some day, should you be blessed with children. I have some ideas on how to do that…stay tuned!