Posted by Rachel Greene on Aug 1, 2001 - 8:57:00 AM
Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
LOS ANGELES—What do you want to be when you grow up? Ask a child that today and he/she will probably not respond that they want to be a stay-at-home parent. Why would they want to be? For one, they probably come from a daycare situation and thus know no other way to raise children. Also, we live in a material society in which a two-income family is almost a necessity to have the fancy house, new cars, etc. But, the reason on which I want to focus is the lack of respect a stay-at-home parent gets.
I used to work. I've caught myself saying that. More recently, it was that I'm "just a mom." I really don't feel that way, but society has molded these utterings and I unfortunately have let them slip. I am a stay-at-home mom of two young boys. Yes, I did "use" to work as a teacher but when it came time to have kids my husband and I made the choice for me to stay home. For the past four years I have been amazed at how this choice is now viewed as opposed to when I grew up and almost everyone's mom stayed home. I have had people ask me when I'm going back to work. I've seen the condescending look in a "working" mom's eye. I have marked the box "other" on forms to avoid the limiting label of "homemaker." Why is there such a negative view of what I do?
For those people who think this is not work, they could not be more wrong. This is a 24x7 job. There are no breaks, no vacations from it. Many times a stay-at-home parent has to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Ever try cooking dinner while holding a wailing infant and getting a potty-training boy to the bathroom on time? Multiply that type of incident by ten and you have a typical day. I do not sit around watching soap operas and eating bon-bons as many a stereotype depicts. I am there for my children for their every need all the time, a skinned knee, a messy diaper, a bored moment. I am exhausted at the end of the day and I receive no monetary reward for any of this work.
So, why do I do it? Well, why would I want someone else to do my job? These are my children and it is my responsibility to raise them the best I can. I want to be there for them in these most important developmental years. And, I plan to continue being there for them as they get older. For those parents who choose daycare, I do not believe this is what's best for the children no matter how you bend the logic or how much respect society doles out. They are not "there" for their kids. There is no guarantee that my children will turn out better, but they will feel totally loved and important in the process, and I will feel that I did all I could.
Society may not respect what I'm doing. Because of this, my own sons may come to be embarrassed to say that I'm "just a mom." My family may not live in the biggest house or be able to go on exotic vacations. I may miss my career in teaching or even just being able to do what I want when I want. But, none of those selfish reasons will make me quit my current job. This is my career because it's what is best for my children. I think there's a lot of respect in that.
NOTE: "Mommy Minute" is a place for me to share my mommy experiences. I hope to share stories, tips, etc. I also plan to occasionally get on my stay-at-home mom soapbox not so much to offend "working" parents but to share my point of view. Please feel free to send comments, questions, etc. to email@example.com
Next month: "The Poop on Potty Training"
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