I just read a very interesting and thought-provoking article written by a woman who decided to give up her career to be a stay at home mom when her second child was born. She loved being with her kids but after almost 20 years of marriage her husband left and now she is struggling. Job in her field, as a writer have dried up and she now cautions women to not give up their careers to raise their kids because all those years later, they could end up like her with no husband, no job, and no current marketable skills.
Many people weighed in and some were very unkind and some had no personal experience to give them the insight to comment on this writers story.
It made me think a lot. I was a stay at home mom. I wanted more than anything to raise our kids and be the one who was there for the first step, or first word and be able to hug and kiss them every day and enjoy being home.
My husband and I had made the decision really without making it. When our second child was born, I simply would not have made enough money to pay child care for two kids, let alone bring home any money over that, as I worked simple minimum wage jobs. I had no real skills, I had our first son at 20 and had not attended college. So, for us, it was a very easy decision. Two more kids followed for a total of four so working outside the home really was not possible for me at that point in time.
I would do what I could to save money, cooked from scratch, sale shopped, couponed when I could, and earned bits of money here and baby sitting, or doing a craft show. No internet back then, so it was all done the old-fashioned way. From time to time, when a car broke down, or we needed a bit extra, he would pull a second job. I tried to work a couple of times in the evening, but after all day with the kids and then work at night, I got stressed out and sick and frankly he found it easier on both of us, for him to work a part-time job, I run the house full time and that is what we did. After a few years when he got into his current field, overtime become more available and he never worked a second job again. I have continued to baby sit and do crafts and yard sales and stuff over the years but now have the internet to help.
My take on this subject has changed over time. I used to think moms should stay home if they can, always recognizing that many could not, even if they wanted to, but if you could, it was more important than extra money. That being home with your kids is the best thing you can do. Having some of the extras a second income could provide was secondary to making sure you were home with the kids.
Do I still feel that way, yes, to a point. IF, you can stay home, and it is not a financial burden AND you want to stay home, then yes, you should do that if you can. BUT, you need to think real hard about the future when you do. If I could go back and talk to that younger self, I would point out that one day those kids will grow up and put you out of a job. What then ? What will you do when your kids are grown and what can you do now to prepare for that ? I would encourage the younger me to go to college, even a class a semester or even one a year, anything so in twenty years I could have had my degree. I would have talked myself into pursuing those part-time evening jobs, even if it was easier for him to work at night, because it would have given me some trail of work experience to use to get a job when the kids were grown. If I had done it longer I would have gotten used to it and it would have benefited me, but since my husband really preferred going to the second job then trying to step in and do the night-time parenting full-time, which he was good at by the way, he just felt it was more seamless if I did that full-time and he did the part-time jobs when needed.
I sit here now, at 53, intelligent and capable, but pretty much unhireable , except for fast food and retail dept store type jobs. No work skills, no work experience, no degree. Nothing to show for the first half of my life except for the pretty important fact I have four wonderful kids, and now they are married and we have our grandkids. Those are the most important things to have. I know this . I have a great marriage, great kids, great family, that is such a blessing and I am grateful every single day for all of them. I have thanked my husband over and over for the gift of being able to raise our kids. BUT, it is okay to make the choice to have a career and still have a family, I have changed so much in my feelings about that.
BUT, right now , in this moment.
I am bored. I am lonely. I want a purpose to my life. I enjoy time with my husband, and kids, and grandkids, but I have a lot of hours a day to myself. I talk on the phone, blog, make jewelry, take pictures ,do housework and watch a bit of tv, but not much during the day , I watch most of my tv in the evenings. I have a full life, no doubt, but it is just not quite enough. I need a personal purpose. Goals of my own. I have no idea what I even want to do anymore. I love doing so many things, photography, writing, jewelry and crafts, yard sales and thrift store shopping, reading and baking, but I am not excellent at any of them. That saying, jack of all trades, master of none, comes to mind. That is me. I am a good amateur photographer, I am a good baker, I can write a bit, even some poetry and I can draw well . I make some nice pieces of jewelry, but I am not exceptional at any of it. I am a jack of all trades, but a master of none. I have never become an expert at anything. I am good at many things, but I want something I can excel at !!
The problem is, I cannot figure out which one is the one I want to be a master of. Do I want to master writing, art, photography, jewelry, baking, what ? I do not know. I am sitting in a place in my life right now where being creative at all is difficult for me, but at the same time necessary for me, and I am not sure why ? I have enough beads to make thousands of things, yet, no work lately. I have all kinds of wonderful art supplies, never draw anymore. I do take pictures, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Like most photographers I get that one really good one out of thousands, but I have not progressed past a point and shoot camera. I have other interests too, but do nothing about them.
I am 53, and clueless on what to do with my life.
I firmly believe I have half my life left. I tell everyone I will live to 110, and I plan to work hard to get to that and so does my husband !!! He is amazing and supports me whatever my dream is, and I do the same for him. He is a very talented amateur photographer and stain glass artist , both hobbies. He is my best friend and when he is home from work, we are together most of the time, unless he is doing something around the house that I am not helping him with, we spend most of the time he is off work doing stuff together. Errands, tv, shopping, taking drives.
He is a happy soul, he should write a book about it. He hardly ever stresses over stuff. Whistles his way through life and is good at that too, and is pretty good-natured most of the time. He is not perfect thank goodness and has his moments, which I am glad for , he is just a happier than most kind of person, but not in the annoying way, in a genuine and honest way, but he is playful and fun and jokes and makes me laugh and I am very grateful for him. He lives in the moment like we all should and does not worry about much. He knows I pay the bills and he works and makes the money and leaves all that to me.His choice, he hates taking care of the bills. We do make our financial decisions together and we are a good team. Again, I do have so much to be grateful for and I am and literally thank God for him each and every single day.
BUT, I say BUT again, I need something for me too. I have to decide what that will be. Should I just focus on keeping the house clean, cooking great meals and have hobbys, or should I work hard to find a passion for myself ? For so long my decisions were based around our four kids and honestly I am still around ( grand ) kids a lot. Should I make caring for the grandkids while our kids work my career ? I am so torn with what to do.
I do know this. I have to be creative. Being an artist is a big part of who I am . I am just having one heck of a time figuring out how to find my path. I threw my entire self into raising the kids, and no regrets, they are our biggest joy and I would do it all over again,but now I have to find me, that is why I started this blog.
I think a big part of me wants to help other women not have to go through this. Find a way to have their kids, stay home if they really want to and raise them, and still keep themselves. I do not think women need to give up who they are to be a mom but many of us willingly do that very thing. We fall in love with those little beings and they become our life . We put everything into them and then one day they are on their own. My husband was so wonderful when he told me, Well, you did your job so well, you worked your way out of a job !! ” What a wonderful compliment from the father of my kids.
So, reading that article today really made me think again about what I want and need to do. I have been kind of floating along lately, we have moved and had a lot going on and it allowed me to not really think about it all much.
This new year, I am going to focus on me again. What to I want and need to be happy personally. How involved in the grandkids do I want to be ? Do I want to baby sit for the kids instead of getting a job, and can I even get a job ? What am I passionate about, and can I have a career in that ? Real estate and personal finance are two things I am also very interested in, maybe even passionate about, but without a degree, or some college, not an option. So, do I want to go to school ?
I kind of stopped my progress for a while and just let it go. But I cannot do that any longer. I have to do whatever work I have to do, to find me again. It does not matter any more what choices I made and any mistakes I made that hurt me. Our kids are grown, I did a pretty decent job, and if I am going to be fair to myself, an excellent job, even though I was a good mom, we are so hard on ourselves, another issue moms have to learn to deal with, be proud of themselves and the job you do and not pick your self apart!! I am proud of all of our kids and love them so much. They love me too and I am proud of the fact I got to stay home and raise them. If I lost myself doing it, I cannot go back and change it, but I know I have to move forward and find out who I am now. I am not the same girl who started being a stay at home mom at 22 years old. I am 31 years older now and I really have no idea who I am anymore, not really. I am still a wife, a mom and now a grandma too . I am still an artist and writer, but just need to find my focus and figure out what is my purpose and my passion , what I can do each day that I will love doing and look forward to each day !! I know not everyone can love their lives and their jobs but we can all try to find something we love to do, there is nothing wrong with wanting a purpose driven life. I am blessed to have a husband that works hard and supports us so I can make those choices. I would love to contribute to our household and take a bit of the burden off of him, but that is me, not him. He has his hobbies he loves too, but lately he has not had as much time to spend on his stuff either.
So, anyone reading this, who has not made this choice yet, if and when you get to that fork in the road, if you do choose to stay home with your kids for a while, or their entire childhood, just know that there will be a life after your kids are grown so be sure you balance your time off with your kids with some investment in your own future .The computer makes it so much easier and I am sure, if I had the luxury of a computer when our kids were young, that would have been a tool that would have helped a lot. Online college, writing, so many options for everyone now, not just stay at home moms, and so much information !!
Sorry for this rambling post. It was just for me to get my thoughts written down. If anyone reads it, I am thrilled !! I would love so much to hear others opinions on this subject and how they handled making this decision and if they were able to keep themselves intact while they raised their kids and if so, how, and if not, what they are doing to start their next chapter in life . I am also really interesting in hearing stories of moms who chose to work and keep their career while raising their kids !! Are they happy with that decision and how did they work through any feelings of regret if they had them. Moms tend to feel guilty no matter which choice they make and that is one thing I wish we could do for future moms. Give them that choice with no guilt. If you love your kids, and give them what they need, whether you stay home or work, they will be happy and well-adjusted. No more guilt !! You can work and be a great mom. It is just a bit more work for the mom, but extremely possible. Something I am ashamed to say I never believed back in the day. Pretty arrogant and I am sorry for that. I do not feel that way any longer.
Thanks for stopping by, I always appreciate it !!