Will my children value me for staying at home?

Today’s fabby guest post is from Ericka Waller who you can find blogging here and here, and tweeting as @ErickaWaller1

If you were to ask my four year-old-daughter what I was best at, she would tell you “Tidying up really quickly” or “Making cheese straws“.

She is right about this, as it happens – but there is more to me than my mad cleaning skills and handy ability to whip up cheesy snacks. Honest.

There are sides of me that my children do not see, may never see. I’ve put them all on hold. I like to say just for now but in all honesty, who knows?

The road back into employment once you’ve disembarked to have kids can be more trickier and more trecherous than L’alpe D’huez.

Not that I am thinking about my career right now. I’m too busy trying to get through the days with three children under five.

And what will my daughters think of me for this sacrifice?

Will they look up to me for hanging up my power suits?

Will they appreciate how much I turned my back on to be the one to care for them in their early years?

Will the constant exposure to me make them secure, balanced individuals?

Or will it do the opposite?

By staying at home, will I become their role model, or will they see me as no more than their cleaner. Cook. Ironing lady. Taxi driver?

Would they actually value and appreciate me more if we saw less of each another. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that…

Maybe I’d be a better role model if they saw me going “out to work”. Bringing home some bacon.

Maybe they’d look up to me more if I was not always down on my knees?

I know how hard a stay at home mum works. We don’t “stay” anywhere for long. (Always something to do or someone to chase.) Will my children see this though? Will it take till my children are mothers for them to value me?

Being a full-time-mum to my three daughters is the hardest job I’ve ever done. I can’t believe I used to sweat about meetings and deadlines “when I worked”. Put me back there now and I’d be able to run the company, whilst doing the hoovering.

But then who would be looking after my children?

Who would pick them up when they fell over? Who would make sure they ate some sandwich before opening the crisps? Who’d cook cheese straws with them?

Could I really concentrate at work knowing that they were crying, laughing, growing without me?

Hard as my job is, I like to think, that as their mum, I am best at it. I like to think that although, right now, four thinks I am only good for illicit extra strong mints and sharpening pencils, one day this will change.

One day she and her sisters will remember all the falls and firsts and cheese straws and think “Bloody hell. My mum is amazing. She did everything for us (and hardly moaned about it once).”

11 responses

  1. Oh, they’ll remember. Possibly at different times each version above? Try reversing that when you look at your mature ‘children’ doing well, as adults, smile and then you can think back and say you did the right thing. That’s the payback. If you get positive feedback from the grown up children, that’s just a bonus.
    Then you can start all over again with the grandchildren!!!!

  2. Great post, and sums up so eloquently the thoughts that go through my own head as a SAHM. It can feel like a sacrifice, but for me, it is worth it. My own mother stayed at home until I was 11. As a child, I didn’t appreciate it, but now, as an adult I certainly do. If she had been working in my younger years, I am sure all those wonderful homemade fancy dress costumes, delicious homemade meals, and all the help with reading would not have been so plentiful – with three of us, and working as well, she wouldn’t of had the time. Particularly if you’ve had a career before children I think adjusting to the transition of being a SAHM can be difficult. I realise now how much I allowed my work to define me before I had children. More so than I ever thought.

    I am happy with my decision to be a SAHM for now, but some days I do wonder about the future and if I return to work one day what I’ll do. This period at home has given me time to think about it a lot, and I think it’s most likely I will try my hand at something completely new – that can fit in around my children. Not for now, but when the time comes I think I’ll be refreshed and looking forward to a new challenge.

  3. I certainly appreciated my dad upping his whole life so he could be a stay at home mum (he had no choice, my mum died when I was 4). He also used to help out at my primary school with IT lessons and I was very grateful for the time we spent together there too. As such we now have a very unique Father/Daughter relationship. Jusy hang on in there, in a few years time they’ll be picking bunches of daisies and painting

  4. Great post, you are voicing the thoughts of a thousand SAHMs!

    I’m a SAHM, I like to refer to ‘going to work’ as ‘going out to earn a living’, because being a SAHM is just as much work, if not more, than going out to earn a living. Maybe if society could get the semantics correct, SAHMs would be viewed with more respect.

    As for what my daughter thinks about me or will think about me in the future. I hope that whatever she thinks, she sees me in a positive light for who I am, not what I am.

    My mum always says to me, a child should never be made to feel grateful for being parented, we choose to have our children, they owe us nothing. What I want is for my daughter to remember her childhood as being a good and happy one. And hopefully that will stand her – and our relationship – in good stead for years and years to come.

  5. I am quite sure your daughters appreciate you being there in ways that may never be obvious! It’s an eternal quandary for mums though, isn’t it, to work or not to work (and, ok, for parents generally – but mainly for mums). I think whichever way you go you have doubts. You can only do what feels okayish at the time…thanks for a lovely post. H

  6. Wonderfully articulated post summing up the great mother debate. There will always be time for you to start a new project/go back to work, but for now, enjoy your girls, and they will always remember that mummy was always there for them. And if/when you decide to do something new career wise, they will see this too – so you will end up role modelling both mother and woman outside that of SAHM.

  7. I loved reading this post. These are similar to my thoughts on a very regular basis (I stay at home with my 3 kids). I think we’re all doing the right thing, whether we’re stay at home moms or working moms. We all have different families, financial situations, interests and goals. I think there are far too many SAHM’s who judge the working moms and vice versa.

  8. Now first off, don’t say “when I worked” – because you’re still working. You just don’t bloody get paid for it!
    Know it probably feels right now like your little ones will never appreciate what you do.
    But when they’re older, and look back on their childhood, they will.
    I’m currently one year away from my youngest starting school – meaning I can return to work and put my two boys into after-school club.
    My boys are begging me to stay at home. They realise how good they’ve had it. And I’m trying to comprimise by finding something which means I’m working from home, or at the very least somewhere local.
    On a day-to-day basis, being a SAHM is a thankless task. But when it’s time to take in the bigger picture, your girls will realise what a great mum they have, and what sacrifices she made.

  9. This is a no-win situation in my opinion. If we stay at home, many women feel undervalued for the most important ‘job’ of our lives, and if we go out to work we feel the guilt that we should be at home.
    Whether you work or stay at home is a personal choice, and sometimes not a choice. I’ve found my own personal balance. I work 3 days a week and am home for the remainder of the week. This gives me the adult contact that I crave, pays my bills and also gives my daughter the chance to spend time with her nan which they both love.
    Before my daughter came along I worked full-time as well as juggling home life and a child. This wasn’t an ideal situation and I felt totally on edge that things were going to fall apart at any moment.
    I would much rather my children remember me for making shit-hot cheese straws than them seeing me totally stressed out and opting for a wet-wipe wash instead of a bath due to time restrictions of a full-time job x

  10. Pingback: Wanderings 9.28 « wanderlynn

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