With so many of my lovely friends at the start (or about to start) their Mama journeys, the different ways that they have been dealing with the whole work/home conundrum has been on my mind. Despite all the feminist and women’s right movements, this seems like still a battlefield full of opinion, with militant fighters on both sides. Women fought for us to have it all and now we seem to be judged for picking and choosing which parts of “all” we want. People still look at you agog if you choose to be a stay-at-home Mum and the words said by one of my favourite characters in the movie “Mona Lisa Smile” seem as true now as in the 1950s when the movie is set:
You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.
-Joan Brandwyn, Mona Lisa Smile
So where do I stand on the whole debate? Knowing how quickly people will leap to judge my decisions, I say do what ever you please! You’re going to be judged by working mamas if you stay at home and you are going to be judged by stay-at-home mamas if you work, so you may as well do what works for you!
As for me? I’m hoping to blend the two. A work-at-home mama if you will. While I think I’m a great teacher, I know I won’t be able to give the same commitment to the 100-plus kids I teach when I have little ones of my own. Despite the perception of teachers as 3:30 bolters with fantastic holidays, the job requires that we put an incredibly amount of physical and emotional energy. I’ve struggled to do that with the dramatic changes that have happened in my life this year and I can’t imagine trying to cope with all that comes with being a new mum and still managing to be a great teacher – and I won’t settle for being a purely adequate one. That’s not saying I’ll never go back, just not when our future kids are small. That’s the plan anyway, barring any massive unforeseen circumstances requiring me to earn substantial income again!
On the other hand, I don’t think I could ever settle for being a stay-at-home mama alone. Funnily enough, both Papa M’s and my mother were also work-at-home mamas when we were growing up. Papa M’s mother worked (and still does) in their family horticulture business and my mother had a wide range of jobs, including a parenting class teacher and a Tupperware consultant. Last year I started a side business (the link is just there in the sidebar) dealing with a variety of organizational requirements and with the benefit of a year’s experience, I’m tweaking the business over the next week and a half. My skill is helping people, bloggers and small businesses put forward their best possible image – whether it is organising events, copywriting, proofreading… the list goes on and on. The great news is that a lot of these things I can continue to do from home in a virtual assistant capacity when I have little ones. The idea of bringing in some “fun money” with my income is a perk too!
I love the holidays when I get to just be a housewife (and blogger, and side business owner) and I don’t really care if anyone thinks that it’s too traditional, antifeminist or lazy (hah!) for me to continue that type of lifestyle when we have little ones. I’ll be happy, Papa M will be happy and in the end, that’s all that really matters.
Are you a mama? What’s your take on the situation? If you are not yet a mama but are planning to be one, what situation do you think is right for you?