M is for Mama: W is for Work

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?


4 thoughts on “M is for Mama: W is for Work

  1. I am with you. All mamas should choose what suits them and let other mamas decide for themselves without their judgement!
    I am a stay at home mum. I had a work at home mum growing up. She had a thankless job because people never realised that my mum did a lot of admin and accounts stuff for my dad (and still does) on top of being a supermum! I would like to be a work at home mum, but I’m just not sure how to sell myself or start up (or which skills to focus on)! I have my blog, but I am a very small fish and I will slowly get my act together with it all!
    If my husband lost his job (ugh god forbid) or we fell on really hard times then I wouldn’t hesitate to return to work to keep a roof above our heads, but I am happy to have a modest lifestyle so I can be with my Little Mister during this very special time of his young life.
    In the ideal world I would like to stay at home until our second child is in kindy and then work a job part time just for that extra bit of moolah to help our family.
    We may not always agree with how other mums choose to parent their kids, but I think we all owe it to them to shut up and stop forcing our personal opinions on each other. I hate the “war” between mums – it’s stupid. We’re still all mums and we all love our children!
    While I have my “ideal world” scenario that I hope will play out (staying at home as long as possible), I always keep an open mind – I have the right to change my mind later too 🙂 I know that people can think I have an empty, vacuous life with no intellectual stimulation and a loss of my identity blah blah blah, but I feel very happy. That’s just me! If I worked out of home right now, I would feel empty and would yearn to be home so much that it would distract from my ability to be the best I could be at my career, so that’s how I know what’s right for me! Occasionally I check in with myself and ask, “Am I ready to go out to work?” but so far the answer is “Nope!”
    My most fulfilling work is at home and I am lucky to have other outlets in my life to satisfy me as an individual also. I feel blessed. I really don’t begrudge other mothers for choosing the lifestyle and parenting styles that make them the happiest.

  2. I always wanted to be a SAHM, it’s what I had growing up and my relationship with my family is amazing. It’s something I want for my own family.
    Now that I’m older & I’m not just thinking about me I’ve come to want something different.

    I’ve realised that I like my job & I enjoy working. I like the mental stimulation, the adult conversation, the socialising. I’m wary of losing my own identity, while it doesn’t happen to all, it happens to some & feel that working part time would keep me challenged mentally as well as allowing me some time away from my child/ren. The other side of this is that we’re hoping Mr will be able to also work part time (or work from home) so he is able to share in the experience of raising our children. This is something that is important to him too.

    The other thing, for me is that I don’t want someone else raising my child (ie daycare). It does give them the socialisation which they need to learn but I’d rather have the control around what my child learns. I feel that’s our duty as parents.

    Of course, what we plan and hope for now is not necessarily how things will pan out. But we can plan & hope…

  3. I am so looking forward to being a work-at-home-mama next year! My full time job for the last couple of years has been very practical but not very fulfilling, and I can’t wait to finish in a couple of months. I’m planning to keep up with my piano teaching, but I’m trying not to have too many expectations at the moment, seeing I have no idea what it’s like to take care of a baby and if I’ll feel like committing to anything else for a while!

    My favourite work has always been self-employed & working from home, so having littles seems like a good opportunity to get back to that. Although of course I’d go back to part time or even full time work as a last resort if we needed to.

  4. I’m a stay at home mom, but I love to work! I’m considering going back to work after a year at home. Hating the guilt that comes with that decision!

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