Follow along as the Today’s Parent team shares their thoughts on the latest news in the parenting world.
Like many little girls, I used to push around my baby doll in a toy stroller. I would care for her as if she were real. I would look at my mom as she stayed home with me while my dad supported the three of us (at the time), and I would mirror her. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would respond, “I wanna be a mommy!”
I’ve always wanted to be a mother first and foremost, above everything else. I never thought about any other career, because I always thought my life would end up like my mother’s: cleaning up after my kids’ messes, cooking meals made with love and keeping our house in tip-top shape.
As an adult, however, seeing other mothers like my own have made me think otherwise about being a stay-at-home mom.
Being a part of Generation Y puts several factors into perspective. I’m part of the millennial generation who’s more tech-savvy and equipped with the skill set to excel in a competitive workforce — something most of my parents’ generation (baby boomers) lacked.
In a recent article by the New York Times, the phenomenon of the “Opt Out Revolution” is addressed, where most mothers of Gen Y kids are heading back into the working world, but seem to feel out of the loop. That’s because these mothers chose to quit their full-time gigs while they were in their prime and embrace motherhood in all it’s glory.
As you could imagine, being out of the workforce for years on end must be difficult. I can’t even begin to imagine what it might be like to try to reinvent your self as a worthy employee. As I try to put my career together for the first time, I realized I would never want to have to try all over again as a middle-aged woman.
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I know I’m not the only 20-something that is pro-“working mom.” My friends and I share our opinions with one another and we all mostly agree — we would like to be financial contributors to our own family units. There’s just something about being a strong, independent woman who can juggle work and family. It makes maintaining a modern, working-class status sound appealing. But, that’s not to say some of us wouldn’t love to be stay-at-home mothers if we were given the opportunity to do so.
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I’ve started to explore different career paths as I’ve gotten older, and the idea of the classic, stay-at-home mom has become obsolete for me. However, I still have thoughts occasionally about what it might be like to stay at home with the kids, instead of leaving them with caregivers that I would pay with my hard-earned money.
As I wonder about the topic, I can’t help but question gender roles society expects us to play. In today’s world, some dads stay home to be the primary caregivers. Perhaps the toys I played with as a child (such as the baby doll) planted a preconceived notion in my head that I will be a mother; and by watching my mom, I came to the conclusion that I would never enter the working world. Plus, it didn’t help that the doll and all her accessories were doused in pink.
Both social and marital statuses also play a tremendous role when the decision to become a stay-at-home parent comes up. With our recovering economy, most couples who are considered “working class” contribute financially with a duel income. When I think about a parent staying home to be a primary caregiver, I would imagine that the breadwinner of the family is making enough money for the other parent to have the luxury of staying home. Or, the parent with less income feels like it’s not worth it to pay a babysitter when the paycheque doesn’t have a substantial amount left over.
Also, in the event of parents who are going at it solo — unless they’re millionaires, most single parents are usually left with no other choice but to juggle work and family life.
I look at the mothers who do juggle work and family, and I applaud them. I’m sure it’s no walk in the park. At times, I do think “How will I ever do this?” or “Am I sure I want to work?” There are always pros and cons to every situation, but in my case of my own future, I know that I need to do what’s right for me. It’s just a matter of crossing that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I’m going to go ahead and graduate college first.