Choices

This summer, my kids met some other kids on the beach. Eventually, as these things often go, I hooked up with their mom. We got to talking about the choices she'd made about balancing work and family. Turns out she'd left work she loved to raise her three children, and spoke wistfully of how, over the past 15 years that she'd been home, her husband's career had reached the enviable point where he was running a nonprofit organization. I asked if she felt good about her decisions.

"I feel good about my choice to stay home with my children. But I don't feel good about myself."

I see many at-home moms who feel this way: 100% sure they made the right decision, but just as sure their self-confidence has suffered as a result. Working moms seem to feel the opposite -- good about themselves, not 100% sure that being a working mom is best for their children.

So my question for you today is: How do you feel about your choices, or lack of choices, regarding how much of yourself you give to your work, your family and yourself?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 6, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Comments

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'I see many at-home moms who feel this way: 100% sure they made the right decision, but just as sure their self-confidence has suffered as a result.'

Then you don't know the people I know, who are happy with their choice to either work or stay home, or move between the two. Leslie, you are once again filtering information through your own perspective, instead of reporting in an unbiased way. I don't think you will ever support the opinion that many of us maintain, that we have choices about working or not, and that we should support each other, regardless of where we (male or female) fall on the work/stay at home continuum.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 6, 2006 7:15 AM

Well, I feel good about working and my kids are fine--I've never been bothered about having them in daycare/preschool. However, I do think that I would be unhappy if I stayed home full time, which is partly why I don't even though we could probably make the numbers work. But I'm not generally the hand-wringing type and I have a hard time relating to people who post on the blog who are so torn about their decisions.

Posted by: Arlmom | October 6, 2006 7:26 AM

That is a deeply personal question, which takes courage to answer to the self and family, let alone to others.

Given the roller coaster that this blog is, I'll reserve answering until the flavors of the day are clear.

Spirited debate is fine. Using others to prop up a decision shows lack of respect for others AND the self.

Experienced mom captures how my friends, neighbors, colleagues and others react: most support each other to make the best decision they can and then balance. If you disagree how another lives, well, don't marry them, or invite them to your book club if you like to spend time only with those who look and act like you. Miss Manners would also so say, say nothing. Why not?

Besides, the in-home/out-home decision changes over time. I think a second or third state feminist called this "sequencing." reflecting that we change as our circumstances invite or demand.

In advance: I support you doing your best. Thanks for helping me.

Keep the practical tips coming: Like permission to eat breakfast for dinner.

And Hi guys. I am interested if you feel conflicted. That might be the biggest revelation. But not many of you feel encouraged to speak your mind here.


Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 7:31 AM

"Eventually, as these things often go, I hooked up with their mom."

I'm still enjoying this statement.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 7:37 AM

I don't know any working mothers who are conflicted about their decision to work. On the contrary, they feel good about their ability to support their children.

I only know one SAHM, but she doesn't seem conflicted, either. I have trouble believing that the majority of mothers spend quite this much time on angst.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 6, 2006 7:48 AM

"And Hi guys. I am interested if you feel conflicted. That might be the biggest revelation. But not many of you feel encouraged to speak your mind here."

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

:-)

Posted by: Frank | October 6, 2006 7:50 AM

I used to be a SAHM but now I work. I honestly don't know which is better. Life was simpler when I didn't work, and I enjoyed watching my children grow and change, except when I didn't. There were definitely moments when I had to hang on to myself not to run away, I was either so bored or so frustrated with the day-in-day-out. Now that I'm working, I don't see my kids very much. I miss them, but I don't. I like my job, but when I have to rush out of the house without breakfast at 7:00 a.m., slam into meetings until noon, run to get a bite to eat and then see a SAHM with her kids at lunch, I wish I was back at home again. Working brings in the bacon and makes me happy in a way being at home never did, but I think I was more at peace with myself when I was at home with my kids. So, how's that for a rambling non-answer?

Posted by: Anon for Today | October 6, 2006 7:54 AM

That was the sound of me choking of my coffee. I enjoyed that last post!

I'll be brave and say something honest. When I was home full-time, I think I had a tendency to see myself and my time as less valuable than that of others who were out working full-time. It was easy to get stepped on and not stand up for myself. There was a tendency for me to say, "I'll clean up after the husband and kids because they're busy working/going to school/whatever and I have more time."

Now that I have a flexible, part-time job, it's easier for me to set a schedule and say to the family, "I have a bunch of contracts to finish, so you all have to pitch in and clean/wash dishes/do laundry/whatever or it's not going to get done."

I know that I like being busy -- not stressed, crazy busy, but busy. And that even with volunteer work, helping in the community and raising kids -- once they went to school full-time I had a lot of free time. I've actually talked to my SAHM school-aged kid neighbors about how they spend their time and clearly it's possible to feel fulfilled and happy without any job -- if you can afford it. I know a couple of women who spend ALOT of time at the gym, and a couple who are really high maintenance who seem to spend all their time at the salon. (No, I'm not kidding.) I guess my point is that you need to have something that makes you and your time valuable -- even if it isn't paid employment. I actually know a couple of women who simply have REALLY ENGROSSING hobbies -- writing novels, making jewelry, weaving. It's actually possible to have healthy self-esteem without a 'workplace', or OER's or pay raises to boost it -- but you would still need to have goals and interests (aside from being "Brittany's mom").

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 6, 2006 7:56 AM

So many of us don't have a choice about working. It is a necessity. There is nothing to feel good or bad about because it is what it is - reality. In my opinion, being able to stay at home with children is similar to affording luxury items. I don't mean this in a negative way, just that for many middle class families, having the option of a parent staying at home is economically out of reach just as ski trips to Aspen and luxury cars are out of reach. Yes, parents can adjust to try to make it work. But sometime wanting to do something is still not enough to make it happen. I choose to not worry about things I cannot change.

Posted by: M | October 6, 2006 8:02 AM

In previous jobs, I worked with a number of retired people. I was amazed by how many of them expressed sorrow because they had put their careers ahead of their families.

I've turned down promotions that would have taken more time away from my family and I've never regretted it once.

Posted by: Rufus | October 6, 2006 8:06 AM

For the first week after I went back to work after having my daughter, I cried. Not because I thought I made a bad choice, but because of the way some people reacted to me at work. Some men and women with older children would openly said things like "we sacrifice so my wife can stay home for the good of the children" and "I came back to work after my kids went to kindergarten because I couldn't leave them in day care with people who are doing God knows what."

It was hard to hear these statements. However, I finally realized that their issues were about them and not me. I am not guilty, I am not upset, and I like knowing that I contribute to the finances. I feel that I have the right balance now between work and family. When I lived in DC, I didn't, I often felt pressured for time with my daughter, and sometimes felt bad when I had to say for the 100th time, "I'm working hold on a minute."

The thing about guilt is that the feelings from guilt are worse than the actual issue that is making you feel guilty. No mother needs that when they are trying to raise healthy children. So own your choice, be happy and raise the next generation of choosers, and be glad that we, and hopefully, they do and will have a choice.

Posted by: Scarry | October 6, 2006 8:13 AM

I stayed at home for 2 1/2 years with my dear daughter and now have worked outside
the home for 2 1/2 years. Her day care provider teaches her about gardening, dogs,
and is teaching her the Spanish language.

I have taught my daughter about music appreciation and books (I am a librarian).
It takes a village to raise a child and I
have used the best for my daughter. She
turns 5 soon and we are proud of her.

Posted by: shdd | October 6, 2006 8:17 AM

I feel 100% right about the choices I've made toward my family, but maybe only 75 or 80% right about myself, or my work/self time. Prior to becoming a father, I don't think I ever realized what a priority work was to me, despite my not being a super ladder-climbing type of guy (i.e., I have worked mostly for nonprofits). But after our son was born, the centerpoint of my life shifted so suddenly to the homefront ("sorry, gotta leave, my son is sick..." or my wife needs me, so "i won't be in today... " etc., etc.). I was quite fortunate to land a job with the government just one month before our son was born, which has afforded us both the income and flexibility to balance our lives pretty well (my wife works part-time one day a week in the office and works from home the rest of the week for the same employer, as well as running her own business, largely from home; thus, when I get home, she often starts or continues to work). I'm home on Mondays with my favorite little guy and most days I'm pretty much joined to his hip from about 4:15/4:30 to bedtime (8:30), so it's been a thrill to get so much time together, watch him develop, learn from one another, and actually feel like my wife isn't wrestling with 100% of the responsibilities. I'm someone who likes to be involved in a lot of different things and I have found that I continually choose not to get involved with volunteer opportunities or events I might otherwise engage in because they would compete with the flexibility I have/need or obligate me in ways I'm not ready to commit to--this extends to my work, and while it has in no way prevented me from getting any promotions or anything like that, it does keep me from volunteering for certain projects or seeking the spotlight. The best analogy I can come up with is that I'd like to be running, but most of the time I'm holding myself to speed walking (if that makes any sense). So work and self time are not exactly in balance, although this has gotten better as our son gets older. I don't spend much time with guy friends anymore--as someone who chose not to spend much time with the guys prior to becoming a dad, we're talking a few times a year now (partly because many of my friends are up to an hour away or so and I haven't really hit it off with any co-workers or other dads to the point I'd want to spend a lot of time with them). Which has led me to an increased interest in watching sports--I had to laugh when my neighbor across the street (a father of 4) said he was doing some errands for his wife in the morning last Sunday until 1pm and then watching football the rest of the day... he then added: "I don't even really like football."). Seeing family on the weekends becomes more central to social life after having a child (at least for us, who are fortunate enough to have family in the area and get along with them). So for a while, social, artistic, and athletic pursuits seem to take a backseat to fatherhood and being a husband, but time for those pursuits is re-emerging and or I'm finding more balanced ways to incorporate them (i.e., I exercise by biking to work). I haven't been as fullfilled or as productive in those other areas of my life as would make me feel great about myself, but my son won't be little for all that much longer and those side projects will always be waiting for me.

I think the most important thing about any of the choices I make is to own them as my own and not resent anyone else if I do end up feeling poorly about them. Then there's the more traditional guy part of me, that's simply like: that's life, suck it up. I say that partly in jest, but I'm very much my father in that I simply try to make the best of what the situation presents, do what I can for my family (who more than reward me in return with love and affection), and don't spend much time dwelling on what is lost or missed.

I think it's a different experience for men--I don't know too many men who have felt forced to be involved with their children or stay at home. It's more of a choice (not one without sacrifices), as most men are not judged poorly if they're not at home or super-involved, nor do they feel like they're neglecting their children (from what I can tell). It doesn't seem to be that way for most of the women I know.

Posted by: marc | October 6, 2006 8:31 AM

When our oldest was born [premie, came home still under 4 lbs] the plan was for my wife [also a professional with graduate degree] to take off a couple of months and come back to work part-time. We were lucky to have enough leave / flexibility for her to have 3 months off, and then 3 months of only working 3 days/week where I was able to stay at home those three days a week so one of us was still home fulltime.

Fast forward to children 2 and 3 -- and her [and I] wanting her to be home fulltime, my career taking off, significant travel, and 4 straight months of averaging over 100 hours a week in the office. Now I'm still in my late 30's, a Vice-President of a small (~200 people) software company, and I work out of my house most days a week. I get to walk the kids to school most days and I'm here when they get off the bus.

Every road is a toll road -- some with higher fees than others. You just pick the one that you think is right, pay the toll, and keep driving.

As Frank indicated earlier, too few regrets to mention (yep, I like that song too).

Posted by: A Dad | October 6, 2006 8:48 AM

Thank you everyone. I am having one of those days that I feel like all of my choices are wrong. Most of your comments have made me laugh or at least smile. I particularly relate to the toll road analogy. It reminded me that sometimes, even when you are on a very expensive toll road, you can pull off to the side of the road and enjoy the view and fresh air.

Posted by: Maria | October 6, 2006 8:49 AM

I work full-time and have my 2 preschoolers in daycare, and I've never felt bad about it. This is probably because I know what a rotten SAHM I would be- I'm pretty sure that if I were at home all the time with my 2 high-energy boys, I'd be sacked out on the couch by noon every day watching soap operas! Instead, we are fortunate enough to be able to send them to a really great day care with loving teachers, other kids to play with, and lots of fun activities that I'm sure I would never be able to think of on my own.

Posted by: randommom | October 6, 2006 8:51 AM

I finished reading Freakonomics last week (my reading time isn't what it once was with a one-year-old), and there was an interesting review of parenting concepts, whether they bore out according to a detailed survey. One powerful statement was that STAYING AT HOME FOR THE FIRST FIVE YEARS...didn't positively correlate with the children's success. Now, I know this book was sparking discussion a year ago. I'd be interested in knowing if this was challenged. Actually, there was a fair amount of parenting that was reviewed, though I know it's not a parenting book. As a working mom, the comment held my interest. I would NOT foist it on my SAHM friends, though. Anyone else process this further than reading it?

Posted by: slazar | October 6, 2006 9:06 AM

Somehow, I think no one will top the Sinatra comment. Words to live by!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 9:07 AM

God some of you people (e.g. "experienced mom") are sensitive and can find criticism in anything. Makes me wonder why some of you continue to frequent this board.

Yes, Leslie is filtering things through her perspective. IT IS HER BLOG. If you want someone else's perspective, like your own, start your own blog. Geez.

The point of her post today -as many people have thankfully caught on to- was to tell her (and us) about your choices and how you feel about them. SHE IS ASKING FOR YOUR OPINION and point of view. So give it. You and your friends feel differently than Leslie and the mom she talked about, say so.

Posted by: JS | October 6, 2006 9:13 AM

Scarry wrote, "I finally realized that their issues were about them and not me." Exactly. It has taken me a long time to realize that as well. There are few things more irritating than people who give you grief over your life choices, either directly or passive-aggressively. People with those issues believe that YOUR choices are about THEM. Some (not all) breast-feeding advocates seem to have the same issues, often equating bottle-feeders with Nazi war criminals. If I said that their issues were about insecurities, would that be pointing out the obvious?

Posted by: Tonio | October 6, 2006 9:14 AM

Anybody out there read Heartbreak Hotel by Gabrielle Burton?

It's a wonderful novel that deals with some of the mom-related feelings people have been expressing on this blog, discusses the ambiguous feeling that these choices breed in women.

As for me? I used to want children. But after reading this blog for a while I'm not so sure....

Posted by: Rita | October 6, 2006 9:14 AM

Anybody out there read Heartbreak Hotel by Gabrielle Burton?

It's a wonderful novel that deals with some of the mom-related feelings people have been expressing on this blog, discusses the ambiguous feeling that these choices breed in women.

As for me? I used to want children. But after reading this blog for a while I'm not so sure....

Posted by: Rita | October 6, 2006 9:15 AM

Anybody out there read Heartbreak Hotel by Gabrielle Burton?

It's a wonderful novel that deals with some of the mom-related feelings people have been expressing on this blog, discusses the ambiguous feeling that these choices breed in women.

As for me? I used to want children. But after reading this blog for a while I'm not so sure....

Posted by: Rita | October 6, 2006 9:15 AM

Anybody out there read Heartbreak Hotel by Gabrielle Burton?

It's a wonderful novel that deals with some of the mom-related feelings people have been expressing on this blog, discusses the ambiguous feeling that these choices breed in women.

As for me? I used to want children. But after reading this blog for a while I'm not so sure....

Posted by: Rita | October 6, 2006 9:15 AM

I am such a proud working mom. My only conflict came the first week or so returning from maternity leave when I experienced separation anxiety. Now, three years later I know I am a better mom because I have a career I love. Every minute I spend with my family is precious. When we go to the park, I play on the slides and swings alongside my child. We run the bases at the ball field and frequent all the special programs (libraries, etc.) that we can find on the weekends. My son is in a high-quality day care center. He is 3 and he is teaching me Spanish and sign language. He has gaggles of friends and is outgoing and social. He is a champ at sharing, even though he is an only child.

The SAHMs I see in my neighborhood (and they are the majority) are the ones who sit on the benches at the park and watch their kids play, or sit on their front steps and watch their kids play while they yak it up with other SAHMs. Do you really think all the SAHMs trolling Target, who I see on my lunch hour (you know the ones with the screaming kids who are running amok while mom is fawning over the new fall sweaters) are providing a higher-quality day because they are "home" with the kids? When I see these moms and kids fighting in Target, I think about my child doing arts and crafts with his friends and seeing school puppet shows while these kids are running around a big box store. I know I am doing the right thing.

I adore my family. I love my career. I have it all.

Posted by: happy mom | October 6, 2006 9:15 AM

A lot of wisdom here today.

Humor too -- I hadn't looked at the possible interpretations of my "hooking up" with that mom on the beach. Thank you getting me to spit my coffee all over my keyboard. Hilarious mental image of two moms on the beach...

What I see is that all of us struggle with our choices (or lack of choices) at times. Sometimes we feel 100% great. At times like this I try to be extra generous and supportive of other moms who seem to be plagued by frustration, guilt and doubt. And then later when I'm having a hard time they seem to pay me back with reassurances.

I've yet to come across one woman who said she regretted having kids, though!

Posted by: Leslie | October 6, 2006 9:17 AM

I can't speak for SAHMs, but no regrets here. I work full time and my kids are with a sitter they love. I do feel conflicted about spending too much time at work, but not about working in general. For the last 2 years I've been debating part-time work because that seems like the best of both worlds. Like Scarry, we left DC a year ago and that has helped trmendously. The rest of the worls doesn't run at the same warp speed!

Getting back to the original topic, there's no doubt in my mind that my self-confidence and self-worth would suffer if I did not work. I have to believe that it's best for my sons to have a confident, happy Mom as a role model.

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | October 6, 2006 9:24 AM

To Happy Mom

I see the same things when I pop into the mall on my lunch hour to pay bills. Women aimlessly pushing strollers in some kind of a fog and their kids look pretty spaced out too.

Makes you wonder about the "my kids come first" mantra.

Posted by: Elaine | October 6, 2006 9:27 AM

My husband stayed home with our older daughter for her first year and a half, and I felt very comfortable returning to work f/t knowing that she was in the hands of someone who loved her as much as I did. As an older toddler, she went on to share a nanny part-time, and then on to preschool. Because of changing financial circumstances, our 2nd child has started with a nanny part-time at age 4 months. It's just part-time, but we both feel a little uneasy about her being with a non- family member. The nanny is a great caretaker, but she is not family, so she doesn't love our baby the way we do. While I think it is nice for the baby to learn to trust another adult to meet her needs, I question whether it's an ideal situation for an infant. I certainly see the benefit of non-family-caretaking (at least part-time) for a toddler or older child.

As to how my husband and I felt about ourselves in every situation, I think we are happiest when one of us is home with the child or only working part-time. Despite our place of residence, we are not type A people, and we feel more relaxed about our lives and our children's lives when we are not so rushed. We do, however, feel far more apprehensive than many of our dual-full-income friends about our financial situation--and I mean important things like retirement and college funds, not our inability to buy luxury items. I hope we will catch up with our savings goals at some point when both kids are in school all day!

Posted by: metro dc | October 6, 2006 9:28 AM

"I choose to not worry about things I cannot change."

Wisdom of the ages for achieving balance. Making choices and being comfortable with that choice removes alot of anxiety. Of course one could choose in the future to go in a different direction - but in life there are no "do overs," or "same seats." the choice may be similar, the situation similar but historical results are no guarantee of future performance.

Posted by: Fo3 | October 6, 2006 9:36 AM

I've been on both sides, a SAHM for 3 years, then returning to school which was like working part time and then full time work, including full time after having the third and last child. I am definitely happier working than I was at home - it's been better for my self esteem and I believe I'm providing a better role model for my children, as well as providiing them a much happier mother. But, I can't say it's perfect. It's a constant effort to balance, to give and take. My children are now 12, 10, and 4. I recently turned 40. I've been re-evaluating my work/home balance in the past few months, not unrelated to having read Leslie's book and then reading and participating in this blog. Although I love my job and it's thankfully a true 40 hour week effort, I was extremely involved in many community activities, non-profit boards, state bar committees, volunteer editorial positions, etc. I did too much and I missed my children. I've cut way back - changing from an hour intense litigation position to an in-house counsel position; changing my work hours to leave at 4:00 and pick the kids up from bus/school; eliminating all but one "extra-curricular" activity. It's been a great change. I'm more relaxed and not so crazy-busy and the children and I have really become closer and had more fun. The house is running better - not perfect, but better. My husband and I have time to talk together and to run together in the mornings. My 12 year old has really begun to talk about school and what's going on with him and the changes he's experiencing. I think it's just *being there* that has encouraged this. So, I view balancing as being willing to change, and as a work in progress. These steps have made things better for us for now but I can imagine this will change too. I think the continuum of SAH and WOH involves making different choices at different points in the parents' and the kids' lives and it's rarely 100% clear where you can/need to be. I agree with the idea of "sequencing" that was mentioned earlier - and I think I will be fortunate to "have it all" - just not all at the same time.

Posted by: SS | October 6, 2006 9:49 AM

to marc: I really like your comments. It sounds a lot like my husband and, having come from a family where my dad was not involved at all, I couldn't feel more lucky to have him.

Elaine and Happy Mom: can we all stop making generalizations about each other? Not all SAHMs wander around the mall while their kids run amuck and it is just condescending to suggest that. I think there are actually a lot of parents out there, SAH or working, that let thier kids run wild, let's not pin it on one group. This is what creates the so-called "mommy-wars"... we're just making worse!

Posted by: gradstudent | October 6, 2006 9:53 AM

"I choose to not worry about things I cannot change." - M

Wisdom of the ages for achieving balance.

Making choices and being comfortable with that choice removes alot of anxiety. Of course one could choose in the future to go in a different direction, or back on the previous tangeant - but in life there are no "do overs," or "same seats." the choice may be similar, the situation similar but "hysterical results are no guarantee of future performance."

The anxiety for me comes when I feel I cannot change ANYTHING. Similar with DW. Being trapped can be really oppressive.

We grew corn this year. I cleared out a "flower bed" that had been overrun by a wide assortment of native weeds as it was past-due on my "honey do" list. Planted the seed in early August, now about 7 feet high and nicely ornamental. The three year old loved eating her own baby-corn. Very simple, unexpected, very satisfying to affect change on the smallest scale sometimes.

Posted by: Fo3 | October 6, 2006 9:53 AM

To me, this one says it all:
"I think the most important thing about any of the choices I make is to own them as my own and not resent anyone else if I do end up feeling poorly about them."

Nice one, Marc.

Maybe we all should just make our choices and own them. Maybe guys have an easier time doing this because they have more confidence and less self-doubt overall, which is perhaps why women have more angst over this issue.

Men can learn to be nurturing, involved parents; why can't we women learn to just make our choices, commit to them, and move forward?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 9:56 AM

Eight weeks to go and I am struggling with the decision to not work, work part-time, or work full-time once the baby comes. Not working would be possible for about a year but would set me back in my career but I would have tons of time with the baby--maybe too much. Working part-time would be okay but the we would cut it even each month, barring any disasters. And, I would have my toe still in the working world but more time with my child. Working full time would be great financially but would I see my child enough to make me and her happy?

There are no easy answers and I have a feeling that no matter what decision I make it will be a struggle before, during and after. So for now, I change my mind daily.

Posted by: Soon to be Mom | October 6, 2006 9:59 AM

"I choose to not worry about things I cannot change."

There was a baseball player - I forget who - who said, "I don't worry about things I can control, because if I can control them, why worry? And I don't worry about things that are outside my control, because if I can't control them, worrying is pointless." I think about that a lot.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 6, 2006 10:01 AM

If your nanny really is a "great caretaker" don't underestimate how much she genuinely loves your infant child. In my experience people who choose careers like childcare -- and I mean the ones who choose it because they love it, not the ones who are just doing it to pay the bills -- tend to be super nurturing and loving types. I think the same is true of nurses, teachers, etc. who really have a passion for their jobs. They have a tremendous capacity to care about the well being of others.

My friend is one of these people. She's so emotionally invested in the well being of "her" kids (the ones she's paid to care for), I find it very admirable.

Posted by: to metro dc | October 6, 2006 10:04 AM

I have always worked outside the home since my daughter was born 5 years ago. That's been a conscious choice as well as financial necessity. I have never made "excuses" for my decision and I have never regretted it. I looked and looked for the best possible caregivers for my child and she's thrived but make no mistake I am raising my child (I say *I* because her dad walked out without a backward glance, which is another topic in and of itself for discussion). I have also thrived and progressed quite nicely in my career. My daughter has friends with SAH moms, and friends with work-outside-the home moms like me. The diversity has helped her to see that people and their choices come in all flavors. I hope I've set an example for her that because women are moms doesn't mean they can't put themselves and their goals as a priority, as well.

I will say, that for my own sanity, life was easier and less hectic for *me* when I worked part-time for a while this year. By that, I mean more time spent with my daughter, more time getting organized, etc--but also more time for *me*--heck, to get a good haircut, have lunch with a friend, read a book.

Posted by: happyworkingmom | October 6, 2006 10:11 AM

I think all moms have moments of doubt, whether SAH or working. At least my friends do. I admit to feeling anxiety over my choices from time to time. But I look at my son and realized if I stayed home we would both go crazy.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 6, 2006 10:12 AM

I changed career tracks partly due to wanting to start a family. I was a scientist in the lab, as is my husband. I couldn't see how we could both have such topsy-turvy unpredictable jobs with so much time in the workplace. I'm now managing a group of medical writers. It's fulfilling, more predictable, I can do work from home, and I get paid more! Yay!

Maternity leave confirmed my suspicion that I was not cut out for the SAH life. I truly enjoy time with my baby in the evening. She is a joy - moreso when she has not worn me down!

Posted by: MaryB | October 6, 2006 10:14 AM

can't comment on the freakanomics book's point about staying home not having an impact upon "success", but i think this is just like anything else: all parents are not great, just because they're physically present (just like employees). the only difference i've personally seen in daycare children, is that they seem to crave more time with their parents and individual adult attention than the children i know who have stay at home parents (that pay attention to them). i wouldn't extend this generalization past my own experience, i just know that the kids i know in daycare or who don't get much attention from one or both of their parents, flip heads over heels when i or my wife play with them and i almost can't get them to be quiet as they try to tell me everything they can since i actually listen to them.

we've always gone by the rule that if any of the adults in the family are truly unhappy (miserable at home, or not getting enough personal time), than that is just going to make the rest of the family miserable, as well. role modeling for your children is just as much about showing them how important they are and how much they are loved, as it is about showing them how to grow into individuals who have interests and interactions with the world at large.

great comments today, everyone. it does seem more intrinsic for women to worry or feel guilty and more natural for guys to put play over housework ; )

somebody posted yesterday about sacrificing some sleep in order to keep some balance--i had to laugh at that, as i think sometime doing things inefficiently actually leads to more balance (letting children help with dinner; grocery shopping as a family--mom sends the mancub and I out on excursions for 1 or 2 items at a time as we return to the homebase cart with our finds; dad stands in line to pay for groceries while mom and son go get a treat or some coffee... i realize not everyone has this luxury, but again some of this is about inefficiency as one of us could be doing something else productive in the home or yard).

Posted by: marc | October 6, 2006 10:22 AM

I look around my circle of friends and think the most important thing for kids is to have happy parents. I've noticed that if the parents are happy, whether they both work or one stays home, the kids seem to turn out to be good kids. If the parents are the high-strung, bickering, bitter types (again regardless of whether they both work or not), the kids usually turn out to be bratty little pills.

That's my $.02.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | October 6, 2006 10:24 AM

to marc and others about daycare children:

Interesting NIH study on daycare & children

http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/oct2006/nichd-03.htm

Posted by: alex. mom | October 6, 2006 10:26 AM

I see the same things when I pop into the mall on my lunch hour to pay bills. Women aimlessly pushing strollers in some kind of a fog and their kids look pretty spaced out too.
*******************
Do you think that this might just be a part of a much bigger picture. It's akin to saying that babies are just about poopie diapers. Sure, I run errands with my child, which can be pretty mundane, but do so much more than that. I sing to my child in French so he'll be exposed to the language. I read stories to him, lovingly pointing out details on the pages. I explain the sights and sounds of the outdoors when we go on walks. I can't imagine a daycare worker giving my child as much attention as I give to him. It's like Communism VS Capitalism. You're inherently more interested in your own property than in communal property.

For the record, I see plenty of spaced out kids being pulled en masse in a large cart by their daycare worker. My favorite, though, is the chain-gang style rope walks that daycard kids go in. I see it in D.C. all the time.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 6, 2006 10:27 AM

To - soon to be mom;

FWIW, I was off for 9 months and loved it (well, the first three months were really hard - but that is the nature of a newborn), I then worked part-time for a month to transition and have been back working full-time (at a normal hours job) for over a year now. My daughter has been in daycare since she was 10 months old and LOVES it. The first weeks in daycare were hard, but I really think she was reaching an age where she needed a lot of stimulation from other kids and activities, so it was great. She runs into daycare every day thrilled to be there and she runs into our arms every night thrilled to see us.

It is impossible to know how you will feel about this before the baby comes. You may love being home, you may itch to get back to work. I think the hardest part about 3 months being a standard time to go back to work is that this is the age where you are finally starting to feel comfortable with the baby and relax and have fun and then you have to go back to work, at least that was my experience.

Posted by: AU Park mom | October 6, 2006 10:29 AM

It's interesting that most of you are answering in terms of your feelings now about what you're doing now. However, the woman in Leslie's example had been a SAHM for 15 years and was reflecting on how she felt about herself after all that time -- possibly taking into account opportunities not taken, potential not fulfilled, etc.

Do any of you SAHMs think you may feel less good about yourselves after 15 or so years of SAHM-hood?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 10:31 AM

"One powerful {Freakonomics] statement was that STAYING AT HOME FOR THE FIRST FIVE YEARS...didn't positively correlate with the children's success. "

Slazar, I believe success in the book was measured by performance on academic standardized tests. I would guess that most moms and dads are not making the decision to stay home based on their children's potential to score highly on tests. I think the convential wisdom the book claimed to be challenging, that staying at home equates to higher academic acheivement, was never really anyone's convential wisdom in the first place.

Posted by: Peter North | October 6, 2006 10:31 AM

I feel the SAHM thing is like a religion to some SAHMs. Does anyone else feel that way? Like they are willing to make tremendous sacrifices (like their identity outside of being a mom and wife) in the name of the children.

Posted by: KateX | October 6, 2006 10:36 AM

i work outside the home full time. the only time i feel any regret is when i drive home and on the next block over are 2 neighbors out front with their 2 boys playing together. i wish that my son could be playing with them but that is my regret not my son's & i recognize that fact. my son, on the other hand, loves his friends in after school care. he would probably be heartbroken if i changed my schedule around just so i could pick him up so he could play with the kids on the next block. while in after school care he has friends who have a broad range of ages and if he were home i would seek out only those children who are his age.
i recognize the regret is mine not his and i deal with it.

Posted by: quark | October 6, 2006 10:36 AM

A brief off-topic jaunt: the pointy sciency types on another blog investigated Fo4's claim to be blind and he checked out one hundred percent blind. And he is pretty much like he sounds on the blogs as well, possibly a little funnier in person, too.
Just FYI.

I think to work or not to work depends a lot on the woman and the family dynamics.

Not all women are created alike nor do they all have equal resources to focus endlessly on their children. I've known women who certainly enjoyed the SAHM role, except for the isolation, then were happy to work part time and then eventually full-time only when the kids were independent, because they really enjoyed the SAHM role and didn't want working to swamp all of that out.

And then I know women who absolutely MUST work for their own sanity, they simply don't deal well with isolation or having no time to themselves in peace. I suspect they do not even worry anymore that working is not the best thing for their kids as well. They might think they could have more energy if they worked less, but that might not even be true.

Energy is as much psychological as it is physical.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 6, 2006 10:38 AM

Amen, gradstudent. I can't even remember the last time I was in a mall or big box during a weekday. Just because the SAHMs that you see when you're running lunchtime errands are in a trance doesn't mean that the rest of us - who are out in the world enjoying it with our children - are.

I am 100% satisfied with how much I give to my family and myself (and my paid work, which at this point in time is zero :o).) When I was a full time working mom of two going to graduate school and supporting my husband and children, I wasn't satisfied - but the difference there was that it was *not* a choice. If I had been making the choice to work, I would have been 100% satisfied with the situation, but I wasn't.

Sure, I have my moments where my family doesn't appear to appreciate what I do. I was going to tell a story about what my 12 year old daughter did/said yesterday but decided to spare you all. But I think we have to recognize that there's a difference between being a doormat and caring for your family. Just because I'm the only one who does the laundry and the dishes around here doesn't mean that a) everyone else is a lazy a** or that b) I don't have time for myself.

Re: the Freakonomics parenting survey....
I would be "concerned" at the results if the reason I was staying home with my young children was so they would be "successful." But I'm not.

Armchairmom - " actually know a couple of women who simply have REALLY ENGROSSING hobbies -- writing novels, making jewelry, weaving. It's actually possible to have healthy self-esteem without a 'workplace', or OER's or pay raises to boost it -- but you would still need to have goals and interests (aside from being "Brittany's mom")."

I couldn't agree more. I know MANY women like this, and even though I would hardly lump myself in with a novelist or artist, it's exactly what I strive to do - to enjoy my "hobbies" so much that I never need to go back to an office again.

Posted by: momof4 | October 6, 2006 10:38 AM

My only regret was not having taken a longer maternity leave when my son was born. I went back to work after 8 weeks and it was too soon. But my husband stayed home with the baby for two years, and we both felt good about that. At least I did not have to worry about the baby and knew with absolute certainty that he would be well cared for. After two years, my husband wanted to go back to school, so we found a daycare center we liked and put our son it it. At first, I worried that he was too young, and that the care he got would not be as loving and attentive as my husband's, but after a few weeks, I felt fine about the daycare. I knew and liked the teachers. My son loved socializing with the other kids. He did not cry or show any signs of distress when we dropped him off, and was a very happy child. I feel good about my choices because I realize that we made the best ones possible under our circumstances. Sure, sometimes I would like to bag work and go shopping and drink lattes, but who doesn't feel that way sometimes? Most days, I am perfectly happy with my life, with what I can provide for my child, and with the state of my marriage. I feel very lucky in this regard.

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 10:38 AM

alex.mom: thanks for the link. for those who aren't blowing off their work duties like i appear to be doing today, these few lines from the study sum it up well:

http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/oct2006/nichd-03.htm
"However, parent and family features were two to three times more strongly linked to child development than was child care during the preschool years.

"For example, children did better when parents were more educated, when families' incomes were higher, when mothers had fewer or no symptoms of depression, and when families had well organized routines, books, and play materials, and took part in learning activities.

"These features were as important to the well-being of children who had been in child care as they were for children who had not been in child care."

Posted by: marc | October 6, 2006 10:38 AM

"I used to be a SAHM but now I work."

This kind of says it all!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 10:39 AM

marc - thanks for posting those quotes from the study.

The pro-Universal-preschool crowd uses similar tactics to promote their cause - "children who go to preschool do better in school." But actually, there have been no studies done that prove this in the general population. Yes, disadvantaged children who participate in Head Start and the like do better in school than disadvantaged children who don't. But for children who come from middle and upper-class families, there is no difference as to how they perform in school between those who attended preschool and those who don't.

Posted by: momof4 | October 6, 2006 10:41 AM

I feel the SAHM thing is like a religion to some SAHMs. Does anyone else feel that way? Like they are willing to make tremendous sacrifices (like their identity outside of being a mom and wife) in the name of the children.

I don't think it's productive to make these generalizations about SAHMs. Or to make them about working moms either. People make their choices based on their temperaments, their values, their economic situations, their cultural upbringing. Why the need to pigeon hole them and label them in that way? I say live and let live.

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 10:42 AM

One more thing... it bugs me when SAHMs talk about how much enrichment they give their little ones as if working parents DON'T read books with their kids, talk to them in a language other than English, go on walks and "lovingly point out details" etc. I do all of those things with my kids, and I work, too!

If you can afford for one parent to stay home and you're happy doing that, fine. But don't automatically assume your way is superior. It's just different. I'm sure your kids are happy, but mine are too.

Sorry, I try not to get into these battles, but that one post above about kids in daycare being "communal property" just hit a nerve. I found it insulting to me and my children.

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | October 6, 2006 10:43 AM

Sorry, I try not to get into these battles, but that one post above about kids in daycare being "communal property" just hit a nerve. I found it insulting to me and my children.
*****************
Sure, just as I don't appreciate the assertion that, as a SAHM, I sit on the couch watching soaps and eating bon bons all day.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 6, 2006 10:44 AM

Wow, I thought this was about how we felt about ourselves, not how we felt about other's choices. Yes, I have seen screaming kids in stores, my kid has been one, if your kid hasn't, you are one lucky parent. I've also seen kids at day care grab their parent's legs; my kid hasn't, so I guess I am lucky that way. It's about your choice and what makes you happy, why does what makes you happy have to be qualified by, I saw this SAHM mother in the store with disengaged, bratty kids or I saw the working mom looking frazzled with kids who looked sad?

Lawyer mom, yes, I am much happier now that I am out of DC. Things do move slower in the Midwest. However, I do miss some of the people and being able to have all kinds of free stuff to do!

I have to say that I have seen the kids in DC walking holding on to rope. That is one of the reasons I always kept my daughter in the suburbs in daycare. Does anyone have a kid in day care in the city? Do you feel safe about your kid walking around holding the rope? It is something I have always wondered about.

Posted by: Scarry | October 6, 2006 10:49 AM

"I think the most important thing about any of the choices I make is to own them as my own and not resent anyone else if I do end up feeling poorly about them."

So true. I think people get so upset over intensely personal choices regarding childrearing, religion, lifestyle, etc. because people like to think that they are rational, intelligent people who have made all their decisions based on logic and truth. Being confronted by a peer who has made entirely different choices makes people think, "Hmmm, they are a rational, intelligent person who has come to a different conclusion-- by choosing to live differently, they are implying that I am wrong. But that can't be true. They must be wrong!" Then the bitterness and vitriol begins.

What this leaves out is that our personal decisions are influenced by our own upbringing, our culture, our unique circumstances, our beliefs about ourselves, our emotions, our spiritual beliefs-- in other words, a lot of things that have nothing to do with logic or objective truth. People who cannot acknowledge this, who believe they have a monopoly on absolute truth will tie themselves in knots to make the other person wrong in order to avoid disturbing their construct of reality (myriad mundane examples apply, but see our President for example in chief).

Make your choices. Be honest with yourself about the consequences. If you think you made the wrong choice, nothing is forever-- re-tool and change the situation if you can. There are worse things than being wrong or making a mistake. No one can live your life but you-- each of us travels a different path. It's hard to do when we've been raised to believe there is a right answer for everything, but part of growing up is letting go of the childish notion that everything is absolutely black and white-- somehow, we have to let go of the notion of one right answer when it comes to parenting and career.

Posted by: JKR | October 6, 2006 10:51 AM

Sure, just as I don't appreciate the assertion that, as a SAHM, I sit on the couch watching soaps and eating bon bons all day.
>>>>
Yet you find time to participate in chats?

Posted by: hmmm | October 6, 2006 10:52 AM

I don't have kids, but last week my 4-year-old niece was quizzin gme about having kids. So last night I had this dream where I had a baby. It was very cute and looked a lot like I did when I was a baby, but I couldn't help but think, when do I get to go back to work?

My husband & I have always said that when we have kids, I'd stay home to take care of them, but that sort of sounds like hell to me. I really like working.

I'm thinking this is yet another affirmation that I'm not ready for kids. That, and in my dream the baby turned into a little alligator and I didn't take very good care of it.

Does anyone else have these dreams?

Posted by: Kelly | October 6, 2006 10:53 AM

"But I think we have to recognize that there's a difference between being a doormat and caring for your family. Just because I'm the only one who does the laundry and the dishes around here doesn't mean that a) everyone else is a lazy a** or that b) I don't have time for myself."

"to enjoy my "hobbies" so much that I never need to go back to an office again. "

What do you think your 12 year old is learning from this? And who is footing the bill for this "hobby lifestyle"?

Posted by: DZ | October 6, 2006 10:53 AM

This is a conflict that's really hitting home for me now. With 2 kids under 4, I've finally decided to leave a 15 year career I love in the next few weeks to enter the land of playdates, diaper set melodrama, and too many hours alone with my kids. and I've always been one of those "love to work and will do it forever" moms.

Is it the right choice? Yes, for right now. My husband's extended work hours have already left them without one parent and me with a life of chaos trying to keep the family up to speed with him at the office 14 hours a day. I'm tired and burned out, mostly on the fact that I have no time to myself anymore. At home, at least I'll have 3 hour afternoon naps to do whatever I like for me.

Wish me luck.

Posted by: gidget | October 6, 2006 10:54 AM

Soon to Be Mom: I was in your shoes when expecting my first child, and my own mother was the one who gave me the best advice. I had the opportunity to go back to work part time, and she told me to just to give it a try, and if it didn't work for our family I could always quit. Harder to go the other way, so make the choice that leaves the most doors open, and scale back from there accordingly and as necessary. Just having a plan in place but knowing I had a Plan B really gave me peace of mind and let me enjoy my pregnancy and maternity leave. We tend to lock ourselves into an all or nothing mindset, when really, we can all roll with the punches and change as circumstances dictate. Even for parents who both must work due to financial circumstances, there are things we can do to make our lives less hectic and more balanced, and similarly, SAH parents can tweak their lives if they feel their own identities are being subsumed in the childrens'. Often it is the smallest things that make the difference. For example, for me, the best thing I've done for my sanity was to turn off the tv--I didn't realize how much time it sucked from our days until we put a moratorium on it. It is so easy to collapse exhausted in front of the tube at the end of the day, and before you know it, there goes your little bit of time to exercise, catch up with friends, or whatever. Just record your absolute favorite shows to watch while folding laundry after the kids are in bed, and you can fast forward through all those commercials. I let my kids watch tv but keep it to a minimum, especially during the week.

Posted by: Happy Working Mom | October 6, 2006 10:56 AM

Sure, just as I don't appreciate the assertion that, as a SAHM, I sit on the couch watching soaps and eating bon bons all day.
>>>>
Yet you find time to participate in chats?

As do you! Are you working or are you on welfare.


What do you think your 12 year old is learning from this? And who is footing the bill for this "hobby lifestyle"?


Who cares what her 12 year old thinks, she gave birth to her it's her choice to raise her how she sees fit.


WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHOICE! that's the topic of the blog.

Posted by: judgemental people suck | October 6, 2006 10:56 AM

"it bugs me when SAHMs talk about how much enrichment they give their little ones as if working parents DON'T read books with their kids, talk to them in a language other than English, go on walks and "lovingly point out details" etc. I do all of those things with my kids, and I work, too!"

I wouldn't take those sorts of comments as an attack against working parents. I would venture to say that most SAHMs who say them aren't arguing that you *don't* do those sorts of things with your kids....but are saying them in response to the camp who says "you're just pushing your child in the stroller aimlessly about the mall - my child is in daycare where they do wonderful arts in crafts."

Also, and I feel comfortable saying this since I have done both - there is simply more time to do enriching things with your kids when you don't have a job outside the home.

Posted by: momof4 | October 6, 2006 11:06 AM

Wow. To be honest, I envy all of you who "make your choice and make peace with it". For the sake of adding a different voice to the discussion, I am one of the people who is constantly filled with angst over my choices. Granted, I think partly it's because I don't feel I HAVE the same choices - I am a single parent, so I have to work. I suppose this is simplistic also - I could have gone on welfare, or let my family support me, or planned better financially to begin with. So I guess I feel a lot of guilt because I made poor choices at some point in the past that have limited my choices in the present. I have never spent as much time with my son as I would have liked to and it is something I deeply regret.

Posted by: TakomaMom | October 6, 2006 11:07 AM


Yet you find time to participate in chats?

As do you! Are you working or are you on welfare.
*****************
Assume much? My child is sleeping. I enrich myself by reading the Washington Post when I have a few moments.

My husband and I make financial sacrifices so I can stay at home.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 6, 2006 11:09 AM

When you die, how do you want to be remembered?
Would your tomstone read,
"Vice President of XYZ corporation. Stellar Worker"
or
"Best Mom in the World. Loving Wife."

Posted by: TexFisherMAN | October 6, 2006 11:10 AM

"As do you! Are you working or are you on welfare."


This was in response to the person who said this:

"Yet you find time to participate in chats?"

I didn't say you were on welfare, I was pointing out that the person who is attacking you, is on the blog too.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:13 AM

When you die, how do you want to be remembered?
Would your tomstone read,
"Vice President of XYZ corporation. Stellar Worker"
or
"Best Mom in the World. Loving Wife."

Some people want both, if you don't good for you!

"Best mom in the world who set a good example for her children by being a VP of a company that changed the world."

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:15 AM

to TexFisherMAN:
both of these tombstones depress the hell out of me...

Posted by: MaryB | October 6, 2006 11:15 AM

When you die, how do you want to be remembered?
Would your tomstone read,
"Vice President of XYZ corporation. Stellar Worker"
or
"Best Mom in the World. Loving Wife."

-------
The two are not mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:17 AM

To TexFisherMAN

I don't think your two choices are mutually exclusive. Some women will be remembered as both having contributed to the working world AND having been loving moms and wives. One example is Sandra Day O'Connor.

But I also don't think one is any better than the other. Some women are suited to working, and some want to stay at home, and some want to do both. It is ridiculous that this artificial choice is imposed on women, and then they are judged as bad mothers if they choose to work. Men don't have to choose. They can be considered great fathers and great workers at the same time. The same should be true for women. Your need to classify women as bad mothers if they work is just hogwash.

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 11:18 AM

to TexFisherMAN:
both of these tombstones depress the hell out of me...

Posted by: MaryB | October 6, 2006 11:18 AM

I want my tombstone to read "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

Posted by: Lizzie | October 6, 2006 11:19 AM

"When you die, how do you want to be remembered? Would your tomstone read, 'Vice President of XYZ corporation. Stellar Worker' or 'Best Mom in the World. Loving Wife.'"

Gee, these are the choices -- high-powered executive or beloved slave?

Leave it to a MAN to give us these options.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:19 AM

TakomaMom:
It sounds like you're in a more difficult situation that some/most of us, but I bet the time you do spend with your son, you value all the more, no? I marvel at how the single parents manage.

Posted by: marc | October 6, 2006 11:22 AM

I can't read through all the comments today - didn't get much done yesterday, not surprisingly, so a lot of catching up to do. I will say that I have certainly had my share of self-doubt, when I was mostly SAHM and now that I am working. I think for those of us who are prone to analysing and over-analysing the choices we make that is just a given; for those who are more able to accept things as they are, maybe less so. I have no idea why I am this way, so I just try to keep it in mind that most of my self-doubt stems from that particular personality trait and is not necessarily reflective of reality, if that makes any sense at all. I'm a little wiped out this morning.

Anyway, my mom sent this to me and I thought some of the rest of you might find it interesting too:


NIH Study Examines Influences on Child Development

A compendium of findings from a study funded by the National Institutes of Health reveals that a child's family life has more influence on a child's development through age four and a half than does a child's experience in child care.

"This study shows only a slight link between child care and child development," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIH component which funded the study. "Child care clearly matters to children's development, but family characteristics - and children's experiences within their families - appear to matter more."

The findings, from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, are detailed in a 62-page booklet published by NIH


Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 11:23 AM

"When you die, how do you want to be remembered?""Would your tomstone read"

I know how to spell tombstone.

Ask the thousands of seniors who have been dumped by their kids in warehousing facilities.

Since I don't plan to have a tombstone, I don't need to live my entire adult life for what may appear on one. And you can preplan what will appear on your tombstone, anyway.


Posted by: Jim | October 6, 2006 11:24 AM

I didn't say you were on welfare, I was pointing out that the person who is attacking you, is on the blog too.
******
Apologies. That was my hasty reading.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 6, 2006 11:26 AM

I've spent quite a bit of time in various preschools and daycares over the past 7 or 8 years. Based on what I've seen (and most of these facilities were good to excellent places), if you think your infant/preschooler is actively engaged in "arts and crafts", foreign language lessons and the like ALL DAY while you are at work, get real!

The folks who work at the daycare facilities / preschools are human, after all. Kids have meltdowns, some whine and cry, some fight, some simply won't follow rules. The providers, most often people who love children and have good nurturing skills, get tired, have bad days, have favorites (as much as they might try to hide it) and get bored. They do the best they can, just as most parents do.

Posted by: Chausti | October 6, 2006 11:28 AM

"When you die, how do you want to be remembered?""Would your tomstone read"

I know how to spell tombstone.

Ask the thousands of seniors who have been dumped by their kids in warehousing facilities.

Since I don't plan to have a tombstone, I don't need to live my entire adult life for what may appear on one. And you can preplan what will appear on your tombstone, anyway.


Posted by: Jim | October 6, 2006 11:28 AM

'Do any of you SAHMs think you may feel less good about yourselves after 15 or so years of SAHM-hood'

it's been 18 years of SAHMhood, and I feel great about myself. I've learned and grown so much. My teenagers are interesting people that are fun to talk to. And they want to talk to me! They do laundry and the dishes, etc., I'm not their servant. I'm teaching them life skills and they are almost launched. I will be looking for rewarding work in the near future, as it's time to start a new chapter.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 6, 2006 11:28 AM

My daughter is a child in the ropes. At least at my daycare, they do not let kids move into the classroom where they walk inside the ropes until they are developmentally ready and the teachers surround the ropes on the walks. The children have to hold the hand of another child and the rope. I am a pretty paranoid parent in many respects, but I trust these teachers, who love their kids.

With regard to the kind of care given in daycare (communal care comments). My daughter recently switched classrooms to the next older kids room. She still runs to hug her teachers from her last classroom every day. Her primary teacher from her last class stops by to see her on her own time, breaks and after work, because she misses her. All the teachers from her last class will voluntarily converse with me about how she is doing. I happen to think it is a uniquely wonderful place, but I know lots of other parents who are equally happy with the care of their children.

Posted by: Re kids in the ropes question | October 6, 2006 11:29 AM

TexFisherMAN, you are right on the money. Some folks like to pretend that the choice aren't mutually exclusive, but kids know when they are less than first in your life.

And I feel really sorry for the person who equated supporting family with slavery. I feel even more sorry for any children he/she might have.

Several years ago, Johnny Cash was asked how he wanted to be remembered in 100 years. He answered, "I want to be remembered as a good daddy." In the end, it's all that really matters.

Posted by: Rufus | October 6, 2006 11:29 AM

no problem, I just get tired of the nasty back and forth on the blog. Who cares if you work, stay home, or both! Don't let these people get you down, they are probably jealous.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:29 AM

"Ask the thousands of seniors who have been dumped by their kids in warehousing facilities."

If you leave it up to the village to raise your kids, don't be so surprised if they return the favor when your time comes, m'kay?

Posted by: Rufus | October 6, 2006 11:31 AM

To Takoma Mom-

Try and not to beat yourself up - I am the product of a single parent home, where at times my mother had to work three jobs to make ends meet - she still feels guilty that things weren't the way she planned when she had the four of us. But, I know and I think your son will know that, what happens happens and you made the best of a situation - what else can you do? My mother may not have made the best choices (I think she is one of the worst managers of money now, but she managed to support us on an extremely low salary when I was growing up) My mother will cry and apologize for not being able to pay for college, etc. But I have no resentment, anger, etc. She provided support and caring (and saved and saved and saved so we could go camping at the beach almost every summer b/c she needed that too!) and honestly, I would not be as independent and headstrong if NOT for the situation of my upbringing. So I guess what I am saying is to try to not be so hard on yourself b/c your son will know and appreciate that you made the best choices at the time for the situation you were in.

Posted by: Betty | October 6, 2006 11:31 AM

Several years ago, Johnny Cash was asked how he wanted to be remembered in 100 years. He answered, "I want to be remembered as a good daddy." In the end, it's all that really matters.

Posted by: Rufus | October 6, 2006 11:29 AM

Sure, that sounds nice, but one one ever asked Johnny Cash to give up his career in order to be a good dad. Do you see that that you contradicted your own point with the Johnny Cash example?

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 11:32 AM

Re: Leave it to a MAN to give us these options.

Shaddap.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:39 AM

I really wish we could drop this particular "point" from all SAHM-working mom debates, permanently. It implies that if only us working parents weren't so selfish, we'd trim our lifestlyes and have one parent stay home.

Cassandra, we are a family of 4 in a 1-bedroom apartment. We don't even have a car. Neither my husband nor I has bought a new article of clothing in at least 3 years. I get a haircut once a year. Our last vacation was 3 days "camping" in my mom's backyard in a borrowed tent. Fancy! What exactly do you think we should cut out of this "glamorous" lifestyle so one of us can stay home with the kids?

Posted by: to Cassandra | October 6, 2006 11:39 AM

I think the whole idea of satisfaction depends on the person. If being a parent has been a major goal in your life, you may be most satisfied as a stay at home parent. If you are working but in a job you don't really like, you may be dissatisfied with your choice to work. I have two wonderful children and I love spending time with them but I am not SAHM material. I'm being honest. I think I am a good mother but I need time away from the diapers and bottles and temper tantrums. Frankly, motherhood was never a goal of mine but one I accepted and am proud of. However, I also work in a fill-time job that pays the bills. It doesn't stimulate me, I feel humilated by it most days because I know I am overly qualified to be doing what I do. I agree with Leslie on this one. Every mother I know feels the same. They don't have enough time for themselves so they feel inadequate. They don't have enough time with the kids so they feel inadequate. They don't contribute enough to the family finances so they feel inadequate. That having been said, I would say that I, and the mothers I know, all feel they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. And on that, they feel 100%.

Posted by: LM in WI | October 6, 2006 11:40 AM

I for one, LOVE when I see the "kids on the ropes" - they make me smile! Especially yesterday when two of the little boys decided they were going to "wiggle" as they walked (which made them and me laugh!) I am single and will probably not have kids (love other peoples, but no desire to have my own), so seeing these little ones on my way to grab a sandwich before going back to work to sit at my desk make my day!

Posted by: Betty | October 6, 2006 11:40 AM

I've always felt that what makes me a happy, high self-esteem person makes me a better mother. How could it be different with a daughter to give a role model to and a boy who will base his view of women on the mother he grows up with?

In my case, that led me back into the work force (I tried staying home first). However, I've always felt that, though the decision might be different, the goal is the same. As we like to quote in our house: "If mamma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy."

Posted by: Carrie | October 6, 2006 11:41 AM

Rufus

"Feel sorry" for people who really need sympathy, not your dopey judgment.

If all that really mattered in the end is being "a good daddy", we would still be living in caves.

Posted by: DZ | October 6, 2006 11:42 AM

"Several years ago, Johnny Cash was asked how he wanted to be remembered in 100 years. He answered, "I want to be remembered as a good daddy." In the end, it's all that really matters."

Yep, Jonny Cash is a great role model - cheated on his wife, drug addict, alcoholic - gee, what a great guy! Made some good music though...

Posted by: dong | October 6, 2006 11:43 AM

this is the same old debate, and Leslie started it with the judgemental statement that drives working moms crazy: She said that working moms feel guilty because they worry that they might be hurting their _children_ while SAHM moms worry that they might be hurting _themselves_. See the judgement in that? There's no judgement in mom's making the choice to sacrifice herself (in fact, we have a long history of demanding that from moms, so they can pat themselves on the back. It's little bit like telling an employer that your greatest weakness is that you work too hard). But, there's clearly moral judgement in moms sacrificing their children for _any_ other purpose. So, yes, Leslie's statement is through a filter of her own experience that is offensive to working moms. See Tertia's blog at "So Close" to hear her talk about the conflict.

I do not worry that I'm hurting my children by working. I think that they are enjoying the "village" that helps to care for them, and that they benefit from it. I'll even go so far as to say that I think that children's whose moms are too involved in their care do not benefit from it (helicopter moming, anyone?).

Finally, of course, the judgement hits those moms who feel that they have no choice but to work; they're the ones who are most likely to worry, and they can't do anything about it.

bj

Posted by: amomonys | October 6, 2006 11:44 AM

"What do you think your 12 year old is learning from this? And who is footing the bill for this "hobby lifestyle"?"

My 12 year old (and my 14, 6, & 4 year olds) are learning that I care enough about them to give them time to do their homework, go to school regularly, participate in many extracurricular activities, practice their musical instruments, have time with friends, and have "down time", without worrying about whether or not the dishes and laundry are done.

About the "hobby lifestyle" - the original comment about "hobbies" was by someone else, and how she knows women who have engrossing, enriching "hobbies" such as novel-writing and jewelry making which enable them to keep their self-esteem high without trudging off to "work" each day. I agree with that, because I feel that far too many people confuse "fulfillment" with "a career", and think that the only way they will be "fulfilled" is with a high powered career.

Just for the record, my husband and I made the decision when we married 8 years ago that he would be the financial supporter of the family until our youngest child was in full time school. Before that, I was married to a different man and was the financial supporter of the family, so I am not only capable of doing so but have completely btdt. And some of my "hobbies" just may translate into a different career when I do go back to work.

But as far as what my "hobbies" demonstrate to my children:

When they see me garden and can the food we grow as well as food we glean elsewhere, they're shown how to provide for your family nutritionally without depending on the grocery store.

When they see me read, they're shown that reading is something that can bring enjoyment for your entire life and just isn't something you learn in school.

When they see me play the piano, clarinet, or sax, they're shown how taking music lessons as a child can translate into something that brings great joy as an adult.

When they see me go to the pool to swim in preparation for beginning competetive Masters swimming, they see that staying fit into adulthood is importand as well as the fact that adults can compete as well as kids.

When they see me knit or cross-stitch gifts for friends and family, they're shown the value of making something for someone with your own hands.

When they see me do volunteer work, they're shown how fulfilling it is to help others and not expect anything in return.

Posted by: momof4 | October 6, 2006 11:47 AM

"Shaddap."

Anyone know what this means?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:50 AM

I really wish we could drop this particular "point" from all SAHM-working mom debates, permanently. It implies that if only us working parents weren't so selfish, we'd trim our lifestlyes and have one parent stay home.
****************
While I appreciate that not everyone can stay at home for financial reasons,not everyone is in your situation, either. My husband and I were able to make it work, however, we had to make financial sacrifices. We have one car. We live in an apartment. We have to stay on budget in order to maintain our lifestyle, which, by most standards is not glamorous either.

Posted by: Cassandra | October 6, 2006 11:51 AM

Cassandra, we are a family of 4 in a 1-bedroom apartment. We don't even have a car. Neither my husband nor I has bought a new article of clothing in at least 3 years. I get a haircut once a year. Our last vacation was 3 days "camping" in my mom's backyard in a borrowed tent. Fancy! What exactly do you think we should cut out of this "glamorous" lifestyle so one of us can stay home with the kids?

I didn't know that she said you had to do it, she was just saying she did it. And, her reply came after many people who are asking her what she is doing with her time and pointing out the kids in target with the SAHM. However, I agree we should drop which is better and focus on what makes us happy.


Posted by: Scarry | October 6, 2006 11:52 AM

"It means shut up."

Then why not write "shut up"?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:52 AM

It means shut up.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 11:54 AM

I want mine to read, "I told you I was sick."

Posted by: Tombstone | October 6, 2006 11:56 AM

I want mine to read, "I told you I was sick."

Posted by: Tombstone | October 6, 2006 11:56 AM

I want mine to read, "I told you I was sick."

Posted by: Tombstone | October 6, 2006 11:56 AM

So TexFisherMAN & Rufus What do you want your tombstone to read

'Vice President of XYZ corporation. Stellar Worker' or 'Best Dad in the World. Loving Husband.'"

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | October 6, 2006 11:57 AM

I'm saddened by one of the posts from a parent who feels he no longer has time to see his friends or volunteer in the community. And yet so many people here are fond of saying "It takes a village..."

I realize there's only so many hours in the day, but it would be great if parents could see beyond their own little cocoon and help contribute to the "village" as well. Those of us who are still interested in the activities that used to make up our "social fabric" miss you.

Posted by: Bowling Alone | October 6, 2006 12:00 PM

'How could it be different with a daughter to give a role model to and a boy who will base his view of women on the mother he grows up with?'

A mother is indeed a huge role model for her children, but not the only one. there are many women that children will meet and/or learn about who will leave an impression on them.

I, personally, am a working-mom, but my mother was SAH who was dumped by dear-old-deadbeat dad before she went back to work when I was 14.

My decision to work is based on many things, not just my mother's example. I feel that I have to work, that financially i have no choice. It's not that I am not willing to sacrifice by staying home, it's much more than $$$ being considered.

The factors involved were: moving to a cheaper area vs staying near extended family, giving up family time because my husband would have to increase his hours by so much in order for me to stay home, giving up retirement security by losing my pension plan, resenting my husband if he stayed home while I worked (not PC to admit this but I would resent it - maybe because my dad was a dead-beat, it's hard for me to feel comfortable being the sole support of the family), wanting to be able to live in a decent neighborhood with decent schools.

Actually, I think the type of father I had was more of an influence on whether I worked or SAH, than my mother's influence. She was truly a happy SAH. she enjoyed her job and the independence it gave her, but if money was no problem, she would have SAH forever. Even with all of my personal career success, she thought it was a "shame that you can't quit".

My kids are teens and I don't regret working, even though I wish I had been able to work part-time. My regrets are more about the times I lost patience and maybe yelled or was short-tempered.

Posted by: to carrie | October 6, 2006 12:01 PM

amomonys:
i'll try not to go back to the good old clinton days of parsing sentences (afterall, who can really define what "sexual relations" are or "weapons of mass destruction"?), but leslie actually started off the post with these exact copy and pasted words:

"I see many at-home moms who feel this way: 100% sure they made the right decision, but just as sure their self-confidence has suffered as a result. Working moms seem to feel the opposite -- good about themselves, not 100% sure that being a working mom is best for their children."

She carefully wrote that working moms "seem" to feel the opposite and not that they're hurting their children, but that maybe it's not the "best" for their children. She then invited you to tell about your choice, which you sound quite comfortable with. I'm not sure how this is judgmental or offensive, or rather, I'm not sure how she could ask whether you feel this way in any other sort of way--am I missing something?

to the nameless poster: I believe "shaddap" is a cute way of spelling shut-up.

Rufus: that "m'kay" sounded suspiciously South Parkish ; )

Posted by: marc | October 6, 2006 12:03 PM

Would your tomstone read,
"Vice President of XYZ corporation. Stellar Worker"
or "Best Mom in the World. Loving Wife."

It likely won't read either for most people, because those tombstone messages cost a lot per letter!

Or, you could take yourself a lot less seriously and go with this message I read in a Rita Mae Brown novel: "Now I'll really raise hell!"

On topic:

I work outside the home. It's always been a necessity for me. But I was willing to quit and stay home when my oldest child, who has ADHD, started acting out in daycare. He really wanted to be home, and I really wanted to accommodate him. But my husband couldn't support the household alone. When I brought it up, he started saying, "I'll need for you to go pick up appellate cases" as a panel attorney (where you're paid for the hours you work on each case). I was like, oh, no. I was already willing to do online teaching (in other words, work part-time from home), but anything beyond that would defeat the purpose of being home for my child.

So here we are. But my son is improving little by little, and my daughter has done well in daycare, especially her new one. So other than my son's needs, I have very few regrets.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 6, 2006 12:06 PM

I am *thrilled* that I never had kids.

Now if I could only stop having to take up the slack of all the parents out there who get to use all this parental leave BS.

Posted by: Phillyfilly | October 6, 2006 12:06 PM

"Here Lies Les More. No Les, No More."

-from the movie Tombstone, actually.

Posted by: Favorite Tombstone | October 6, 2006 12:11 PM

Bowling Alone:
Maybe I should have clarified a bit--I used to be pretty heavily involved (say doing 4-12 hours of work per week for a local nonprofit arts journal), but now my involvement is more peripheral (i.e., online). Most meetings interfere with bedtime and I'm too fond of reading to my son before bedtime and kissing him goodnight to give it up. The flip side is that I know a lot of my neighbors, their kids, their dogs, etc. because my son and I spend a lot of time outdoors; plus, we make enough money so that we're able to contribute financially to some of the organizations we love.

Posted by: marc | October 6, 2006 12:12 PM

I am *thrilled* that I never had kids.

Now if I could only stop having to take up the slack of all the parents out there who get to use all this parental leave BS.

cry me a river, since you are alive, you must have parents. Parents who will be old someday, so you will need the leave too. Unless, of course you were hatched, hmmm, wait a minute, maybe you won't need it after all.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 12:12 PM

To Rufus

"Ask the thousands of seniors who have been dumped by their kids in warehousing facilities."

If you leave it up to the village to raise your kids, don't be so surprised if they return the favor when your time comes, m'kay?"

Seniors now 70 or older were born in or before 1936 . They can't ALL have been bad or neglectful parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 12:13 PM

If our society is going to expect people to care for their aging parents as well as having one parent at home with the kids full time, the Republicans better start putting their money where their mouths are and pass laws forcing more taxes so we can support people doing those things.

Yeah, that'll happen!! Family values my as*.

Posted by: ??? | October 6, 2006 12:16 PM

Re: Then why not write "shut up"?

B/C I'm not trying to imply anger at you, just a burning, sincere desire for you to stop typing.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 12:17 PM

I love being home with my kids (and we rarely go to the mall), but I have a couple concerns. The first is that I hate thinking that I am not as employable as I once was-- both my skills and my contacts have gotten stale. If I needed to go back to work, I'm not sure what I'd do to make a decent salary. The second is that I know I can not become dependent on my kids to give my life meaning-- they're going to grow up and have their own lives, and that's GOOD. I'm not sure what I'll do about it, but I am sure I won't make a career of selling over-priced junk to my friends at "parties".

I've known quite a few women who were clearly unhappy as SAHMs and are much happier as WOHMs, but I don't think that's me.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 6, 2006 12:18 PM

Rufus...you made me see the light! I'm going to quit my job right now and stay home with my children. OOPS! What how are we going to pay the mortgage. Alright...I'm going to quit my job and call the real estate agent to sell my house. Now, where am I going to live. I'll rent a one-bedroom apartment--which is all we can afford on one salary. Hmmm...what about the fact that we're on an EXCELLENT school district that doesn't have any apartments? Hmmmm....no problem. We'll move into a district with less high-quality schools--but gosh darn it, I'll be there when my children come home from school. Food--don't think we'll be able to afford much--who needs fruits and vegetables...a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly should be fine, right. That's because we'd be poor enough to not be able to afford healthy food--but not poor enough to get food stamps. Hmmm...this is al sounding darn good!

Posted by: TO RUFUS | October 6, 2006 12:18 PM

I am so disappointed - I thought today's topic really could be interesting - i.e. looking back, do you wish that you perhaps made a different decision, be it work at home, part time, out of the home, whatever. As someone who is relatively young who had a mother who had to work, I was curious to hear from those who could make a choice, about that choice, in hindsight.

I guess I am always surprised by the huge chips so many people have on their shoulders about their life choices, so it ceases to be a discussion.

Guess we were all too nice the last couple of days, huh?

Going to go join the funeral song blog instead this afternoon...

Posted by: Betty | October 6, 2006 12:21 PM

Betty, Betty, Betty

the day is yet young.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 12:27 PM

WOH person here - I haven't had any regrets yet. Not sure I will, but things change, so..... One of us could afford to stay home, but we both work for the same reason - we like to! I was raised in a family of WOH women (grandmothers, aunts, my mom) because they had to, but I think most of them liked it. Never heard any of them saying they wished they stayed home, and the only person I know who was a SAH is my mother in law and she says she wishes she worked, so this might contribute to why I'm not conflicted (by the way - this is not in any way to say that WOH are happier or better off than SAH. I'm just saying I think my immediate family role models have contributed to my lack of guilt).

Posted by: SMF | October 6, 2006 12:30 PM

This blog has always fascinated me. People on this board become so angry at or angered by strangers. Do people really care what people they will never meet think of them?

And for everyone who will write something along the lines of "it helps me address important issues." Does it really? Are you actually inspired to do something because of this blog? Do you feel better about yourself because of this blog?

I fully admit it is a guilty pleasure. But it is one that feels guiltier each time I click on.

Posted by: This blog | October 6, 2006 12:33 PM

Betty:
If you can overlook the bickering, it would seem the consensus from most of the posts is that those who had a choice are pretty happy with the choices they've made regarding staying at home vs. working. My own wife was very torn about this because she loved our son immensely, but really didn't like staying home with an infant (not enough adult interaction, mentally and physically tiring, etc.), nor did she ever feel comfortable about a childcare situation. We were able to work it out so she worked 2 or 3 days a week, while our son was either cared for by me or my father-in-law. It seems like there's a lot of in-between situations where people either work part-time or take time off for a few years and then resume work. Children aren't even home fulltime after age 5 during the school year and by the time they're teenagers, don't they decide they don't like their parents anyway?

Posted by: Marc | October 6, 2006 12:34 PM

""Here Lies Les More. No Les, No More."

-from the movie Tombstone, actually."

The movie didn't make it up. If you go to Boot Hill in Tombstone, AZ, you will see the actual headstone:

Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a .44
No Les no more

Posted by: Lizzie | October 6, 2006 12:34 PM

Betty

If your looking for hindsight - here's mine.

I got knocked up in high school in 1970. I was AFRAID to get an abortion because my religion forbade it. I was AFRAID to raise an out of wedlock child. I let my parents persuade me to marry the father of my child because I was AFRAID of the guilt I would feel about giving up my baby for adoption. I stayed in a bad marriage for years because I was AFRAID to get a divorce (religion again). I finally snapped out of my fears in 1978 and turned my life around. Them's the choices I made.

Posted by: Rita | October 6, 2006 12:39 PM

I can't add much to what's said here - I'm a very happy mom who works full-time running my own business (demanding but flexible) and have no guilt whatsoever when I drop my 6 year old daughter off each morning at the best school I can afford. Rather, I would like to add this: My mom stayed home with me the first five years of my life before she went back to work. And it was AWFUL. My mom was born with a hardcore work ethic and an accountant's view of life. She was tense and anxious for five solid years, worrying about money and feeling adrift. Most of my wonderful memories of my mom are when she went back to work and was HAPPY and LOVED being with me. She deperately needed to work for her own sanity and for her ability to save for my college tuition and her own retirement. Meanwhile, my early childhood memories are trying hard to keep my mom from "getting upset." I knew early on I'd be the same if I stayed home, and voted with my feet.

Posted by: Charm City | October 6, 2006 12:40 PM

Interesting to read all of your comments.

I've been a full-time working mom, part-time working mom, and SAHM. I've had great daycare, crappy daycare, and a nanny. Any my kids are only 4 and 7. We made the decision to move overseas a few years ago with my husband's company and now I can't work. The grass is always greener...

My point is on a slightly different, but related topic...

Why are so many companies reluctant to allow their employees, male or female, to come up with creative or alternative working arrangements that allow them to balance work and family? OK, maybe it's commonplace to work flex time, but after my second child was born I was so desperate to job share or find an alternative arrangement and the company I worked for was really rigid.

How many highly qualified people are out there not doing what they could do best because so many companies are still looking for a traditional employee?

And, as so many of you have said, in the end you just have to make the choice that's best for your family at the time and feel good about it.

Posted by: seekingbalance | October 6, 2006 12:42 PM

TakomaMom - wow. You've brought the words out I didn't know how to say.

I don't want to regret decisions I've made in my life, but there are times when hindsight has been 20/20 and I just wish I'd thought things through more.

My ex and I got divorced around the time we'd planned for me to be a SAHM, going to school part time. When I wanted to continue on the same route after the divorce, it would've meant he had to pay child support - something he wasn't willing to do. He threatened to drag the whole thing through court (something I didn't have the money to go through) unless I got a job that paid me the same amount I was making before.

Which left me with the situation I'm in now - a job with a crazy commute and not getting home til 6 most days.

But I feel like the Anon for Today poster who said, "I enjoyed watching my children grow and change, except when I didn't. There were definitely moments when I had to hang on to myself not to run away, I was either so bored or so frustrated with the day-in-day-out. Now that I'm working, I don't see my kids very much. I miss them, but I don't. I like my job, but when I have to rush out of the house without breakfast at 7:00 a.m., slam into meetings until noon, run to get a bite to eat and then see a SAHM with her kids at lunch, I wish I was back at home again."

And again with the poster who said that parents who are well adjusted usually have kids who are well adjusted - I struggle with depression - so maybe my kids are better off with me at work and being around people who are motivated to stimulate them. I'm not saying all SAHM's sit on the couch and eat bon bons - I'm saying for me, I just wouldn't have the motivation to do the things the day care providers do and they provide in some ways the balance I can't. That was where the part time school was going to come in for me - I'd go to give me and the munchkin a break from eachother.

Does that make me a lazy parent? Does it mean I shouldn't have had kids? I didn't know I was going to be this way when I decided to have them, so saying I shouldn't have had them is really a non-answer.

Posted by: LGB | October 6, 2006 12:43 PM

I don't angst much about being a working mother. In an ideal world, I probably would work part-time rather than full-time but I don't see myself wanting to be a SAHM. While I was in grad school, my daughter was in daycare 3 days a week and I had her the other 2 days. That was nice. There was more time to be with her (and do some of the million chores around the house) while still having my other world which did not revolve around children. I like my job. It's not some high powered career and I'm really not very ambitious to climb the ladder of success, so to speak. I like my job; I do a good job; I get paid a decent salary; there is satisfaction in doing my part to fill the big picture. If I were suddenly independently wealthy, I probably would cut back on work but I still can't see being with my kids all the time. I think they and I benefit from our time away from each other. Certainly they could be in daycare less than they currently are and that would not be a bad thing but they're in good places.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | October 6, 2006 12:46 PM

In a perfect world...I would have married better and I would have had a freelance writing/editing career that would have allowed me to work part-time from home. I have several friends who are in this situation and have a great sense of balance.

My option is to find a family friendly work environment, which I have done. I've passed up jobs with better pay that require more travel. Unless I win the lottery, I am working, period.

Posted by: single western mom | October 6, 2006 12:56 PM

"B/C I'm not trying to imply anger at you, just a burning, sincere desire for you to stop typing."

Ok, this is still not helpful. If you object to something I've said, then say so. Being a smart-a** doesn't advance the discussion.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 1:01 PM

I work full-time, but with fairly flexible hours so that I also get to spend a good deal of time with my toddler daughter. But do to the 'flexible' nature of my job, there is no room for me to move up in the organization, and I find myself increasingly boxed into a degrading role that is beneath my skills, experience and expectation. Consequently, I find that my job is quietly killing my confidence. I feel like I have failed professionally, and let down the potential of my hopes and abilities.

My husband is a busy medical student now, so it falls to me to bring in the income and raise our daughter, though he is able to give me an hour or so off a few times a week.

I look forward to the time when he graduates and I can have more options again. I'll take some time off work, be there for my daughter more, and maybe build some new job skills so I can feel confident entering the workforce again.

Posted by: EH | October 6, 2006 1:14 PM

I'm one of those who could not be a SAHM, I would pull my hair out. However, I would much prefer to work part time than as many hours as I do now but there is such a dearth of positions at my level that companies allow to be part-time. I spoke with a coworker about job sharing and although she liked the idea she was afraid that it would indicate to management that we are not serious about are careers and should be replaced with more dedicated employees.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 6, 2006 1:20 PM

Just we're keeping score, the "Shaddap" followed by the explanation, was out of bounds. The original comment of "Leave it to a MAN to give us these options." was just fine and dandy and not at all an issue for the ladies here.

Hellooo, your bias is showing..

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 1:23 PM

That is true about the man comment, not all men feel the same way just like people all don't spell shut up the same way.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 1:38 PM


I really enjoy all the regular male voices on this forum, and I hope they can manage to stay/return. CollegeParkian and Marc have had some especially interesting and thoughtful posts lately.

I (WOH mom of elementary school age kids, now) don't have many big regrets of my own, though my choices have involved definite tradeoffs. Mostly I try to be very deliberate and aware of the long-run costs my choices may have, and consciously decide that even if the worst case costs arise, they are worth the risk. I set boundaries for how much I'm willing to give to work, they're not petty boundaries but involve my kids not thriving, in ways that tinkering with the parameters of their school/care/activity world can't fix. That is, I'll go on the rare trip even though my kids miss me while being well-attended by their always-very-involved dad for a few days, but I won't forgo a day-to-day routine that includes abundant family time together, and we've continually tinkered with the mix to keep the kids happy and engaged throughout their days, when they're with us and when they're not. We've had so many options in constructing the logistics of their days, and sometimes none of the obvious ones have seemed acceptable, but we've so far always been able to devote more time/resources and come up with better options for care that we could be happy with (but I can see quite clearly that finding kidcare and activity options varies tremendously by community, by kid, and by available income, and I don't doubt those who searched all they could but still saw no acceptable non-SAH options available for their kids. I'm also happy with those who SAH because they wanted to, pure and simple). But my personal limit is, if my kids stopped thriving, and I didn't see them thriving with any care options available, I would certainly reconfigure my work as drastically as necessary, right down to giving it up, since I'm lucky enough to be able to afford that. That would be at great personal/future cost but ultimately, our kids have no safety net but us (and dh has better job stability)). For me it helps a lot to have, not an open-ended commitment to work, but a contingent one that values work highly but knows exactly how much I'm prepared to sacrifice to it. My kids instead have a total and open-ended commitment from me, except that I don't weight fleeting dissatisfactions/wants too heavily (for example, it's too bad my youngest would rather not sit through her sister's soccer games, but I bring her plenty of art and play materials and her want to stay home doesn't trump DH and my wants to be there, cheering on her sister. We all cheer for her when it's her turn, too.)

Posted by: KB | October 6, 2006 1:46 PM

Hi fabworkingmom,

I am really intrigued by the possible job share. Is this dead in the water? Could you re-propose this?

Do these stories inspire?

I know of two women who job shared together each summer. They both went down to 25 hours per week. They agreed to two days per week with overlap, and made sure that Fridays and Mondays were covered. Worked fine.

Summer may be one of the seasons when we need flexibility most, besides, summer is fun and invites us to be outdoors.

I job-shared with three people one year. All of us were boldly having babies. What a concept! This way, we covered the others' maternity times (including a terrifying-doozy of a bedrest period for one). Once we got our pattern down, others noted the efficiencies and synergies.

Could a summer trial work to test the waters? Break stereotypes?

I know that we were very motivated to make this work. What did our group get?

marvelous productivity

High quality work ON TIME

Good thinking and that bonus of

1+1 = 9 on some days.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 1:46 PM

"I really enjoy all the regular male voices on this forum, and I hope they can manage to stay/return. CollegeParkian and Marc have had some especially interesting and thoughtful posts lately. "

I'm not sure that CollegeParkian is a man.

Posted by: Liz | October 6, 2006 1:53 PM

college parkian,

Nice story leads to further questions? What happened with pay and benefits when the employees went down to 25-hour weeks? I think many could handle the pay adjustment to work parttime where I work, but the loss and/or additional expense of benefits is huge. e.g. - part-time employees pick up majority of cost of health insurance - fulltime employees have a large employer contribution of health insurance cost.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 1:57 PM

God some of you people (e.g. "experienced mom") are sensitive and can find criticism in anything. Makes me wonder why some of you continue to frequent this board.

Why call people out like this? You must be sensitive to to their being sensitive. Maybe you shouls start your own blog to get away from the sensitive people on here

Posted by: ? | October 6, 2006 2:00 PM

Not sure about benefits. Could a blog entry address this? I suspect the economics/human relations piece IS out there.

In my situation of the three bears, we all worked at 20 hours, using some leave to handle the disability/maternity portion.

My institution is huge and offers very generous benefits to part-timers, so the structure was in place.

Leslie -- this is a specific on ramp question. What do they do at Booz Allen? This data is out there; having details on the benefits piece on the blog would be helpful and practical to many of us as we sequence. There, I said it. Not balancing but sequencing.

The answer is out there (wasn't that the end tag on the Scully-Mulder twilight-y alien show?)

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 2:10 PM

3 hour naps for SAHP's?
Baby sitting so you can nap is $15hr

Tombstone's and epitaphs?
$500 for the marbel slab, $150 for engraving

Throwing darts on a WPST blog at Mom's who make decisions differently that you to justify your own life's choices?

Priceless

Posted by: Fo3 | October 6, 2006 2:17 PM

I work outside the home and feel like I have two jobs, none of which I do particularly well, and both of which I could do better if that was my only job. So I guess I lack self-confidence about my job AND don't think what I'm doing is best for the children! But maybe I'm just one of those "glass half empty" people.

Posted by: Sam | October 6, 2006 2:31 PM


Thank you everyone. I am having one of those days that I feel like all of my choices are wrong. Most of your comments have made me laugh or at least smile. I particularly relate to the toll road analogy. It reminded me that sometimes, even when you are on a very expensive toll road, you can pull off to the side of the road and enjoy the view and fresh air.

Posted by: Maria | October 6, 2006 08:49 AM

=====

Maria--Sorry for the late response, but your note made me think of some of the lessons that I learned from my parents. I was fortunate to be raised by two parents who had a positive outlook. They taught me that hindsight is merely to give you a life lesson to improve your choices in the future. When looking back at your decisions in the past, don't look back with hindsight to second-guess yourself, review what you did to see if you did the best that you could at the time with the information you had at the time. If you did, be satisfied (with the decision, not necessarily the outcome) and move on. If you aren't satisfied, learn what you could do better the next time you are faced with a choice or difficult decision and again, move on. Don't dwell on what mighthavebeens because they won't happen. You can live your life regretting and second-guessing yourself, or you can live your life learning to make better choices and decisions in the future. I was taught to do the latter.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 2:31 PM

I usually try not to make snarky remarks (in fact I'm tempted to be anonymous here but since I usually give my name that would be really wimpy), but when I saw momof4's post, I couldn't help but be jealous. I would love to have time to swim, play musical instruments, garden, pick up my cross-stitching again (I put something down 9 years ago and haven't picked it back up again), etc. Whether it's a good example for my kids or not! I always assumed SAHMs had too much work to be able to do any of that stuff, espcecially if they had four kids.

Posted by: Sam | October 6, 2006 2:40 PM

I so appreciate you. If you read through the comments today you can see the SAHMs have been driven from this board. I don't post anymore. But I'm so happy that you're cool-headed enough to speak for us. Thank you!!

Posted by: to momof4 | October 6, 2006 2:45 PM

this might be belated, but whatever.

"but kids know when they are less than first in your life."

My mom works, always has, she has a pretty high powered job, but still spent plenty of time with me and my sister growing up. We were definitly first in her life, followed closely by her sanity and my dad's.

Your kids won't suffer just because you work. I respected (and still respect) my mom for what she's accomplished (she trailblazed the computer world for women early on) and we weren't traumatized because we had a babysitter or because we went to afterschool care for a few years. We're both healthy, independent women with an amazing relationship with both parents.

I know it's anecdotal (and that we're lucky), but I had to throw it out there ... if your kids are important to you, they'll know it even if you're not with them 24/7.

Posted by: L | October 6, 2006 2:46 PM

this might be belated, but whatever.

"but kids know when they are less than first in your life."

My mom works, always has, she has a pretty high powered job, but still spent plenty of time with me and my sister growing up. We were definitly first in her life, followed closely by her sanity and my dad's.

Your kids won't suffer just because you work. I respected (and still respect) my mom for what she's accomplished (she trailblazed the computer world for women early on) and we weren't traumatized because we had a babysitter or because we went to afterschool care for a few years. We're both healthy, independent women with an amazing relationship with both parents.

I know it's anecdotal (and that we're lucky), but I had to throw it out there ... if your kids are important to you, they'll know it even if you're not with them 24/7.

Posted by: L | October 6, 2006 2:52 PM

Thank you for all the insightful comments.

To those who think they can have it *all*, keep working hard at it. You have chosen a life that very very few folks can live well. You may have to get a good full-time nanny or relatives to help with home-life while you are at work. Kids need quantity-time, not just quality-time. I am speaking from experience. We have been on both sides of the fence, and have discovered that the kids do very much better with a stay-at-home parent.

As for my tombstone, it will read,
"My greatest fear is that when I die my wife will sell my fishing stuff for what I told her I paid for it. "

Posted by: TexFisherMAN | October 6, 2006 2:57 PM

Divorced mom of 1: 'Best Dad in the World. Loving Husband.'

Yes, it would be nice if I left my family wishing to express those sentiments.

For the TO RUFUS poster, sorry that you seem to be barely living within your means. During the Clinton years, we spend plenty of time on one salary. Even though the economy has improved greatly since then, we keep our expenses within a one salary range.

We bank all the rest.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:00 PM

"have discovered that the kids do very much better with a stay-at-home parent."

YOUR kids!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:01 PM

During the Clinton years, we spend plenty of time on one salary. Even though the economy has improved greatly since then, we keep our expenses within a one salary range

Is this s joke. The economy is better now? Keep telling yourself that. The only blemish on Clinton's presidency is a blow job. Are you going to be able to say that about BUSH, i doubt it.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:02 PM

To the 3:00 pm poster - does that mean you are as SHAD?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | October 6, 2006 3:02 PM

>I'm not sure that CollegeParkian is a man.

oops, my bad, so sorry to have projected somehow!

But, I still appreciate lots of our regular posters, male and female, and want to keep hearing their voices . . . even if I can't applaud each individual post I find helpful . . . or even keep the posters straight all the time, apparently :-)

Posted by: KB | October 6, 2006 3:07 PM

Interesting question. I work part time freelance from my home and have one child who is 13 months old.

I think it does take a toll on one's self confidence to do any kind of work where it's largely self-driven. Having to struggle for clients is hard. Not having much of a feedback loop (I won't know for 20 years, if ever, whether these are the "right" choices for my son's long-term future) is always hard.

Working part time I worry about the babysitter and sometimes I worry that my son is getting the worst of both worlds. Then some weeks I think he's getting the best.

I do think there is a certain attitude, often expressed here, that women who choose to be caregivers for their own children are somehow opting for an easy road. I wonder if people think that people who become nannies or work in childcare are doing the same. And I think it is interesting that people would say "well if women feel bad about themselves then they should work" rather than wondering if perhaps it's partly that attitude that contributes.

I also agree that *some* SAHMs do seem like they are on a religious trip and then the guilt runs absolutely in reverse, that working parents are somehow abandoning their kids. Again, I think this may say more about attitudes towards child rearing than any "real" reason to worry.

(Provided parents can afford adequate care. When parents can't, then the concerns are sadly very, very real.)

Posted by: Shandra | October 6, 2006 3:10 PM

I don't think that anyone intentionally "warehouses" their parents in nursing homes. In many cases families try to care for their elderly parents in the home, but due to the disorientation and paranoia which comes along with an illness like Alzheimer's disease, the loved one becomes a danger to himself and the caregiver. Others simply do not have the means to quit work in order to take care of their parents. Do you suggest that they make the entire family go on welfare to take care of a parent who's skyrocketing medical costs are outpacing retirement and savings reserves? The other senario is that due to the longevity in this country, many retired senior citizens are taking care of their own parents. This was the case of my father-in-law, who is 70 years old and until last winter, was taking care of his mother who was 91. He had medical power of attorney for his mother. My father-in-law was also battling prostate cancer at the time, when he had to decide how to handle his mother's stepped up need for full-time care. Our family helped out the best we could, but we all live in different states and have our own bills we need to continue paying and children we need to look after so the coverage was sporatic. Due to my Grandmother-in-law's need for constant medical attention, we had to place her in the care of a nursing home. It was an emotionally draining and painful process.

Please do not judge others for the terribly painful choices they must make about the care of their loved ones.

Posted by: dcdesigner | October 6, 2006 3:16 PM

Hit the submit button to soon. The reason I asked is that the two people I addressed my original question to implied or stated that a woman can't have both. I just wanted to see how they felt about their careers - do they see themselves less of a father or husband because they took their careers seriously.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | October 6, 2006 3:17 PM

Do we have to bring up presidential politics? 3:02 poster, it's not relevant to the conversation so let it go.

Posted by: 215 | October 6, 2006 3:22 PM

Hey 215, i'm not the one who brought it up, so mind your own business and don't tell other people what to post on the blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:23 PM

Been lurking for a few weeks. Observed that most posts that are clearly-identifiable as made by men are usually neutral or positive in tone. However, a lot of the angry attacking posts are made by a handful women. Maybe they have a lot to vent?? They seem to nitpick and lash out at every minor point. Not all women, just some. Other bad posts are anonymous, so can't tell if man or woman.

Just my observation, and no I don't have any research data to back it up. Attack away at this generalization if you want to, but if you are the guilty party consider changing the tone of your posts; say something positive or don't say anything at all. Think you can do it?

A better blog would have Leslie filter every single entry, posting only those that abide by posting standards. Actually, she could be stricter in removing posts that violate the posting standards. Shield this blog from flaming arrows.

Posted by: Lurker | October 6, 2006 3:35 PM

I so appreciate you. If you read through the comments today you can see the SAHMs have been driven from this board. I don't post anymore. But I'm so happy that you're cool-headed enough to speak for us. Thank you!!

Posted by: to momof4 | October 6, 2006 02:45 PM

=====

Hmmm...interesting since we've already noted that men have to have a *VERY* thick skin to stick around here as well (even today, the 11:19 poster had to inject her little barb of misandry into the discussion). I understand that this is about balancing and primarily for WOHM, but it's a shame that other subgroups don't feel very welcome here. I personally feel that the diversity of situation and opinion help make this discussion more useful, but perhaps I'm in the minority on this. To me, there is nothing better to help add perspective (and perhaps even some balance) than learning from others in both similar and dissimilar backgrounds. If you are trying to make decisions about balance, getting input from people that have already explored some of the options that you are considering, it helps balance your choices. But, that's probably too equanimous for some of the "shoot first, ask questions later" types around here.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 3:41 PM

Sorry that my comment ruffled your feathers.

Posted by: 215 | October 6, 2006 3:45 PM

equanimous? Speak simple english, DWB!! ;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:51 PM

Not in the least but I feel that anything that is posted on here is open for discussion. I know some people will be republicans until death, but comparing Clinton's economy to Bush's is like comparing apples to oranges. Also, some people don't like it when people, say let's not discuss this, it is dismissive to what other people think.

Posted by: didn't ruffle | October 6, 2006 3:51 PM

3:02--every position has it's flip side to it. Despite the fact that there were many good things from the Clinton tenure (and that's saying a lot coming from me as a moderate Republican who didn't agree with quite a lot he did), there were many problems created by his presidency. I work for NASA and Clinton has probably done more to damage our agency than any other president at least since before man landed on the moon. We have started to recover under the second Bush administration, but we still have a long ways to go. I won't go into details since I don't want to sidetrack the BalanceBlog too far, but I just wanted to point out that when dealing with politics, there just aren't black and white positions.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 3:53 PM

yes, and no one told you to let something go or stop posting, so I don't see how that is relevant to this conversation. Also, the economy is pretty relevant to everyone.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:55 PM

I understand, it's just that sometimes the arguements, for want of a better word because that's honestly what they become, on this blog devolve into squabbles about things completely unrelated to children, working parents, or any topic remotely connecting with the subject matter of this blog. Again, sorry for the comment, but (and I'm not saying this to be obnoxious, just stating a fact) I can post what I want, too.

Posted by: 215 | October 6, 2006 3:55 PM

I didn't want to return to full-time work after my baby was born, but didn't have any financial choice in the matter. Cried a lot, but my husband and I sat down and figured out exactly what we needed to do to make my working part-time feasible. We were hoping to implement that plan sometime next year after saving up a ton of money, but now I'm getting laid off. So I'm going to have to hustle for part-time work to make ends meet and figure out part-time paid childcare or trading childcare with another parent who'd like some free time. But I know it will make all of our lives better, even though there will be lots to juggle and it will be the first time I've been without regular paycheck (for more than a few weeks) since I was a teenager. If I made more money than my husband, he'd stay home and do the part-time gig. We urgently need more part-time professional work and more flexible childcare options--those would help people balance work and family and really reflect the family values that get lip service but no real action.

Posted by: restonmom | October 6, 2006 3:56 PM

dadwannabee your generalizations continue to alienate people who like your posts and post on here. Sometimes they are even vaguely insulting. I don't think you are as nice as you imagine yourself to be.

Also, I geuss we will need the space program when the planet is ruined and we all have to live on mars :)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 3:56 PM

3:51--argle bargle!

At least that made me groan...and of course, it's not really funny unless you know the inside joke (but I loved it). Thanks.


Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 4:00 PM

I think I'd prefer to live on the moon myself, but I'll settle for Mars if need be. ;)

Posted by: 215 | October 6, 2006 4:00 PM

dadwannabee wants to show off his vocabulary so people like you will ask what that means. So you've just made his day. Don't say plain English either.

equanimous? Speak simple english, DWB!! ;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 4:01 PM

Clinton rocks.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 4:07 PM

3:56--sorry to be so snarky. I admit that I let myself get rankled by comments like the 11:19 poster and you are correct that I let that drive me into poor generalizations. Although the male-hostile comments have been around, I shouldn't turn that annoyance around and make me persecute another subgroup of the blog. Sorry to the WOHM that feel that I was blaming them.

As for as nice as I think I am...I can only claim to be human. I am as nice as I can be and as with anyone, I sometimes fall from that high horse. All I can do it try to climb back on and again be as nice as I can. I don't hold a particularly high opinion of myself. I know far better and far worse than myself...but I do my best.

And for those who think that NASA is only about the space program, that's an unfair generalization too. NASA has an extremely large Earth Science program that has important projects benefitting everyone. Many of the weather stations, weather satellites and other earth and atmosphere diagnostic tools that almost every American uses daily have been launched or aided by NASA. We launch most of NOAA's satellite based equipment. Our satellites and earth science data were used extensively during the Katrina cleanup for things like mapping the parts of New Orleans under water in order to rebuild the breakwaters and dams and determine where it was safe to put emergency equipment. There are also major inventions that crossover from the space program into your everyday lives (like nylon, velcro, freeze-drying processes for food, plexiglass, some advanced insulations, etc). There is a lot more to our agency than just the space program.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | October 6, 2006 4:14 PM

to DadWannaBe:

Thank you! I must admit I've been guilty of thinking NASA was only about things "up there."

Posted by: LGB | October 6, 2006 4:15 PM

ach, we could fight all day about what group is most maligned on this board! I think it's safe to say that the hostilities flow freely and in all directions, sadly, but there's also always some honest sharing and though, which is great.

I have a question for anyone who's still around on Friday afternoon - do any of you who've been able to put together a flexible option ever feel like it ends up being harder in some ways? After having my son, I only worked at a traditional, non-flex position for about month before moving into my current position which is highly flexible. I love the flexibility, and yet in some ways I feel like I have even less time and sanity - I guess because working at home, I take my lunch break with my son (instead of having a little me time), and with the flexible hours, we don't really have a set daily routine, and I end up feeling more frazzled. But the position is also more demanding, so it could just be that. I'm curious if others find that the flexbility comes with a downside too.

Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 4:34 PM

KB -- funny to be projected as male. Made my day.

End of day, end of week comment: Why 100% as a measure for happy-at-homeness or happy-at-workness? When do we feel 100% about anthing?

So a reworked question that doesn't place any in a 100% postion is more realistc. Answer changes.

Today:
weather = 100% rain

work = about 58% task done; enjoying boss' Friday absence at say 89%

children = trickling in and I don't have to ask about homework since today is Friday so make that 100% for happiness and freedom, for about ten minutes.

Enjoy your weekend. Rainy weather hath charms. I'm getting the crockpot out that I forgot about. Thanks for the reminder. FO4 said chicken thighs plus BBQ sauce in a jar works wonders.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 4:38 PM

this should be in italics

this should be bolded

Sorry for the test, just curious.

Posted by: testing | October 6, 2006 4:45 PM

"I don't worry about things I can control, because if I can control them, why worry? And I don't worry about things that are outside my control, because if I can't control them, worrying is pointless."

I think that was Yogi Berra.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 4:53 PM

Ditto for the boss being absent, CP. Doesn't it make your Friday that much better? :)

Posted by: 215 | October 6, 2006 4:54 PM

Megan, you are so right about flexibility. It has its pros and cons. The nice thing about a regular schedule is that once you have put in your 8 hours, you are done (for the most part). I find that when I work flexible hours (which happens sporadically on an as needed basis), I feel more tied down. I check my BlackBerry constantly. Since I am away from work, I feel like I have to prove that I am working by being more available. I think that especially with new technology, being able to work from home has become a double edged sword, because now the expection is that you WILL work from home, sometimes evenings, weekends, or vacations for some people, depending on the culture of the workplace. People need to learn to set some boundaries, and turn the computers or BBs off at some point. Otherwise, you can really burn yourself out. Which is why I prefer to go into the office and work.

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 4:56 PM

Rockville and Megan - this is actually a confirmation that I shouldn't ask for the laptop that I was planning to ask for in order to be able to work from home since I have to leave at a set time to pick up my son at daycare. Even though it will give me the flexibility I need, I was worried that it would make me even more frazzled that I already am if I have to work after my son has gone to bed. I've been trying to figure out whether the additional flexibility would be a plus or minus.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | October 6, 2006 4:57 PM

Rockville, yeah, that's a lot of the issue. I've gotten pretty good at drawing the lines around my evenings and weekends (except in rare circumstances) but the boundaries between work and home really are blurred. Oddly, I find I actually miss having a commute a little bit - my last commute was by light rail and was pretty short, so it was kind of nice buffer time where I could read and decompress. I don't know, it's weird - I hate to sound like I'm complaining about what is really a pretty great situation, I guess it's just sort of surprising to me that free time and balance still seem so elusive.

Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 5:01 PM

Cassandra, we are a family of 4 in a 1-bedroom apartment. We don't even have a car. Neither my husband nor I has bought a new article of clothing in at least 3 years. I get a haircut once a year. Our last vacation was 3 days "camping" in my mom's backyard in a borrowed tent. Fancy! What exactly do you think we should cut out of this "glamorous" lifestyle so one of us can stay home with the kids?

you should have cut out unprotected sex. jee honey, we can't afford jack squat, we camp in Mom's back yard with a borrowed tent (do you walk up hill to school in the snow both ways too?), my hair smells like dung, we both have to work to afford a 1 bedroom apartment and I can only spend half my day trolling the internet. lets have another!!!

Posted by: permagrin | October 6, 2006 5:05 PM

Fabworkingmom, it's definitely a good thing to be leary of. There are great things about working from home - I do treasure being able to spend time with my son during the day, and it's especially nice if he isn't feeling well. But some days, it does feel like you just carry the concerns or pressures of both worlds all the time, instead of being able to focus on one or the other.

Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 5:07 PM

Sam -

I'll try to not be snarky right back at you. :o)

"I always assumed SAHMs had too much work to be able to do any of that stuff, espcecially if they had four kids."

I am one of those (perhaps) rare SAHMs who doesn't complain about how much work I have, and will be the first person to say that I have more time to pursue interests other than childcare and housekeeping than someone who works outside the home. I say this because I was a WOHM for over 8 years before I became a WAHM (and then a SAHM 2 years after that), so I know full well what it's like to spend my evenings and weekends doing housework, running errands, and just playing catch up.


Posted by: momof4 | October 6, 2006 5:08 PM

Megan, do you have a sitter to take care of your son when you are working at home, or are you working and taking care of him simultaneously. When I am at home, I some boundaries too. If the door is closed, it means I should not be disturbed unless the matter is urgent. That way, I can concentrate and get stuff done. I don't always keep the door closed though, just when I am really busy. It is not an issue anymore now that my son is in school full time. But when he was younger, I never could have worked and taken care of him at the same time. He was just too busy.

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 5:12 PM

Cassandra and other honest poster,

Ignore the hate.

Take care and enjoy the love in your home. Some people are lost; too bad they must be mean and try to drag others down.

Leslie: How about checking with the other WaPo bloggers about creating and encouraging community? Otherwise, perhaps you should write a column and let it sit in print. Once a week, ala Carolyn Hax, have a monitored discussion.

You have options here to shape this. If you don't, you may lose the ordinary and kind posters all together.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 6, 2006 5:15 PM


I agree somewhat on the flexibility point, even on the parenting side --- that more you *can* do, the more you will commit yourself to doing, til you reach your frazzle limit.

DH and I have lots of flexibility, and used it to do midday preschool kid pickups and deliveries to our home sitter for years, and that got very tiresome. I remember one time the mom we shared our sitter with, after a particularly crazy week of carpools, exclaimed "I feel like I'm trying to have a stay-at-home lifestyle and still work full-time!" (She was in a tough spot though with 4 and 2yo boys in separate preschools/separate part-time schedules, the oldest because he had just left preschool for a school which could deal with his special ed issues which were taking *lots* of time to diagnose/address, and she wasn't ready to send him on a schoolbus yet. We did most of the ferrying for the little one, though, as our youngest was at the same preschool.)

The answer, though, is to use what you want and set your limits . . .

Posted by: KB | October 6, 2006 5:17 PM

Aren't they all just so sweet and nice to each other. Megan, College Parkian, KB, Fabworkingmom. Don't you all think you are smart and fabulous, you smug rich snobs. Yuck!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 5:22 PM

I'm always intrigued by the people who write in that Leslie should filter each post, post more often, etc. Not that that wouldn't be a good thing, but...

I assume she has a real job, and this blog ain't it. I mean, I imagine each night she gives a few minutes of thought to a new topic, or makes occasional notes when a good potential topic comes up. Then she types it up for the next day's blog, and her work (for this blog) is pretty much done.

Why would she want to do more than this? Just think of some topic, any topic. Throw in a few key words to guarantee a passionate response. Throw in a few extra key words if feeling frisky. And that's it. Then WE do all the real work. (OK, occasionally check in midday to read a few posts and do one reply, just so folks don't think you've gone to sleep.)

Not saying there's anything wrong with this, that's the way I would do it too. I just wonder why people think she should spend all day doing more. She must have a real job.

Posted by: spunky | October 6, 2006 5:25 PM

Aren't they all just so sweet and nice to each other. Megan, College Parkian, Rockville, KB, Fabworkingmom. Don't you all think you are smart and fabulous, you smug rich snobs. Yuck!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 5:25 PM

Rockville, our son is in day care for the morning and then my husband is with him in the afternoon - at this age there is no way I would be able to get anything done if I were trying to watch him! When I started working from home, before he started day care, we were worried that he would be upset if he knew I was in the house and he couldn't get to me, as he would often cry at the bedroom door if I tried to nap or whatever. So we actually put on an elaborate ruse of me leaving the house every morning, then I would stand outside out of sight while my husband took him downstairs and then I would sneak back in to my office upstairs. We would do the same thing in reverse when it was time to "come home." It was really funny. Then we slowly stopped having me actually go outside, and then I just started going into my office, and now he seems fine with it.

I think for me it's more that I can still hear everything going on with him during the afternoon, so sometimes it's hard for me to tune it out if he's having a bad day or something.

Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 5:26 PM

That is so funny. I used to do the same pretend to leave in the morning and then sneak back in routine with my son, when he was a toddler, because if my son thought I was home, he would never leave me alone. We are over that now. I have found that the tables are turned now, and he is the one sneaking under the bed so that he can play with his gameboy and not be found out.

Posted by: Rockville | October 6, 2006 5:28 PM

I just noticed this down at the bottom (under Post a Comment):
"entries that are unsigned... will be removed"

Tchya, right! When, 6 months from now?

P.S. Oh, and everyone try to remember: ignore the trolls, ignore the trolls...

Posted by: spunky | October 6, 2006 5:32 PM

"I just noticed this down at the bottom (under Post a Comment):
"entries that are unsigned... will be removed"

Tchya, right! When, 6 months from now?"

Um, sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but I think the washington post has a few more important things to do then constantly monitor this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2006 5:35 PM

Megan -- that's funny

and Rockville -- that ("tables are turned now") is even funnier

Posted by: spunky | October 6, 2006 5:36 PM

Rockville, that's hysterical! We didn't really know our neighbors well at that point, and it turns out they were extremely curious about my little forays onto the driveway! It is amazing how our son is already getting so much less concerned about my comings and goings - and very freeing, I must say!

And that 5:25 post actually gave me a good laugh - I only wish I felt smart and fabulous today!

Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 5:44 PM

To 5:35: Agreed, which is why it should say:

Post a Comment

Write whatever you want, folks. Sign it, don't sign it, it doesn't matter. Heck, use someone else's signature, confuse us all. We just started this silly blog because the board of directors somehow got wind of blogs as some hip new thing, and we really need to appeal to the younger demographic. Even though, just between you, me, and the wall, we all know recent U.S. graduates can barely read and are more likely to pull up their pants than read our newspaper. But our loyal older readers are, well, dying, so we gotta do something. So blog away all you want, knock yourself out. I'm going home to my family to get drunk.

Posted by: spunky | October 6, 2006 5:54 PM

Spunky, you are living up to your moniker! Nice to have a chuckle at the end of the day.

Posted by: Megan | October 6, 2006 6:06 PM

To EH - I hope you're not expecting things to improve with your husband's schedule once he finishes medical school, because it's likely going to get worse before it gets better. Residency (especially a residency in any kind of surgical field) can be brutal - it was so bad that a few years ago, the Graduate Medical Education group passed a regulation stating that residents could *only* work 80 hours per week (and this 80 hours does not include any academic reading or presentatins they may have to prepare.)

My husband is just now in his last year of residency, and I'm pregnant with our first baby. We made the conscious choice to wait until his residency was almost done to start our family, precisely because we knew how hard the residency schedule would be, and that he'd have little time to provide any meaningful contribution to child care during residency. I hate to sound the alarm, but the vast majority of my husband's colleagues who have kids a) have stay at home wives; b) don't get to spend as much time with their kids as they'd like; and/or c) end up divorced because their wives get sick of the work schedule and having to do all the child care/house care themselves.

Those first few years just make it very hard for a new doctor (male or female) to have much balance with respect to their family lives - unfortunately, I've never seen anyone who negotiated a flexible residency schedule.

Posted by: Wife of a Doctor | October 6, 2006 8:06 PM

I left work when baby #2 was 7 months old. I had wanted to work part-time but my office told me 40 hours in the office or nothing. That was almost 2 years ago. How do I feel now? Well - I would really rather be working - I liked to work, I liked what I did, I was good at it. SAHMotherhood is difficult. You are on a track and just have to do the same things over and over. There are no beginnings and ending to tasks. They are just repeated daily/weekly. That being said, I love my kids - and have had fun being with them.

To create time for myself I have a p-t job that I do on evenings or weekends. I've volunteered at the kids schools (yes - the oldest was in pre-school 1/2 days until Kindergarten and the little one just started in September 1/2 days). While I'm "free" for 4 hours, I try to work on our fixer-upper, or run errands, (something that was never fun with kids).

However, whenever I'm lingering over my cup of coffee and reading the paper, I feel guilty, that my husband is working, the kids are at school, and I'm fooling around.

Good luck to everyone else, this life thing is hard!

Posted by: G - Mom | October 6, 2006 9:53 PM

We have met the trolls and they are us. People sending nice messages under their usual screen id and snarky ones anonymously, just childish.

Seems to me that having an official logon would help, so if people wanted to post under another name they'd at least have to log off and log on again and have more than 1 e-mail address.

DWB, truly love 'ya and your vocabulary, but I think 11:19 was responding to the username TexasFisherMAN + message, which was pretty provocative.

Also want to point out that almost nobody on this blog appears to think they're part of the problem, and many people are! Look at your own behavior first, please. Give the other person a chance. And if you've ever sprung hot on the defense of someone you think has been maligned, think of whether you've ignored provocation, past days. It gets old. If somebody always needs to be defended, perhaps they ARE doing something.

Posted by: Hmmm | October 8, 2006 12:19 PM

Also want to point out that almost nobody on this blog appears to think they're part of the problem, and many people are! Look at your own behavior first, please. Give the other person a chance. And if you've ever sprung hot on the defense of someone you think has been maligned, think of whether you've ignored provocation, past days. It gets old. If somebody always needs to be defended, perhaps they ARE doing something.

ummm, some people hold grudges from blog to blog and attack people when they are just posting nice responses, so maybe people do feel the need to defend them, and frankly, you shouldn't worry about it.

You are also part of the problem, but I bet you don't think you are. Just like DWB doesn't when he posts that the regulars do this and that, he is a regular too.


Posted by: Anonymous | October 8, 2006 8:00 PM

ummm, some people hold grudges from blog to blog and attack people when they are just posting nice responses, so maybe people do feel the need to defend them, and frankly, you shouldn't worry about it.

You are also part of the problem, but I bet you don't think you are. Just like DWB doesn't when he posts that the regulars do this and that, he is a regular too.

Posted by: | October 8, 2006 08:00 PM

I'm not worried about it, Scarry! And I'm very aware of being part of the problem. Not everyone has your defensive, victimized point of view! Now what was in my post that made you take it soooooo personally?

If I were you, I wouldn't post complaining about people holding grudges when you've been dumping on DWB for days anonymously! Hint: If you're going to post anonymously, don't make an unusual typo you've made in many signed posts over the past months. Change your words and phrasing around and don't return to old, old themes.

I understand you think you're keeping the heat off yourself by posting the snark anonymously, but it also proves you know when you're being mean.

No, I'm not stalking you, I just have a near-photographic memory and do text analysis professionally. You're easy to pick out and your self-righteousness is childish.

So, mad enough now to show you have class and start drinking while making defensive, angry posts? (Now see, I know what I'm saying and choosing to say it deliberately. Have to go help an old lady across the street to improve my karma).

Hugs!

Posted by: Hmmm | October 9, 2006 6:58 PM

psyyyycho! but at least you are a *professional*

Posted by: you must already know | October 9, 2006 11:37 PM

Really, he knows he has a problem and I didn't see anything mean or nasty in the post he is referring to anyway. If he really was a professional he wouldn't have to post under so many different names himself. Yes, hmmmmm, we know it's you also!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2006 8:36 AM

As a single mom via adoption I chose to be a parent. I didn't realize how emotionally tough it would be to HAVE to work and raise my kids "part-time." For me this is almost crippling. I desperately want to be home with them, but have to be the provider.

Posted by: hopewellmom | October 10, 2006 12:43 PM

No, I'm not stalking you, I just have a near-photographic memory and do text analysis professionally. You're easy to pick out and your self-righteousness is childish.

So, mad enough now to show you have class and start drinking while making defensive, angry posts?


Scarry was sick and can't drink anymore, so there goes your photographic memory!

Really she says it at least once a month. Even if she did write that, and I'm not saying she did, you have an issue.

Posted by: issue | October 11, 2006 7:49 AM

In response to Letterman, she does!

#104 = grouchy people.
Posted by: | September 20, 2006 08:40 PM

You proved his/her point, oh, poster of category #13.
Posted by: | September 20, 2006 09:38 PM

Whups, category 15. Going to stop drinking now.
Posted by: | September 20, 2006 09:44 PM

Posted by: Hmmm | October 11, 2006 8:20 AM

you really are crazy

Posted by: wow | October 11, 2006 3:43 PM

methinks he is insane, run Forrest run, I mean scarry!

Posted by: God make it stop | October 11, 2006 3:51 PM

hmmmm,hmmmm, crazy

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2006 4:36 PM

hmmmm,hmmmm, crazy

Posted by: Anonymous | October 11, 2006 4:38 PM

Moms! Firstly, thanks for you opinion and your experiences and your anecdotes. WE have the hardest, most stressful job on earth and we do it for FREE! Kudos to that.

One item I wanted to point out was that many families, ESPECIALLY MINORITY FAMILIES LIKE AFRICAN-AMERICAN, have never (and I mean that collectively) had the luxury of being SAHMs. So, for many of us, it's very foreign to think of oneself as a SAHM. There are few "examples" or resources in your community and generally, just not many folks home during the day to share your issues with. Hence, I think many black women have done the opposite, and not really given SAHMotherhood much thought.

I'm a FT working mom with two toddlers, my mom worked and raised 2 kids alone and so did my husband's mom (single, along, 4 kids) so these are our role-models for motherhood.

So, now that I'm a mother, my definition of a mother is someone who is responsible, hard-working and who goes out into the world to provide for her children. I'm not saying this is the only definition - just a little bummed that most black women only have this role model.

Does anyone else feel the same?

I love working and raising kids, though it's a job and a half, I just wish I had a more broad definition of motherhood in my community. NONE of my black friends are SAHMs - we (wrongly) look down on women who are....

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