I read a lot about stay-at-home mommies — how they sacrificed their careers to spend time raising their children and how they are selfless, innovative and bolder than they get credit for. I applaud them.
I'm not sure how to categorize myself these days. I lost my job back in August and have since focused my efforts on growing my website from a blog to a business. I'm figuring out how I can capitalize on what I truly love to do while still cooking and spending time with my family. Am I a mom? Yes. Do I work? Yes. From home? Yes. Does my son stay home with me all day? No. Therefore, am I a stay-at-home mom? Not sure...
My 2-year-old son continues to go to day care, despite Mom working from home. Believe me when I tell you that my husband and I didn't come to this decision lightly. We toiled over the cost savings and the commute savings. We took a lot of petty things and our own egos into consideration, but it all boiled down to one question: What is best for our son?
I had to be brutally honest with myself. What kind of stay-at-home mother would I be? Would I get up early to read Elmo to him and then bake chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon? Would I give him the love, attention and development he deserves, or would I be glued to a computer screen while coming up with marketing, social media, advertising and story ideas — leaving him parked in front of a cartoon for the majority of the day. Sadly, at this stage, I knew it would be the latter.
As a family, we chose to leave my son in day care, full-time. I had a major episode of mommy guilt and attempted part-time day care at one point, but it threw my son off so badly that he began having night terrors and was extremely fussy during the day. It wasn't good for him to not know what to expect. Full-time day care was the choice he made more than any of us did.
It's been three months since I began working from home as a full-time food blogger and writer — three months since my son continued to go to day care despite Mommy's career change. Do we have any regrets? No. He loves his school. He has friends he can socialize with, new toys to play with and new adventures to engage him. He's a social butterfly, and the interaction with children his age is exactly what he wants and needs.
All these stay-at-home mommies have playdates to help their children get out of the house and develop their social skills through interacting with other kids. That's exactly what day care does, too — it's just more organized and lasts for six to eight hours at a time. It's exactly what we human beings crave when we're developing networks of our own. We don't want to be reclusive. We don't want to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world. We want co-workers, friends, family and people to share our stories with and to play with and learn from. It's in our nature, and it's in our children's nature, too.
I still have my moments. I have those days when things are slow and my guilt gets the better of me. Little voices in my head tell me, "You're a bad mother. You're lazy. You're not good enough. You're selfish."
Selfish? Am I? This battle rages on. Part of me thinks I'm selfish to send him to school and not teach him everything he needs to know myself. Another part of me thinks ripping him away from friends, teachers and an environment he enjoys — all to feed my own sense of security as a mother — is even more selfish. I guess it depends on which side of my brain you talk to on which day.
The bottom line is I love my son. I want what is best for him, and right now, having a work-from-home mommy who focuses on growing her business/career during the day while he enjoys school is what's best. If that changes in a month, a week or a day, then we'll adjust. But for now, I'm OK with being categorized as a stay-at-home, working mom.
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