Seven years ago, when I was planning my wedding, I was sharing with a potential florist that my mother had been a florist when I was a baby but chose to become a stay-at-home mom when I was in preschool. I was just trying to make small talk, filling in the awkward spaces in our conversation while we waited for her assistant to fetch things from the other room.
“Well, that was a waste of talent,” she responded without a thought, and then she continued on to ask me questions about my wedding flowers.
Her comment took me off guard. I thought it was especially rude in a professional situation. But I am not sure her thoughts are that far off from how many people feel about stay-at-home moms, especially those who left a career to care for their families. Now, I am a work-at-home mom of two, and my life is much different than my mom’s when us kids were young, but I am still glad I was raised by a stay-at-home mom.
My mom didn’t choose her occupation as a stay-at-home mom out obligation or necessity. She simply chose to stay home with us full-time because that was what she loved to do. Our family was fortunate enough to be able to live on my dad’s income alone, and she thrived at home caring for me and my four siblings while managing the domestic tasks around the house.
She was one of those moms who seemed to just get it. She worked hard to create a really great environment at home, and she was good at it. She loved to plan meals and to cook from scratch. She enjoyed working with her hands, so cleaning, sewing and decorating where part of her daily life and seemed to come easily to her. Our life at home wasn’t perfect, but my mom played a big role in keeping our daily routines peaceful and enjoyable.
When I look back at my childhood, I am grateful for that time she spent at home with us kids. As a young child and an adolescent who was homeschooled, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my mother and observe how she parented us and how she took care of her home. Even though my life as a mom looks a lot different than hers did, I have taken a lot that I learned from her and applied it to the way I parent and the way I keep up my home.
My mom passed on a lot of her cooking skills to me, and I actually enjoy the time I spend cooking for my family. Of course, when my days are busy enough, I have nothing against a frozen pizza or grabbing take-out, but I definitely love to cook from scratch a couple of times a week. I also feel that, just by being intentional about keeping her home clean, organized and decorated, she modeled for me the basic skills that I needed to keep up with a home and small kids. While I am sure I would have eventually figured out how to manage my family’s laundry and keep my home clean, it was nice having those skills before I ever started my family.
I may not be a stay-at-home mom, but I still make it a priority to model my parenting after my mother’s to a certain extent. Even though I work, I am glad she taught me the importance of routine and rhythm for young children by making them a consistent part of my own childhood. Like her, I make a point to ensure we all sit down for dinner together more often than we don’t, and I plan to pass the majority of the domestic skills I learned from my mom on to my own children simply because they making being a mom a little bit easier.
I don’t think that staying at home full-time is right for every mom — I don’t even think it is right for me — but I do think that each mom has to carefully consider what is best for her family before choosing to work or stay at home. I am glad that my mom knew herself well enough to know that staying at home was what she wanted to do, and that being at home was best for our family.