Stay-at-home mom or dad: damned if you don’t

Welcome back kings and queens of the damned!

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a working parent, we’re all damned no matter what. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

But how come? It seems like we’re never doing enough by our own standards or by someone else’s.

Damn it, we can’t win, can we? Well, maybe you win if you’re a stay-at-home parent who works outside the home a couple days a week or who works from a home office. Meet the SAHWM/SAHWD! Maybe we really can have it all.

How can we, no matter our employment status, overcome the nagging feeling that we’re damned, condemned by the naysayers for our choices to stay at home with our kids or return to the workforce?

photo of woman using her laptop
Photo by bruce mars on

When I decided to go back to work teaching part time for one semester, I rehearsed how I would explain the decision to my family and friends. (I was pregnant with my second and had a 1.5 year old at home.) I felt I needed a justification. I had an answer ready for each rebuttal. I had a response ready for each question.

  • Is being home not enough?
  • Why are you going to put strain on your family for a little bit of money?
  • Aren’t you going to miss your kids?

“No, being at home is not enough – at this time in my life.”

“A happy parent equals a happy baby.”

“Yes, I’ll miss my kids every second of every day.”

Ultimately, my family and friends were very supportive of my decision, and to those of you reading this post, I’m so grateful for your acceptance and approval. But I know I shouldn’t need your validation. There I go again, “shoulding” all over myself. Hahah.

Why do we feel the need to explain ourselves or justify our decision to go back to work part or full time?

Why are some of us ashamed to be working parents?

Perhaps somewhere along the line, someone or something (e.g. society?) made us feel ashamed we’re not at home with our children.

Maybe we feel like our decision to return to the workforce makes us a second rate parent in the glowering eyes of society, or worse, in our children’s eyes. And nothing could be further from the truth.

We work because we love our children.

We work because we want our children to have all their wants and needs met.

We work because we want our children to have more comfortable lives than we did.

We work because we don’t want to lose ourselves, who we were before becoming parents.

We work because we want to show our kids that, while they’re the most important things in our life, they’re not the only things in our life.

For the vast majority of us we work, well, because we have to work.

adult chill computer connection
Photo by on

Some reasons we may feel ashamed

  • We feel bad our kids will think we chose our career over them.
  • We feel bad our kids think we’d rather spend time at the office, then at home.
  • We feel bad that our kids may be sick all the time from a daycare setting.
  • We feel bad (and worry) we’re going to miss our children’s “firsts” – first roll, first smile, first laugh, first crawl, first step, first kiss, first wave, first word, etc.
  • We feel bad our kids will prefer the caregiver(s) to us.
  • People will think we’re outsourcing our parenting responsibilities to someone else, that “we’re letting someone else ‘raise our kids'”.
  • People will think our household is not doing well financially since we have to work and can’t stay home…OR similarly…People will think we can’t manage our household’s money well enough to live on one income.

We should all be encouraging one another whether we work inside or outside of the home. At the end of the day, we’re all doing the most important work of all: raising our children to be good people.

group hand fist bump
Photo by on

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Who you are is enough. What you do is enough.

So don’t be ashamed of who or what you are. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of how you’re living your life if that life makes you happy.

Stop mom and dad damning/shaming. Maybe the shamer is you. Enough is enough.

Do you regret or resent returning to the workforce? Why or why not?

Did you get pressure to abandon your career and stay at home? What did you do? How did you handle the situation?

(You may have noticed repetition across posts. My thoughts apply to all moms and dads, regardless of their employment status.)

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