If Every Mom Were a Stay-At-Home Mom

By Veronica

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, the public schools would shut down due to a lack of teachers.

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, giving birth would become much more dangerous. All those mothers who are midwives and OBGYNS would disappear. The hospitals could not staff enough nurses for basic patient care. The pregnant women who already must drive twenty miles to a birth unit might have to drive fifty.

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, I would lose my pediatrician. My kids would go farther and wait longer to see a doctor. My sister’s clients – children with neurological disorders – would spend years on waiting lists before seeing another physical therapist who specializes in their treatment.

If every mom were a stay-at-home mom, some of the most brilliant scholars I know would not be available to affect the lives and minds of students. My children’s future education would be immeasurably the poorer.

This stay-at-home mom has one thing to say to the moms who leave home to earn a paycheck at a job worth doing: thank you. Thank you for caring for patients and protecting citizens. Thank you for repairing our streets and driving our buses and picking up our garbage. Thank you for writing our newspapers and teaching our kids. Thank you for being an example to my daughters of the many options they have in adult life. Thank you for making my decision to be a stay-at-home mom a real choice.

The media-manufactured “Mommy Wars” tell us that mothers resent and judge each other. Sometimes we do. But sometimes we recognize that the world needs different people to make different choices. The truth is that as we all struggle to provide the best for our kids, we can’t make it without each other. Your choices affect me, and mine affect you. We really are all in this together.

So the next time a belittling feature on a morning news program tries to exploit you emotionally; the next time a snooty mom at play group or school treats you like you are just a “part-time” mom; the next time you feel isolated and unappreciated in the challenges you face, please, come back and read this thank you again.

Because it will still be true.

Veronica Mitchell also posts at Toddled Dredge.

80 Responses to If Every Mom Were a Stay-At-Home Mom
  1. Erin
    July 17, 2008 | 8:57 pm

    Thank you so much. As a mom who has to work outside of the home, it’s nice to hear someone not perpetuating the Mommy Wars. Because, to be honest, we all do what we do for our children, and that is all that matters.

  2. Lacie
    July 17, 2008 | 9:14 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I am a working mom and have at times struggled with this decision.

  3. Bridgette
    July 17, 2008 | 9:53 pm

    What a great way to look at the “war!” Thank you for that article. I really appreciated it!

  4. jenn3
    July 17, 2008 | 10:30 pm

    So true. I would love to be a SAHM, but I’m a single mom and someone has to pay the bills. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I feel guilty about it, but I’m doing the best I can. I just try to make each moment with my daughter extra special and hope it’s enough. I respect the SAHM too, because sometimes a long weekend at home is enough to make me want to pull my hair out. (I enjoy spending time with my daughter, but two year olds do wear you out sometimes.)

  5. Nora Bee
    July 17, 2008 | 11:50 pm

    Oh my heavens, this is the most wonderful thing I have read in a long, long time. How did you get right in my heart and go and write it? THANK YOU!

  6. nina
    July 18, 2008 | 7:47 am

    Oh my! I thought this battle was over a generation ago! Once upon a time, when I was raising my “first family,” I frequently encountered the attitude of the Women’s Liberation Front that would have me believe that a woman who chose to stay home and raise her children was simply too stupid to do anything else with her life. The “mommy wars” were pretty vicious back then!

    So, after almost twenty years of being a stay-at-home mom, I returned to college and earned three degrees (so much for being too stupid!) and then worked away from home as a college instructor for several years. I did do that in the right order, didn’t I?

    Fast forward to NOW (no pun intended!) and I am now the mother of two beautiful daughters adopted from China, ages five and seven years. The world is a much different place now than it was back in the 70s and 80s when I was a younger mom, and it was not uncommon back then to be able to raise a family on one income. And now, even though we live frugally, budget our money, and teach our daughters the difference between “wants” and “needs,” it is necessary for me to help our family financially. So, I now work away from home, fortunately with a pretty flexible schedule and a low-stress job, and our girls love their “Bible School” daycare program.

    So, I guess as a mom who has been a Mommy Warrior for a very long time . . . . . and I’ve fought the “battle” from a variety of different vantage points, my observation is that we will all be stronger moms, have healthier families, and be happier women when we learn to support one another, whatever our position on the battlefield of the Mommy Wars. Because the REAL battle is not between Mommies, but the battle is for the hearts and souls of our children, and we need all the support we can get from each other.

    PS Sue has offered an insightful, historical context for this conversation. And she is right – the idea of mommies staying home with their children, playing games, going to the zoo, the water park, or the museum is simply not part of the historical record. There is no historical precedent for this kind of “stay at home” mothering. When moms were at home with their children, they were ALL working very hard to provide for their families. Only the very wealthy families were able to have a mommy who did not “work” – and then those mommies were often entertaining their Garden Club while the kiddos were sent off to boarding school or in the nursery with the nanny. Let’s get on with life, girls.

  7. Jackie
    July 18, 2008 | 7:52 am

    From the comments back and forth , it is clear the “mommy wars” will never be over. I have been on both sides (sahm and working mom – which I am currently) and I can guarantee you it is a lose, lose proposition when faced with women from the opposite camp. If you’re a sahm, then working moms think you are “dumbing down” your life by filling it with playgroups, trips to the park and watching Barney and Blues Clues everyday. (sorry, I just dated myself.) But if you decide to go back to work, somehow you are a bad mother who neglects her children because she doesn’t have them attached to her hip everyday.
    I’ve been there and done both and no matter what you do it seems you can’t win in the eyes of other mothers. So I count my wins from the eyes of my husband and children. And we do what works for us.

    Thanks for the article – I enjoyed it.

  8. No Mommy's Perfect
    July 18, 2008 | 8:41 am

    So incredibly well stated! I feel so strongly about this issue I recently started a small business devoted to ending the Mommy Wars!! I really like the way you have brought such perspective to the topic….Thanks for sharing your thoughts which you translate into writing so well.

  9. poppy fields
    July 18, 2008 | 10:36 am

    This is so true. To stay or not to stay has been such a struggle for me, trying to find what’s right for our little family without caving in to external pressures.

  10. boliath
    July 18, 2008 | 10:57 am

    I’ve never known a working Mom who though a SAHM Mom was dumb or a SAHM mom who thought a working Mom was neglecting her children. Maybe I hang out with smart people who respect each others choices and decisions. I’m glad I do.

  11. Pieces
    July 18, 2008 | 12:36 pm

    Amazing. Even a post that is balanced and fair and encourages us not to judge one another brings out those who continue to think they know what is best for another person.

    I am endlessly grateful that our family doctor chooses to work full-time caring for me and my family. She is a mother who loves her children and parents them beautifully. She also loves my children and helps me care for them.

    Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for those mothers who work outside the home.

  12. Angela
    July 18, 2008 | 12:53 pm

    Thank you – from a teaching mommy – thank you. I have tremendous respect for mommies who stay at home with their children, and I truly appreciate a nod from one of them I know that I am doing what is right for my family. You can be assured that I am doing, and will continue to do my part to end the ‘Mommy Wars’. We have far more important things to do than squabble. 🙂

  13. JuliesP
    July 18, 2008 | 1:04 pm

    I think that there would be a lot of good that would come out of everyone being a stay at home mom for at least the first two years….of course it is not for everyone, trust me many a day I would have rather been at work making 100K, however, I wanted to form my children, give them love, be there for them…make sure they knew MY Values for how they should be raised. I have a wonderful career that I worked long and hard for and when my kids were 3 and 6 I started a little business from home which is now growing just in time to fill in the time while they are at school. I know that everyone doesn’t have this opportunity, but my husband and I decided to alter our lives, live without the second income and that meant, no big house, no fancy cars and reasonable vacations..it was worth it!

  14. Chantal
    July 18, 2008 | 3:42 pm

    I just loved this essay. Thank you so much for writing it!

  15. A
    July 18, 2008 | 6:02 pm

    Present day SAHM’s don’t just play games with their kids. They are constantly teaching their children everything from math to morals. “Historically” women were at the home preparing meals, washing and sewing clothes and whatever else they needed to do to keep the home together. Their daughters participated by learning to sew, watch younger siblings and help prepare the meals. Men worked the farm and livestock with their sons. Pretty much the equivalent of homeschooling today. All this because their lot in life was to be farmers and wives of farmers. The SAHM is different today because we are not raising our children to be farmers and wives of farmers.

  16. […] a (former?) working mom, I loved Veronica’s post over at 5 Minutes for Parenting on If Every Mom Were a Stay-At-Home Mom. She looks at the so-called ‘Mommy Wars’ from an angle that I don’t think many of […]

  17. LeeAnn
    July 20, 2008 | 12:07 am

    I had to laugh at the description of the mommies filling their lives with playgroups, etc. Sounds like a great vacation to me! Most of the moms I know (probably the writer of that comment too) work those things into very busy days.

    Historically for me, my mother was a SAHM until a couple of years after I graduated from college. Very good for me—that’s when she and I stopped being “just” mother and daughter and became friends. If I could accomplish half of what she did while she was a SAHM, I’d call myself ultimately successful. There wasn’t a role she didn’t play in our home from stretching a sometimes very scarce dollar to teaching me my academic subjects (I went to school but I credit her with my school success.)

    Her mother was a SAHM who showed my mother the way. Very industrious in the home, made a dollar stretch f-a-r. She went back to work after my mother went to college. BTW, both of them translated skills from homemaking into pretty good paychecks.

    SAHM, from what I’ve seen first hand, refers to the fact that the moms are working very hard with their children beside them. IMO the term working mom is an oxymoron.

  18. LeeAnn
    July 20, 2008 | 12:10 am

    That part about when my mother and I became friends wasn’t very clear. The time after I graduated, before she started working, was very important to our relationship. The darkest time was when she had to go to work for about 2 years when I was 14-16 years old. But those were tough times all the way around!

  19. BlapherMJ
    July 20, 2008 | 9:43 am

    Thank you for posting this — that was very encouraging, and much appreciated as I sit here working on a Sunday morning! 🙂

    Judgment of each other, whether stay-at-home mom or work-outside-the-home mom, is unfair. We’re all doing what we feel is best for our family, either by choice or necessity. Raising kids is difficult no matter what your situation. Isn’t it better for everyone to try to work together?! Thanks again, and have a wonderful, laugh-friendly day!

  20. Genesis
    July 20, 2008 | 11:43 am

    Excellent post! I`m a work at home mom, so I`m kind of in between the two sides of the Mommy Wars . . . I am home with the kids but busy with work at the same time. But I heartily agree that it`s not a possibility or even a want for everyone to be a SAHM and that should be just fine.

  21. ali blogger
    July 24, 2008 | 12:04 am

    You have NO IDEA how much this means to me. Sometimes I get caught up in the guilt. Thank you so so so so much! I linked this to my site. I will be visiting it often. THANK YOU!

  22. Ewok
    July 25, 2008 | 7:28 pm

    Wow, Damsel–Am I detecting a serious chip on the shoulder? Your reply was a little harsh. I see the point Moriah was trying to make. Why can’t we have both? In the “good old days” women reared their families AND farmed, made clothing, were midwifes, etc. and just took the kids along. What valuable life lessons those children learned! I know that’s not always practical in today’s world, but I think there are lots of creative options out there yet to be discovered. Why get defensive if you know you are called to do something? Defensiveness usually points to insecurity. Let’s commit to what we’re called to do and do it well–no need to defend ourselves to anyone.

  23. Nirasha
    August 2, 2008 | 8:14 pm

    Totally true that the guilt of working moms is a hard thing to bear. It is really tough that when you are finally home to dedicate time to yourself since you feel guilty for being away. Good article and great insight.

    I had always thought I would work forever and never be home but after being an engineer for 12 years when my 1st daughter came along I could not bear to be without her. Though I gave up my career the 1st day at home was the worst. It was so tough to be at the beck and call of a baby and the crying was tough so was the lack of adult company. 3 years later and another toddler later I am shocked at how much people don’t realize what a sacrifice it is being home. People don’t care who or what I am at events as soon as I say SAHM. In fact I wrote an article on my site about the list of things people say to SAHM that are hurtful or annoying.

    Working Moms rock but there are just a few that insult both moms, whether in the home or out.

  24. TeacherMommy
    October 17, 2008 | 11:21 am

    Thank you. Thank you. I’ve recently gotten hooked on your blog and have been joyfully immersing myself in your archives (while seriously thinking about starting a blog myself), and I linked here. I know it’s from a while back, but as a mommy of two under three who works full time (and yes, it is full time and more despite the snarky comments about my career from those who don’t know better) as a high school teacher:


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