This is an age-old conundrum. Should you stay at home or should you pursue a career? Momhood is hard. Let's put all our cards on the table. Being a parent is the hardest thing we will ever do. There is no definitive manual when we are gifted these new, shiny humans and how hard the road ahead will be.
To be frank, many of us need to work. We have mouths to feed. We have bills to pay. Unemployment is not an option. I honor those mommas who are fighting for a better life for their babies. Yet, I often wonder, who is happier? Is the working mother happier because she is fulfilled outside of the home? Or is the stay-at-home momma happier because she has the ability to be with her babies every single moment?
“Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child. There should be a song for women to sing at this moment or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name the moment.” — Anita Diamant
I often tell the tale that pre-momhood I would think to myself that I will be the coolest mom in the universe. This narrative came to a screeching halt when I was reminded that I am mean, unfair, or brutal in my course corrections. Each teenager that wafts into my life (meaning my boys) reminds me daily that I have screwed something up as a parent. Bottom line, whatever choice we make as a parent will eventually be challenged by someone, somewhere.
My gentle entry into being a working mom was facilitated by the need to be around adults and foster my creativity. During this 20-year span of motherhood, I graduated from law school, graduated with a master's certification in life coaching, worked at an international Aupair agency and launched two businesses. I immersed myself in a career trajectory on the notion that my children come first. I always worked from home and I always had help.
According to the American Psychological Association: Mothers with jobs tend to be healthier and happier than moms who stay at home during their children’s infancy and pre-school years, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.
Researchers analyzed the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development data, beginning in 1991 with interviews of 1,364 mothers shortly after their child’s birth and including subsequent interviews and observations spanning more than 10 years. The findings were published in the December issue of APA’s Journal of Family Psychology®.
“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as the conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working,” said lead author Cheryl Buehler, Ph.D., professor of human development and family studies, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “However, in many cases, the well-being of moms working part-time was no different from moms working full time.”
Mom guilt is a real thing. We are tested by our own perception of what we should be doing and what we are doing wrong. We are tested with every choice we make and are put under a microscope that analyzes every choice. The most important thing is to have a deep awareness of your needs and your family's needs. It is important that when you make the decision to work or be a stay-at-home mom, you are very firm in your stance. If you are grounded in your purpose, naysayers have no power.