Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Defense of Working Parents...From a Stay at Home Mom

As you know, when Baby C came into our lives, my husband and I decided that we were in a good position for me to stay at home. For one thing, I felt it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.  This is time I won't be able to get back in Claire's life - and who cares if I have to work an extra year or two to make up for it? Claire will never be a baby again, and I wanted to be around for it - the good, the bad and the ugly. And it made sense financially. After taking a look at my nonprofit paycheck, I would be coming home with less than $300/month after childcare, an extra car payment, and all the other expenses that come with working. I know that $300/month definitely makes a difference in people's lives (hey, I'd like to have that money!), but it made me come to a realization that you really can't put a price on everything, and staying at home for awhile was something I wanted to do.

After 10 months of being a stay at home parent, I have to admit, it's quite challenging. There's the constant entertaining/redirecting of a very curious baby (exhausting), doing several loads of laundry, daily cleaning, cooking, etc. But I can't say I view it as my "job". I mean, I occasionally find time to blog, I Facebook (is that a verb?), I play Words with Friends...

I came across this article that tries to put a "salary" with the job title of being a stay at home parent - and it amounts to $96,000 by combining jobs of private chef, childcare provide, maid, driver, and a few other careers.  I have to tell you, even as a stay at home parent, it really struck a chord with me. I think many stay at home parents feel they are devalued by society. Maybe they had careers before, and the only way they feel they are making a contribution is if they are pulling in a salary. Not true - I think there is tremendous value in staying home with your children. But can we just call it like it is and say it was something that made sense for my family or something I wanted to do instead of trying to put a monetary value on it? PS - I'm a pretty good cook, but I'm not going to pretend my meals rival that of a private chef.  

Besides, working parents have to do ALL that plus work 40+ hours. I commend my husband, who gets up at 4:30 every other morning (regardless of if we've previously been awake with Baby C) to go to the gym, then catches his bus at 7:45 and after working a 9.5 hour day, comes home. But wait! He even gives me a break and plays with our daughter until she goes to bed at 7:30. He still does laundry, he still cleans... in short, he's pretty amazing. And most working parents I know are the same way.

Ultimately, being a parent is hard work, and it's full time. Being a parent is all-consuming, and you especially feel that way when you stay home. Even if you have a job outside your home, you're still an on-call parent. 24/7, 365 for the rest of your life.

What do you think?

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