In our Moms Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money and parenthood. These views are theirs, not ours, but we look forward to opening up the floor for discussion.
Last time, we introduced you to the diaper-free movement that's sweeping the nation. This time, two writers share their differing views on whether it makes sense—emotionally and financially—to go back to work after having kids.
In this post, Ashley Forchelli tells us why she has never regretted her decision to become a stay-at-home mom. For the opposing view, read this essay on why one woman made the choice to be a working mom and has never looked back. Tell us what you think in the comments, below.
Four years ago, I became a mom and gave up everything about the life I led before.
Do I miss that life? Occasionally.
Do I regret my choice? Never.
These past four years as a stay-at-home mom have been the most rewarding of my life.
Fifteen or so (ahem) years ago, I graduated college with a Master's in Education. After letting my career and interests guide me, I worked my way up through all the different positions within Human Resources and ended up as a very successful HR Manager for a financial institution.
It was my dream job in many ways. The salary was high, the hours short, and for the first time ever, I was working for someone really great. This was a boss who taught me a lot and whom I respected. It didn't hurt that my office was one block from the beach, either.
Despite All This, I Always Knew I Would Quit If I Had Children
I was raised by a stay-at-home mom, as was my husband. I really never thought of being a mom in any other way. But, we live in California where taxes are high, home prices are through the roof and public schools are frightening. The thought of giving up my salary was scary for both my husband and me. But once I got pregnant, I knew that was what I wanted.
More than that, it was what I had to have. There was no way I could let someone else raise my children. The money wasn't worth it to me. Another huge consideration was the price of childcare. Any decent nanny or daycare facility came with a high price tag. My salary minus what we would need to pay wasn't enough to convince me to give up those days with my kids.
Staying at Home Was a Financial Adjustment
For me, what was harder than adjusting our budget was adjusting to living on "someone else's" money. It took me a long time to feel like the money my husband made was ours and not his. My husband was very supportive, and we are totally open with our finances. I pay the day-to-day bills, and he handles the investing. We make all our major financial decisions together.
Being a stay-at-home mom means giving up more than just money. Finding daily adult interaction and stimulation is a challenge. It took effort on my part to meet other SAHMs. I started blogging and taking photography classes to give myself something “just for me,” and to keep my brain stimulated.
Despite the challenges, making all these choices has been invigorating. No more boss, no more being on someone else's schedule, no more sitting at a desk and dealing with meaningless paperwork. For now, the only people I answer to are half my size, and if they are laughing, it means I am doing my job well.
Why I'm Not Worried About the Future
I feel that, should I ever want to return to my previous career, I could do it with a minimal amount of training. I have also learned new skills and made new connections while staying home that could parlay into a new career, and maybe even something better than what I was doing before.
Either way, I am living in the moment and enjoying this particular job. Nothing I accomplished while working in business ever gave me the feeling of pride that I have when I see my children thriving. Before, I felt satisfaction when I made a great hire or helped someone with a critical insurance problem. Now, that doesn't hold a candle to how my heart swells when I see my son helping his sister, or standing up for a friend. My work has never felt more important than it does now. I am laying the groundwork for how my kids will live the rest of their lives. Children learn by example, so I spend my days teaching them to be empathetic, kind, confident, mannerly ... the list goes on and on.
As With Any Job, There Are Tough Moments, Days ... and Months
I'm not going to lie and say staying at home with my kids is all sweetness and light. Parenting 24 hours a day is exhausting. Privacy goes out the window—even the simple act of going to the bathroom means I either have little people in there with me, or else they're pounding on the door in tears. Cooking, a former passion of mine, is next to impossible with a small person hanging off my leg. There are no sick days or meal breaks, and I have spent more than my share of days covered in baby boogies and toddler food.
But despite all of that, I love knowing that any time my children are sick, they will have their mom to hold and care for them. I will never miss a milestone or worry about the quality of their care. They are loved and give love in return. I was the receiver of their first smiles, and was there to catch them when they took their first steps. Watching them grow has been a gift that I will always cherish.
Someone once said, "The days are long, but the years are short," and I couldn't agree more. Staying home with kids means giving them your all, from morning to night. You work hard to get your baby through each phase—from sitting to crawling to walking to talking—and you often feel like you aren't going to make it. Then one day, you wake up and realize your baby is gone, and an independent little person is there instead.
My son is now four and gearing up for kindergarten. It won't be long before he won't hug me in front of his friends and being around mom will be uncool. When that happens, I will be grateful for every moment I have had with him.
My daughter said 'I love you' for the first time the other week, and she said it to her older brother. It was a quiet moment between the two of them that I overheard, and it brought me to tears. It was a priceless moment I might not have otherwise been lucky enough to catch—a priceless moment that no paycheck could replace.
To share your thoughts on this controversial topic, leave a comment below. For the opposing view to this article, read this essay on why one woman made the choice to be a working mom and has never looked back.
Ashley Forchelli is a stay-at-home mom with two kids. You can read all about her adventures on her blog, Ashley ... Plus 3.