“I mean, I don’t need him to be rich or anything, I just need for him to be making enough to provide for me some day, you know?” – seen at TeacherFinance.org
If you’ve read some of the more contentious articles here, then you know there was a time when I drew a hard line when it came to women who decided to opt out either because they wanted to, can or have to do so. The reasons for opting out range from wanting to spend more time with their families, be more hands on with the kids, pursue vocational interests – or whatever their hearts can justify at the time making a career pointless. Thus, you have women who have chosen en-masse, to opt out.
And It’s OK.
Here’s the thing. We really are too hard and judgmental as it relates to picking apart the choices that another woman makes for her life. Don’t get me wrong, I am no advocate of flying by the seat of your pants unless it’s a calculated risk, but I don’t support bashing a woman for wanting a lifestyle that works entirely for her and the family she supports and/or raises. The mommy wars (Stay at Home vs Working Moms debate) that has spanned the women’s movement must stop and here’s why:
How We Define Our Lives Is Our Choice
I won’t bore you with calculators that tell us that the worth or value of a stay at home mom is X many dollars because she wears a gazillion many hats. The reality is that she isn’t wearing those hats at the same time on a full time basis. Then you have the fact that working moms do just that much and they work FT jobs. So there’s that and why I find those calculators disingenuous. We pit two classes of women against each other based on a flawed premise. I also won’t spook you with divorce statistics meant to scare stay at home moms into the world of work. And I darn sure won’t plead with you to hear the cries of working moms who wish that they had more time to spend with their kids while they were small. What we choose to do with our lives is just that, our choice. We just need to plan for the worst while living our best lives regardless of what that choice may be.
When I read blogs/articles where the author is “sassed up” about being fiercely independent I smile and I tell myself – “wait until she gets married and recognizes that she is truly in a partnership where the decisions she makes not only affects her, but it affects her spouse and children.”
Miss Independent now has to take unexpected time off work because that pregnancy? Oh, there are complications and it means taking time off because the health of the baby is at stake. The same woman may also then feel differently once the baby is born and the shiny career she was chasing pales in comparison to raising a new baby which gives life a new meaning she hadn’t expected.
My point? Life happens and who are we to judge anyone’s decisions. Present company included. If you want to be a stay at home mom? By all means, do that if it makes you happy. Just live your best life while planning for the curve balls. But if you also want to work 60 hours per week that’s fine too. Just make sure that you’re OK with it and ride that decision until the heels fall off. When we’re young and idealistic we issue hard lines on some of life’s more controversial issues. But as we mature we realize that we endure more than we thought we would and we adjust to hard decisions we never thought we’d have to make.
Plan For the Worst But Live Your Best Life
If you decide to marry a man that only wants to collect a $25k paycheck for the rest of your lives together then plan for those times when you’ll be living on one income such as when you have a baby and go out on maternity leave. Love may conquer all but money issues doom an overwhelming majority of marriages.
If you want to be a stay at home wife (no kids, no job to speak of) then do so while planning for a safety net in the event the worse case scenario materializes and plants itself on your doorstep. This can mean divorce, spouse goes out on disability/becomes disabled, savings depleted for whatever life changing reason and the list goes on and on. Again, life happens. A question I often ask women in this position is – can you support yourself should your spouse cease to do that for you? If the answer is no, then plan for the possibility. After all, a man is not a financial plan. He has his, where’s yours?
If you plan to be a stay at home mom then communicate this to your partner and create a plan that works and addresses the needs of each partner. Quiet as kept, no one talks about the building resentment some men feel towards their wives for their decisions to opt out as this is not an option for them. No one talks about this because men are expected to provide and if they don’t they they are looked upon as deadbeats. Please make sure that your husband is truly OK with you staying at home and not secretly rolling his eyes in deep disgust.
We’re Too Hard On Each Other
Reading this article, “No, I Do Not Need To Be “Provided For” over at Teacher Finance, while I understand and in other ways agree with her frustration, I kept thinking – but what if that woman’s decision to be “provided for” works for her? Why the heck should I care? I’ve even been guilty of bashing stay at home mom’s myself not realizing how much of themselves that they do sacrifice in supporting their families. For example, military wives who may give up pursuing a career because they have to be there to support their spouse and raise the kids along the many duty station changes all over the world. I truly admire women who do this in a special way because I realize now that no one understands their sacrifices until they’ve walked in their shoes. Are there some women that are lazy? Yep. But you’ll find that brand of woman in the cubicle next to you at work so having a job doesn’t automatically translate into “hard worker”.
What Works For Me Won’t Work For You – And That’s OK
Really it is. Let’s stop bashing stay at home moms and refrain from crucifying working moms. If you want to stay at home, that’s fine and if you want to work that’s fine too. Just plan for life’s curve balls and divorce yourself from the opinions of other people who disagree.