If you're lucky enough to have a choice whether or not to work after your baby is born, you're also unlucky enough to struggle with the right answer. For you, for your children, and for your marriage. In the court of public opinion, you're damned if you do go back to work (you're not breastfeeding? day care is evil!) and damned if you don't (so, what do you do all day?).
Women -- especially mothers -- have been battling over this issue since I was born, and the conventional wisdom seems to change with the boot-cut/slim-fit/low-rise/mom jeans. After the most recent opt-out revolution, a backlash just might be taking hold. Or at least it will if new mothers listen to this mom who stayed home with her kids, as she comes forward to tell us to not make the same mistake that she did. In other words, SAHMs, get a job.
You know what? She's right.
Before I get the fifth comment on why I'm a bad mother because I work, let me announce that I was a SAHM for a period of time. I know it's a massive job. I know I worked harder than my husband did when he left for the office, and I know you do too. In no way am I demeaning stay-at-home moms and their work load. It's massive. I'm saying you should get a second job. One that pays money, not baby smiles.
As Katy Read writes in "Regrets of a Stay-at-Home Mom," she opted out and is now screwed. Like millions of American women, Read is now divorced and with limited freelance income. Not a great position to be in when your resume is dusty and it's a crap economy. Read also cites the same arguments we heard from The Feminine Mystique, and reminds us that women who have children lose over $1 million in income over a lifetime. Not good stats.
You simply don't know what the future will bring. And unless you come from money, it's very possible you'll find yourself alone and broke if you don't have a constant source of income from your very own job. I've known several women -- myself included -- who adjusted their careers after they had children, but still went back to work. I'm not saying you have to keep that soul-sucking job you were really looking forward to leaving, because it's not anywhere near worth spending time away from your kids. But I am saying you need to do something. Anything where you can bring home some bacon and create a sustainable career if your partner exits either through death or divorce.
We're no longer living in a single-income society, and your husband will not be expected to fully fund you in the lifestyle you've grown accustomed to if he leaves you for his secretary. Times are tough, and moms have to make tough choices as well. Read realized that 14 years too late. Don't do what she did.
SAHMs: Are you afraid of your financial future?
Image via Yodel Anecdotal/Flickr