When I was a child, my father was a binge alcoholic - there were
sometimes when he was sober that he did support us; when he was drinking, he did not.
Therefore my mom chose to work to bring in a consistent income. This was in the 50s and
60s, and I know now that it must have been very hard for her to go against the grain at
that time AND stay in a dysfunctional marriage. Ironically during those years there was
little if any support for a woman who wanted or needed a career.
But at the time, selfishly, all I could see was that she wasn't there for me when I
came home from school and that a lot of the housekeeping duties fell on me. So I was
determined to be a "stay at home mom" for my children.
Before starting a family I had a career in social services. After 4 years or so, I was
really getting "burned out", so when I married at 28, I was ready to quit
working and have a family.
I have two children, a son 15 and a daughter 17 and I quit working outside of the home
until they had started school. Having been a childhood victim of abuse, I was absolutely
not going to trust anyone else to raise my children. I'll NEVER regret doing staying home
and treasure those years. It was very fulfilling to me. To be honest, I had a ball! I also
was careful to take time to continue develop my talents - doing artwork, reading, etc. .
However, it was difficult because I had little if any support for my decision to stay at
home - these were the years of raging feminism and the attitude that homemaking is NOT a
valid career. Like my mom, I had little support for my decision, but for entirely opposite
reasons. I did manage a home office and bookkeeping for my X's business, but that didn't
"count" because I did it for free. (TIP: if you work for your husband, make him
pay you something and pay into your social security.)
I went back to college at the age of 38 and obtained an associate's degree in computer
science. I also obtained a divorce. Up until the divorce my children seemed very well
adjusted - making good grades in school and being very happy. The divorce was devastating
to them, and if I had known how hard it would be for us all, I would have opted to stay in
a bad marriage until they became 18. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but if any of you are
considering divorce, unless you are being physically abused, PUT YOUR CHILDREN'S NEEDS
FIRST. End of sermon.
After several false starts and bad experiences, my current husband and I now own our
own computer training and consulting company and are doing well. It is interesting that I
have never felt discriminated against as a woman in any job I have held until I entered
the computer field. WOW, it ain't easy, girls, but I'm glad I hung in there.
What do I think about careers vs. staying at home? I think each woman needs to make her
own decision and have a loving support group for whatever she decides. I was 31 when I
started my family, and wish I had started it when I was younger because I had much more
energy then. So if you really want a family and want to stay at home, it might be better
if you do that FIRST and then worry about a career. Yes, it was harder starting a career
in my late 30s, but not impossible. I find that I have experienced the best and worst of
both worlds. But I am content with the decision I made to stay home with my children when
they were young.
(Note this article was written for a book that Tripod.com was
planning to publish. Don't know if they included it or not at this point.)