Becoming A Stay at Home Mom Wasn’t By Choice, But By Necessity
June 14, 2019
As I’m approaching the end of my maternity leave I’ve been asked a lot what my plans are for returning to work. For a while I didn’t even want to acknowledge the question because I myself wasn’t prepared for the answer even though since the day I found out I was having twins…I knew what the answer was.
Before I got pregnant it was never a question for me that I would be returning to work after my maternity leave ended. It’s what my mom did and it’s what I always expected to do. I had a vague understanding of childcare cost and I knew it wasn’t cheap but I figured it would be manageable with two incomes.
Once we found out it was twins…our entire game plan got flipped on it’s head. Now we didn’t have to worry about putting one but TWO in childcare full-time. That took it from manageable to completely unreasonable. I would barely make enough to cover the monthly cost and if that’s the case what is the point? I would be working in order to pay for someone else to care for my kids while my husband worked to pay for everything else with ultimately no financial benefit (which would be the primary reason for me going back to work in the first place).
It was to some degree a tough pill to swallow for me… and why? Was it because it wasn’t a choice but out of necessity? Was it the strange stigma that I now wouldn’t be considered a strong independent woman because I would be staying at home? Guilt that I wouldn’t be contributing to the family financially anymore? I’ve struggled on and off with the reality of the situation for months now with this impending deadline and I really even now can’t put my finger on why exactly I’ve battled with it so much.
I feel more accomplished at the end of every day now than I ever did working. I know that what I’m doing every day is meaningful and it’s fulfilling. I feel good knowing that at the end of every day I’ve contributed towards my kids’ development and growth and I feel such a close bond to them that I’m so thankful for. So why should I feel shameful about needing to be home with them? Shouldn’t it be okay that my contribution to the family is this as opposed to bringing in a paycheque?
Part of me feels as though I’ve been made to feel this way as a byproduct of the “feminism wave” upon us. I don’t feel like this wave has been inherently negative by any means but I do think that it’s put my mindset about being a stay at home mom/homemaker in a strange place. It seems like it’s frowned upon to stay home with your kids because you’re compromising yourself or you’re contributing to the notion that women belong at home in the kitchen. It makes me feel like what I’m doing isn’t enough and believe me on more than one occasion I have spiralled into an identity, self-worth crisis over it and that’s not cool.
I think sometimes I use blog posts to sound off the thoughts in my head and try to wrangle in how I actually feel about something…so apologies if its too much rambling.
I read an article recently (here) that broke down what a stay at home parent would earn if they were paid a salary…it was mind boggling…and a lot more than the $0 that it earns me now. Between the 90-100 hours worked and the number of different types of work you need to do all day because you’re essentially the manager of your house….it’s a high earning job when you break it down! It turns out it’s not all stroller walks with lattes like it seems to be in movies. It’s just room temperature day old coffee in between the afternoon meltdowns (either your own or the babies) while you fold laundry on the floor.
I don’t believe I’m alone in this struggle – I imagine it’s a jarring reality for plenty of parents and especially parents of multiples. The cost of childcare is intense – we were not ready for how intense. Average cost in Canada per child for childcare is $1200/month – putting our cost at nearly $2500 to have both babies cared for. That’s SIGNIFICANT & almost double what we pay in rent a month.
Because more parents are put in the position where they need to handle the “caring” during the days it pushes people to find “side-hustles” or ways that they can make money from home. I think it’s why moms are a high percentage of MLM/”Pyramid scheme” businesses because it hits on all of the keywords: time flexible, exponential earning potential etc. (I don’t personally believe in the efficacy of these businesses and I think sometimes moms are taken advantage of, however, I do know that there have been great success stories as well so to each their own!) It also pushes parents to do exactly what I’m doing now – blogging & putting my minimal amounts of spare time into building some semblance of a platform to hopefully one day earn some kind of extra income from it.
I think there’s a lot of weird feelings around mom bloggers, parents who participate in MLMs etc… with the common thread between all of these being parents trying to do what they can for their family with the time they have. The truth is that everyone walks a different path and I can’t pretend to know or understand what the reality is for another family. Even when I started this blog in the back of my head my initial thought was “ugh, all the people I know are probably rolling their eyes because of COURSE another mom who blogs, just what we needed!”, and I get it. But I knew that writing was something I could do with some consistency during nap-times and late at night after bedtime. It was something I found cathartic and maybe one day it could be “fruitful” but I’ve never held my breath on that. I know I’ve been one to complain about someone trying to sell me on their “exciting opportunity” and although I may not participate I can absolutely be more understanding. We’re all just doing what we can with the reality we’re in.
The further I get into motherhood (and I am by no means far, I’m still basically at the starting line), the more I realize that everything is not black and white. Not everyone chooses to not breastfeed, not everyone chooses to stay home from work, not everyone chooses where they end up. You’re constantly faced with intersections that all have 6 different paths and you have no idea where any of them go but you’re pushed to decide…quickly. There’s a lot more blind faith than I ever expected and that’s scary sometimes – but it’s comforting to know that we’re all in the same boat, we just might take different paths at the intersections (bleh, what a hokey way to put that).
So, in conclusion, I’ll be starting a “Go Fund Me Page”…. JUST KIDDING.