Talking back: Judgments Towards Stay-at-Home Moms

It’s been just over a couple of months since I handed in my resignation. I left a cushy corporate job to pursue my dreams of writing and be at home with my one-year-old son. I remember the feeling after telling my boss the news. It was as though I’d just won the lottery or landed my ultimate dream job… you know the feeling. Butterflies in my tummy, giddiness, and pure ecstasy. This feeling lasted all of 10 minutes.

When you have good news, it’s human nature to want to tell the world, maybe even shout it from the rooftops. I hopped on the phone and started calling everyone I knew, only to be received with comments of worry, concern, suspicion, and, of course, judgment. After having my bubble burst over and over again I took a little while to reflect. Were these judgments true reflections of how my friends and family felt? Were they projecting what they actually wished they’d done? Did I make the right decision? I still receive so many judgmental comments from friends, family, and strangers that it’s sometimes hard to think straight.

“I could never do that, I need to be challenged!”
Okay, besides the obvious “kids are the most challenging of all” argument, I get it. People are challenged in a lot of different ways. Some physically, some mentally, some love the competitive nature of their jobs, and some just need “adult time.” This is a big reason why I picked up writing and blogging. It gives me an outlet to expand my mind and think beyond many of the day-to-day things that can seem monotonous. We tend to think that stay-at-home moms don’t do anything outside of their children’s activities and house chores. This may be true for some, but most moms I know are picking up hobbies and expanding their scope of activities far beyond child-centric ones and loving it.

“I wouldn’t want to lose myself in motherhood”
It’s true what they say: your kids are the centre of your universe. Once that baby is born, your priorities and motivations change. Motherhood changes you. But who says it’s a bad thing? I’m happy I can ramble off a dozen different diaper brands or direct you to the best children’s playgroup in town, but this is not all that shapes my identity. Like anything in life, balance is the key to success. I had already lost myself in a career, and having my son was the gateway to finding balance. By not going back to a job I knew wasn’t right for me, I’m now able to take far better care of myself and my family’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

“You won’t have a career to go back to when your kids are grown”
I’m okay not having a safety net. In fact, I’d rather not. Instead of counting on a job that you may not like or may not even exist when you decide to return to the workforce, why not take responsibility at this present moment? I don’t want a fallback plan because I’m shaping our future every single day and have built a role in which I am irreplaceable.

“What will you do with your degree?”
This is a polite way of asking why I even went to University if I don’t plan on using my degree in the traditional sense. Sure, my business degree lends itself well to many corporate, safe jobs, but that doesn’t mean it has to be used in that capacity. I am passing on the things I learned and the skills I developed in University to my son and feel confident that I’m raising a good little citizen.

“You’re letting down those who came before you”
I’m grateful for the generations of women who fought for their dreams, equality, and rights. Being a stay-at-home mom does not discount feminist movements of any kind or the rights that we are still fighting to have today. Stay-at-home moms are no less valuable to society than a working mom nor are they being regressive. There is no right or wrong way to be a feminist, and I’m proud to call myself one.

“What kind of role model are you for your kids?”
When my husband and I went on our first date, I told him that being a mom was my calling in life and that I couldn’t wait to start a family. Bold first date conversation, I know… but I had a goal, and I’m proud to stay that I’ve stuck with it. I’m teaching my son that he can pursue his dreams of becoming whatever he wants to be and that he has the strength to leave an unhappy situation, like a job that isn’t fulfilling, for example. I’m teaching him how self-worth is a mindset that begins from inside and that it’s not about the salary he earns or the title on his business card. We are lucky enough to have plenty of different role models surrounding us, each carrying a unique service to humanity. My job is to instill virtues, principles, kindness, compassion, and confidence in my little guy so that he can turn the inspiration of all his role models into whatever he wants to be.

Judge no more
Our capacity to contribute to society doesn’t just go away once we have children. I have goals and passions and, yes, they are most certainly centred around and inspired by my young family. Everything I’ve experienced, learned, and ultimately have become, I am passing down to the little humans in my life. What it comes down to is empowerment. Every woman should feel empowered to be true to themselves and deserves not to be judged by it.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom, or maybe a mix of both, we have amazing options nowadays, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The only way to know you are choosing the path is to simply be authentic to yourself. Being a stay-at-home mom is visceral to me. I love spending my days listening to Raffi, playing with Lego blocks, and attending playgroups with my little guy. I balance my days with activities that are just for me that nourish my mind and my body. Our lives are far from glamorous, but the freedom we have created for ourselves makes us feel like millionaires.

Written by :: Jasmin Shannon@henryandwe
Photographed by :: Mark 11 Photography

 

3 Comments

  • Christine says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I love that motherhood has changed me. I can completely relate to everything you said.

  • Sony Brar says:

    I agree being a stay at home mom is the hardest job in the world. My perspective changed after I had the second baby. I felt like there was nothing left of me. I felt guilt for leaving my kids to work but a wise woman told me ‘the best mom is a happy mom’ so that’s what worked for me. I’m all for happy wether that means staying at home or working. Love to all mama’s out there.

  • Gita Badiyan says:

    Thank you for an enlightening article Jasmin!

    As a stay-at-home mom many moons ago I remember experiencing many of the judgments and sentiments you’ve expressed. These perspectives reflect a value system in society that is unidimensional, one that celebrates and rewards only a narrow set of roles and achievements.

    As a stay-at-home mom you have chosen to become the most significant influence in the development of a next generation. Whatever your little one learns in his tender years will leave its trace on his entire life! What an opportunity and privilege that is!

    This type of contribution does not come without tools and skills. I always tell parents who decide to go back to paid work (after spending a few years raising their kids) to include their newly-found/refined skills in their resumes -skills such as planning, problem-solving, collaborating, influencing, negotiating, mentoring, etc. which are sought after leadership skills needed in the workplaces today.

    I agree with you Jasmin that not only does our capacity to contribute to society not go away once we have children, but that capacity actually increases as we take part in building the firm foundations of a sane society – a society that is characterized more and more by the feminine qualities of love and compassion.

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