Wednesday, April 21, 2004

SAHMs - warning, this may piss you off!

It happened again today. Someone looked at me in complete surprise when I said I was a stay-at-home mom. "You don't work?!"

How is one supposed to respond to that?! I work my butt off, thank you very much! I find it very sad that no one seems to value the raising of children and the keeping of a house anymore. Caring for three children, one of which is a special needs child, and keeping house for five people is certainly more work than any paying job I've ever held. But I don't say that to discount the work of stay-at-home parents of one child; they do plenty, too. People tend to be even more amazed when I tell them that staying at home is my choice. Why is this so surprising? I have to admit, though, that I don't understand couples who choose to have both parents working outside of the home when it isn't absolutely necessary.

For us, the finances alone make it nearly impossible for me to have an outside job even if that were my preference. The daycare and before & after school care costs would far exceed any salary I would make - more than likely by double. But even if I got some fabulous job making more than childcare costs, I still wouldn't even consider working outside the home unless our finances absolutely demanded it. Here is just a small sample of my reasons:

Values & Morals In today's society where cultural sensitivity is a must, daycares and other childcare services teach their staff that it is very important not to push their values & morals onto other people. In theory, this is a terrific idea. In practice, however, this means that the children in their care spend 8-14 hours a day, five days a week, in a value-limited environment. Children are much more likely to internalize values (or lack thereof) until they reach the age of six years. How many opportunities do the parents have to teach these things to their kids if they only see them a couple of hours a night?

Bonding and one-on-one The turnover rate for daycare teachers is astounding. It's been a while since I did any research on this (I did a huge research paper on daycares for a child welfare class), but the numbers were drastic. It takes something like four months for an infant to bond with a daycare provider, and the average length of time someone works for a daycare is something like six months. This means every few months, the child needs to learn to deal with a loss and attempt to bond with someone new. Also, the average amount of time that childcare providers for multiple children had to spend in quality one-on-one time with each child was something pathetic like one to two hours, total, per week. That simply isn't the case at home.

I understand that in today's society (at least in this country, and I'm certain in many others as well), it is very difficult to make it on one income. I certainly do not hold two-working-parent-households or single parents to blame if they must make an income to make ends meet. But it really irks me to see parents dropping their kids off at daycare while driving an $80,000 vehicle. Why do people have children if they don't intend to raise them? I don't understand the concept of paying other people to do my job. I just don't get it.

Sure, we don't drive an $80,000 car. We may even have to start saving our pennies now so that we can go to IL sometime during the summer. But you know what? We have a roof over our heads, we have food in our tummies, the kids have plenty of toys, books, and extras, we have a safe, running car, we have a bit set aside for retirement, we have clothes that fit, and we can even afford to go to the movies once a month if we want. Really, what is there outside of these things that we could possibly need?

Yes, I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I'm happy about it.

I am not implying that the people who work in daycare are harmful in any way to the children for whom they are responsible. There are a lot of awesome people who choose to work in childcare. It is the situation, not the providers, with which I have my complaints!

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