It’s the Best Decision I Ever Made!!!

Oh boy! Another former co-worker had a baby and opted to be a stay-at-home mom. This makes three in the last 2+ years. She announced it on Facebook and so many people chimed in to tell her how happy they were for her.

“You’re going to love it!”

“So happy for you!”

“Being a stay at home mom is the best!”

“So glad you’re going to stay home!”

“You’ll never regret it!”

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made!”

I didn’t comment. I didn’t feel it would be appropriate.

The reality is no one wants to be told they’re doing something that could prove to be financially devastating to them. They don’t want to hear about everything that could wrong. We’re not taught to plan for the worse; we’re always told to look on the bright side and think positive! The person who attempts to interject reality into this fabulous fantasy is labeled bitter, jealous, and jaded. Plus, I realize it might all work out exactly as they’ve planned. I hear that sometimes happens for other people. I guess in that case you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill. Jellybean’d on their dreams for no reason. Not to mention looking like a bitter, jealous, crazy woman who wants everyone to be miserable. So I don’t comment. With that said (or left unsaid)…

It’s the best decision you’ve ever made? Really? Because I look back on my time as a stay at home mom and while, yes, I did enjoy my time with my kids, I think it was the absolute worst decision I could have made. When the discard came 15 years later I lost everything. Primarily because I didn’t have a job or any way to support my kids.

Had I not gotten a divorce I might be singing a different tune. I might be one of those people telling her how amazing it is. Then again, if I didn’t get a divorce I wouldn’t be living in Indiana. If I didn’t live in Indiana (and I didn’t get a divorce) I wouldn’t have taken a job at the bank. If I didn’t take the job at the bank I wouldn’t have met her, and therefore would not be Facebook friends with her. It’s a real If-You-Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie situation.

You’ll never regret it? Hmmm…. I suppose that depends upon how your marriage works out. Again, if you remain married I would imagine you wouldn’t regret your decision much at all. He tosses you aside for a new model after 15, 20, 25 years and you’ve got to go out and hustle to get a job after all that time at home, you might be regretting it.

I find it a little sad that I view life that way now. This woman is so overjoyed with her new baby and being able to stay at home with her and all I can think about is how this has the potential to go horribly wrong years down the road.

Honestly, I’m happy that they can go all in. I’m happy that they feel like they can trust their husbands. I’m happy they seem to truly work as a team. Good for them. That’s over for me but hooray to whoever can still have that. I mean that sincerely.

I think that when marriage works as it’s intended to it can be a very, very good thing. Two people working towards a common goal. Two people supporting each other and each other’s dreams. Two people raising their family and having the best interests of their children at the forefront.

The problem comes, of course, when it no longer works as intended. When the woman who worked a full-time job so that she could put her husband through law school gets discarded once her husband graduates from law school and begins to finally make good money. When the woman who has moved around the world in support of her husband’s career, and at the expense of her own, is tossed aside for a younger model, When the woman who chose to stay at home with her kids and take care of everything related to the home so that her husband could concentrate on his career and his climb up the corporate ladder is replaced by a woman who makes good money herself. That’s when we say to ourselves, “I never should have done that. That was NOT the best decision I’ve ever made and I DO really regret it!”

Unfortunately, it’s one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know. Until your world comes crumbling down and you find out that those decisions that felt so right back when you made them 10, 15, 20 years ago, turned out to be so, so wrong.

The truth is most people don’t live their lives thinking of worst case scenarios. They don’t make their decisions based upon, “What if I get divorced?” or, “Could I do this completely on my own if I had to?” I certainly didn’t back when I was married. I naively thought that I would never get divorced, and if I did… Well, I saw my mom do very well for herself after her divorce and had heard of other women who began careers after their kids were grown and out of the house. I didn’t think I would have any difficulty.

I’ve said before I enjoyed being home with my two kids. I enjoyed taking them to school and running them around to all of their practices and games. I loved being able to take them places and do things with them in the summer and when they were on break. I’m thankful for all the memories we were able to make. I did love it. And had I remained married I would still think it was a wise and wonderful choice. But I didn’t remain married. Instead I was forced out of everything I ever knew and had to find a job after being out of the job market for 15 years. No one wanted to hire me. I suffered. My kids suffered. We lost almost everything. We had to move 600 miles away. I worked 2 jobs for almost a year. I didn’t have much time for my kids. I went from being a 100% dedicated stay at home mom who did everything for my kids, to being someone who was constantly exhausted, worked ridiculous hours trying to pay my bills and support my kids, and never had time for my kids. I think that abrupt shift from Mother Extraordinaire to Pretty Shitty Mom hurt my kids more than anything. In the end staying at home was the worst decision I could have ever made and I definitely regretted my decision.

I sincerely hope that all of these former co-workers who are so happy to quit their jobs and stay home with their babies don’t find themselves wearing my shoes 15-20 years from now.

4 thoughts on “It’s the Best Decision I Ever Made!!!

  1. I think if the US had guaranteed long term leave for parents it would change things so people could find balance and get those incredible first moments with their kids and yet also navigate being a person who can work and a parent. Because parental leave isn’t regimented, people in the US have to pick all or nothing- if a woman stays home for one kid, she may as well stay home for all- because her going back to work after some time off is going to already have her behind compared to her spouse who has been in the work world for a year or more that she has the gap… having equitable parental leave in Canada – and making it available to both parents means you can parent your kid for a year, then swap with other parent, they can take another 6 months- and both of you have your roles protected at work. A lot of workplaces will also flex so that you get additional months leave unpaid (because the 18 protected months are paid through employment insurance) which means your kid and you and your family can have the first two years with a parent as the primary caregiver- and you get to go back to work, if you want, when it’s over. I think a lot of people in the US just- can’t abide putting this brand new 6 week old in daycare (let alone afford it!) so really it guarantees inequity. And so lucky for women, after birth they are fulllllllll of hormones and bondy feelings, and fake book is full of people pleasers and fake lives so even if the reason they are staying home is because daycare costs more than they make, crippling post partum, manipulative isolating abusive relationships… they make it out to be ‘the best decision ever!’ …. I’m pretty sure in a month, or three days, or whenever partner comes home and looks at messy house and scoffs that dinner isn’t ready or their bank account is in overdraft or their ‘momprepreneur’ plan of Tupperware or spices or sex toys isn’t making the loads of cash they expected – they will not think it’s the best. Even if they don’t get divorced they will see that this choice – even if it lasts – isn’t all that and a bag of chips. I’m glad you have perspective. I’m glad you have also passed your gumption to your kids. Your life hasn’t turned out the way you planned or thought but I think it’s now headed for something better, and in that way, I’m still glad, kinda? I wish more things were easier for you but I like your story and it’s direction. 💓💓

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    1. Better maternity leave would definitely help. And it’s a conundrum for me because I really did enjoy staying home with my kids but the cost of that decision ended up being enormous.

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  2. You don’t even have to get divorced. I know a lady aged 34 whose husband dropped dead leaving no life insurance and her to struggle with 3 daughters! I desperately wanted to be a stay-at-home mom but I couldn’t as I had the bigger earnings. THANK GOD, because when FW buggered off with the village bike I was able to keep it alll going. And now I’m in a much better place than he is!

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    1. So true! Jerry Lee was always put off by the fact that I insisted his life insurance be close to a million dollars. I had to explain to him that I had no plans to kill him off and it wasn’t about him being worth more dead than alive. It was about two kids losing their father and me losing my husband. Did he really want me to have to sell the house, go back to work, take them out of everything, and basically turn our lives upside down? Ultimately I guess he didn’t care because that’s exactly what happened. Only he wasn’t dead.

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