respect for stay-at-home moms

I grew up having the utmost respect for working moms, as in, moms who not only take care of the house and kids but also have a paid job outside the home. My mom instilled in me from a really young age that I needed to stand on my own two feet and not depend on a man for money, that it didn’t matter how much money my future husband would make because if he left me, or God forbid, died, I’d be left with nothing or little and would need to rebuild whatever career I would have left. And there’s actually data to prove this: women who leave the workforce to care for their children and return a few years later re-enter at a lower position, lower salary, and have to work *that* much harder to get back to where they left off, if they are even lucky enough to get back there. I also heard a lot of negative comments from other kids or moms against “working moms” — working moms supposedly don’t care or aren’t as invested in their children as stay-at-home moms; working moms only think about their own careers and not raising their children. There are certainly flipped arguments here that you could use against stay-at-home moms, but either way, I heard more disparaging comments about working moms growing up. And what is not even in any of these debates is… what about “working dads” or the rare stay-at-home dad? Why don’t dads ever pit themselves against each other in these regards? Moms of all types have to argue with each other and prove who is the best. It’s so tiring.

But it goes without saying that in this generation, it’s a privilege to even *think* about being a stay-at-home parent. For most of us who live in major metropolitan areas with a high cost of living, it’s pretty much untenable to NOT have both parents working. Childcare is expensive regardless of whether it’s a daycare center or a nanny. Unless you have nearby grandparents or a very loving and selfless relative nearby who wants to help for free, there’s no getting around high childcare expenses. And being a mom now, I have thought a lot more about what life would be like from a stay-at-home mom’s standpoint, and I’ve actually learned to really admire them. For those moms who had a budding or happy career or job, they chose the selfless path to play the primary role in child-rearing and gave up their careers for their children. They felt they could be the best caregiver there was for their child, and so they pushed money and “status” aside to do that. They wanted to be there for their children’s “firsts” and be there for all the moments their babies needed encouragement and love immediately. They made that decision believing it was the best choice for their child and family, and so they became a different type of “working mom” — the working mom who works full time and gets paid zero dollars to help their child grow and flourish.

Our world we live in has little to no respect for caregivers, whether they are for the very young or the very old. We devalue childcare and elderly care. But why do we do this when our babies will eventually become the people running the world in the next couple decades, or when the elderly have given their all to society when they were in their prime?

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