Dear Dr. Laura
I have recently become a stay at home mother with the birth of my first child. I could not be happier with my decision. My husband and I planned for this, we have a house that we could afford on one income, we payed off all our debt before having our child, we put all of my income in our savings account. My decision to stay home and raise our child was further reinforced when our son was born 3 months premature. I had resigned from my job while I was on hospital bedrest trying to prolong the pregnancy as long as possible. Without being tied to a job I was able to be with my son everyday while he was in the NICU. Once he was home we were in quarantine for months to keep him healthy over the winter. There is no way he would have made it through the winter illness free if I had had to go to work.
I will not lie; it was a hard transition from the working world to being at home. I was not prepared for the feelings of isolation and missed seeing my friends on a regular basis. I also struggled with feeling bonded with my child because for so long I had to ask permission to touch my child. I know if he had been put in daycare I would have continued to struggle with feeling connected to him. The bonding did happen, it took a lot of work on my part. I knew once we were allowed to leave the house things would improve, and they have. I enjoy each and everyday with my son. We now are able to go to a mom and baby exercise class three mornings a week and I am meeting other stay at home moms. I have been so lucky to watch my son go from a tiny 2 pound baby fighting for life into a chubby 16 pound 8 month old. He amazes me everyday with all that he learns and does. I often thank my husband for letting me stay home. He tells me our son is the lucky one since he has a mommy who takes such good care of him.
All my friends and sister-in-laws are working mothers. Many of them ask me if I miss working. I reply with a simple "not at all". Many of them try and justify working by saying it makes them better mothers or they are being good role models for their own children or they spent too much on their education to just "throw it away". I feel they feel guilty about not being there for their children all day. I wonder what exactly they are role modeling for their children, that mommy's work is more important than spending time with them? I too spent a lot of money on my education, I don't feel like I threw it away (I was a pediatric therapist), I feel my education gave me a skill set to be a good mother to my child. I enjoy the simplicity of my life now. There is no stress about paperwork, deadlines, scheduling clients, and long hours. Now I have the amazing gift of waking up each morning to a smiling cooing little boy who snuggles into my neck each time I pick him up. I am so blessed! My mother-in-law recently gave me your book "In Praise of Stay At Home Mothers" I LOVE it! Thank you so much for writing it. It is nice to have the support.