As I was sitting in traffic one morning with my girls, I asked my four-year-old if she thought all the mommies and daddies in the cars around us were going to work. Her response, “Oh, Mama, that’s so silly. Mommies don’t go to work.”
My heart sank.
Let me first say that I am obsessed with being a stay-at-home mom. I truly love it and feel so lucky to be able to stay with my girls. I left my career and chose to be home, but one of my biggest worries was whether my daughters would still know they can take on the world when the only job title they see me hold is Mom.
In that moment, after my daughter did not think mommies went to work, I panicked and gave her a lecture on how mommies can do anything and a lot of them work. She nodded along, probably not really caring, and went about reading her book.
How, as a stay-at-home mom, can I make sure I am raising strong, independent girls who will go out and take the world by storm?!
After my first daughter was born, I went back to work part-time, but, after a year, I decided to stay home full-time. It was too hard to go from having a large role in the company to only being there part-time. I also realized time moves fast, and I did not want to miss any of the precious first years in my daughter’s life. I struggled with the decision for a while. I liked working and helping my family financially, and I secretly wondered if being home full-time would be fulfilling enough for me. After a few months of weighing my options, I made the decision to stay home full-time and have not looked back since.
I am proud of the decision I made and feel very blessed I was able to stay home with my girls. As they get older, I will tell them about my career pre-kids, how I graduated early from college with a bachelor’s degree in science, how it was my choice to give up my career to stay with them, and how I would not change it for the world.
Recently, our dishwasher broke. I love my husband to pieces but being handy around the house is not one of his winning qualities. After taking apart the dishwasher (pretty much sitting inside of it) and watching a few YouTube videos, I fixed it! Right then I called my girls over and gave them a lecture on how women can do anything – clearly, both girls were riveted.
I grew up with a working mom and know I got some of my work ethic from her – watching her go to work every day and still being there for my brother and me. I still sometimes worry whether my girls will have the same drive if I am just at home.
Let’s be clear, though. Being a stay-at-home mom is still a job, and I try really hard every day to be the best mom I can be, but as we are in an era of female empowerment, the role of a stay-at-home mom has an old-time traditional stigma around it. I do not think of myself as a 1950s housewife by any means, so I hope my girls see me for more than my laundry abilities, as a kick-ass mom who is independent, smart, and strong.
I know, going forward, raising my girls as a stay at home mom may have some challenges (clearly, on career day, they will probably bring their dad over me), but I will continue to tell them they can achieve anything with hard work and perseverance, point out amazing accomplishments women have achieved (this may give me reason to brag about some of my past accomplishments), and just be there for them.
That is how I am going to show them they can do anything, by being my girls’ biggest cheerleader. If they want to try something, learn a new skill, or do whatever they are dreaming of, I will show them that I am in their corner and help them in any way I can to achieve it. When they are old enough to understand, I will explain that helping them achieve their dreams was my biggest career accomplishment.