Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stay-at-Home Mom versus Working Woman

Twenty-eight years as a stay-at-home mom. Granted, there was some babysitting, some maid work, some typing stints, and other mini-jobs. But still, I was a stay-at-home mom.

Big change this past winter -- starting a half-time job. Several of the customers and co-workers seemed leery of my abilities. After all, I hadn't worked for a long time. A stay-at-home mom? What did I know?

Yes, it took a while to learn the job and become adept. But the tasks became routine, and my speed increased, and I got to know the customers. Granted, there's a lot yet to learn: they haven't even tried to teach me how to service the ATM machine or run all the paperwork to balance our branch's paper-trails.

I have this to say:

A lot harder.

A job is lightweight. Lives do not depend on it. Formation of brains do not depend on it (even if your job is being a teacher). The life-long foundations of physical health do not depend on a person's job. Other people's soul and psyche are not being shaped by what we do in our paid jobs. Unless you're a pastor, what you do in your job probably does not have profound impact on people's eternal life or death.

But all these important things are part of a mommy's work. A mom is never done. A mom never knows exactly what the right thing to do is; it's not a black-and-white job. A mom's job is always in a state of flux. A mommy's job is not merely full-time, but 24/7. Moms do not have the satisfaction of seeing results of their work at the end of the day ... they have to wait 15-20 years to get an idea of the results of their work ... and even then the "success" of their efforts won't be seen clearly for another couple of decades.

Going to work has the reward of a paycheck. It rewards you with social acceptability. It rewards you with adult conversation. In so many ways, a job is easy-breezy compared to mommyhood.

But there is nothing as precious, as dear, as rewarding, as being with those dear children who are your delight! It may be way harder to be a mom, but it's the best job ever.

Naomi, DoRena, Heidi, Katie, Liz, Rebecca, and all you others -- don't let anybody (including yourself) convince you that your job isn't that big a deal. It's hard work. It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do. The wonder of love is that you WANT to do it and you ENJOY it ... at least most of the time. :-)


  1. Beautiful. And so true.

  2. I don't know where I fit in all those years. I considered myself a stay-at-home mom, yet went to work some too. Did you think of me as a working mom?

  3. Mom, I had always told people that you were a stay-at-home mom. But then sometimes it sounded funny when I mentioned something about your job. Sure, you worked a lot more hours at your part-time job than I did in my mini-jobs. But it seemed like you were always home with us.

  4. Oh, yeah, one other thing. What surprised me most when I started the job was other people's surprise. There were people who expected me to be inept and stupid because, obviously, I hadn't been able to hold a job, right? That's another reason this post has been rumbling around in my brain -- one of these positions is much harder than the other, but the easy one is NOT the one everybody thinks it is!

  5. When I left the workforce to raise children, two older ladies at our then church asked if I was going back to work or stay with the baby. I will never forget the reaction they had when I told them in was going to stay with my child. Huge smiles! One of them sincerely said that in would never regret that decision. She was right! So you young moms reading Susan's blog - stay strong and stay with your children if you at all can. It is the hardest job you will ever have and you will not regret it.

  6. I completely agree with this blog post, although I'm not gutsy enough to say it very often. I used to work full-time, so I can say from my own experience that that being a mom IS so much harder. It often seems like a grind with little or no reward. It's easy to think that being Mommy isn't making much difference. I know better than that, but I do lose sight of it from time to time. Even on bad days, however, I still wouldn't take sitting in my cubicle at work over being with my kids. My kids will only be kids for so long, and I would regret not spending this time with them, setting the foundation for the people they're going to become. They bring more joy and purpose to my life than my job ever did or ever could.