Never in a million years did I think I would be put in a predicament where I was conflicted between being a working parent and a Stay-At-Home-Parent (SAHP). I thought the decision was obvious, “SAHP’s are lazy, and they have no motivation!” That’s what I thought. On the other hand, for years I looked at working parents with a bit of envy, especially when they were the spouses of active duty members. I felt like they could get the much-needed breaks from their kid(s), and get some adult time while getting paid for it. I wanted to be that type of parent. THEN, I had a child and I have now been a SAHP for four years.
After being one for so long, I now know SAHPs are very intelligent hard-working individuals. Some are entrepreneurs, some students, some volunteers, some who work from home, but they are all individuals who raise their kids as their primary 8am-5pm (and beyond) ‘job‘. Some of them have chosen this while others, like myself, have been placed there because of certain situations.
Recently I was offered a job. The perfect job. My dream job. Yet, I was conflicted.
It was an internal conflict between being a SAHP or a working parent. Part of me wanted that paid break. I wanted the extra funds to save for our children’s college education and for future vacations. I wanted to dress up for work and do what I absolutely love to do, and get paid to do it. This is what I was waiting for.
But the other part me didn’t want to send my kids to daycare, especially not full-time. My mind rushed to the faces of my children and their beautiful eyes. I thought of my daughter’s little crooked teeth and her sassy-witty mouth. I considered the smell of my son’s milk neck, and the infamous diaper blowouts he would have after a laughing fit. Those bittersweet reflections all flooded my mind, and I questioned if I was making the best decision for my family.
These feelings were outrageous to me. Here I was reexamining what I thought I had already decided. Now I was reconsidering my 8am-5pm (and beyond) job and whether or not I wanted to work for money or if I wanted work to receive the love of my children.
So I did what any conflicted individual would do. I Googled it. There had to be a factual answer somewhere on the Internet that could help me decide, right? I learned I wasn’t the only one stuck in my opposing ideas of what does or doesn’t make a great parent.
I read several articles on the evolution of parents who work versus staying at home, and the general consensus was… unclear! While some studies proclaim the positive or neutrals effects of working parents, other articles stated the exact opposite. Needless to say, I was now less confident in making a decision and even more confused.
After more research and self-evaluation, I realized that I should do what’s best for my family; whatever that decision was. Family dynamics can and will change; especially when military life is a factor. It is up to us as individuals to do what creates the best environment for ourselves and our families.
I’m not going to share my final decision, because the end is not nearly as important as the means. Your priorities, your values, your goals, and your family are factors for you to consider when making the decision to work-full time or become (or remain) a SAHP.
I will say, there is always something we could be doing differently, but if we can do what we love to do? Then choose it, do it, and have no regrets.