Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Confessions Of A Stay-At-Home Mom

May 5, 2003

This article contains the thoughts of my wife Darlene in 1989 at a time when a two of our older daughters were off in college and we still had five children living at home. Now we have one 16 year old son at home. Times have come and gone but Darlene has been able to live out her dream.

I have a confession to make. Dare I tell anyone for fear of appearing antiquated, enslaved, or brainwashed by a patriarchal, sexist society that has conspired to entrap me in a life of domestic drudgery and servitude? I confess. I enjoy being a stay-at-home mom!

Jobs and careers for women are fulfilling. No doubt about it. Meanwhile, the recognition and value of mothers at home has fallen from favor as a source of self-esteem and fulfillment. Why it should be is beyond me.

The challenge of motherhood is deeply fulfilling. It is incredibly complex. It demands a great deal of my time and attention. It also returns great joy and rewards along with personal growth and development. And it is so important!

In a two-income economy, I consider myself fortunate. My heart goes out to all those mothers who would like to be at home but can't.

To stay at home means to sacrifice. Our standard of living suffers, but our quality of living doesn't. To me, staying at home is not an indulgence but a necessity.

I believe that for my children to have the best upbringing, they need me at home. I know what they are being taught because I am teaching them. I know they are treated with love and respect because I am loving them. I know they are safe because I am watching them. I know they are being cared for when they are sick because I am nursing them.

I have peace of mind. No matter what happens to them as adults, I will have no regrets. I will know I did everything I could as a mother to prepare them for life. The rest is up to them.

It is not all work and sacrifice. I am there to see the unfolding of their personalities and their development. I get to know and enjoy their friends. I get to know and enjoy my own children.

I can do things with the kids. I can attend their school functions and activities. I greet them and enjoy their after-school conversations, learn of their triumphs, and console their pain. I am there for those moments of listening when they truly need me. I have more time for nurturing, and I am there at the right times.

Life isn't all motherhood. There are other benefits to staying at home. Some have to do with myself, and others have to do with being a wife and homemaker.

I can take care of problems as they occur. Things are orderly. I am not just reacting to problems. I have more control. I am more at peace. I am more relaxed.

I can set my own schedule with the cleaning, laundry, cooking, sewing, errands, and household projects. I take pride in the house and feel satisfaction when the home meets my standards. I work - in the home. My work makes life easier and better for my family. They need the things I do.

I've learned to discipline myself and to become more efficient with my time. I can shop sales and stretch the household income through prudent spending.

I can pace myself. I can take a nap. I can prevent myself from getting worn down. I can enjoy pure leisure that comes with reading a favorite book or magazine. I can spend time developing my talents and interests. I can do volunteer work for the church, school or community.

I have time to be a friend, to talk on the phone, or to meet a friend's needs. To me, working outside the home seems like a rat race.

Being at home has its drawbacks too. I had to learn to nurture. The things I do are not always appreciated, even by members of my family, let alone society. It is drudgery and routine. I eat more. Interruptions are more frequent. It is becoming more lonely when fewer and fewer women are at home.

It is harder to make ends meet. It is hard to get the family to do their share. It is easier to do some things myself than to teach others how to do them.

I find it hard to find a few moments for myself. At times, my own sense of identity suffers. I do too much for others and not enough for myself. I had to learn to nurture myself.

I am also vulnerable. My dream and my life have been my family. I have no regrets. But I know there will come a time when I'll need a new dream, a new life to capture my talent and imagination. By choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, I am not prepared for that.

But I'll do it. I'll be a latecomer in the rush of women to join the world of work and achievement. I'll find my niche when the time comes.

There - I've confessed to the secret life of a stay-at-home mom. Some people think I need liberating. To me, I am liberated. Others can think what they want to; I have a life of my own choosing. A darn good one at that!