When I was pregnant with our son, I never considered quitting my job and becoming a stay-at-home mom. During my maternity leave, I still never considered becoming a stay-at-home mom, and in fact, I was ready to go back to work. When I came back to work, I was constantly asked, “wasn’t it so hard to come back?” and “don’t you wish you were at home with your baby instead?” When I was leaving one job for another around my son’s first birthday, I had coworkers and patients saying to me, “so, you are finally leaving to stay at home with the baby?”
According to a 2019 survey completed by Pew Research Center, only 2% of mothers who work full-time outside of the home said staying home full-time would be best. Do you think males are being asked questions like if they are changing jobs or a survey is curious if males feel it would be better to stay home full-time? I doubt it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 69% of married mothers and 76% of mothers with statuses other than married participated in the workforce. This is a significant increase compared to the 50% of mothers 50 years ago.
There is progress that has been made in society for supporting “working moms,” however, there is still a lot of work to be done. Gender wage gaps and the high cost of childcare are two of the obstacles standing in our way. Another is the constant narrative that working outside the home is not what is best for our children’s development. The number of mothers participating in the workforce is slightly lower than it was pre-pandemic. Early research suggests this is due to pandemic-related layoffs, school closures, virtual school, childcare closures, and COVID-related concerns. Most of these obstacles are going to take time, but one place I feel we can start is to stop using the term “working moms’ immediately. We should stop calling ourselves that, stop referring to our friends that way and our coworkers that way. This term continues to put a divide between men and women, as men are not referred to as “working dads.” Also, it diminishes the work of a stay-at-home mom. All of us are working moms and working dads.
I grew up with a mother who worked part-time, at times worked full-time, and at times stayed home full-time. When she stayed home full-time, she always told my sister and me, “I do have a job; it is taking care of you and the house full-time.” I am lucky to have a mom who instilled the value of moms who work outside the home and moms who work inside the home.
Let’s work to instill these values in the future generations and continue to progress society forward. I don’t feel sorry that I don’t stay at home full time, and I don’t want you to feel sorry about that either. This is a choice I am making because it gives me fulfillment. Let’s support each other choosing the path that is best for us.