Another nice thing about Facebook is that I've been able to watch all of my friends and acquaintances grow into their roles as mothers. It's nothing short of spectacular! Some take to it like a duck to water, and some struggle. In either instance it's nature at it's best, but it's always interesting to watch from a sociological standpoint.
I am a stay-at-home mom. Sort of. I mean, I have my etsy business, my wholesale business, and my blog that brings in a decent stream of money while I get to stay at home with my angel. So I guess I'm not a "true" SAHM, but as close as I could ever get without going insane. I feel as much like a SAHM as any other mom who stays at home, only because I keep up my business endeavors for more of a hobby, not for the money. However, I've noticed that the employment status of individual moms is sometimes a point of contention amongst people my age.
I see some who continually post things like, "I'm dead tired from work... but I'm doing it all for my little man!" or "Off on another business trip, 2 weeks this time, but it's all for the girl at home" etc. Obviously I completely understand when you have to work to pay the bills. But when your spouse is bringing in way more than enough to take care of bills, necessities, expenses, and savings what exactly is a two income household accomplishing when it's at the expense of the time you spend with your child?
Is it okay to justify working long hours, taking business trips, and leaving your kiddo with a sitter just so you can buy that fancy designer purse? (Or dress the kid in Gucci?) (Or drive a BMW?)
Or is it more realistic to justify doing without those types of luxuries so that your child has plenty of one-on-one parenting? (Play dates?) (Field trips?)
What is the real cost of parenting?
And what are we willing to give/give up in order to have it all?
Maybe this query comes from a selfish point of view, in that over the course of the last year or so I have felt some of my other parent friends slipping away. I'm the only one I know who stays at home full time, though I'm not the only one who could. I feel the eyes scanning and judging me... maybe out of curiosity, maybe out of resentment, maybe out of jealousy. I don't really know, but it's difficult even as a parent to be the one viewed as an "outcast."
I personally have no problem with our decision. I think my husband and I are giving our daughter the best chance possible at life with me being at home with her. I know exactly what goes into her body, and exactly what comes out. She's not been sick one time since she was born, she's never had diaper rash, never needed a trip to the ER, and she's a pro at the whole teething thing. Not to mention the fact that she is the most mellow, easy going baby I have ever been around. Heck, she's more mellow and easy going than many of the ADULTS I know. That's saying something! ;)
Some would argue that all those "bad" things happen to babies because they need to learn. Well maybe, but it's not like I'm depriving her of anything. She plays freely, interacts with others, and is exposed to all manner of things life has to offer her as a 1 year old.
More importantly, I always know what's going on with her.
One of the most important parts of me being at home with her is that we always know that she's getting a healthy diet. My husband has Crohn's disease, so we are concerned about these things. Any Crohn's specialist will tell you that eliminating processed foods and preservatives from your diet is the best way to prevent and treat people with Crohn's. Since it's a disease determined largely by genetics, we have to give her the best chance possible to keep from getting it. Regulating her diet is the easiest way to do so. No, she's not Vegan, or Raw, or anything out of the ordinary... But I do know first hand that she's not eating processed foods, or foods with preservatives. And guess what? She loves everything I feed her. She doesn't know any different. Even if the Crohn's thing never pops up, at least she's off to a great start when it comes to eating well and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. That's something I feel good about every single day.
I have to believe most of the reason she's never been sick is because she doesn't go to daycare. I mean, she had a short bout with allergies when spring rolled around, but no colds, flu, ear aches, strep throat, or stomach bugs, and that's pretty awesome from what I understand. Luckily, we don't have to go the daycare route and she can forgo all these terrible sicknesses while she's a helpless baby. Obviously I know she'll get sick someday, but wouldn't it be nice for it to happen when she's old enough to understand what's going on?
My daughter also knows sign language. It's limited for now, but only by what she can pick up in a day. She's so sharp, it astounds me! Babies are supposedly born with a strong desire to learn, and given the right circumstances, are capable of amazing things at young ages. She's fortunate to have me at home all the time so she can learn about and ask me about anything and everything around her. She has unlimited attention (if she wants it), as well as the freedom to safely explore the world around her learning as she goes.
Some people may view all of those things as silly, or unnecessary. But we don't. We view them as important benefits to our arrangement. As a matter of fact, I'll go so far to call them "luxuries." No she doesn't wear Burberry clothes, or have a Louis Vuitton diaper bag, or a silver Tiffany's rattle, but my daughter has luxuries that will literally last her forever. I may look back on my life and feel a twinge of sadness that I never drove a convertible, or spent a month in Europe, but I will never look back and long for the time missed with my daughter. No designer purse, fancy car, or pair of shoes could ever take the place of that gift.