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I think in your situation and culture, your choice makes sense. The holier than thou thing in the states from sahms is because many people don't want to give up yuppie lifestyles and they really could stay home w/o risking living in a dangerous environment, etc. It is very often out of family selfishness (not just the mom's). At least here in Cali.

I agree wholeheartedly with you. In a way, I'm in the same boat you are, but in an opposite sort of way. I WANT to work. I want to get out of this house and work every day and have enough money to buy the things I want and need. As it is, though, my health prohibits me. I don't have a choice in the matter, either, but I don't talk much about it because I'm afraid someone will think I don't love my daughter just because I want to live comfortably.

Working at home (Wahm ;-) ) while I'm typing this with baby sleeping sound in her bed. Have been back at work for two weeks and loving it. But (big but) I'm only working 14 hours a week and only 8 away from the house.. I do like to have some intelligent conversation every once in a while and I have my husband home for one day looking after the baby which is I think a huge benefit for both of them to bond without mom being around..

best reason to work though is to keep my 3 year old in daycare. he spends a day and 2 mornings there and loves it. He learns to be safe in a group wich both me ans his dad have never been. He just loves going ther. Learns a lot had friends. My baby will go when she is 6 months old and I hope she will love it the same way..

I only can afford daycare by working because due to tax benefits and money from husbandsemployer I pay only about 10 % of the actual costs. So daycare without work I can't afford....

Do ou have to work all week? I mean I do'nt know many sahms here but part-time is the thing you do here.. If you're really lucky both parents..


Yikes. I remember that feeling, with my first. I dreaded going back to work so much. Driving to drop him off at day care in the morning I would look enviously at women with babies in strollers crossing the street to sit and have a coffee at the bakery. I desparately wanted to stay home then.

I was able to do other things besides full time work with my two youngest. Actually, the financial pressure of infant child care practically guaranteed that I would not be able to go back to work...in my field of child care (preschool teacher!)

With my second I was a nanny to my twin (!) cousins. Counting my children I was watching 3 four year olds and an infant. Then when my youngest was born I went back to school. He went to daycare 3 mornings a week while I was in class. Perfect. I had Tuesdays and Thursdays to recoup...and pump.

Now my kids are 14, 9, and 7. I would keep working even if we won the lottery, I think. I am at the place where I love my job teaching second grade. I might try to find a way to change the hours however...

Did you ask for assvice? Go back to work on a Wednesday or Thursday. Makes that first week back that much more manageable. Don't let sadness spoil your last days at home, like I did. I cried every day the last week. It really is bearable after the first day or so. For me it was like a "magic time machine" - part of my brain was able to pretend that the only time that really existed for my baby was when we were together. Ahh, sweet denial.

mm looking at my typing, maybe I'm not completely fit to return to work. I'll take another coffee

HUGE generalizations about the percentage of SAHM's in the US and the relative cost of living. This is a large country with a very large disparity in economics [housing, mainly] depending on where you live.

I'm in southern California, where the affordability index is such that the average person couldn't afford the average house. I forget the exact numbers, but I think I've read that St. Louis, Missouri has the best index. I don't know a lot of mothers that stay at home here.

I found numbers from 2003. At that time, in the US as a whole, 59% of households could afford the median priced home. In California, that number was 27%. In the county I live in, it's 21%.

I am a SAHM. And I totally agree with you too, Tertia. I feel privilaged to be able to stay home with my child. I know I am lucky, I have so many friends who HAVE to work. Not want to, but HAVE to to support themselves and their children. And I have friends who choose to work and I think they are great parents as well. I myself have never felt as though I sacrificed anything to stay home. I feel LUCKY to stay home. If I wanted a carreer or whatever, I'd have one. But what makes me happiest is being with my children - that fulfills me - and I am so fortunate that I married a man who can earn enough to support us all and let me be at home. I love it. I don;t blame you for not wanting to work. And I certainly don;t blame you or anyone else for having or wanting to work either. We all have our own unique situations, none of us are better because we make different choices. We're different is all. And that's a good thing. It makes for a colourful world.

Oh, you are opening up a maelstrom here! You think BF vs Bottle, Circ vs no circ was heated? Just wait!

Interesting the thing about the economics, I think you'll find that in some parts of the US, the situation is much more like what you have, and in other parts, not so much. I know that has been the case with what I've seen in my moves around over the years. And more of my friends are working than ever, up to a certain income level, and then the reverse is true.

I know of a very interesting situation though, my own personal social anthropolgy study: 2 friends, sisters, 13 months between them. Both in same industry pre-kids. Each has 2 children, with one sister having 2 boys, and one with 2 girls. The cousins are born within months of each other both times. Both sisters lived in the same town. Both sister's husbands worked at the same company. Both sisters took time away from work for the first child then returned to work before the second was born. After the second child, though, one sister (girls) decided to be SAHM. The other sister (boys) returned to work. Neither sister can figure the other out. I've heard one say, "I just can't imagine not staying home, and don't know why my sister won't do the same." The other sister, says "hey, I know myself well enough to know that my kids NEED me to be at work, to have adult goals and conversations to be the best mom I'm able to be."

And I don't know which of them is doing the best for her kids. I think the one with the girls plays the martyr card every so often, and I think, hmmm, maybe she'd be better off like her sister - getting that mental gymnastics going. And there are times when I see the one with the boys freaking out racing around trying to keep all the plates spinning and spending a fortune on day care, and after school activities until she can get away from work, and I think, hmm, maybe she'd be better off like her sister - being able to spend that quality time with her boys.

What's the answer? Who knows. My friends each think they are doing what is best for their family, though, and ultimately, isn't that what is most important & best for the kids? Seeing mom do the right thing, maybe not the easiest thing?

Tertia, the important thing is that you do what is best for you, since only you know the factors involved. For example, I was all set to encourage you to "cut back" and live more simply, having no idea of what that would mean for you, living in SA where it is not that easy to find a safe neighborhood that is also economical. So much for my assvice, see? In America, there are certain regions of the country where the same is true--if you want to stay alive, then you just have to pay a certain amount of money for rent, and often two incomes are required to afford it. I have known people who were so dead set on having the mother be able to stay at home that they moved--moved as in out of the city altogether, to another part of the country where poorer neighborhoods are still safe and pleasant. But that is an extreme choice and not one that most people feel is open to them. Obviously this couple in question felt that moving away was less radical than the mother having to go back to work--again, their individual choice and I support them in doing what they felt was best in order to achieve their goals.

I also resent the implication that all women have a choice. Many don't. And yes, sometimes you really CAN make life changes that cut your budget down to a manageable size so you can live on one income, but sometimes you can't. More often, you can't. I admit I have a bit more of a problem with women who don't have to work for financial reasons, and choose to leave a baby with a care provider because they prefer to work fulltime rather than be with their baby. Maybe I'm just not smart enough, accomplished enough, ambitious enough, whatever, to understand how important it is for some women to remain fulltime active in their profession--it is certainly not something that has ever tugged at me. I can't imagine even the best childcare provider would be an improvement over me, so if I didn't have to work, I wouldn't.

The other thing that you pointed out is that in SA the childcare is cheaper than in the US. In the US it is pittance from the point of view of the childcare provider (and it really is--who would want to live on minimum wage?) but to the parents who have to pay for it, the monthly sum can be outrageous and may represent half of their total income. I knew many women who worked fulltime and their income only paid for 2 things: childcare and health insurance. Obviously, then, they were only working for the health insurance, but that was essential and so they were stuck. But that just gives you an idea of how much childcare costs in the US. It sounds like financially, going back to work really does make sense for you, whereas in the US, it doesn't always make sense just because the cost of childcare is so great.

Maybe in the future, you will find a way to work at home? That would probably make you happiest. Good luck with whatever you decide!

I won the "cosmic lottery" and I stay home. Plus, the 4-yr-old is in full-time daycare! So it's me, my husband, and the baby at home most days, and no one has a job. Heaven!

It wasn't always this way, and it won't always be this way, but it sure is great for now. I savour every day of this arrangement, and feel lucky as hell.

I hope there are aspects of being at work that you will enjoy, dear T. I know that your work mates adore you and there will be plenty of laughs in between the drudgerier parts, knowing you.

And if you can't get a laugh with your jokes, show your co-workers your ass! I'm sure they will laugh long and hearty.


I am a SAHM. We live were it is very expensive and could use a second income. BUT since we have Sean, I need to be home. His health alone is cause to be home. He is so different from the norm. We would have to hire nurse to care just for him. Our insurance doesn't pay for nursing care for him. Not terminal yet. Besides with all his Drs appts, I would be fired for not being at work 90% of the time. Parents must bring the child in unless we sign Sean over to the State. Not happening here.
So we make due as best as we can. We don't have cell phones and I walk around turning off every light around.

I worked with my oldest one. It was hard, but the extra income was nice. It was cheaper here too.

Each to their own. Many moms have to work and if dad is in the home, he needs to help with the load of cleaning and caring for the children. oh and dinner too.

Best wishes!

Oh, and also wanted to add this, about what I remember, at least, about being a SAHM in the U.S. when Nico was a baby:

In my world, which was quite affluent, being a SAHM was not enough. Everyone kept asking me, "But what do you DO?" Like, oh, good God, you must have some sort of professional identity or status other than just mother! But I really didn't. I mean, I do puppet shows and libraries and birthday parties, but I'm not a corporate employee anymore, and haven't been for years.

Here in Canada, nobody asks me what I DO. Hooray! And lots of the moms around here SAH, or work part-time, or just do what they need to do without fretting over what it means to other mothers. They just live. I like that.

[Inarticulate gurgling noises]

It's hard to imagine how to even begin to talk about these issues, given the radical differences between our two countries. Even in the most expensive parts of the US, where both parents have to work to pay for median housing, no one has access to the sorts of household workers at the prices you can pay. So the best regions for comparison are still operating under radically different situations.

I'm sorry that you wish you could stay home and you can't. If it helps, there are some powerfully pursuasive arguments in favor of both parents working, if only to preserve equality and therefore harmony/good feeling in marriage (oh God, I'm going to start a firestorm). Many of them are summarized in "Love, Honor, & Negotiate," which you could buy off Amazon or Powells. But that author imagines a world in which men negotiate for fewer hours at their jobs, and where everyone negotiates together to get what they need for their families. It's still a utopian vision, in other words.

If I hadn't had triplets, I would have been working again by now. And on the one hand, I feel extraordinarily lucky to have spent this time with them. (And I'm not dumb, we were VERY lucky--conceived early so no ART debt, SUPER-fantastic insurance so no hospital debt, husband's top-notch top-paying job, family support, etc.) But on the other hand, I think I'll be a better, less short-tempered mother when I'm working again. The trick will be taking care of the household--yard, cleaning, tax-paying, bill-paying--without my "free" time AND without cheap household labor to assume those duties.

In the ideal world, I think both parents (when there were both parents) would work overlapping 30-hour weeks and use top-notch childcare for the rest. But I haven't been given the powers to impose my utopia, yet, so it really doesn't matter, even as a starting point for discussion.

Again, for what it's worth, lots and lots of studies in the USA have found that WOHMs and SAHMs spend about equal amounts of interactive time with their kids. WOHMs get a lot less sleep, though. Then again, all of us in the USA are sleep-deprived, so it's relative.

I'm sure this is just the beginning of the conversation, so I'll stop now.

I agree with your post. Most of us in South Africa don't have a choice work be SAHM. I think I have the best of both worlds. Working where my kids are with me every afternoon. Where I get to stay with them when they are sick. Go to sport activities without questions asked.

Right on, T! People make choices when they can. I'm likely going to be one of those people who don't have a choice not to work 'when' i have children. I've always been, like you, fiercely for the realization that 'having no choice' does not mean selfish or stupid or wrong.

Thanks for the inspiring post.

Well I went back to work part time when both my babies where 4 months old. Did I need to - probably not, did I want to - yes I did. I love being a mother but I also love the sense of independence I get from working. My children don't miss out, they have great fun at childcare / kinder and two parents who love then dearly and spend their weekends and out of work time devoted to them.

I'm a study out of the home Mum (to a 12 month old) who will soon (God willing) be a "working mother".

I spent 10 months with my daughter at home and am glad that I get to work outside of the home. It makes me a better happier person and so a better happier Mum. I've been crucified for this before - for WANTING to work away from home.

I think that it's sad that around the world conversations like this so often degenerate into mud slinging cat fights.

I could be a SAHM if my husband and I decided that was best for our family. For us it isn't. Luckily I had the choice either way.

I'm sorry that you don't have that choice and the only option available to you is not the one that you want. Here in Aus we get 1 year maternity leave and I assumed that it was the same in SA, but I guess not. I hope that it's not too hard for you T and that it doesn't get you down. You are doing the best for your family. They will appreciate you for it.

i don't have babies so i have to go by my experience being the eldest in a family of four with a fulltime working mum (doctor). she was a very busy lady and we all spent a load of time in daycare which was no problem at all. but i did notice she had to bend the rules, like employing people for cash illegally (cleaners, after school carers etc) so she was constantly working the black market. the system didn't really seem to support people like her.

plus i had to assume a lot of responsibility for my youngest sister when she was born - she's 13 years younger than me so i had to collect her from daycare after school etc while mum worked. this was great when it comes to knowing what babies actually entail!

so we all turned out fine - but i don't know if i would do it the way mum did, assuming i had any choice. i could never not work at all, because i think it's better to have some economic clout within the family, but i don't know if i want to be working 60 hours every week like her generation of working women did. i would rather find a happy medium and have more involvement from my husband, like the above described utopia of both partners working 30 hr weeks.

it did give me a lot of respect for my mum, and an attitude that anything is possible if you are prepared to hustle a bit! and i know my mum's 'childcare should be tax deductible!' rant by heart.

I will be leaving for my maternity leave as you come back to work, hopefully I will still be here when you start. Ditto, ditto and ditto again! If I had the choice I definitely would not work. As in, I would not work for someone else, but would love to be able to work from home, start my own business or something like that. I believe that you do need to interact with other people about something other than babies/children or else you would go mad. But if we could only do it on our own terms and in our own time!

If I could afford to SAH I would still put my baby into a daycare part-time, maybe mornings only or once or twice a week from about 6 - 8 months of age as they benefit enormously from interaction with other children. Moms also need a certain amount of me-time.

Unfortunately, we would probably survive on only my husband's salary, but then there would be no more private schooling (becoming a necessity in SA these days), no more KFC and Macdonalds (ok, we could live without them but try telling that to my son!), no char (SA thing), small house in crappy neighbourhood, reduced extra-mural activities at school and generally we would be constantly counting the cents. And that is not how I would like to live. I have too many family members living that way (not out of choice) and have seen what it is like. We also have to assist a number of said family members financially so my dreams of being a SAHM will stay just that, lovely dreams.

I live in Israel where there really is not option aside from going back to work - one income couldn't support us...

We are trying for a baby now, and with neither of our families living in Israel, the thought of working post-baby is one of the scariest aspects of this!

To me, the saddest part of your entire post is that you don't have a CHOICE. It's not up to you to decide if you 'want' to work or not assuming you feel a safe place to live is a need. And anytime a person feels backed into a corner with no choice in such a huge decision that will affect their lives and the lives of their children, it has to feel incredibly frustrating.

I've come a long way since the beginning days of TTC with my opinion on the SAHM/WOHM debate. I was one of the 'you can make it work if you really want to' folks. Then slowly I came to realize that sometimes it's just not that simple. And more importantly, it was very, very easy for me to sit back and say 'you can make it work' when *I* don't really have to make huge sacrifices to be at home with my children.

We are blessed in that DH's income provides us all of our needs, most of our wants, and many of our desires without me contributing financially. We have a safe place to live, the kids are in a great preschool, we drive newer safe vehicles, blah blah blah.

I realized that since I have no idea what it is actually like to make huge lifestyle sacrifices in order to be home with our children, it really wasn't fair for me to think others should be able/willing to do whatever it took to be home with their kids. If being home with my kids meant we lived in a less-than-safe neighborhood, had only one car, couldn't afford a decent lifestyle, etc....well, our choices might very well have been different.

In the end, I've come to realize just how lucky we are to live like we do. And comparing other families, even within the same country, usually isn't a good idea. And I certainly don't see it being very practical since we're talking about two very different countries, kwim?

I think that until you leave the American mindset behind, those books and magazines are completely worthless to any of us outside the parameters.

For me, living in NZ, the cost of living is extremely different than when I lived in the States. Food is more expensive, cars are waaaay more expensive, houses and interest rates are surreal. I too hate the implication that working mothers don't love their babies as much, because I know my friends who work and my family here who works are incredibly dedicated mothers, wives and workers.

I do have the luxury of staying home, something my husband and I have worked very, very hard for and I intend to revel in it. I was a daycare baby (and daycare wasn't all that great back then) from 6 weeks of age until I started school full-time. My mother was an American Yuppie who prefferred her working existence to her children and she made that very clear (verbally) every day. So for me, it was huge to spend a good portion of my life getting us settled so we could afford me being home. But again, it's a unique situation for us in a culture different to the books, the magazines and others around us. We did downgrade the lifestyle, moved to a small rural town and no, we don't own a lot of super nice things. We are lucky in that sense that we could do those things...in SA...I can't imagine. We have SA neighbours and their stories scare me.

You do what you have to and you do the best you can. And for that your children will love you.

I still lived in the States when my first child was born and I had to go back to work when she was eight weeks old. Though she wasn't in daycare (her father stayed home full time with her), it was still very difficult and I vowed then that I would never have another baby if I couldn't stay home full time for an indefinite number of years.

I do try (albeit sometimes more successfully than others) not to judge too harshly the choices of other mothers, but I simply cannot support sending six-week old infants to full-time daycare or leaving small children to daycare providers for ten or more hours a day. Neither of these scenarios is uncommon in the States, and though I know it's inflammatory to say so, I fail to see how it's not a case of "paying someone else to raise your child."

I am a SAHM now to my 8½-year-old daughter, my 2½-year-old son, and we're expecting #3 in July. I have no plans to work outside the home any time in the foreseeable future, and I don't consider myself "lucky" to be in that position. My staying home indefinitely was a deliberate decision that my husband (not the bio-dad of my oldest child) and I made when planning our family, and our economy has suffered at times for it. By the same token, I don't consider myself a "martyr," either -- that would be patently ridiculous, in my opinion.

We live in Sweden now, a society that is not at all geared toward, nor particularly understanding of, the decision not to go to work. Daycare is ridiculously cheap here, and despite generous maternity leave policies, it is expected that mothers will return to work when their babies are 12-18 months old. It is almost unheard of not to do so, and in fact, the only other SAHMs I know here are other immigrants like me. It's just not the done thing for Swedes. Unlike in the States, you won't ever hear a Swedish mother say that she'd love to stay home if only she could afford to -- such a possibility really doesn't occur to them.

Anyway, this has gotten extraordinarily long, and I'm not sure where I'm gonig with it, really, so it's probably best just to wrap it up for now!

I don't have kids yet. My parents made it a priority for my Mum to stay home and look after us. It helped massively that my Dad had a pretty well paid job and that this was Canada and the 1980s. Eventually when the youngest was in school my Mum went to work part time (by this time we were in the UK). I'm the only one in my family who remembers Mum being home all day every day and honestly it made little difference to my happiness. Maybe it did more when I was a baby or something, but I honestly think that working outside the home, if that is what someone wants or needs to do, is not gonna harm the kids or even make a lot of difference either way. There are pros and cons to both situations. I never did daycare, except during school holidays, as my grandparents did a lot of filling in when I wasn't at school. But most of my friends went and loved it. I was actually jealous of those kids! The only working parents I find sad to see (and I say this having seen their kids when I worked at a daycare and at summer camps and it sometimes ain't pretty) are the ones who are clearly so guilt ridden over leaving their kids that they never discipline their kids at home, buy them everything in sight and the child becomes a spoilt manipulating pain. Fortunately these kids are very few and far between. If I ever have kids I would like to think I could find a compromise and work part time. I truly hope I wouldn't have to work 8am-8pm like a few working mothers I know do. But if I had to? I'm sure I would and the kids would be fine. You are doing what you need to to provide for your kids, keep them safe and allow them to have a good education and I don't see how anyone could criticise that.

Here in Portugal SAHM's are almost unheard of as well. Everyone I know needs the two incomes to maitain an acceptable lifestyle.
But that is not the only reason I work. I actually like my work, it fulfills me. And I would not stay home with my kids if I could. I would probably work less hours and have a more flexible schedule but I would still work.
I think the important thing for your kids is that you are happy with your choice and not constantly questioning yourself. My daughter spent the first 2 years of her life at home with a nanny she loved and she is now in a wonderful daycare. She is a happy child, she is loved and she loves us. The time I spend with her might not be big in quantity but it is in quality and she is happy. And so am I.

Each family does what works best for them. I always new I would go back to my job. We don't live in an expensive town - but we do live in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the US (Boston) I have always been comfortable with this decision. I don't have a big career, but I like/need/want to work. We have been able to have good quality day care for our daughter, she is happy, healthy, and loved at home and "school"

In the part of Spain where I live (northern, big city), young proffesionals turning SAHM are not common.

One reason is that child-bearing age is the same as best-employment-opportunities-age, and there are a lot of women in their 40s that want to rejoin the work force after being SAHM - only to hear that they are not young enough, skilled enough, whatever enough to get the post they desire. If I left my job to be SAHM, it would be very difficult to get another similarly good job later on.

Personally, I have additional reasons to be a working mother, this arrangment suits me and my family and we are all happy about it. At the end of the day, that is the important point: to reach a happiness balance in the family.

I say everyone should do what works best for her.BUT it is also important to note that there's nothing wrong with having ambition or wanting to work.

What a can of worms you opened. :) I have worked in daycare, and I decided then that I would not put my children in a daycare. The experience FOR ME was just too horrible. And I was there for almost 3 years. So, from the time that my husband and I got married, we put my salary (which wasn't much as a school secretary) and saved it. We lived off of his salary so when we did have kids we were used to living on one income. We also drive our cars until the wheels fall off and we live below our means. I use coupons/off brands/cheaper clothes, etc. But I am a naturally frugal person and did that when I was single. I just don't spend a lot of money, so I am okay with not going out all the time or not having the most expensive things all the time. I won't say I am lucky that I am staying home, because I am not here through luck. I am here because we save and have prioritized our purchases. We are planning on sending our kids to Catholic schools and even though my son is only 10 months, we are already saving for his tuition.

I understand that our situation is what works for our family and not everyone can do what we have done. I don't feel like I have sacrificed anything by staying home and not working. Eventually my kids will leave and I will be able to do what I wish. But right now, my staying at home feels good and right for my family. As long as the children are being taken care of and have interaction with their parents who cares if the parents have to work. I know some women that should not stay at home, because they are going insane and thus making the children insane. And there are other women that can't stay home and it breaks their hearts. The people I have a problem with are the parents I have seen (and I include fathers in this) that have children and then just forget about them. They put the kids in daycare from 6:30a-6:30p and then have the nanny pick them up and put them to bed etc. The parents might see their kids 1-2 times a week. Sadly, in the area that I live, this isn't an uncommon occurance. The parents are working, then they go out to dinner or play tennis or just do whatever keeps them happy and away from home. I am all for doing what makes you happy so you can be a better parents, but I feel that you have to actually interact with your children to be a parent.

This is again just my opinion and what works for my family. But hey, what do I know, I never even tried to breastfeed my child. I was too busy trying to recover from 9 months of IV hydration and malnutrition thanks to hyperemesis gravidarium (www.helpher.org). So, I have probably already screwed my son up beyond belief and my staying home really won't matter. (Sarcasm off)

I grew up in a home where my mom worked. She didn't have a choice as my dad was starting his own business and she was the one with the health benefits, reliable salary, etc. My sister and I felt no ill effects whatsoever, in fact she was a great role model for us.

When I got pg with my daughter (now almost 4) I was finishing up my bachelors degree and fully planned on going straight to work after I had her. Then she was born...and I just couldn't do it. I feel very fortunate I had a choice. We did sacrifice a lot in the way of material things, but we were lucky we even had the option of budgeting for my staying home.

I don't look at my staying home as a sacrifice for Isabel. It's a selfish move on my part because I want to be with her.

I finished my Masters degree this past December while I was pregnant with my son (now 4 weeks!) and I fully plan on going to work when he is in Kindergarten.

I wish every woman had the CHOICE whether to work outside the home or stay at home. One option is not better than the other. One may be better than the other for your family and it's a shame everyone is not able to make that choice.

Isabel and William no doubt would do just fine if I went to work, as my sister and I did. It would be *me* that would be unhappy.

Hi, I am a SAHM in Australia. I think that we are becoming a rare breed here. I have just moved to a new town, and the first thing everyone asks me, even after meeting my son, is "What do you do for work?". I am one of the fortunate ones who can afford to stay at home with my child. Just. And I really do mean Just. But we looked into it and for me to do some part time work, we would lose more in child care than we would make. So would it be worth it? Not for me? If you can afford it. But I understand that most now can't make that choice for themselves. Who knows, given time I may become one of them. I hope not. I am so sorry for those that don't get a choice. Regardless of what that choice would be. It is unfair that a mother cannot make that choice for her own families.

So Tertia, I am sorry.I wish that you could stay at home, if that is what you want. I think that it is great that you have set up such a wonderful support network around you, namely Rose and Marko.

You will tackle this new chapter of your life with the good grace and humour and strength that you have undertaken all of the others.

And we will learn from you, right along with you.

I spent the better part of my first marriage wishing I could stay home with my three oldest children, but financial circumstances seriously prevented it. Then I was a single mom, and circumstances prevented it even more so. Now, with the second hubby and new baby this debate has truly waged war within me. I *could* stay home, if I wanted to go back to squeezing every penny until it bled, not having the means to develop "emergency funds", driving the van until it dies and then not replacing it, never going on vacations and not being able to splurge on the occasional item (you know, the new pair of jeans, the paperback, the CD, the craft supplies) that me and my family want.

Add to that, the fact that while single I went back to school--spending a bit of money and exerting a buttload of mental and emotional energy to have a career since at the time I resigned myself to never being able to stay home. And if I took a four or five year break, my skills would become hopelessly outdated because of the rapid pace of my chosen field.

So? I'm going back. For selfish reasons some might say...but owell. I've been home since November (bedrest and maternity leave) and I have discovered that while it's doable, it's just not for me. I told my mother just yesterday that I was eager to get back to the point where I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING my family more than I look forward to getting my break from them.

Next week is my big return date. Knowing me, I'll start whining about missing my kid's and having "more important things to do at home" within a week of that. ;-)

But at least this is a choice. MY choice to make. Just having that luxury this time made all the difference to me.

I'm so sorry you don't have a choice. I know many don't, but it still sucks. I am a sahm, I made as much as my husband, so it cut our income in half, we penny pinch, and drive cars forever, bargain shop most all the time, but we live in a nice, but small home, and have a happy life. I really know very few other sahm's and I get judged often, people just can't seem to understand why when I could be making money(I'm an RN) I choose to be at home. And I get tired of hearing others say they wish they could stay home but can't afford it, it sounds as if in SA that is fact, here it isn't necessarily. Just this weekend, my sil, was playing with my baby and saying to her dh, don't you want another baby, and he said, if you didn't have to work then maybe, but we can't afford for you not to work. Well, they have a big, new house, and a vacation property, he has a very $$$ boat, and sil has had plastic surgery twice in the last year. Must have name brand clothes etc... I can respect that is the lifestyle they have chosen, but don't tell me you HAVE to work. Kwim?

I'm a single mother.

Not a whole lot of choices there for me. I get very irritated with the discussions of working vs. stay-at-home when people say, "there's always a choice, it's just a matter of adjusting your lifestyle, etc, etc." Um, for me, it's not really a choice.

I can work and make enough money for us to live in a decent apartment, stayed clothed and decently fed, with some help from my church. Still, the childcare here in the US is kililng my budget and the past few months I've been skimping on groceries to get by. The lovely couple at church who have lent me a car for the past year (!) have decided to move to another state, so I'll be scrambling to make another arrangement there.

Don't know what I'm trying to say here, except, I agree with Tertia that I would love to stay home. Hahaha.

Have to work. To put our son in an area where we like the school, the neighborhood, and actually have a bit of a yard...and to have something new enough that my not-so-terribly-handy husband doesn't have to repair - is damn expensive in our area.

A 3 bedroom (where 2 of the bedrooms are 9X9) townhouse is running $350,000 in area (that's if you're lucky and don't mind living 25 minutes outside of the city, which is 50 minutes in traffic). Our area almost demands 2 incomes, unless you inherit wealth or are a DR or lawyer or CEO.

Moving is out of the question because of the type of work my husband is in.

Forget hiring help - it's OUTRAGEOUS and no one around here does it except the raging wealthy. The closest you get around here is maybe a nanny or house-cleaner that comes once every two weeks.

Luckily, my mother watches my son three days a week. My husband works 4 days a week, so he's home w/him on Mondays, and I also work 4 days a week and am home w/him on Fridays.

EVEN if we could afford it, it does wonders for my mother to have his company (my father passed away 4 years ago) I would almost have to work for her sanity.

But there are SAHMs here - they live (generally) really far out so their husbands have terrible commutes - not an option for us (in my opinion). Or they live closer in in smaller/older homes/townhomes/yards. Or hubby is a CEO/lawyer/DR/SR executve.

I work from home, part-time. I am definitely lucky - we don't rely on my income at all. And I choose to work from home, part-time, because I like my career and I'm good at what I do. I don't quite yet know how I'm going to juggle it with motherhood because I haven't started back yet (DS is nearly 7 months - I start in a small role in 2 weeks and will move to a bigger one in two months).

I think some mothers make better mothers when they're outside of the home - when they can focus their energies on their kids for a concentrated part of the day. And some mothers aren't so good when they're home all day because they lose their sense of self. Some mothers are working mothers who are great mothers and have to work, asy ou say, as opposed to wanting to work. On the other hand, some mothers are fabulous doing it all from home. And some aren't.

I didn't deliberately choose a career that would be good with kids, but about five years ago, when I was trying to conceive, I started also working out how I'd be able to adapt my job to suit a family, too. When I became redundant at one job, I specifically took a new job that would allow me to work from home, even though it wasn't as creatively challenging. That was just a choice I made, and as I said, I was lucky that we had the $$$ that I could make that choice.

Your position makes perfect sense to me and it sounds like you've made the absolute right choice. But it also sounds like you're not quite resolved about that choice yet? Hopefully you will be soon. It's a hard one. Everything changes when you have kids, right?

When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a SAHM. When I found out I was pregnant, I realized it wouldn't be possible. I'm nearly 10 weeks along now, and we had planned on using my MIL as a babysitter. In the past 2 weeks we found out she is dying of a large, cancerous tumor. We will be moving in with my FIL which means I will be able to be a SAHM, but I certainly had wished better circumstances for this.

Hi Tertia-

Beautifully expressed, as usual.
I have a 3.5 year old DS and I have been WAHM since he was 10 weeks old. In my part of the US housing is very expensive, as are many other things, and due to some lean years we have a pretty hefty debt. I don't really have an option, even though about 1/5 of my gross salary goes to daycare/preschool. Personally, I also enjoy my work (I'm a school librarian) but I would love the option of doing it part-time. But it is not an option. So like everyone else I try to do the best I can, and I think my DS is becoming a social, friendly little boy - due in part to the large amount of time he spends with other children!

The part of your post that really spoke to me is that all of the book sassume you are a SAHM. We have been in mid toilet training for a few months now, and it has been delayed I think because I can't give it the full attention it demands to make the final transition to underwear. So many of the books say, devote a week - well that is fine and dandy - but I see my son from 6:30am-8am and 4pm to 8pm on most weekdays, and that just doesn't work - how about some parenting guidance actually designed to help in the reality of the WAHM. OOPS - got off-topic there. Rant over!

You are truly GORGEOUS & DIVINE - can't believe how long it took me to find your blog!

I'm not even reading the other comments first because I don't want to get sidetracked.

First, the idea that the majority of moms in the US are SAHM is a myth. Hasn't been true in over 200 years, and not before then, either. In the middle and upper classes, yes. But working-class women and poor women have *always* had to work.

Now, many many middle-class and upper-class mothers work because they have to. I work from home as a freelancer, trying to do 20 hours a week (paid by the hour) at a job I find ridiculously boring because I knew before I got pregnant that I wanted to be able to stay home for at least the first few years. So I spent a few years working myself around to be in a position in which I could work from home (for less money and no benefits). The vast majority of middle-class moms I know and hang out with have some sort of arrangement like this, where they work either part-time or part-time from home. We see it as a temporary sacrifice, because it *is* a sacrifice on both ends: you can't be with your kid as much as you want to, but you also aren't making enough money to really get ahead, just enough to stay afloat and not completely lose your place in your career. I don't know anyone who doesn't intend to go back full-time (even if it's still from home--working in your pajamas is just too tempting) once the kids are in (free, public) school. There are way more middle-class women who work 40-50 hours at an office, but I don't know them because they're not at the playground when I am (although I probably know their nannies and kids).

I'm reading this amazing book that I actually want to blog about called _The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke_. The authors are mother and daughter (both working moms). The mother is a law professor at Harvard scpecializing in family bankruptcy and the daughter is an MBA. They've been crunching the numbers on what's *really* happening to middle-class families in the US since 1970 and are finding that when mothers started working it created a huge economic force that neither side (the "women need to work to be fulfilled" side nor the "women need to stay at home and raise their children" side) even thought about because they were too busy pontificating about what women "should" do. Anyway, what happens now is that couples build their budgets around the two incomes. They need those two incomes to survive, and they feel more secure, because both have jobs. But then what that means is that if one of them gets laid off (fired, sacked, made redundant, whatever you call it in SA) they can't pay the bills and get behind in house payments, car payments, etc. And it also means that there's no way either parent can take more than the minimum amount of time off when kids come. And what they're finding is that couples aren't doing this to be able to buiy big-screen TVs or a new car every year or wild trips to Monte Carlo, but because they want two things: safety and education for their kids. They have to be able to move into a safe suburb. And they have to be able to move into a suburb with a good school district. The only way to be able to afford to live where they need to live for safety and education is to have both parents working. And then they have to have two cars (not so common in 1970, but a basic assumption now) so both parents can get to work.

Get this: They found that the single largest predictor of who would declare bankruptcy was having a child. People with children are something like (the book's in the other room) 9 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than a couple without children.

This book is kicking my ass and opening my eyes to a lot of what is happening. And it's finally explaining why everyone I know is struggling to stay afloat even though both partners are working and we're not spending like drunken sailors.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think the details of what costs more in the US vs. SA are different, but the basic set-up--you and Marko both have to work if you want to live in a safe area--is the same here and there. I know I'm *extremely* lucky to be able to work my mind-numbing job from home.

This idea of "choice" about working or not, IMO, is another media construction perpetuated to keep women sniping at each other instead of demanding some sort of solution. And I know there are people who say "live on less," and in some cases it can be done, but buying the generic beans isn't going to make the kind of difference in the family budget it would require to have one partner be able to not work. We have to fix the problems of safe neighborhoods with good schools being continually bid up, up, up in the real eastate market, and then we'll talk.

(I'm glad you have Rose, who you know you can trust. That will make all the difference in your being able to go back to work just feeling sad or feeling completely heartbroken.)

Something that came to my mind reading your post is that in the US, in my opinion, *some* SAHM's have a 'holier-than-thou' attitude as a backlash against the "Super Woman" push of the late 80s and 90s. The woman was supposed to be able to 'do it all': work at a fab career and be the best mom and wife ever at the same time (cooking, cleaning, etc). Women who stayed at home were viewed as 'lazy', 'unmotivated', etc...at least that was the general perception in the media.
It is sad that mother's who are able to stay home and choose to do so have to feel defensive about it, and now women who choose or have no choice but to work feel defensive. Another example of how us women can be so devisive when we should be supporting one another.
I'm a single mom...when my daughter was a baby I was psyched to go to work because I wanted the break! Now I wish more than anything that I could be home, and she is 9.

Quite well put Tertia. I have been both - from the time my son was 6 weeks old until he was 2 1/2 he was in daycare, (which, quite frankly, we could only afford because my mother worked there and so we were only charge half price) and I think it was a HUGE benefit to him. He is a very intelligent and outgoing child who loves both adults and children, and now, at the age of three is advanced for his age group. When he was 2 1/2 I lost my job and as I was pregnant with my daughter I decided not to try to find a job just for a few months as I knew I'd have to take time off when she was born anyway. My husband and I managed to do some creative budgeting and thanks to a raise in his salary and receiving and inheritance from my late grandmother's estate (not a whole lot but enough to pay off some debts) we have been able to live on my husband's income alone thus far. My daughter is now 8 weeks old, and I am hoping not to have to go back to work. However, I would do so in a heartbeat if it was necessary! I would MUCH rather work and allow us to stay in the neighborhood we're in, in the town we're in, than remain a SAHM and downgrade our lives to do it.

I have a friend who decided when pregnant with her son 4 1/2 years ago that she was going to be a SAHM no matter what. Currently she is a SAHM to her 4 1/2 year old son and 11 week old baby boy, and her husband is in law school and does not work. They have NO income other than his student loans, which they live off of. Recently he was turned down for the current semester's tuition, which gave them nothing to live on. Instead of getting jobs they borrowed a ton of money from his parents, putting themselves deeper in debt. To me that makes no sense what-so-ever. Yes, she's remained a SAHM, but their house is in a bad neighborhood of the city they live in, it's in desperate need of repairs they can't afford, they've had their vehicle stolen THREE times where they live, they sometimes can't afford groceries or new clothing, or heat, or a phone....I'd rather work and know I was providing my children with the best I could give them, personally...

DON'T let anyone bully you! Being a good parent isn't about working or not working - after all, MOST fathers work and no one thinks twice about that as long as they spend "quality time" with the kids when they're all home - it's about the care you provide for your children, and the love you give them.

Your kids are going to be JUST FINE.

I am one of those who is truly lucky. I work part time in a well paying field. My husband works full time. I do not say that I am lucky because of what I am doing, but that I am lucky that what I am doing suits us perfectly. Each family is different. The lucky ones are able to find that fit. We also were able to move from the horrendously expensive West Coast to the much more affordable Midwest. Again, more "lucky" for us. Had we not been able to move, I would be working 60 hours a week just to afford the moderate house in the safe neighborhood with decent schools. I understand completely what you are saying, I was there. I wish you had an option that was feasable.

I am a working mother. When my daughter was 8wks old and my maternity leave was up (actually it was up at 6 wks, but I took two weeks unpaid) my husband quit his full time job to stay home with her. It's been an interesting year.
I've had so many discussions with people about our situation - this is really a hot button issue. What it boils down to for me is that there is no one right answer. This is why people get so deffensive on both sides - no matter which choice you make (and I feel we are fortunate to be able to HAVE a choice) some people will say you are doing the wrong thing.
We had to decide what would make sense for OUR particular family. Finances were such that if my husband continued working (my salary was nearly double his), his salary would almost entirely be going towards childcare and commuting costs and the increased income tax associated with being in a higher tax bracket. From a money standpoint, it made no sense for him to continue working.
We planned for this for the past five years, though. We made sure we bought a house that we could pay the mortgage on with only one income. We paid off debts as much as possible, we did major home improvement projects and paid off car loans. We spent years setting ourselves up financially so that we could weather a few years with one income. Our working situation right now is temporary - in a few years, DH will go back to work. If we find ourselves in a financial bind, DH will return sooner.

One thing important to remember is that working or staying home does not automatically make one a good or bad parent. There are plenty of neglectful SAH parents, and plenty of devoted and involved WOH parents. The vast majority of good parents are simply trying to do what's best for their own families. Fortunately children are resillient enough that they thrive in a multitude of environments. They're harder to mess up than we might think.

I'm a working mom. My kids, now 3 and 18 months, go to a daycare center (we call it "school"). They love it. They get to do a lot of things at school that I probably wouldn't do with them at home. I think the socialization is great too.

Although daycare centers are very expensive, we didn't feel that a home babysitter or nanny was right for us. One, it's hard to find someone to trust with all the weirdos out there. At the center, there are several teachers all watching out for eachother. Two, we liked the idea of a more structured program where we know they're aren't just watching TV all day (No offense meant here. I'm sure there are great nannies out there where it's not all about the TV, but I've heard too many bad stories and we didn't know where to find the right person.)

We've now built a lifestyle where I have to work to keep it up. But I like working and I don't feel ashamed or guilty about my choice. There are actually a couple of SAHM's on my street. I don't know how they do it. Their husbands must make really good money.

Anyway, I'm sorry that you have to work. I wish that a g&d woman such as you could always do exactly as she wanted. But I'm sure that you'll find the strength to get through it and make it work. When you are with the kids, make the best of it. Spend good quality time with them and they will feel your love.

Keep us updated, can't wait to hear about your first day back!

I don't have time to read all the comments but had to give my 2cents as this issue gives me the absolute shits. What gets me, whether it is working Mums calling SAHMs "lazy" or SAHMs calling working Mums "selfish", it is Mums attacking Mums. Lord knows Motherhood is a bloody hard job whether you're a SAHM or not and we should support each other, not feel the need to criticise each other to validate our own circumstances. I give 99% of Mums the credit for loving their kids and doing the best for them given their own personal situation. I'm a SAHM but I have friends who work, some because of finacial constraints and some because they need the stimulation of a career. I know my choice is right for me (and lucky I am to have it!!) but I can and do respect their choices too. Just imagine if we were all suddenly on the same side, how much we could acheive.

I am not anywhere near being a mother, so I will just tell you my experience of growing up with my mom working outside the home. It was horrible and ruined my life. No! Kidding! It was fine. My siblings and I, ages 24 (me), 18 and 12 (my brothers) all went to daycare from the time we were a few months old. I was shuffled around to a few different daycare situations when I was young, but by the time I was 5 my parents had found a great in-home daycare in our neighborhood. My brothers started going there as infants. It was usually a lot of fun. We got to come to the daycare after school, have a snack and play with other kids for a few hours, and then go home to be with our parents. I don't have any bad memories of being in daycare or of feeling like I was missing something by having my mom work. My mom is a teacher at an elite private school, which all of us got to attend for free because she works there. That was a fantastic opportunity we never would have had if she didn't work outside the home.

SAHMs were definitely not the norm at the time I was growing up (in the 80s) and I can't call to mind any of my friends who had their moms at home when they were young. All of us are productive adults and I don't think any of us ever felt a lack of love from our parents. Adam and Kate will be fine and one day they'll thank you for the great education and home they had growing up because you worked to provide it for them.


I think your choice makes perfect sense, it isn't even a choice, exactly, it's just how things are.

I live in the States, and we were able to give up my income, which was 60% of our total, by selling our home in the city for a great profit, buying a cheaper home in a rural area, having two older cars with lots of miles that we didn't replace. We live in a lovely safe area in a great school district, but we have a tiny house and we each are driving a car that is 120,000 miles plus. We did make some sacrifices, but I didn't have to move to a place where my children are in danger, or put my 5 year old daughter in a bad school. So, I agree that making the choice to stay home in the U.S. is probably a mite easier.

And yes, daycare is hugely expensive. When my two year old was born, my older child was 3, so to put them both in daycare was going to cost about $400 per week. There was cheaper daycare available, but at one center we tried, they once forgot to feed my daughter because she slept quietly all day. I still get panicky thinking about what a tragedy that day could have been. We also interviewed some home daycare providers, which are cheaper, but got weird vibes from a couple of them, and finally decided we preferred a center where there was plenty of other adults - no one adult was alone with the children. Call us paranoid, I guess.

My beef, as a SAHM, is the working moms who moan about having to work and how LUCKY I am to stay home. I used to point out that they too could stay home if they moved to a 1300 sq. foot house vs. a 2500 sq. foot house, or drove a 7 year old car vs. last year's model, gave up weekly manicures, didn't have a boat, etc. That got me snarked at a few times, so I just shrug now when people say that to me. I don't take lovely vacations at Disney World, or go out to eat every other night. Yes, I am lucky that my husband and I could work this out. I too was sick of working. I am even luckier that I have been able to go back to school so that when I do resume working I can go back to a field that interests me.

However, the opportunity did not just drop out of the sky. We learned to live on only 40% of our former income. We are scrimping and saving to give our kids stuff like tumbling lessons, to let them play soccer, etc. Every year it gets more expensive. And lets not go into food - my two year old puts away as much as a teenager some days!

When my 2 year old is in kindergarten, I plan to go back to work as a teacher or librarian, which will mean a schedule more conducive to being with my children. They won't have to go to daycare all summer, and while they might have to go to a before school care program, they won't be at a babysitter's house for an hour before school and two hours after school. I changed my whole life around to avoid having my kids in day care constantly, but the point is, it was my choice, and I could do it without harming my family's lifestyle in any dangerous way.

I guess my point is that we all make the choices that we feel best fit our family. I think it's time to stop snarking at one another for being SELFISH for working, or saying some people are so LUCKY that their husbands make so much money. I mean, no one's life is as it appears. Most of us don't truly know each other's true circumstances! Let's just all get along!

Good gracious, how do I add to this???

Simply put, you do what works for you. I have done both - been home with my oldest (and now my 5 mo), and returned to work after a time because we simply couldn't afford it. I am a teacher, so when I went back to work, I was hired at a church preschool (same school that my son attends) - and while the pay wasn't even close to what I made when I was a full-time teacher, it helped cover the bills that were piling up. It was what worked for US.

But, my main reason for returning to some sort of job was that I simply can't sit still THAT long. I've got the itch something awful right now to go back to work. A need for self-fulfillment? Fear of boredom? A guilty conscience for not helping out with the bills? I don't know what my reason is...probably because my brain cannot function on what little sleep I give it, LOL.

Tertia, everyone has their reasons for doing what they do. And, everyone does what is best for their family. You will, too. And, whatever that choice is, it always seems to be what is best for that family.

Ugh, I don't think I've ever written something so disjointed before! Good thing I'm not a newspaper editor or novelist!

I have been around lots of different families in my 24 years. I have no kids, and am getting married soon. First, my mom worked her whole life and couldn't wait to get back to work after my sister and I were born (I'm oldest by 7 years). I stayed with my great-grandparents for a few years before starting daycare and my sister was in daycare since she was 6 weeks old. I, on the other hand, had those two peoples' undivided attention during my formative years. I think as a result of all this, I never really acted much like a kid, and am considerably less social than she is, probably because she was around a bunch of kids her whole life; I am also a good deal more intelligent, I think largely because I had two peoples' undivided attention during my formative years (I think stimulation during that time has a big impact) and she spent a good deal of hers staring at a ceiling. We still have our similarities, and she's not a complete idiot and me a social outcast, but there are noticeable differences. So I've seen the possible flaws in working.

Growing up, I babysat a lot for some family friends with two sons (wild ones). The man of the house made a little over 100K a year, and they lived in a fairly small city, so she was able to stay home. They did without going out to eat on a regular basis and some things like that, but they seemed to be fine. The mother, however, became obsessed with the silliest things after a while. I remember once she spend DAYS trying to find "cage" thing to fit in their particular refrigerator. Going to the grocery store and the cleaners took an entire day for her and "stressed her out." It seemed like she needed to act like that to feel useful. The kids are now teenagers at school all day, and she still stays home. She's now sort of an inferior in the house, taking orders from her husband because he *makes the money.* So I've seen the possible flaws in staying home.

As a result I'm not sure what I'll do when kids come along. Ideally I guess, I'd like to stay home for a few years until everybody's in preschool or some kind of school, maybe even working part time. But who knows if we'll be able to afford it. You have to do what works for your family. I think good schools and a safe neighborhood are VERY worth you being away from the kids to work. I think I turned out ok :)

Another excellent question!

Though I don't usually have time to reply,(I'm one of these working moms with 3 under 3 at home with nanny!), I just have to add my 0.02.

I went back to work full-time when my son was 6 months old (kicking and screaming, me that is!) because we moved from the UK to Canada, and lucky me got a job offer first. I found this very difficult and was almost constantly consumed by GUILT, yes guilt. I then spent the better part of a year trying again and got pg with twin girls and was off work for last 4 months of pg and 1 year (mat. leave in Can.) This time, I got part-time (4 days), and I have to say there has been very little guilt - I think for the 1st time in my life, work feels ok, I'm not trying for any more kids, ivf is over, my kids are in good hands and are learning from nursery and the nanny things I might not be the best one to teach them, (not being a nursery nurse). Of course, it's not perfect but I don't think it would be if I were at home FT either. I am delighted to be with them when I can. This is what works for us for now. We have always been very clear about the fact that when and if it doesn't work, (ie. kids or marriage/homelife suffering), I will give up work happily. Like you, I have always dreamed about not working (outside the home), and spending my days in my sweatpants but it has been surprisingly easy going back this time.
I hope that you will also be pleasantly surprised.
The only thing I wish is that this ridiculous media-created debate between SAHMs and working moms were not portrayed as women against women! - we all have our own reasons for the choices we make, and we all justify them entirely - it does not make someone else's choice wrong. And I'm going to sound hard-core feminist here, but I believe this supposed disagreement and superiority between mothers is driven by the media - not by us - we're all on the same side !
Good luck -
I love reading your blog- hope you keep writing when you get back to work!

Slightly off topic but, I was wondering is there a possibility that you could do some/half/one day a week from home? You would then have the best of both worlds...you could get out and have some time to miss the babes and stimulate your mind and some adult conversation but, still have some extra time at home to catch the milestones and put them in for a nap or take a walk on a break? You'd probably need Rose there in order to get much work done but you could sneak some time with them throughout the day. This may not be a possibility but you sound like you really want to stay home so I thought I'd throw it out there!

Most of the SAHMs I know fall into two categories - those whose husbands make a much-better-than-average salary, so they can easily afford it, and those who are so unskilled that they wouldn't be able to make enough to pay for daycare, so it would be pointless. I am neither, so I work.

The thing that really irritates me is all the sanctimonious articles and books and talking heads explaining how I really should stay at home because working is costing me more than staying home. They all assume I make a pittance, that I am so tired after work that I buy fast food every night, and that my job provides absolutely nothing I need. Well, that's a load of crap. I make more than enough to justify daycare - in fact, I make more than my husband does, yet no one ever suggests HE should stay home. I don't rely on McDonalds and Dominos for our evening meal. And their snippy little "financial calculators" always list the big "costs" of work - dry cleaning and lunches. Well, I go to the dry cleaner less than once a month. And I bring my lunch from home (which I'd be eating *at* home if I were a SAHM, so it costs me no more than it would). And yet these "financial calculators" never include the financial benefits of work beyond salary. My job pays for all of my health insurance and half of my daughter's. It provides retirement benefits. It pays into Social Security. Now, I'm all for being a SAHM if you want to - every family should choose what's best for them. But I REALLY resent the implication that daycare, dry cleaning, and fancy restaurants will bring my take home pay down to nothing!

I realize I am extremely lucky because I have a very flexible schedule, and because my child's grandparents live here in town (in fact, they babysat her during her first year). But for our family, having me work is the best solution. We could live on my husband's income in a little rental house surrounded by loud college students. We could drive old cars without airbags, and without shoulder belts in the back seat. We could go to the doctor only when DD is *really* sick. We could do without my husband's medication for depression and high cholesterol. We could move away from our jobs and our family to live in a cheaper area. But we choose not to live that way.

And quite honestly, as an only child, my daughter really benefitted from daycare. She needed to be around her peers, and away from people who treat her like Queen of the World. And playgroups don't provide enough of that.

Oh, and I don't know a single person who puts their child in daycare for 10 hours a day. Not a one. I'm pretty tired of that myth.

Everything I thought I was supposed to be was wrapped up in the title of "wife and mother". My mom stayed home with us until we started school. I was sure that it was my goal to do the same thing. I thought that my very fiber was made of this SAHM material. It turns out - not so much. I love my Jake. I love being a mom. But if I had to do 24/7 duty as "mom" without getting some professional time in, I would go insane. Seriously. I think Jake is thriving at day care. He has friends. He is excited to go to school. His speech and physical development is amazing (to his biased Mommy). He's even taking computer classes! - At 2 1/2. I know that I could not offer all of these things to him if I was a SAHM - I simply don't have the patience. Becoming a Mom was extremely life-changing. But for me - it was not for the reasons I thought. I found out who I really am - and it happens not to be a SAHM.

IF I was so fortunate to not worry at all about money, then I probably would not work. Jake would still go to daycare, and I would do volunteer work for adult stimulation. I live in the Southern part of the US. I think cost of living here is not that bad. Gas prices suck, but hey - that's life. Our mortgage, car notes, student loan payments are about $3000 a month. Daycare for Jake costs me $98 a week. Then there's food, medical, insurance, and incidentals. We have a nice home in a nice neighborhood. We intend to utilize private schools. Our double income allows us to do this. Theoretically, we *could* survive on one income, but it would have to be mine. And my husband is not SAHD material. Loves his kid to death, but has no patience for 24/7 care.

We will add a sibling (God willing) on or about November 4th. I will return to work sometime in January.

Sorry this was long. I hope you find peace with returning to work. I think that once you are back in the swing of things, it will become 2nd nature and you'll not give it another thought. At least I hope so. Good luck!

Tertia, forgot to add that I eased back into work one day per week. I had 12 weeks of maternity leave, and for the last six weeks of it, I worked one day a week. It was a good transition for us.

T, I'm so glad you brought this subject up. I think sometimes I assume that women in the rest of the world have it easier as mothers because you have more of a social welfare net. This is based on what I know from England and France, but now I realize that doesn't extend to the rest of the world.

I do feel incredibly lucky that I have been able to stay at home with Miss Pink and work part-time for myself over the past five months. One of the greatest benefits of being a graphic designer is the ability to work anywhere. But, we've realized that the Washington, DC area is just so damn expensive, we can't keep it up for long. And our house, though cute, is too darn small to have a toddler in, let alone a second child. So we considered our options:

1. Stay where we are. Don't have a second child. Suck it up and figure out how we can make it work in a house this size. This isn't a great solution since we wouldn't be in a good area for middle and high school and probably wouldn't be able to save a dime for college.

2. I go back to work full-time and Miss Pink goes into daycare full-time. Given what I can command in the marketplace and the least expensive good daycare option, we would pay about 30% of my take-home pay in daycare. Not the worst solution, but the unhappiest.

3. We move to one of the outer, outer, outer suburbs and have a smallish, but bigger than what we have, house, and then Mr. P has a 2+ hour commute each way. Given his already heavy workload, that would translate into pretty much never seeing his daughter except on the weekends. And there's still no money for college.

4. Realize that where we live is too damn expensive and up stakes and move. Head back to the Midwest where living is MUCH less expensive. Take the ridiculous profit we'll make on our house (one good thing about living here) and sink it into a much bigger, much better place. I'd keep freelancing because I want to keep my skills up and I do enjoy it. And that will mean some money for college. Although with Miss P's brilliance, the schools will come courting her. ;)

We've settled on #4 and Mr P is getting his resume together as I type. It's a difficult decision because I love it here and have many wonderful friends, but we need to do what's best for our family.

It's not a question of what's best for Adam and Kate, because you and Marko will give them all the love they need. And they will be in good schools, in a safe neighborhood, which is very important. But the sad thing is that you don't have a choice in the matter. And that's one of the many things wrong with the world.

I'm of the thought that everyone's situation is different. I cannot judge another woman's decision to be a SAHM or a working Mom.

Here in Horkin' land, we've come to a sort of compromise...and a lucky one, at that. Before I got pregnant, I had a job I LOVED (radio DJ), but the pay and benefits didn't cut it. So, I decided to start my own business from home. Now, once the twins arrive, I'll have the best of both worlds...the ability to make my own schedule, at home, around my kids, and still have a second income without the cost of daycare. I guess, in a sense, I'll be a working SAHM.

Whatever the case, it's a tough decision. And who am I to think differently of you, or anyone else simply because you want the best for your family?

Oh Tertia, are you in my head, reading my mind? I could have written every single word of your post. Well, except for the SA part - I'm in Canada, where the cost of living is reasonable but the cost of daycare is high.

I work because I have to, because I make more money than my husband and if I didn't work, we simply wouldn't make it. We live in a modest townhouse in the suburbs, have one car, and blew what little savings we had on IVF. We're lucky in that he teaches three days and two nights a week, so he can spend two weekdays home with the boys and they go to someone's home for day care the other three weekdays.

In a perfect world, of course I would choose to stay home with my kids, and that's what makes me so flippin' angry about the holier-than-thou "you'd find a way if you weren't so selfish" crowd. They are looking at a system of national daycare in Canada, which letter writers are calling the "national child abandonment" program. Because mothers need more guilt in their lives, don't they?

I wish people could get their heads around a simple concept: not all SAHMs have the superiority complex and not all working moms are status-seeking money grubbers.

Tertia, going back to work after my maternity leave was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. With my first, I cried for days and days. It felt unnatural, it felt wrong, I felt like a horrible mother. I wondered why we went to all the trouble of having kids if I were just going to leave them with someone else all day. I bought into every single negative image and stereotype, and it took about a month before we found a routine that worked for us, before I realized that I was still the most influential person in my son's life, I was still his mother, and he was perfectly happy with the other kids in daycare for a couple of hours while I paid the bills. Luckily for me, I was got pregnant again shortly thereafter and had a second year of maternity leave to look forward to.

With my second, I thought it would be easier, but it wasn't. It wasn't me who cried for days, it was Simon. It's been almost two months, and he still won't nap properly with the daycare provider, although he has at least settled in well enough that he doesn't cry when we drop him off.

I am having a hard time working all day (in a job I love, for what it's worth) then coming home and trying to do all the other mommy things. Some days are wretched, but there are more good days than bad now. We're getting there.

It's hard. It's oh so very very hard. But if it's what you have to do, then you find a way, just like you found the strength you needed to travel the IF highway, and to deal with the early, scary days when the twins were newborns. You'll find a way.

I'm posting before reading all the other comments, so sorry if I repeat.

I don't know the tradition of South Africa, but I think the biggest part of the issue for moms here in America is that 2 generations back, it was almost unheard of that a mom should work. Even 1 generation back – when my mom was raising me - women were EXPECTED to stay at home. There was (and "was" is a lose term) a strong culture that women's *only* ambition and desire should be to have children, stay home, and take care of them. The women was considered a bad mother if she doesn't stay home, and the husband expected her to do so. As such, life here is, in some sense, designed such that a single bread-winner can support a family on that single income.

There were very few opportunities for women to have real careers (outside of nursing or teaching - two "traditionally female" jobs). It was v renegade for women to be professionals, and they had a huge fight on their hands. Again, they were considered bad moms by husbands, families, people at work, and their opportunities to advance were limited anyway. (Picture the board room considering her for a promotion and hearing a comment like "Honestly, Sue should be home raising her family. A corporate environment is not a place for a woman. I don't understand why her husband even allows her to work," and you get a sense of the prevailing attitude).

These two factors were very frustrating for a lot of women. I know my mom personally went NUTS staying home taking care of us. It's not that she didn't love us or love spending time with us, but she had ambitions beyond raising kids, was v bored staying at home, and became tremendously resentful of the fact that everyone expected her to 1) stay home and 2) be happy about it. She ended up going back to school when I was 8, getting her masters degree, and running a business.

For example, someone who works at my parents' business has a high school diploma (no college courses, let alone a degree). He works in a manufacturing job and takes home a meager income. His wife has a masters degree in education, is certified to teach, and could make LOTS of money in the very affluent suburbs where they live (average teacher salary there is $60,000 - several times more than her husband is making) but she stays home with the two kids (third on the way). Now why doesn't SHE work and he stay home? For many people (including both of them) the traditional family model is the ONLY ACCEPTABLE family model. In cases like this, I don't care what each person wants to do. The MOM should be out working, and the Dad should be staying at home because it would be so much better for the family. Personal preferences for work vs. home were not a consideration in their choice. The mom stays at home simply because "that's what women are supposed to do". She believes it and her husband does too.

Today (again, I mean "today" loosely, as this has been growing for a couple decades), there are a lot more opportunities for women, and I think that has lead to the tension over working vs. stay at home moms. Ambition for women is newly allowed, and some women who work see SAHMs as stuck in this old model, unambitious, and, honestly, as kind of unintelligent a lot of the time. On the other hand, SAHMs often feel this expectation to stay home with the family, give up their careers, and their non-family ambitions are quashed. When they give up all those things, and then are subjected to the judgments of other working women, they feel resentful. This leads to the sort of comments from SAHMs that you've read.

Frankly, I hate the traditional model. I hate being asked when I'm going to have kids. I hate all the women I see who *want* to work and be successful in their careers, but who are not strong enough to resist pressure from their families and spouses to stay home. I have no problem telling the traditional elements of my family to naff off, and my husband was pre-screened not to be an asshat who would even think such pressure is acceptable, but still. I mean, who is some man to tell me what I am ALLOWED to do? Bah…now my feminist anger is boiling over.

Deep breath…

So I know this was a long post, and none of it was really opinion on working vs. sahms. I think if a woman wants to work, she should. And she should make sure her husband takes off as much time as her to deal with the kids, and that the sacrifices to career (leaving work early, stay home when kids are sick, etc) are shared equally. If a mom or dad WANTS to stay home with the kids, I think that's great. I think the kids will be happy to have someone always around, and if the parent enjoys that and feels fulfilled by it, that's wonderful. The traditional model here is highly misogynistic, and is a worthless reason for making a family decision. I don't care what set up a family chooses, as long as both partners are given equal opportunities, and decisions are made on reason instead of some outdated, ignorant tradition.

In summary, I think whatever you want is great. You're G&D. ;)

Usually I read all the comments first, but today I don't have time, so I'm just going to comment.
I'm a SAHM. I became one 4 yrs ago this august. It was my first child. Unfortunatly I chose a profession that didn't pay crap. Childcare. I was a preschool teacher. I literally made not much more above minimum wage. Now seeing that I would have given basically my whole paycheck to daycare, it was a given. I've always wanted to be able to stay home with my children, so I was lucky that way.
In the beginning, we just made it work. Sure we skimped on some things. I couldn't go out and buy a new outfit or shoes (even payless shoes) just because I wanted to, and Walmart is our staple store. Fast forward to now, with my husband advancing his career we're very comfortable. I still don't go out and buy myself things like I would if I worked, but we're very comfortable.
NOW...BEING a SAHM of 2 (my little Miles is about the same age as your twins) I'm telling you that I am sometimes extremely jealous of 'working' mothers. I'd LOVE to go back to school and start a new career. SO bad that I can taste it.
Being a SAHM is GREAT in some aspects, but not ALL aspects. I'd love to be able to get dressed up in the morning (maybe not EVERY morning) and go somewhere where I'll have an adult conversation. Friends who talk about more than BM's and baby puke and lack of sleep.
I think that whatever someone chooses has nothing to do with how much she loves her children. Some work because they have to, some work because they want to...and either choice is OK with me!!
Plus, in your case, you have ROSE! She sounds perfect! You sound very happy with her and you know your angels will be safe and secure!

I guess I have the best of both worlds because I work part-time. I work 10 hours or more a day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. So, I have all day Tuesday and Thursday with my son and believe me, I am totally grateful for that. I work for a law firm and its highly unusual for a law firm in the States to let a Paralegal work part-time but this firm is family oriented. In fact, I see alot of companies here in the States leaning towards that trend. They want to keep hardworking employees after they become pregnant. It's a win-win situation. They pay me less so its less money out of their pocket but I'm still here at least 30 hours a week. I'm earning about $15,000 less a year than I would working 40 hours a week but its all worth it to me.
Also, I have free daycare. My mother-in-law and my mother watch my son on my work days. Otherwise, if I had to pay for daycare, I probably wouldn't be working at all. However, my job provides the health insurance for our family. My husband's doesn't so I don't have a choice there.
Ultimately, in my ideal dream, I wouldn't be working at all. I would be a 100% SAHM and like you mentioned, I would probably volunteer at night or take some classes to stay stimulated or I probably would become depressed. I'm truly happy that I have the best of both worlds though and I know many people can't say that but I hope that the whole world jumps on this bandwagon of letting mothers work part-time and still have plenty of time with their children.

The whole thing is bullshit because no one questions what fathers do, no one questions that a father won't have as good a relationship with their children because they work, it's all pure sexism and bigotry and um, until 1950? when the war was over? and the economy was GREAT? NO ONE EVER STAYED HOME EXCEPT THE VERY VERY RICH!!!!
In fact, even the children worked, whether that was on a farm or in a factory. Remember history class? Where the child labor laws had to be enacted? So kids could go to school instead of working 12-16 hour days? Yeah. THAT was reality until the "idealized nuclear family" of the 50's and 60's came about, and guess what, the economy isn't like that anymore, and everyone needs to get over it.

Anyways, I do stay home, and I plan to stay home, and how I do it is this-
we. are. broke. It's that simple. Oh, and we don't own a house, and we pay very cheap rent because we rent from my MIL.

When the baby is somewhere around 6-9 months old, I will take a job (either nannying, which in my area pays $10-15/hr, or some other caregiving position) that I can bring the baby to work with me. I've been a daycare worker, and no, it wouldn't be cost effective for me to go back to work, where I would likely make around $30,000, because the only daycares or nannies that I personally would feel comfortable leaving my child with would cost around $300/wk anyways, which would leave me with a profit of like $100/wk. Not worth it.

But, we chose not to buy a house for this specific reason. We choose to be broke, and we have the luxury of doing that because we're relatively young (22 and 27) and we'll have a lot of good hard working years left in us after this that won't fuck up our retirement.

Do not feel guilty. Women have been leaving their children for millenia to work during the day. Actually they used to just leave them ALONE in the hut in the middle ages. Kids are designed for that. They'll still know you're mommy, just like no one would question that they'll still know Marko is daddy. Working sucks, but if you gotta do it you gotta do it and that's part of being a human!

I went back to work when my daugter was 7 weeks old. I found a good daycare (paid out the ass for it, too!) and knew that she was in good hands. There were two other mothers dropping their kids off for the first time that morning too. They were crying and gave me dirty looks because I wasn't.

The reason that I wasn't crying was because I knew that she was in good hands. I knew that she would learn from the other kids in her daycare class, and that this decision was what was best for our family. Would I have liked to stay home with her longer. Of course. But, I still had evenings and weekends to play with her to my heart's content.

Everyone must choose what it right for his/her family. In some cases, that is for mommy or daddy (or both) to stay home. In some cases, both parents need to work.

I think what makes me saddest is moms that don't have a choice. Moms that MUST work in order to pay for food, rent, and clothes, but don't want to work and moms who can't work due to education level or childcare expenses but want to. I am just so frustrated that we have to compromise on something so important.

My situation: I'm an RN (registered nurse, not sure if the abbreviation is the same everywhere) and I work 2 12-hour shifts every Friday and Saturday night. I make as much as my husband and I have fabulous health insurance. We could probably tighten up and live on just his salary, but there's that insurance to consider. I really feel like I've got a great deal. I'm home with my kids Sunday-Friday. Friday afternoons my mom or MIL babysits while I catch a pre-work nap. I leave as my husband gets home from his job and he is home with the girls all weekend. We don't have to pay for daycare and we each get a lot of time with our kids.

What we don't get is a ton of family time. We get 1-2 hours/night and then Sunday afternoons/evenings where we're all together. I definitely miss that and I am constantly looking for other shifts/job areas where I could get the same benefits (great pay, health insurance, no need for daycare) but have more family time.

I think your sampling methodology for US moms is a little off, if you think most US moms are, or can be, SAHMs. More than half of US moms of children under 12 mos are in the workforce. 65% of mothers with any children under 6 are in the workforce, and that goes up to over 75% of mothers of children 6 to 17...

WHile the percentage of US mothers who do stay home may be higher than it is in SA, it is by no means universal. And for the vast majority of those working mothers, it isn't a choice that something simple like not having a cell phone or selling the extra car or moving to a smaller house would fix. IF you look at median household incomes and median housing costs and average per-capita wages, you can see that for many people, that second income is a necessity.

Daycare is, however, ridiculously expensive, and the time does come if you have kids fast and often that the daycare bill outstrips what you can earn....

I think the reason some SAHMs seem to have an attitude about it is because we tend to get the rude comments from others about how we're just sitting around and doing nothing. So we're on edge whenever someone brings up the topic.

I had two working moms at my girls' dance class turn up their noses when the topic came to staying home with your kids. They both went off about it's better to work because you only see the children for a little while, so the time you do spend with them is more precious. WTF?

I've also gotten comments from friends, family members, and random strangers about going back to work. This was before my kids were even born. Even from my mom who stayed home with me for 2 and 1/2 years.

We're raised in a culture where returning to work is expected and if you don't do that, you're letting down all women and the entire feminist movement.

If you're staying home with your kids, you might as well turn in your vagina because you're not good enough to be a woman.

And yeah, I know working moms get flak too. I'm not saying it only comes from one side. I think because moms on both sides of the issue hear it so often, we've all gotten more defensive. It's to the point where it's difficult to have a conversation because either someone will insult someone else or someone will think they have been insulted because they're sensitive about it (after hearing it all the time).

We are 33. We waited this long to have kids so that the mortgage, car etc. was paid off. Financially, we are extremely comfortable and only need one salary.

Having said that - I am returning to work when my child is 14 months old. I would sooner, but day care around here have huge waitlists.

I am a teacher, and I *love* my job. It is very family friendly and quite stimulating to me. The women I work with are incredibly supportive because they are also Working Mums like me and totally understand.

I love this subject. I live in a fairly expensive area in the US...we don't live in one of the fancy towns, but it isn't cheap here either. Two years ago I left my job to go out on my own. I hated the corporate world and wanted to be my own boss. In addition, I knew that we were going to start down the IF route and after doing it the first time while in the corporate world I couldn't see doing that again.

Two months after I left my job with one new client and hopes and dreams my husband decided he was interested in going back to school. He thought he would look into a program. Three months later he was accepted. The only way he could do the program was to go full-time and work part-time to keep our benefits, since I now had none.

There are times when I don't know how we will make the mortgage payment or the car payment or any other bill. I focus on the fact that he has only one more year left and things will go back to normal or even better than it was financially.

Even though I work for myself I haven't made this little each year since I was in high school. I didn't think it was possible to make this work but it did. And we have had no financial help from family or friends.

Once we got our positive beta I knew that I would be a SAHM. Not just because I wanted to, but because I now knew that we could make it financially. I will still keep my few clients and work - I know I will need that adult interaction. But I worked so hard to get here (7 years of IF) that I don't want to miss a second of it. And since I know we can make it...I would be silly not to try!

Wow, lots of comments, but somehow I doubt I'll be repeating. Here goes:

I'm not a mom at the moment, but my partner nd I (this will be a two-mummy household) have been talking it over and want to start soon. Current plans are that I will bear the child[ren] (of course, after months of reading IF blogs, I know plans can change).

However, I have a higher-paying job at the moment, have a permanent job as compared to her contract position, and work in IT, which is more likely than environmental science to pay high wages. So although I would desperately like to stay home with the baby/babies that I will bear, it's almost guaranteed that if one of us gets to stay home, it will be my partner, and not me.

I travel for my job, though - about 60% of the time. That will leave my partner alone with baby Monday - Thursday, and the grandparents are all 1000 miles away. Will she go crazy? Will she hate it? I don't know. Will I be able to move away from the urban life I love to the suburbs? If not, will I be able to afford private school (DC schools are abyssmal)? I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm SUPER lucky that my company has domestic partner benefits... even though it irks me that *I* have to wait for open enrollment to add my partner, when people who get married are allowed to add their new spouse at any time.

Is there a point? I don't know. We may have a choice about one of us staying home or not - we haven't gotten to that point where we can do that analysis, so we don't know. But even if we do - it's still not simple. I think the women who blissfully stay at home because that's just what is done are in the minority - probably most people have to juggle these kinds of choices, and a lot of times it turns out to be a zero-sum game. Booo!

What's the divorce rate in SA? Single mom's are pretty common here in the states, and so I'm just wondering if it's not such a big percentage there? This seems like a big factor when discussing this topic...

Very thoughtful!

We live in San Diego (read - V.V. expensive). It all came down to NUMBERS (in general) for us. I don't think that many people in the US realize how much they pay in Taxes, etc. In San Diego, we pay about 50% of the 2nd income to taxes (federal, state, social security b/c no deductions taken out of 2nd income). Nannies are about $10/hr, so the break even point is about $50,000. That means that I work 40-50 hours a week to pay my nanny, taxes, etc... not to mention the cost of nicer clothes, eating out more, gasoline, etc. Even at $74,000, I only bring home $1,000 to "play" with. OUCH. Not worth it...

We also live very conservatively. We just sold our 15 year old Honda Accord (which I was driving). We buy things on sale and don't go out much.

I feel VERY VERY lucky to stay home with my daughter, but we also work VERY HARD to stay within our budget. I also suffered a lot along the way (4 failed IVF's), so I want to see every second of her life...

You're amazing Tertia - your blog is fabulous and extremely well written!!! The kids are G&D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and so are you :)

I would love to be home with my kids. But that would mean we would have to move to another school district because we couldn't live where we are. We live in the best school district in South Carolina. It is also ranked in the top 10% in the US. There aren't too many other school districts around me that come anywhere near close to ours.

My kids both started daycare early, 9 weeks and 7 weeks. I searched for daycare for 5 months before choosing. The daycare owner has her degree in elementary ed. She is very selective of the caregivers she hires and I have always felt comfortable there. And my kids like it.

I also think it is a good example to set for your kids to work - to show that you contribute to society. Just my opinion.

Thank you for this post. I always read your journal but this is the first time I have responded. This post really hits home with me right now. I do live in the states and we could probably make it on just one income and did for the first 6 months of my babies life. I was always stressed about money and how we were going to make ends meet, etc. I figured I wasn't being the best mother if I was always stressed. All of my friends are SAHM's and don't understand my decision. I do feel that they think I love my child less and that simply is not the truth. I am doing this because I love my child. I want him to have a stable home and parents that aren't always worried about how they are going to make the next house or vehicle payment. Even if we do have a choice on rather we will work or not, that is our choice - just as it is a SAHM's choice to stay at home. I don't walk around bashing mother's for staying at home - so I don't feel that we should be bashed for working.

I'm pregnant and plan to return to work after the baby is born. Me and hubby are standard earners, we don't make great money and both must work. We have a small modest house in So California. I'm very fortunate that my mom will be with the baby everyday and she will come to my home which is 5 min from my work. It's the best situation I could ask for other than being a SAHM. The cost of living in So Cal has drastically increased in the last 2 years and I don't think we could live with me being a SAHM. I don't appreciate the way society makes you feel guilty for returning to work. Yes, I would like to be a SAHM but I can't. Maybe I could if I quit my job and collected welfare but I was never one to depend on anyone than myself.
I am not working to keep up with a standard of living I've accustomed myself too, I'm working to live.

I'm about to become a foster to adopt mother..I am also single. The only reason I'll be able to stay at home is because I live in an area that has a lower cost of living. My two bedroom, two story house rents for only $475. If I moved to most any place else, I couldn't afford to do what I do.

There is so much that goes into that decision. Like so many other parenting decisions, you have to do what is right for YOU and YOUR family. I think it is awful how most people feel justified in telling other people how to live their lives.

I think whatever choice you make is the perfectly right one for you. My parents both worked and sacrificed so that I could go to private school, but frankly I think I would have been as happy not. My boyfriend grew up 'poor' but he never would have called it that. 15 years later his parents live very modestly and have plenty to retire on, and mine aren't so far ahead. I think in the states here it's very easy to live modestly, send your children to public schools. It's not so much a matter of safety.

I didn't read all the comments, so I'm not sure if this has been said, but: isn't the debate/explanations for bringing $ into the household or staying at home another example of a mommy drive-by? Everyone is so unsure that what they are doing is right, that they overcompensate in explanations and accusations to someone who doesn't make the same choice. After all if you aren't all doing the exact same thing for your children and your family, someone must be doing something wrong.

As a personal anecdote, living in Canada, I have friend who just had baby #2. She's known since September that she'd be laid off (IT industry = not so good), was unemployed in December, managed to get on disability because of the gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. When T. stayed home, they pulled baby #1 out of daycare, saving themselves $750/month. With two, it'd be almost $2000/month. Right now she's on maternity leave/unemployment (gotta love that socialist economy), so she's home with a 2.5 year old and a two week old. Even if she could find a job in her field in the area, she knows she won't be able to go back to work for at least 3 years - even with #1 in school, though, they'd still need afterschool care for #1 and full-time care. As much as she loves the girls, she wants to work (she went back to work after 3 months with #1 and Daddy stayed home for the rest of the parental leave), both because she enjoys it and because the stress of being a single income family is making life much harder.

Basically, no matter where you live, the options are much the same. T. does have the advantage of being able to get Employment Insurance, get retrained in a different career through Human Resources and Development Canada and the kids can get good, "free" education from age 5. However, child care costs outside of public schools are astronomical, and they are in a rural area where finding work is difficult, and any job will require commuting.

I guess I think the "debate" isn't a debate at all, or shouldn't be. Every family has various pressures and requirements; every family must make the choices that are right for them. Making it a choice between SATM and working outside the home is oversimplifying the matter.

You do what YOU have to do.

That's it.

If you have to work, you work. If you stay home, you stay home.

I've done both and I too hate the whole working vs. sahm debate. I know some really outstanding SAHM's just as I know some really outstanding working Moms. And I know some really shitty ones of both varieties too. I think the answer is to do what works for you whether you have to, want to, etc. And as women, we should support each other in whatever decisions we make. I fucking hate all of the competition. I've seen and heard it all and I'll let you in on a little secret. I've had a very few people in the "real world" lament or pity my decision to work. Most women in my life are SAHM's and most of them consider me lucky that I can work and make enough to afford daycare (which is really outrageous - OMG - you'd die if I told you how much we pay) and still bring home enough to make it worth my while. You hit the nail in the head when you said that most SAHM's here in the states simply cannot afford to work. At least, most (if not all) SAHM's I know simply can't work. And guess, what? It'll be my experience once this newest babe arrives in September. And guess, what? The very prospect scares the shit out of me. Being able to work and make good money has always been my "out." It frightens me that for a few years, I won't have that option unless I go back to my "real" career and then work an outrageous amount of hours and travel on business constantly which I refuse to do. A definite Catch-22. But we all manage and despite what we all like to believe, no one is superior to the other. We just do the best we can. There are aspects of working that I love. And aspects of staying at home that I love. Conversely there are aspects of both situations I hate. It's never ALL good or ALL bad. So rock on, Tertia. You'll find your niche and it's going to be just fine!

Ooo, I love this topic. Because I go over it in my head every single day. I have experienced both sides, and there are pros and cons to each. And they chage as your child grows and changes. Case in point: me. (I am in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.)

I was laid off 2 months before I had my daughter. (yes, I went throught the whole "they can't lay off the pregnant lady, I'm going to sue!" phase, but when they lay off 30% of the company, I really wasn't singled out.) It was a blessing in disguise as I was able to stay home with her for the first year.

The first 6 months were great, I was on unemployment, which we could actually live on with my husband's salary. After unemployment dried up, I began to really look for work. This went on for 6 months, the job market was pretty horrendous here 2 years ago. I finally found a job, in my field, which I alternately tolerate and hate. I really do not get any personal satisfaction working here, it's just a job. But it pays $60,000/yr, and we are able to continue living on a small farm in a suburb of a larger city, and have the lifestyle we want for our family. (Okay, to be honest, I do love that I can go to the bathroom by myself, without a toddler barging in so I can read her a story since I'm just sitting there.)

Now for the daycare piece. There is definitely a shortage of good quality affordable daycare here. Less expensive in-home care is unregulated and often overcrowded. Less expensive day care centers are absolutely overcrowded. High quality care means paying $200-$150 week, depending on age, at a day care, or paying a nanny $15/hr. I'm not kidding. I should take up nannying.

However, for all the guilt I felt about dropping my daughter off every day, I'm beginning to see a more positive side. My daughter is now 2 1/2, and while she was an infant, I was merely paying someone to care for all her needs as I would have, while she went through seperation anxiety. Now however, she is talking in complete sentences, loves her teachers, is about 75% potty trained, and has many friends in her class we talk about daily. She gets music every day, dancing and singing, story time and art. They are learning colors, shapes, letters and numbers. They are doing so much more than I could do on my own, or we would be signed up for every class available if I stayed home. I have seen her just blossom this year, and I really think it is because she is exposed to so much at school.

She also has a very clear concept that she goes to school and mommy and daddy go to work. I like that she knows I work and hopefully by the time she wants to know what I do, I'll be doing something more fulfilling and can tell her I'm doing something that makes a difference.

My dream job would be to run a pony camp for kids, and maybe someday I'll be able to do that. But for now, we are doing what seems best for us and our family. I'm dying to see what others wrote, am I in the minority or majority? ~Melanie

I am in the United States and work in technical management and have a 4-year-old daughter. I went back to work when she was 3 months old.

I'm sure I could have a choice of staying at home, but I do have similar situations as you in SA. I want my daughter to have some of the things I didn't have. A good education, including the money we're saving for her college education that we wouldn't be able to if I didn't work. Having my job affords us other things we would have to do without such as family vacations, ice skating lessons, etc. We are by no means a family that is all about status or "keeping up with the Jones's". We do what is right for our family, and so far it seems to be working very well. Our daughter is very bright (naturally), plays well with other children, is very compassionate, has good manners, and is by no means spoiled in her personality. We try very hard not to be those other "working parents" people complain about that let their child do whatever they want because they are too tired from work. We know everything that goes on in her life, and we have clear rules and boundaries in our household. It takes a lot of extra energy at night, but we wanted her so bad to have infertility treatments, we want to make sure she turns out right.

I never disrespect stay at home moms. I have many friends who have made that choice, especially after having child #2 (in our family that will never happen). In a way, I am also kind of jealous. I know I could do so many other things for my family if I could worry only about taking care of our daughter and home. I know work makes me stress out sometimes in a way that is really not healthy for me. However, I know the stresses on our home would be a lot different if I was not working.

Sorry if this is long, but the basics is that as long as you can be with your children when you are not working, and give them your all, they'll turn out fine.

For the record: I believe that everyone has to do what works best for their own family, and the people in the best position to judge that are those in the family, not outsiders. I don't believe that working outside the home or being a SAHM is inherently good or inherently bad, for either the family or the children.

Now, my question. And please understand that this question is just that - a question - borne, clearly, of not knowing the conditions and economy of SA. It's about what your situation reveals about the realities of SA, rather than about you, per se. I have been fascinated by your posts on SA and what it is like to live there, so I hope you can elaborate on this issue in a future post.

You say that your salary is essential to maintaining a decent standard of living, and that with that salary, you can afford to both pay a nanny 3x the going rate and maintain that standard of living, but without your salary, you could not afford to live safely and comfortably. You also state that there is a huge disparity between your salary and your nanny's, even at 3x the going rate. And I presume that Rose does not live in your house, otherwise you would not have tried the night nurse awhile back. Which raises the question: If Rose's salary is only a fraction of yours, and you could not live safely and comfortably without both yours and Marko's salaries, how on earth does Rose, not to mention people who make only "the going rate" for nannies, rather than 3x the going rate, live at all, let alone safely and comfortably? What is life like for them? And what, if anything, is being done to address these inequities?


Over here (in Belgium), moms are SUPPOSED to work. SAHM's are regarded as "lazy bums with nothing to do" (not my opinion, I hasten to add), and I'm not kidding you! I've othen heard SAHMs say phrases like "I didn't have kids so someone else could raise them". Well, neither did I, but I didn't get a training and a career just to let it go down the drain, either. Luckily, mostly they don't get away with saying things like that, just 'cause they're hugely outnumbered!
Me, I'm a working mom of 4. I often toy with the idea of staying home, but I really don't know if I'd stay home if I could (financially, that is).

I think it all depends on the individual family and their financial circumstances. If my husband and I scaled back and continued to live in our current (small)home and didn't buy a new car when we finally pay ours off then we could afford for me to stay home. As it is, I think the way it will work is that I will work part-time outside of the home. Our child will be in day care 2-1/2 or maybe 3 days per week. That will give me the weekends and two days each week to be home with the kid and also some time in an adult environment where I am earning money and feeling valuable. It seems like having the best of both worlds.
We can afford to do this with one child, more than that and everything changes. You are right that it might be cheaper to stay home than pay for child care. If we end up with twins it would be cheaper for me to be a SAHM. I would love to find a work at home gig but my current job is not a telecommute sort of thing. Also, my job is a job, not a career but I like my job and would hate to leave it completely.

I haven't read a single comment because I'm getting ready to go to work. I have raised three children and I can say with complete confidence that children always know who their parents are, always love their parents best (although they may bait you by saying something otherwise) and that they do fine being cared for by a non-parent while Mom and Dad work. I also know that you would do well to save every cent you can so that when they are in their teens you can quit working. This is when they assert they don't need you at all but it is really when they need you most. When they are little they just want to play all day and they aren't too picky about who they play with. When they are teens they also want to play all day but the games are more dangerous and you need to be there to intervene and make it harder for them to get on the field, so to speak. They also need you at random critical moments to help them make choices or to act as a barricade to assist them in dealing with peer pressure. Too much to write on this now but trust me - your teens need you home a whole lot more than your babies do so please save for the future.

Work will be very hard for you at first. You will cry - you will rail against the economy - you will feel an incredible amount of stress. You will find a routine and you will carry on and you will raise a lovely family. Of that I am also confident.

I still have no kids, so this is all just thoeretical to me to a point. I'm an Aussie in the US and I've seen it from both points of view. There are so many differences that it's impossible to make direct comparisons.

Many of my American girlfriends get paid work to afford a house in a good school district. Education in Australia is variable between suburbs, but we don't seem to have the extreme low success rates that appear to happen in some poor American suburbs. Besides, education is on a state, not local,level and you can sometimes send your kids outside your school area. So, working for school not quite as much of a problem.

Second, in USA, it appears that health insurance is the key to a secure life. People seem to say in crummy jobs that they hate because they need the health insurance. (Sorry for the big generalisations!)In Australia, health care is not tied to employment, so staying employed to get health insurance is not nearly as much of an issue. (Aussies, I haven't forgotten the whole Medicare / private insurance thing, but trust me, private insurance in Australia is NOT critical in the same way it is in USA.

Thirdly, I live in an area where there is NO public transport. The local authority has deliberately chosen not to have it because they think it makes the area safer (???). Apparently those bad poor people won't come to our middle-class nice area and steal our stuff if they don't have a bus to get here. (Note my sarcasm please). My closest place to buy milk is three miles away. In a snowy winter, I can't walk or bike there, and my husband uses his car for his job, so I NEED a second car. Australia is not quite as desparate yet, (but some of the suburbs of Sydney are definetely getting there).

Fourthly, being less well off in a more socialised economy is a bit easier. Vaccinations are free from the local council, public libraries are free and extremely good quality, lots of places have toy libraries for young families, lots of public parks, university education is not as expensive as USA, Australia has a very high quality free education system and a few other bits and pieces.

Fifthly, don't underestime how much easier and cheaper it is to be less well off in a warm climate. People in USA need to find astronomical amounts of money for heating in winter, warm clothes for children that grow like weeds and car maintenance for cars that endure icy,snowy, salty roads.

Not quite sure where I am heading with all of this, but I am still amazed at how many American familes can be SAHM given the economic conditions. I know in Australia that crazy housing prices seem to negate all the financial benefits of living in a more socialised economy and that paying a mortgage still seems to be the number one reason why Aussie mums who would love to be SAHM still have to work.

Just my (probably biased) opinion.

I agree with you - every woman has to make her own choice. My DH and I from the time we got married devised a life we thought would work best with kids: we moved to a cheaper state to live, we've constructed a life we could afford on one income, and bought a house we could afford if one of us was unemployed. All of this so that it won't be a stretch when I quit/reduce working hours once kids are here. We're also VERY fortunate and both work from home. I think this will work well with children as well. Do SA employers allow you to telecommute? That might be a good option!

My only somewhat negative comment (and it's mild because I admire you for even bringing this topic up!) is the irritation you feel about the SAHM who felt "marginalized" by working moms. Since most moms work in SA, I'm not sure you can imagine the division between SAHM and working moms here. There are practically riots when you bring up the topic! Not that this is a particularly great example, but Oprah and Dr. Phil both did programs on the topic and the women practically tore each other to shreds! I understand why that SAHM felt that way. I don't have kids yet, and I'm a professional woman. Yet, when I mention to friends that I'm probably going to quit working once the child gets here, I get smirks and unkind remarks, as if I'm deciding to remove my brain and throw it in the garbage. And this from friends! For some reason, because we have more "choice" here in the U.S., there also appears to be more judgement accompanying that choice. SAHM's judge working moms/working moms judge SAHMs. I wish we could all just rejoice in the fact that we GET a choice!

Not that you need any more comments about this, but what the hell.

I am a SAHM, and we are just barely making it (we would be fine if we actually stuck to our budget) For us, it is just too much with both of us working full-time and then coming home and cleaning and cooking and parenting.

That being said, I have recently taken on a part-time job in the evenings so we can afford to build a new house. It is a good situation, because hubby gets time to appreciate me (bedtime isn't the most fun time around here), I work 3 evenings a week and the extra money is great. For us, this is the scenario that works, and I think it is different for everyone.

As far as the snobbiness/attitudes towards other moms, that is just annoying. In our group of friends, I was the first to stay home (and there is only 1 other now) and I got a lot of snide remarks about it. I think it is just envy. Working Moms worry about if their kids are ok, want to be watching Oprah and reading blogs all day, and Home Moms want be able to keep a clean outfit on all day, have someone want you for more than sippy cups and reading books, and to use their entire brain. To me, there is no right answer, you just do what you gotta do, Tertia.

I enjoy my work and actually choose to work. When my two were babies, I worked an evening job (4 p.m. to midnight). My parents or my in-laws watched the kids for an hour and then they were with Daddy for the rest of the evening. When my 5-year-old started kindergarten this past August, I started worked a daytime job.

So far (and my two are 5 and 3), everyone is doing just peachy. Nice, well-adjusted, sweet, loving kids. My salary pays for extras, and most importantly, goes into savings for emergencies, our retirement and my kids' college tuitions, as we plan on paying for both of their educations, barring any scholarship offers lol!

I feel the worst for moms who have no choice -- those who want to stay home, but absolutely can't, and those who want to work, but feel obligated by society or peers to stay home with their children.

I'm lucky to have been able to work on my own terms.

Very well thought out point of view Tertia.
I'm a SAHM. When my daughter was 3 months old, my pre-baby employer called me up and wanted to discuss return dates..And I just said, "Nope, sorry. I can't come back."
We were dirt poor. I cant compare poor here in the US with poor in SA, since I've never been there. But we lived in a crappy little apartment with mice, and a drug dealer below us. We had 1 cheap little car, and my DH worked nights so that I could have it during the day if I needed it.
Most definitely we struggled due to my decision to not work, and it was a huge sacrifice. That was 10 years ago, and we have since moved up in financial status.
I will admit, it's a badge of honor with us. My DH is proud of the fact that he did what he needed to, to allow for me to be with our children 24/7. Does it make us better parents? lol. NO! It's simply a different way of life that felt more "right" for us. Like any of the parental choices, one has to find what fits them as a family, and not worry about what may be different about every other family out there.

I was a SAHM for awhile. I now work part time. It was important to both DH and I that Jonathan stay home and out of daycare for as long as possible. When DH lost his job, I had to get something to help out. I work nights so that someone is always here to look after my son. We are by no means wealthy. We have a very low house payment and no car payments. Thats how I was able to swing being a SAHM for so long.

I would never think I was a better mother or loved my children more than working mother. By working, others are able to give their children more than I am.

You have to do what you have to do to survive.

Just wanted to point out a site that will compare cost of living -- it costs about the same to live in Johannesburg as it does to live in Albany, New York.


Beyond this, it is every family's choice as to what to do as far as working outside the home, obviously. We waited to have children until we could afford to buy a house and live on one income, but that was simply our choice. Different things work best for different families, and I try to keep any judgement out of it.

I can't afford to go back to work. I have no college degree in a university town, so my job choices would pay less than daycare would cost (many of the providers at the good daycares have degrees, and the at-home daycares are not much less expensive). I can't go to school to improve this because of my husband's work schedule, and because he makes just enough money that I can't get much in the way of student loans. So I am kind of stuck for right now. We live in a small house in the city, drive old cars, and don't buy much new stuff, take vacations, or eat out often. The public schools here are as good as any private school, and the cost of living (except for housing and property taxes, which are better than the coasts but high for the state) is pretty reasonable. But we have a lot of old student loans to pay from my husband, as well as my daughter's medical bills, and if I could work it would ease the pressure a bit.

It always irks me that other moms look at me like this was a choice for me, and judge accordingly. Yes, I am lucky that we manage to scrape by on one income. But my chance of a good career after my child is grown disappears a little more every day. And there will be a life for me without the child someday, so I'd kind of like to be able to prepare for it. My mother stayed at home with my brother and I until I was 11. What I remember of my early years is her being too tired to play with us much, and her general level of frustration with her life. I can see it happening to me, and I don't think my daughter is better off with me at home bored out of my mind playing with finger puppets and not able to be really involved, when she could be playing with adults who really enjoy that. Then when I was with her I would be able to be far more present and enjoy her company. Just because I am home with her does not mean that she is getting better quality care automatically. I love being able to be with her, but I don't think it is always what is best for her.

I know it will be hard to leave your children, but I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about. You are sacrificing yourself for your children's safety and happiness, just like I am sacrifing my future career and life for my daughter. Each of us has to make do with what works best for us. They'll understand the realities of your situation.

Ah, working mom vs. SAHM's. That's what it is, isn't it? VERSUS. I very often feel that we are against one another, and it is sad. Everyone is so defensive of their own situation, that they don't realize they make the other side feel bad, thus feeling defensive as well.

I personally work outside the home. I went back to work when my son was 8 weeks old, and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I battled my own demons of "letting someone else raise my child" etc. It was hard!! However, we found a fabulous home daycare provider. We adore her, and our son has absolutely THRIVED in these conditions.

I work mostly for health insurance benefits for myself and my son. Health insurance is such a big problem here in the US, and it's a must to have good coverage. Well, for my family it is anyways. There are those that take their chances without it, and those that don't have a choice. My husband gets coverage through his job, but to cover his family, the cost is astronomical.

I think BOTH sets of moms are SuperMoms! I guess the thing I resent most, is either side trying to be the martyr.
From SAHMs- "I sacrifice to stay home because having *things* isn't more important to me than taking care of my own kids."
From Working Moms-"I do all the work you do, PLUS work full time and I still get it all done AND my kids are perfect."

Of course, being a full-time working mom, I personally hate the implication that I work merely so I can have a nice house and go on vacations and have new cars. Or that having those things is more important than my child(ren). We don't live in the lap of luxury, we get by.

Sadly, on the bigger scale, I think the moms against moms war will never end. It would be nice though if one day, we could all learn to respect one another's life choices.

I can't quite figure out who Rose is. Your mother-in-law?

I absolutely agree with you 100%.

I so wish I could stay home with my daughter so does my husband, but realistically it can't happen right now. We are trying though to get in a place where it can happen. But that takes a lot of financial sacrifices as well. we are just trying to decide which sacrifice is best.

I know a SAHM who feels guilty by staying home because she can't contribute to the income her husband works hard for. I have to remind her how lucky she is to be able to stay home even though they have made tons of sacrifices so she can. But still she feels like she's not contributing. Poor thing.

Thankfully I have never met a SAHM mom who has acted holier than thou to me, if so I would have to slap her silly.

I live in the SF Bay Area, and we really don't have a choice. The _median_ home price in the Bay Area is now > $700K, and that does not get you a palace. It gets you a 1300 sqft 3 bedroom, 1 bath that is 50 years old and probably needs the plumbing/electric/roof replaced. And it keeps getting more and more expensive.

And everything else about California is way more expensive too: gas is > $2.50/gallon, state income tax and sales tax are some of the highest in the nation.

I guess we could move to another area of the country, but it would be difficult because we are both marketing professionals in the software industry (making the same salary) and most of the jobs are here. There are a few other cities with a concentration of software companies (Seattle, Austin, Boston), but then we'd have to leave our entire social and family network. Would it be better for our children to only see their grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins only once a year, so that I could stay at home?

And since my husband and I make the same amount, we'd be cutting our salary in HALF. I just cannot see how we could get by on that. The mortgage payments and paying for my student loans eats all that up.

And to top it off, I grew up without a lot of money, but I worked really hard to go to a top university and then to a top graduate school. I had to put myself through, and ended up taking on a lot of debt. All because I wanted the education to accomplish something outside the home in my life. So, I just cannot give up on that ideal before the school debts are even paid off. In my industry, it is hard enough for women already. But if you step off the job circuit for more than a year or so, it is almost impossible to get back on.

Agree that working is not 'putting your career ahead of your child'. I work full time and my husband stays with our daughter ( I just happen to make more money so it makes sense ). We are doing what is best for her - we truly believe that.

Luckily in Canada we have a year paid maternity leave so I didn't have to go back to work until she was almost one.

Someone mentioned wanting to 'keep their kid out of daycare'. We purposely put our daughter in daycare two days a week. We don't have any family where we live so the 'daycare lady' (that we carefully selected) has become like a grandma. The kids she plays with have given her valuable social skills. She is a well adjusted kid at 19 months and LOVES going there.

Being a SAHM or Working Mom should be a personal decision for every mother & father not anything for either to look down against. In fact, I think they should work together to help each other. I plan to be a SAHM due to the cost of a good daycare, sure I could find another one but the old saying, "You get what you pay for" definitly applys to SOME (notice I didn't say ALL) daycares. Nannies here are even more than daycare. My husband has always wanted me to stay home and until I became pregnant I didn't want to because I was bored so I worked. We will miss my income but for our family we think that this will be the best thing.

I am in your same boat, and I live in the states. I live in the South where you have the choice to live in a overpriced neighborhood with good public schools, or send you kid to decrepit schools. I have to work to live in my neighborhood, and although daycare is expensive it is tax free. I too would love to stay home, but I think in the long run my child will have more opportunity if I work. Opportunity is a strong value for my husband and I. Furthermore, I had a nanny when I was young, whom I call grandma till this day. I owe allot to the people who helped raise me. Do I love my mother any less, of course not. I just have an extra family that loves and cares for me too. Maybe if I was lucky enough not to be infertile, I would have been able to live a little longer off that money. Who Knows? Every family needs to do what is best for them.

After my maternity leave this summer (12 weeks, but unpaid) I will return to work out of necessity, so I hear you loud and clear. I keep thinking that I would like to find a way to work from home (not working at all is not an option, and right now I am the primary breadwinner), but the nosedive in income would be far more than our budget would tolerate. And we do not live extravagantly by any means. Our biggest indulgence is probably the fact that when we bought our house, we planned ahead for having a family (not knowing that infertility would make it take so long), so we have a bigger house than most of our friends. Not HUGE by any means, mind you and it is also an older house. And we only have one car- can't really downsize that. We also eat at home most of the time. Bring lunches to work, etc, etc. And maybe this is selfish, but I want to be able to visit family and friends on occasion without having to eat rice for a month to be able to afford it. Especially with the kid- s/he needs to get to know the out-of-town grandparents, too.

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