"So, Mandy - where are you working over there in Medford? Was it hard to find a job?"
"Well," I say - "I'm actually not working right now. Just staying home with Cole and loving it. I haven't even looked for a job over there because I'm so content being home."
My friends (and former co-workers) don't know what to say. They avoid eye contact with me. They change the subject immediately.
It's not something I'm ashamed of, being a stay-at-home mom. I don't see anything wrong with it and I'm proud that I have this distinction. I'm glad that I have the confidence in myself and our decision. But I'm not going to lie - sometimes, it's hard not to feel a little defensive when surrounded by these amazing women - all working moms - who are some of my dearest friends.
After my confession, I'm tempted to fill the silence with excuses and reasons. "We can't find reliable and affordable daycare...Jobs are so scarce right now...A second income would just boost us up into the next tax bracket, anyway..."
But as the excuses are starting to leave my lips, I think to myself, "Wait a minute. I don't need to excuse anything. These wonderful ladies don't feel as though they need to excuse their desire to work, so why should I say a reason for staying home?"
It's so easy to feel ashamed, embarassed, lazy for being a stay at home mom. I don't think it's a career path our society puts a lot of value on right now. Americans are famous for cultural extremes and I think the working mom situation is a definite example - we try so hard to limit the guilt/expectations for moms who work outside the home, we end up downplaying moms who stay home.
But you know what? Right now, staying home works perfectly for us. It's a dream come true to be home all day, every day with my little guy. Is staying home the right decision for everyone? No way! But I sometimes wish we could all be a little more tolerant of what works for an individual person and his/her family.
How about you? Have you ever felt judged for a personal family choice, and if so, how did you deal with it?