You’ve probably heard women defending their choices to stay home and have kids. Or leave good jobs to come home to kids. Or the bazillion other things women allegedly give up. Because kids. There’s been talk in the homeschooling community about it, too. Apparently, homeschool moms are frequently being asked why they waste their college educations or give up a good job to stay home. I am one homeschool mom who gets those questions, too.
Because I’m completely over feeling the need to explain myself, what I would normally say in a situation like this is: a) it’s nobody’s business what we do, b) parenting is hard enough without other people trying to make it harder, and c) everybody needs to start minding their p’s and q’s. But, because I love you and want to help you overcome the feelings that can come from hearing that kind of stuff, I decided to tackle this notion that educated slash career women are making a huge mistake.
If this has been bothering you at all, I hope to make you feel better soon. Ideally, by the end of this blog, you’ll never feel the need to defend yourself again, either.
Let me begin by saying, this isn’t anything new. I’ve been hearing comments like these for years:
Guy walks into a bar and says, “What’s a college-educated girl like you doing home babysitting a bunch of kids like them?”
which actually happened once, by the way, in a buffet line.
I get this one all the time:
“What did you do before you had kids?
usually coupled with:
How soon are you going back?”
Thanks for asking.
I admit, I especially appreciate when people are subtle:
“It must be sooooo hard being home all day.”
because it makes it sooooo much easier for me not to feel bad while they’re calling me an idiot for taking care of my kids instead of working a real job.
Honestly, for the first couple of years, those kinds of comments did bother me. Not very much, but just enough to make me question my choices and our lifestyle. It hurt most coming from family and friends, but really anyone could’ve put a dent in my confidence while I was still feeling my awkward way around being a mom and teaching my kids at home. Thankfully, it didn’t take long before I grew even stronger in my resolution and my ability to ignore busy bodies. Which is why now, I am able to deflect obnoxious comments like some kind of female super hero.
My View on Winning
To explain my views on the situation, I’ve created a simple graph:
Understand I’ve been doing the “home” thing a long time, thus my graph represents me looking back after 20+ years of being a homeschool mom versus all the other options. The fact that my kids turned out awesome and ended up saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars in college tuition doesn’t hurt either. Your graph might look a little different, but I’m guessing it’s similar if you’ve made a similar choice.
Please understand, though my graph may look silly, I don’t take this lightly. People don’t call me Dr. Moreau for fun. I really earned all my fancy degrees from a tippy top school, was esteemed by my colleagues, loved by my students, and was earning a lot of money to boot. I had absolute job security plus incredible benefits prior to becoming a mom. None of this is imaginary to me — I know what I gave up by coming home to my kids.
I just really believe that when women choose home (and, better yet, homeschool) over a career, they win. It’s as simple as that. Actually, in my opinion, everybody wins.
We moms win because we get to spend time with our precious kiddos, get to custom design our lives, and get to totally impact them like nobody’s business. Our kids win by having full-time supporters and cheerleaders and by turning into these amazing people with so many more chances at living an amazing life than if we hadn’t stayed home. It’s true, check the research. And our partners, if we have them, win too. Because, barring anything weird or unusual, they’re probably glad to have a happy, intact family with incredible kids, too. Score, score, score.
So, what I’m telling you, and why I have never had a single regret, is that those of us staying home get the last laugh. For all the claims that we’re wasting our expensive degrees, losing money or our “only” chance at building a career, we’re seriously getting the better end of the deal.
Need more convincing? I’ve got some.
Look at the incredible benefits that might come out of you making that choice, and you being home:
- You might get good kids. I mean really, really good kids. The kind who stick around and continue doing life with you and with each other even after they’re grown. The kind of kids who turn into good adults who contribute within their communities, our society and the planet.
- You might produce kids with bright futures. Either in college or in careers or both. You might get kids who create things, start businesses, go to college, get good jobs, and earn good salaries. Because they’re good at what they do, because they care, because they’ve got great work ethics, because they know how to work alone, and because people like working with them.
- You might get kids who don’t necessarily cost you a lot over the years. Because you either don’t have a lot so they learn to be frugal or creative or resourceful, or because they don’t want/need the same stuff as all the other kids.
- You might end up with kids who save you tons of money when they’re teens. Because they build, barter or buy their own stuff, or they earn it themselves. Does free college ring a bell? ‘Cause your kids might get that, too.
- You could get kids who are quite healthy. Because, when raised at home, there are plenty of opportunities for clean eating, time and space for movement and activities, and less exposure to every virus and bacteria that can make other people sick. And probably because they’ve been involved in sourcing foods, meal prep and all that goes into feeding themselves and a family. Maybe they know how to grow foods, too.
- You yourself can have a life. If it’s a working life you want, you can squeeze that in somewhere. And you can literally have a personal life, an emotional life, a social life, a spiritual life, and physically active life, one without the restrictions imposed by only being home a couple of hours a day, if you want one.
- You get a life you design for yourself. Whether in one place, or in many places. Whether quiet or extremely busy. Talk about options! How many people can say that?
I could draft a list a mile long of all the benefits of being home. Yet, I can think of only 2 advantages to working outside the home: 1) doing something you love and 2) earning money. And I think we can all agree that most people never get the opportunity to do something they love, so that pretty much only leaves money. Which is no small thing, but only amounts to whatever you might have netted over a period of 15-20 years instead of homeschooling and raising kids.
So, there it is. I’ve given you the trade-off.
Imagine a balance scale if you will. On one side, sits the pile of money you would have earned in 20 years. On the other side, sits a framed photo of your family. Which side is heavier? You decide. The choice can only be made using your own personal list of reasons versus some dollar amount on the opposite side of that scale.
For me, the choice was clear and easy. But, which will you choose? If you’re still here, you’re probably thinking a lot about that family photo.
Perhaps you’re thinking I forgot to mention all the side-effects that come from staying home — the things you’ll lose by interrupting your life temporarily and trying to recreate it later on. That’s where all those oh-so-helpful comments from strangers and family come in. Because they’re implying you could lose your identity, waste a perfectly good education, not get the chance to use all that training, not get to share your gifts with the world, or all of the above. Some might even tell you you’re setting a bad example for your kids (!!) by not going out there and taking the world by storm. Nobody likes a freeloader, and this isn’t the 50’s after all. How dare you not show your kids what it’s like to go out and earn a living?
Well, I’m not here to tell you how to think. But I completely disagree with that logic, because I think it’s easily possible and highly probable than any one of us can jump back into that life any time. Maybe not the exact same life, but a similar life. Or, better yet, some new life we’ve designed for ourselves once our children are grown. A life with a new skill set, new levels of training, and a mature sense of what we really want out of life anyway. I don’t think a brief stint being a mom (and it is brief, when you think about it) signals the end. I don’t for a minute believe that having kids is enough to squash a dream if there’s a dream still there waiting. And as for your kids? After watching you homeschool for 20 years, there’s no way they’re gonna think you’re lazy. No stinking way.
That’s why staying home is the better option. That’s why you’re not making a mistake by choosing the family photo. And that’s why I’m still laughing.
Working parents homeschool, too!
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A liaison for regional school-to-home organizations, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT, Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.