A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with my visiting teachers. One is a stay at home mom that teaches piano out of her home and the other has all her children grown and works full-time. Both have had experiences, as I have had, on both sides of the fence of this issue and debate. We were talking about the The Family, a Proclamation to the World, and how rearing children is primarily a women's responsibility, when it hit me; Why do women seem to attack each other in regards to their choice/decision to work or stay home? We are all daughters of the same God, with the same responsibilities for these small spirits entrusted to us, so why aren't we working together to make it?
Speaking only from my own experiences, I can't say why all mothers choose or have to work outside their homes. I don't know what everyone's personal situation is, but I do know why I have done so. To stay sane.
I know that my decision to work was not an easy one. It was met on my knees, along with my husband supporting me in anyway he could. I still feel guilty every single day, that I'm not there for some of the things my kids are doing on a daily basis. I don't always get to attend class field trips or be the room mother that everyone loves. I don't get to volunteer in my son's classroom and read to the children, or pop in my daughters class to see if I can help out in anyway. I assuage my guilt by buying the boxes of Kleenex and markers that are the wish list every fall. It doesn't completely eradicate the guilt of presence, but it is something I'm able to do.
I don't kid myself that my kids would have a terrible time with me as a "work at home" mom. In fact I did it for a while, and my poor husband bore the brunt of it. I was physically and emotionally incapable of doing what my family needed from me. It was one of the worst depressions that I have ever been in. I couldn't see past being Abbie's mom, and into anything beyond. There were some external factors that I won't get into right now, but when Daniel suggested me going back to work, I was ready by then.
Years later now, and I am still trying to cope with this decision. Is there a perfect situation for me? I suppose if I could say that I have one right now, it would be it. I'm at work while my children are at school and home with them when they are done. Not everyone is so blessed to have that flexibility or ability. Are there days that I long to be at home? Yes. Are there days that I look at my surroundings and can't wait to get to work? Yes. There is no magic middle ground. I wish that there was a strip of grass for those of us that want to straddle the fence, so we can have one foot on each side of the debate. I would love to be at home...and perhaps someday I do all my work at home, but for now, that isn't an option.
So why does it turn into a bloody brawl whenever this topic is brought up in Relief Society and Sunday school? Why is is so black and white? The prophets have never said that sanity is not a reason for working outside the home. I'm sure the Lord prefers sane mothers that can give their children a whole lot more quality than ones that can't function. Why can't those of use that have experienced the joy of both, support all those around us? After all, isn't it a decision between the Lord, the mother, and her family. We aren't included in that equation! All we can do is show love and support and not judge! It's okay for a women with an advanced degree to stay at home and love her children and nurture them there. It's okay for someone who needs to provide for their family to work. Can't we all just get along!?!?