On Being At Home.

By Alison April 10, 2005 4 Comments 2 Min Read


My Father in Law thinks I should get a job. Any job. As long as I am contributing to the family income and not staying at home for an easy ride.

My Father in Law thinks that if a career doesn’t come with a salary and a pension it isn’t worth having.

My Father in Law told me that women who stay at home with their children are lazy. That there is nothing to looking after babies and what on earth did I find to do with myself all day? He says perhaps I could go to work when Finley is in bed.

My Father in Law is in deep deep trouble with me… 

And yet…

There is a teeny part of me- the part that doesn’t want to string him up– that says he is right: that as a modern women, a women who demands equality in all other areas of her life, I should be making an equal contribrution to the family income: that staying at home with my Finley is an indulgence we can ill afford…

And then I remember. I remember how it feels to lift my son out of his cot after his afternoon nap. How warm and sweaty his little head is as he trys to remember where he is, and looks wide eyed at me for the reassurance only a parent can provide. I remember showing him how to use a fork and nearly screaming with sheer utter pride as a piece of carrot cake made its wibbly wobbily way into his mouth. I remember how long it takes to walk hand in hand round to the post office less than two minutes away: how much patience it requires to walk bent backed to reach his little hand, taking time to stare at every new puddle, stone and leaf along the way. I remember why I always want to be there to give him his milk at bedtime when his wet curls press on my face and halfway through he puts his bottle down to kiss his mommy before we go hunting for the bear who shares his dreams. I remember all of this and I know why I am at home.

But this is about personal choice. We could all talk forever about the social implications of Mothers caring for young children. We understand, acknowledge and empathise with women who do not have the luxury of choosing to stay at home. But if we can, we do, and we should never be asked to justify our decision either way.

The fact is Finley isn’t going to be this little forever. I want to be around to show him everything that was wonderful about my own childhood: to make all the sacrifices my Mother made for me and to understand the difference it made to who I am today.

I believe my Father in Law should see it the same way.


  1. Jean says:

    Hi Alison,
    One of the things I do is study (and teach) World Religions. I don't adhere to any particular faith…I just find it fascinating to discover the whys and hows of what makes us 'human'. Anyway, one of the things I've learned is that before Yahweh, before Allah, Buddha, even before the Brahma of Hinduism, there was the Mother Goddess. She was the very first deity, worshipped by our ancient ancestors the world over. Those cultures weren't patriarchal ('father ruled'), nor were they matriarchal ('mother ruled'). Both of those terms imply that one group of people must rule over the others. These pre-historic cultures were martifocal, meaning 'mother focused'. And, of course, we all know what mothers focus on, don't we? In this model, the efforts of the group were spent not on amassing power and wealth, but on making decisions that promoted life, fertility, and abundance through partnerships. They realized that the needs of mothers and children must ALWAYS come first because that is where the future begins. They realized what we, through our 'civilization' have forgotten. But YOU remembered!!! Good for you. Good for us. Thanks! ~J

  2. amy says:

    You know I questioned this for the longest time. I worked numerous jobs outside of the home..making nice money but spending long hours away from my babies…I believe most moms are constantly torn between being what people like your FIL (I have one of those too:( think a woman should do in order to be productive and what a mother feels in her heart…which is longing to be at home with her children. It is in our soul to want to mother our children…it is what we were put here to do above all else if we choose to become mothers~to go against it is one of the hardest and sometimes most unnatural things for most moms to do…I'm not saying that moms with careers they love don't feel this too just that some moms are more strongly driven to be outside workers then others. We should never have to explain our decision either way. I remember working those long hours and barely getting more then 1 hour before bedtime to spend with my wee ones…it broke my heart more times then I care to remember. I remember one day standing in line at the mall around Christmas time about a year or so ago, a gal standing behind me bumped into an old classmate from highschool I listened as they spoke greeting each other they asked what each one was up to these days…the gal behind me said "oh I'm just a Mother" it made me think to myself JUST?????? I turned to her and proudly proclaimed " HOW WONDERFUL!" You should feel so proud of yourself! Oh & by the way your never JUST a Mother:) Her face went from looking ashamed to instant ear to ear smile..and she beamed. & this is how I feel. Alison NEVER question why you are doing what you are doing…the only person that matters is your little baby boy:) and he loves you for it!

  3. Toni says:

    This is a subject that stirs so much passion in me….
    I was a young mother, so never really had time to pursue a career. Truth be known, motherhood was the career I longed for. So, almost 20 years ago when Mark and I learned that our first child was on the way, I quit my part time job and began to devote myself to full time motherhood. After all, I was mothering that growing child inside me by taking good care of myself and reading hours a day on how to be a good mom. Now, 5 children later I have NEVER looked back. I have teenage sons who still shower us with affection, who respect our opinions and really listen when we give them counsel. I'm going on a dinner date with my oldest tomorrow night, and I jokingly said "If you have nothing better to do" and he replied "Nothing is more important then going to dinner with my mom" I'm not saying a working mom won't get that kind of response from her teens,my heart aches for women who long to be home but it's just not possible. I feel confident though, that the relationship I have with my children today is a fruit of staying home with them yesterday. I WAS THE ONE to see those first steps, hear those first words, read that favorite book over and over again, comfort skinned knees, delight with them in the wonder of life. NOT a caregiver so I could be out "contributing to the family" The best contribution I have ever made to this family and am still making is being there for them…24/7
    I'm cheering for you Alison!!

  4. Ella says:

    Aren't we lucky to have the choice whether we stay at home or work? As much as I struggle with not working, I too relish the small moments with my babies and know that I am doing the right thing. I am contributing to the economy, just not financially! And I think you summed it up perfectly when you said we should never be asked to justify our decision either way.

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