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  1. I totally agree with you Alison.I think that the freedom people talk about is confused so often with the right to judge other peoples life choices.I am very open with the fact that I have no desire to ever return to conventional employment.I will be there for my children as long as I am needed.I still need my mum now!You see as much as they need me I need them.Just as a career womens desire to do well drives her,so my desire for my children to be the best they can be drives me.That doesn't mean I am not a person in my own right but that my career choice is to be the best mother I can be.Obviously that includes looking after my children, but also mine and my husbands needs.For happy children need a happy home.As for 'sacrificing all on the altar of motherhood'.Then count me in because as far as I can see the more you give the more you will receive.I made an intelligant,informed decision after my second daughter was born.I didn't fall blindly into motherhood I embraced it with both arms and came home!I realise that this isn't the case for everybody but motherhood can be the most rewarding career ever!

  2. Well stated, Allison!
    This discussion always interests and worries me. I think Kristy is correct when she says that Woman's "Freedom of Choice" has become more about "Freedom to Judge" than anything else. I personally have had a working mom come to me and say that by staying home with my daughter I was spoiling her and that I was not preparing her for the 'real world'. Her suggestion was to put my Peanut in daycare, where she belonged, and go out and get a job so that I could be productive.
    Mind, this woman was a very casual aquaintance, yet she felt no qualms about loudly proclaiming the wrongness of my choice to stay home. In fact, she made it into a general discussion with the other moms in the room, who all save one, were 'working mothers' also.
    The funny thing is, I would never have done something like this. As much as I feel that staying home with your children is the best thing that you can do for them, I do not go out and try to gather converts to my cause. I feel that every woman has to look at her own situation and make the choice.

  3. Well stated, Allison!
    This discussion always interests and worries me. I think Kristy is correct when she says that Woman's "Freedom of Choice" has become more about "Freedom to Judge" than anything else. I personally have had a working mom come to me and say that by staying home with my daughter I was spoiling her and that I was not preparing her for the 'real world'. Her suggestion was to put my Peanut in daycare, where she belonged, and go out and get a job so that I could be productive.
    Mind, this woman was a very casual aquaintance, yet she felt no qualms about loudly proclaiming the wrongness of my choice to stay home. In fact, she made it into a general discussion with the other moms in the room, who all save one, were 'working mothers' also.
    The funny thing is, I would never have done something like this. As much as I feel that staying home with your children is the best thing that you can do for them, I do not go out and try to gather converts to my cause. I feel that every woman has to look at her own situation and make the choice.

  4. My oh my! Why is there so often the assumption that you cannot be happy/fulfilled as a SAHM unless you are intellectually challenged. Before having children I worked in the IT department at ICL. I can honestly say that I don't ever remember any women raving about how fulfilled they felt with their job. I certainly remember lots of whingeing though. It's the same whingers who now question how I could spend all day at home. I do it because it makes me happy – simple as that. I sometimes get the feeling nobody believes me though.

  5. My oh my! Why is there so often the assumption that you cannot be happy/fulfilled as a SAHM unless you are intellectually challenged. Before having children I worked in the IT department at ICL. I can honestly say that I don't ever remember any women raving about how fulfilled they felt with their job. I certainly remember lots of whingeing though. It's the same whingers who now question how I could spend all day at home. I do it because it makes me happy – simple as that. I sometimes get the feeling nobody believes me though.

  6. I shouldn't really speak to this, as I don't yet have children. But what I find disturbing in American society is the women who put the children's needs before ANYONE else, even at the sake of their own marriage. I can't even imagine how difficult it is to try to balance everything as a mother, that's one of the reasons I still don't have children. But I do agree that my marriage and my own BEING have to be taken into consideration, even if I do become a mother someday. On the other hand, of course, I don't want to be a self-absorbed mother who leaves the kids here and there and everywhere to get manicures, massages or go shopping. (not that this isn't a lovely and deserved treat once in awhile!) I'm reminded of a show that Oprah did by a woman journalist who wrote a very inflammatory article for a big newspaper titled something like "I love my husband more than my kids" or something like that. I was horrified when I heard it, I mean it just sounds, well…mean! But when she described her position, it made a lot of sense to me. That my marriage has to come first in order to give my (future) kids a sense of security and a feeling of stability.
    I am definitely no expert on this topic, and I don't agree with what Judith Warner says in full, however I do see so many mothers overdoing it to make sure that their kids lives are perfectly complete (i.e. too many activities, too much guilt buying, etc.) but I think that this can happen just as easily, if not MORE frequently in mothers who choose to work outside the home.
    The looking-down-upon mothers who choose to stay at home with their kids is epidemic here in the US…but it does seem like more and more people are trying to change that. I hope that changes to happen in this area.
    Thanks for the interesting article and post Alison, it made me really think this morning.

  7. I shouldn't really speak to this, as I don't yet have children. But what I find disturbing in American society is the women who put the children's needs before ANYONE else, even at the sake of their own marriage. I can't even imagine how difficult it is to try to balance everything as a mother, that's one of the reasons I still don't have children. But I do agree that my marriage and my own BEING have to be taken into consideration, even if I do become a mother someday. On the other hand, of course, I don't want to be a self-absorbed mother who leaves the kids here and there and everywhere to get manicures, massages or go shopping. (not that this isn't a lovely and deserved treat once in awhile!) I'm reminded of a show that Oprah did by a woman journalist who wrote a very inflammatory article for a big newspaper titled something like "I love my husband more than my kids" or something like that. I was horrified when I heard it, I mean it just sounds, well…mean! But when she described her position, it made a lot of sense to me. That my marriage has to come first in order to give my (future) kids a sense of security and a feeling of stability.
    I am definitely no expert on this topic, and I don't agree with what Judith Warner says in full, however I do see so many mothers overdoing it to make sure that their kids lives are perfectly complete (i.e. too many activities, too much guilt buying, etc.) but I think that this can happen just as easily, if not MORE frequently in mothers who choose to work outside the home.
    The looking-down-upon mothers who choose to stay at home with their kids is epidemic here in the US…but it does seem like more and more people are trying to change that. I hope that changes to happen in this area.
    Thanks for the interesting article and post Alison, it made me really think this morning.

  8. Oh my Goodness, I have been reading your Brocante Home Chronicles for a couple of weeks. I am so enjoying you. But today , I thought I must respond. This speaks so closely to my heart. Being a SAHM , I couldn't imagine it any other way. But I recently had a woman tell me ' I am just too much of a go-getter to be a SAHM'. What? Does that mean I am not a go-getter? Wow, I was so insulted. I would like to say , look out into nature, which animal creature leaves it's young to a another to raise and care for the animals basic needs. Only humans do this. You know I never said anything to this 'working mom' about her choice, maybe she felt guilt? Frankly, I don't care about her decisions on how she and her husband are going to raise there children. But, leave me alone, don't insult me or my supposid lack of 'go-getter' spirit! I have a 'go-getter' spirit, and motherhood calls, may I leave you as a woman who has heard her calling and answered it!

  9. Oh my Goodness, I have been reading your Brocante Home Chronicles for a couple of weeks. I am so enjoying you. But today , I thought I must respond. This speaks so closely to my heart. Being a SAHM , I couldn't imagine it any other way. But I recently had a woman tell me ' I am just too much of a go-getter to be a SAHM'. What? Does that mean I am not a go-getter? Wow, I was so insulted. I would like to say , look out into nature, which animal creature leaves it's young to a another to raise and care for the animals basic needs. Only humans do this. You know I never said anything to this 'working mom' about her choice, maybe she felt guilt? Frankly, I don't care about her decisions on how she and her husband are going to raise there children. But, leave me alone, don't insult me or my supposid lack of 'go-getter' spirit! I have a 'go-getter' spirit, and motherhood calls, may I leave you as a woman who has heard her calling and answered it!

  10. I haven't read the book, but I think I understand a bit where Warner is coming from.
    Thinking back to my own childhood my mother was under much less pressure to 'perform' than I feel we are nowadays.
    Now I come to think of it I have very few memories of actually PLAYING with my mother. Yes, we would do housework together very enjoyably – even as young child I would 'help' to make the beds and do the cooking, but mostly I would read alone or play for endless hours out in the garden with my brother and sister or the boy next door.
    This is in no way intended as a criticism of my mother – she brought up three children very nicely thank you on very little money and very little help from my father… but she certainly didn't worry whether she was spending enough 'quality time' with us; food was of the fish fingers, burgers and biscuits variety; activities and play dates were only organised as a means of getting us out from under her feet; and she didn't fret about providing anything other than the most basic contributions to school fetes or costumes for fancy dress parties.
    On the other hand I don't think of myself as a manic 'Alpha mum' but here I am worrying about how much I'm reading to and talking to my baby; analysing every mouthful she eats for additives and sugar; fretting about the cleanliness of my floors; organising tons of playdates so she doesn't feel like a neglected only child etc. etc.
    There IS pressure now that I don't think existed when I was growing up. Then mothers seemed more content to 'muddle through' whereas nowadays we are all striving so hard to create the best lives possible for our little ones. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that if she's alive, comparatively clean, warm and not hungry or thirsty then I'm doing an OK job…

  11. I haven't read the book, but I think I understand a bit where Warner is coming from.
    Thinking back to my own childhood my mother was under much less pressure to 'perform' than I feel we are nowadays.
    Now I come to think of it I have very few memories of actually PLAYING with my mother. Yes, we would do housework together very enjoyably – even as young child I would 'help' to make the beds and do the cooking, but mostly I would read alone or play for endless hours out in the garden with my brother and sister or the boy next door.
    This is in no way intended as a criticism of my mother – she brought up three children very nicely thank you on very little money and very little help from my father… but she certainly didn't worry whether she was spending enough 'quality time' with us; food was of the fish fingers, burgers and biscuits variety; activities and play dates were only organised as a means of getting us out from under her feet; and she didn't fret about providing anything other than the most basic contributions to school fetes or costumes for fancy dress parties.
    On the other hand I don't think of myself as a manic 'Alpha mum' but here I am worrying about how much I'm reading to and talking to my baby; analysing every mouthful she eats for additives and sugar; fretting about the cleanliness of my floors; organising tons of playdates so she doesn't feel like a neglected only child etc. etc.
    There IS pressure now that I don't think existed when I was growing up. Then mothers seemed more content to 'muddle through' whereas nowadays we are all striving so hard to create the best lives possible for our little ones. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that if she's alive, comparatively clean, warm and not hungry or thirsty then I'm doing an OK job…

  12. I agree in part to this – we bought our children into the world for whatever reason and we do owe it to them to bring them up in the best way we can but I don't believe that means to pander to their every whim. I have been a stay at home mum for 31 years now and wouldn't have it anyother way but they come second to my husband because: years ago when my second marriage ended and I was left with two children to bring up, I threw myself dementedly into them. Then I met Joe who really is my soul mate, my other half – and I hesitated at first until a lady of 80 years old gave me this advice: grab happiness with both hands, it doesn't come often and even though your children are here now, they will leave the nest you have made and you will be left alone. Your man will be the one who is next to you forever. and I know I am one of the lucky ones in that she was right – I love my children but Joe is my rock. I guess we are all different in our opinions and not all will agree with me. Alison – you are doing a wonderful job and if you are happy & satisfied then its right for you xoxo

  13. I agree in part to this – we bought our children into the world for whatever reason and we do owe it to them to bring them up in the best way we can but I don't believe that means to pander to their every whim. I have been a stay at home mum for 31 years now and wouldn't have it anyother way but they come second to my husband because: years ago when my second marriage ended and I was left with two children to bring up, I threw myself dementedly into them. Then I met Joe who really is my soul mate, my other half – and I hesitated at first until a lady of 80 years old gave me this advice: grab happiness with both hands, it doesn't come often and even though your children are here now, they will leave the nest you have made and you will be left alone. Your man will be the one who is next to you forever. and I know I am one of the lucky ones in that she was right – I love my children but Joe is my rock. I guess we are all different in our opinions and not all will agree with me. Alison – you are doing a wonderful job and if you are happy & satisfied then its right for you xoxo

  14. Personally, I agree with the school of thought that you need to have a strong relationship with your partner first and then the kids come next. Sounds harsh I know, but believe me, I haven't always been this way, and I have seen first hand what a break up does to children.
    I am a SAHM, and if I don't ensure my relationship is great (and lets face it, it's always up to the woman to do these things), then I am under stress, and it affects the whole household. And I am in a different situation as my partner is not the father of my children. But he goes out to work extremely hard to make sure we are all comfortable and taken care of financially. The last thing he wants is to come home to a messy home, and a cranky woman, demanding he do this or do that. I make his life as pleasing as possible, because he is the reason I can be home with my kids. If not for him, what would I be doing? I'd be working outside the home. And my kids would be latch-key children.
    I think in a way it's all interrelated. But we need to take care of our relationships with our husbands, because our children need a stable base, and a happy home, and good role models. That is our job as parents.

  15. Personally, I agree with the school of thought that you need to have a strong relationship with your partner first and then the kids come next. Sounds harsh I know, but believe me, I haven't always been this way, and I have seen first hand what a break up does to children.
    I am a SAHM, and if I don't ensure my relationship is great (and lets face it, it's always up to the woman to do these things), then I am under stress, and it affects the whole household. And I am in a different situation as my partner is not the father of my children. But he goes out to work extremely hard to make sure we are all comfortable and taken care of financially. The last thing he wants is to come home to a messy home, and a cranky woman, demanding he do this or do that. I make his life as pleasing as possible, because he is the reason I can be home with my kids. If not for him, what would I be doing? I'd be working outside the home. And my kids would be latch-key children.
    I think in a way it's all interrelated. But we need to take care of our relationships with our husbands, because our children need a stable base, and a happy home, and good role models. That is our job as parents.

  16. Alison,I'm a little confused with this discussion (I know Whats New?) Surely everybody's relationship with their partner is different, but the one thing they should have in common, if they decide to have children, is that their children come first ALWAYS. Then no matter whatever else happens in their individual lives, the bond of their family will never be broken and consequently the bond of their relationship. I realise that this sounds quite naive but isn't that what we are all searching for- the security of family?As for the working/ non-working debate, the very fact of having a choice, which lots of mothers right up to the 1970's very often didn't have, is the one thing both sides should appreciate.

  17. Alison,I'm a little confused with this discussion (I know Whats New?) Surely everybody's relationship with their partner is different, but the one thing they should have in common, if they decide to have children, is that their children come first ALWAYS. Then no matter whatever else happens in their individual lives, the bond of their family will never be broken and consequently the bond of their relationship. I realise that this sounds quite naive but isn't that what we are all searching for- the security of family?As for the working/ non-working debate, the very fact of having a choice, which lots of mothers right up to the 1970's very often didn't have, is the one thing both sides should appreciate.

  18. I always wonder why it has to be a case of 'who's first' … like it's a competition.
    Let's face it … for the most part it's the woman/the mother who holds a family together … who gives it the foundation to be strong. And as a SAHM I see my role as recognising the needs of each individual (including my own) on a day to day basis and working out what I need to do about it…if anything at all. Not 'who's first?' on a constant basis. But a rotating podium, if you get my drift.
    I'm a single SAHM now. (As some of you know me and are probably sick of hearing me refer to ~ but it's changed my life and outlook in so many ways ~ wonderful; humbling; terrifying) … My eldest boy has CP; associated intellectual impairment and epilepsy. When he was born, I followed my instincts and threw all my energy into him … physiotherapy; occupational therapy; watching worrying watching him because he does not come out of his seizures and requires urgent medication. Despite all my diligence (I was positively demented), my husband and his family accused me of neglecting my marriage. And this is how, for a long time, he managed to control me … to make me feel that I was being lesser of a mother; lesser of a wife than other women.
    I was right to put the role of 'mother' first at that time. I believe that with all my heart but it took me a long time to realise that I was right all along to follow my instincts. It was an exceptional situation, I know that, but we were both adults and there was our baby needing all the love and help in the world. He had to come first. And, if my husband thought he was feeling neglected, perhaps he should have considered how his frazzled and terrified wife may have been feeling; and perhaps it should have been he who stepped in on behalf of the marriage; found little ways (without expecting me to mercilessly sever the umbilibal cord I understandably clung to) to maintain our relationship; put me on his 'who's first?' podium instead of himself.
    Is that too idealistic?

  19. I always wonder why it has to be a case of 'who's first' … like it's a competition.
    Let's face it … for the most part it's the woman/the mother who holds a family together … who gives it the foundation to be strong. And as a SAHM I see my role as recognising the needs of each individual (including my own) on a day to day basis and working out what I need to do about it…if anything at all. Not 'who's first?' on a constant basis. But a rotating podium, if you get my drift.
    I'm a single SAHM now. (As some of you know me and are probably sick of hearing me refer to ~ but it's changed my life and outlook in so many ways ~ wonderful; humbling; terrifying) … My eldest boy has CP; associated intellectual impairment and epilepsy. When he was born, I followed my instincts and threw all my energy into him … physiotherapy; occupational therapy; watching worrying watching him because he does not come out of his seizures and requires urgent medication. Despite all my diligence (I was positively demented), my husband and his family accused me of neglecting my marriage. And this is how, for a long time, he managed to control me … to make me feel that I was being lesser of a mother; lesser of a wife than other women.
    I was right to put the role of 'mother' first at that time. I believe that with all my heart but it took me a long time to realise that I was right all along to follow my instincts. It was an exceptional situation, I know that, but we were both adults and there was our baby needing all the love and help in the world. He had to come first. And, if my husband thought he was feeling neglected, perhaps he should have considered how his frazzled and terrified wife may have been feeling; and perhaps it should have been he who stepped in on behalf of the marriage; found little ways (without expecting me to mercilessly sever the umbilibal cord I understandably clung to) to maintain our relationship; put me on his 'who's first?' podium instead of himself.
    Is that too idealistic?

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