I met up with one of my old coworkers this weekend for coffee and a long walk. He has a philosophical bent. We talked from everything to unions and the future of the middle class to my recent departure from the paid workforce.
I admitted to him that I now am uncertain about whether or not working or staying at home is better for my children and myself. It is true that I am home and present and able to participate more fully in their everyday lives. However, my attention is often not focused completely on them as I have a house to maintain and family life to organize. I also have interests outside of them and often find myself distracted. I'm also not able to provide all of the enrichment that the girls previously received from preschool or aftercare or just having the disposable income to enroll them in various lessons/classes. Another key part of the equation is that since I am with them all day, every day, I am not as enthusiastic about spending time with them or playing with them. When I used to get home from work, I was hungry to spend time with them. I missed them. Now, I look forward to time without them.
The jury is still out in my opinion. My dear friend characterized it like this. I'm testing and experiments with these different roles and different lifestyles to see what rings true. Do kids do better with a stay at home mother? Do moms do better when they don't have to split their time between work and family? Or is it a wash? Or do children do better with two working parents?
In truth, either way, I will have no regrets. I have been able to have it both ways now. I can see from both sides of the battled armament between stay at home and working mothers. I honestly can't see why there is such tension between the two groups. Being a mom is hard work no matter how you frame it. When I worked I was exhausted from work, commuting, fitting in cooking and housework and quality family time. Now, I am exhausted from attending to my children all day, cooking, and cleaning. At least I've learned this: no mom has it easy.