Anyone who knows me knows that I readily defend the choice of being a stay-at-home mom. While it should be as equally respected as a working mom's choice to spend her days in the business world, stay-at-home moms (SAHMS) too often today are maligned and made to feel "lesser than" their counterparts. Made to feel that raising their children as their full-time job is less worthy than bringing home a salary. That gets my dander up.
I was a SAHM and loved my choice. I got the opportunity to become a nurse, teacher, guidance counselor, dietitian, recreation director, librarian and master-molder-of-a-little-soul. The role is not everyone's choice, but it was mine and I don't regret it for one second.
Kim was my best SAHM friend. We met in Duluth's awesome Early Childhood Family Education program. Kim and Dan's Ben and our Sam were both 2, bright, and social. We discovered we lived only 4 blocks apart so we became fast friends. Lots of play dates, mom talk, and simply supporting each other in these wonderful new roles we had assumed. Kim was a human resources director and I was a gerontology consultant when we had our babies and chose to put our careers on standby and stay home. Each of us had bought modest homes whose mortgages could be covered by our husband's salaries so if we ever decided to stay home, we could. We did. And we reveled in our friendship and in our boys.
Kim and Dan left Duluth when the boys were about 4 and we continued to have occasional mom/son reunions with them. Though we do not see each other often anymore, Kim will always be one of my dearest friends.
A few days ago I got a letter from her and her words brought back into vivid focus our SAHM lives and how much they meant to us both.
In her letter she writes that a friend of hers was talking about someone Kim knew, and in the course of the comment, Kim's friend said, "....she's JUST a stay-at-home mom."
Kim's letter to me continues:
"Mary, I was so offended. And this from a long-time friend. It made me reflect and recall all those years ago and our beautiful supportive connection over our two precious sons. Our like-minded, soulful devotion to what we knew in our hearts and minds to be right---that we would devote our days to shaping their lives. It made me smile and thank God for my stay-at-home friends that "get it" and share a value we don't need to justify. Not that all those days were perfect days, but I truly see all our hard work reflected in the beautiful young adults they have become."
It tickles me that Kim still shares with me the strong feelings we had about our SAHM years. Did we scale back our budgets those years? Absolutely. But we never felt as if it was not worth it. No matter what ignorant people may say about the choice that we and hundreds of thousands of other current SAHMS make, all of us in "the SAHM club" know that our choice is one we will never regret and one most of us can say was the best thing we ever did for our families. It grieves and angers me when working mothers demean the stay-at-home contingent.
A young friend of mine named Meredith just had her first child. In August she told me that she wanted to work at least part-time after the baby was born. Eli is only 6 weeks old, so she has not made any final decisions yet. She did say to me on Thursday, "I don't know if I could ever leave him and go back to work." I told her those were my exact feelings 23 years ago.
If Mere does change her mind and decide to find a job, good for her. If she decides she wants to stay home with Elijah, good for her as well. She will make the right choice for Eli and herself. I only hope that if she decides to be a SAHM that some misguided woman does not try to make her feel as if spending her days raising her baby son are somehow less valuable than spending them in the workplace.
Kim, I miss you and love you, girl!! Our stay-at-home days together are still so precious to me, and I am so grateful I had you to share them with!!