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working or not working as a parent?

February 6th, 2016 at 09:33 am

My mom still hates the fact that I don't work. She keeps saying that I'll understand the plight of working parents when I go back to work. That caring for children is easy because a working parent comes home and cares for their child. When I point out I do exactly what a working parent does when they come home she said we'll they are tired from working all day. I point out that I'm basically an unpaid childcare provider/nanny. When I say "does that mean daycare providers/nannies/sitters are not working?" She has absolutely no response. She says they are but they are. So I say I'm just not paying someone else I'm paying myself to watch my kids. But that child care providers of children of any age are still working, perhaps not "high" paying jobs but they are working. And without them how would any parent go off to their job if they weren't paying someone else? She has no response except I have to go get a job and learn how hard it is to work then come home to parent. But she can't admit that child care providers aren't working though she says "you are working LAL."

She keeps saying "you don't understand what's it's like to "have" to work". I point out that I have met many SAHM/D who stay at home because they don't make enough to pay for childcare. They can't earn enough. Her response "they don't have good jobs". I point out to her there are many careers that don't pay well that people do because they like them and the world wouldn't run without them.

Probably the top "career" for women I've meet staying at home who went to college and liked their job? Teacher. Seriously teachers are very much underpaid and often by kid 2 can't afford daycare over the teaching salary. They liked teaching. I have to say most teachers must because it seems like a thankless job with parents expecting so much, schools expecting so much and such little pay. So they take a break, have kids, then go back.

But my mom till today, she never paid a penny of daycare, so she has no clue what it would feel like to try to make ends meet and not have entire paycheck. Or to calculate how much she really made after taxes and daycare. Or work overtime without free childcare. Don't get me wrong we weren't rich and certainly couldn't have made it without free childcare.

My grandmother didn't really work outside the home, except for a few years at a newpaper printing press after all her kids went to college. But then grandchildren came and instead of minimal salary she watched grandchildren for free so her kids could all work and keep their salaries. There were 3 of us born in 2 years May 1977 to May 1979. So 3 kids under 2 is a lot of work. She did it all. I don't think my mom fully understands what it must have been like. Looking back I have no idea how she did it to be honest. Don't get me wrong my mom paid back her parents as did her siblings, provided cars, housing, etc. But to have free childcare is something that can't be measured.

My point to my mom however has always been, that people who both work obviously they make enough to pay for minimally childcare, and usually have some extra to make it worthwhile to work. They might be able to pay for the dry cleaning, eating out, newer car, more vacations, etc. They have more money in lieu of one parent not working. Otherwise why are they working? If they can't make enough to cover childcare then they are working and going into debt to pay someone else to watch their child? Usually when I meet someone who is working for less than childcare it's because they need health insurance, but their partner makes enough to cover everything but health insurance.

I don't know if I can ever get my mom to understand this. Every word out of her mouth is "well if you work you could afford a lot more. You could buy a bigger house, new car, etc). My response was nope not going to buy more house than we can afford on 1 income. Not going to buy a car we couldn't buy on one income. She keeps saying you can take more risk. True. But the other truth is that no matter what I make my DH and I made a pledge we didn't want to be dependent on two incomes before we had kids back in 2005. We bought our house back then on his income alone and I don't think it was a bad choice. It made for tougher decisions but at the same time when we did go to one income it was without a change in lifestyle.

Perhaps instead of calling myself a stay at home mom I should title myself "private nanny." I'm not sure what I'd make where we live now, but where we used to live? I'd have made at least $50k/year plus gas and car use to watch 2 kids plus all expenses reimbursed. I'd also only work 40 hours and more would constitute either more vacation or more money since many friends ended up paying more because they had to pay for commuting time hourly on time of working time.

Or in home childcare provider? I wonder if it would legitimize my "job" caring for kids if I started to watch other kids? I think this is a sore spot for me because I'm trying to figure out how to get back into the workforce but at the same time I know what I don't want.

11 Responses to “working or not working as a parent?”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Your mom needs to lay off. Why do you need to know how hard it is for others? What do you gain from that? Is she jealous that you can stay home and she didn't/couldn't? You are making your own choices!!!

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    I wish I knew what my MIL's problem is with my spouse not working, but I know better than to ask. Big Grin She has nothing nice to say about my SIL's 2-income household (they both have high power jobs and MIL does all of their daycare). MIL has nothing nice to say about my dh not working. She is one of those people that you will never win with. I find it hard to believe she really would have thought it would be better if dh was working full-time with a newborn. I only recently learned that she stayed home with her kids 10 years, and I was astonished. All I ever heard was, "poor me, I always had to work." Which apparently was a crock of BS.

    Anyway, I am grateful for my parents. My mom could never get the math to work on working and my parents have done extraordinarily well financially. Since our life choices mirror theirs, and they aren't psycho, they have always been supportive. & I have always had a clear example of how to thrive financially in our situation.

    On a local moms group forum we did an anonymous income poll once. There were two very vocal poor stay-home moms who could not afford to work. My income was third lowest and I was the only one in that income range, and I knew who all the poor people were. So it was clear to me who the bottom three were. It was so interesting because while staying home is viewed as such a luxury it is often more of a poor/"lack of options" choice. So basically all of the single income households had the highest or the lowest incomes. Nothing in between. (In the end I would say we were "in between". But we had built up a lot of wealth before having kids, and had no non-mortgage debt so really didn't need a lot of income to live very comfortably. We have always been the one-off or the weirdos. But... We did fit in with the lower income bunch in that my husband's income was not high enough to be able to keep any of it after all the costs of working. He had a $50k salary, so not exactly small beans, but it would have been entirely eaten up by working and daycare costs, and taxes. If he made $75k+ this may have been an entirely different financial analysis).

    Unfortunately, is just one of those things people get really opinionated about. You bring up many interesting topics today.

  3. Joe Says:

    Your Mom should be proud of you for choosing to take care of your kids rather than have them in day care. My wife sacraficed her career when our children were born and went back to work part-time when they were both in school. She works 2 days a week at the school so she has the same schedule they do.

  4. laura Says:


    Don't feel bad about the choices that you make that are right for you and your family. Some people will never understand.

  5. PatientSaver Says:

    Sheesh...she does sound a bit jealous and/or resentful..what's it to her? It's your life and your choice, and I would think she would recognize how much better off your children are having you there for them. I mean, really.

  6. littlegopher Says:

    I stayed home with my girls for 11 years because after losing my first three to miscarriage, I wanted to be with them. We never have and never will be high earners, but we're simple people and meet all of our needs and most of our wants. We've got our youngest attending her first year of college, and her three older sisters are all post-secondary educated. Follow what is right for you and your family!

  7. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Interesting post and responses. Does your mom understand the tremendous contribution your grandmother made, giving up her own income, and taking care of three children under 2 years? That's a lot of diaper changing just to start with! And the picking up and putting down, the keeping safe, the napping, feeding, dressing, hair combing, talking, reading, washing up, laundering, dishes, teaching, settling toddler squabbles, on and on. That was a huge thing for your family....Will your mom have opportunity to take care of your children and get a sample of what it is like? And yeah, of course it is hard for a working parent, but it would be silly to go to work for the purpose of finding out that it is hard to be a working parent. Is your mom really just wanting validation at this late date for the way she handled having a family?

  8. livingalmostlarge Says:

    CCF my mom couldn't have ever have stayed at home. Too driven and ambitious.

    MM so many people who are both working with kids rarely do the calculation of what it really costs to work. That making more than paying for daycare can be a very costly endeavor. For us it would have been financially more sensible for me to work through one kid and probably even two. I likely would have made more for sure with one and probably two.

    Joe, I did chose to not work and wasn't forced by finances.

    Laura i think it's just hard for her to understand my desire to not climb the corporate ladder and be satisfied with less. She keeps pushing climbing the ladder when I go back.

    PS I don't know that she necessarily thinks that my kids are better off. I could have paid for more things and given more opportunities.

    LG congratulations on kids all out of the house and set sailing.

    Joan I know my mom doesn't understand the sacrifice my grandmother made for years of caring for children. I don't think she understand how hard she worked or how much she leaned on both her parents for childcare and support. It's not easy to be a single parent and make enough without going above and beyond. Daycares aren't open for breakfast and dinner and baths usually. LOL. Or on call. Mind you some of it was mutually beneficial with my great grandmother coming to live in our spare bedroom on weekends especially since we lived in "town" and had indoor plumbing.

  9. Petunia in a Flower Garden Says:

    Sounds like you need to stop discussing this with your mom. Seriously. It is your life and you are doing well (and not asking her for help). You are unlikely to convince her. And there is probably a lot she doesn't really remember.

    My mom & sis fell into similar conversations over Christmas. Sis is an empty nester and both she and her husband work full time. Mom got on sis because she doesn't cook dinner for her husband when he gets home - "like I did". Sis does laundry and cleaning, BIL cooks and does yardwork. It works for them. Mom worked full time until I was in high school. She had a cleaning lady, the teen baby sitter & then later myself or my other sister would make dinner. And our family went to the hamburger place every Friday night for years. Mom didn't cook dinner either! but somehow that is how she remembers it.

  10. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Petunia what happened after high school? Did your mom still work full time?

  11. Petunia in a Flower Garden Says:

    My mom stopped working my sophomore year in high school. My dad's income took a huge jump not long after that. She never went back to paid employment. Perhaps she did do more cooking after she stopped working - but I know they also went out a lot. She eats out a lot now. Her refrigerator reminds me of being young, single and working at a restaurant - there isn't much in there.

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