Thursday, June 23, 2011

Staying Home

In a little more than a month, my life is going to change in mondo huge ways. I will be having a baby (huge!), quitting my job (huge!), and sending my husband off to Iraq (huge!). All at nearly the exact same time.

First, a disclaimer: The opinions, choices, and viewpoints expressed in this post are by no means to discredit, demean, or belittle any woman's choice to be a career mom or to be a stay at home mom. These are only my personal views and what I have chosen for my life and do not by default project judgments on those that do things differently than me.

When I was in college, I struggled with the counsel that mothers should stay at home, when possible, to raise children instead of pursuing careers and that it was the husband's responsibility to provide for the temporal needs of the family. I saw this as women getting robbed the opportunity to create very successful careers and that any talents and abilities with which she was blessed would be completely pointless. Regardless of how talented or skilled a woman may be, the only place she can utilize those talents is in the home? That seems completely unfair and unsatisfying. 

Also while in college, I read and wrote a critique on The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. [Highly recommended reading, by the way, especially as an LDS woman]. In The Feminine Mystique, Friedan conducts a study on why middle-class housewives were unhappy with their lives [this is going to be a very short, choppy summary]. She concluded that women should engage in education and meaningful work as the ultimate method to avoid becoming trapped in the feminine mystique. The "feminine mystique" being defined as "the idea that women were naturally fulfilled by devoting their lives to being housewives and mothers", which she claimed, is the trap women were falling into and causing their unhappiness.

I didn't agree with her conclusion regarding why these women felt so unhappy in their roles as mothers and housewives. Instead I concluded that Friedan and these women lacked full understanding of their divine role as women. That is clearly evident merely by her conclusion that "meaningful work" can only be found outside of the home or in a career, instead of as a housewife. After I read this book, my viewpoint began to change. It reminded me that the family structure is not as simple as mom stays at home and dad goes to work. Women are blessed with, among many other things, the opportunity to spiritually enrich the precious spirits that Heavenly Father has entrusted in our care. When we understand the entire plan of life, the roles we play, and our responsibilities as men and women, it's tragic to think that anyone could call being a housewife meaningless work.

Part of my college mentality is still there. I sometimes wonder, "Will I be able to reach my greatest potential being a stay at home mom?" The better question I need to ask is "HOW do I reach my greatest potential?" Whether I am working or staying at home, have kids or don't have kids, it is always my own responsibility to magnify my talents and abilities and work to progress to my greatest potential.

For the past five years, I've had the opportunity to live a career life.  I've worked as a full-time paralegal. I graduated from college. I completed a secondary degree. I obtained state and national certifications in my field. I'm good at my job. I did this whole career thing pretty thoroughly. I did what Friedan said I should do to make sure I'm happy. I furthered my education and pursued a career. But my feeling of being unfulfilled is still there. Having had the blessing of working, I've learned that I will never be able to reach my greatest potential sitting behind a desk.

Growing up, I assumed that when the time came, I'd be a stay at home mom. When Jericho and I were talking about getting married and our views and expectations of what our married life would be like, we both agreed that we'd do whatever possible to make sure I'd be able to stay at home to raise our children. Now that the time to make that decision in real life is staring me in the face, it's a lot tougher than I expected it to be. I have a great job. I love the people I work with. I have a great boss. I have financial security. I know it's the right thing to do, but at times, it still scares me a little. Will I get bored? Will I be able to transition into this entirely different lifestyle? Will I completely face-plant at this whole mom thing?

My boss and I have had numerous conversations about my decision to leave. She was very surprised at my choice. She said she saw me as an academic type and that I wouldn't be happy staying at home to raise children. She thinks I'll get bored. She says that I have the type of mind that needs to constantly learn and grow. She also said, "If this is what you're going to do, then you need to write. Promise me, that you'll pursue your writing." I don't know yet how I'll fulfill that promise, but I intend to keep it, eventually.

The best thing she's said to me on this matter was, "As important as the work is that we do, nothing you do in this job will ever be as important as life." Whenever I waver or get worried about my decision, I remember that comment. I know plenty of women that can balance careers with raising wonderful families. But I know myself. And I know that I would go absolutely ape-crazy trying to make that work. And I'm totally fine swapping my heels for flip flops. I am tremendously blessed to even have this option. I'm grateful that I have a husband that understands and supports this choice. And whenever I get worried and ask him, "Do you think I can do this?" He never hesitates: "Of course. I've never even considered that you wouldn't."


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Kelley! Very inspiring! I think you will rock the whole SAH mom thing! :)

  2. This is a great, really great, post. You've definitely echoed my feelings.
    And no face-planting for you. I'm positive of that.

  3. I went through the same thing when I had Charlie. I had taught for forever and thought I couldn't be "me" if I stayed home. When Charlie was about 5 months old, I went back part-time for about 6 months, and then as of January have been staying home full-time. It's been the biggest blessing ever!! It does take some getting used to, but if you find fun things to do and stay motivated, it will be the most rewarding thing you've ever done!! Good luck with everything!!~

  4. Wow, you really should pursue writing! I'm so excited for you. Being a mom is wonderful and your children will be especially blessed to have a mom that is so educated and can teach them so much. I don't think you will have to worry about getting bored. You are such a creative person. Good luck to you in this upcoming month!

  5. Kelley, I completely broke down somewhere in the middle of my pregnancy and wondered the same things, and so I decided that if I was going to be at home with a baby, I absolutely needed to network in the meantime and find a community that was going to support me in my new role. I joined a local (non-LDS) meet-up group, went to La Leche League meetings, and generally reached out for the baby-friendly groups in the area. Then, of course, after all of my planning, I got a call shortly after Gigi was born asking me if I'd like a job. My happy solution: half time! I love the arrangement, and sometimes I'm sick of working and sometimes I'm sick of mom-ing, but the combination is my happy place. We're bloom where you're planted type of ladies though, so I think that whatever situation our life calls for, we will be happy and productive. I have no doubt that you will have bored moments, and you will also have moments when you think that there is no better place to be than where you are. Life will allow you to adjust to find exactly where you feel fulfilled and able to be your very best divine self. Keep us posted! xoxo

  6. I have very close friends who are both sides of the stay-at-home spectrum: those who thrive there and love it...and those who do it because they want to and feel it is important but struggle because it doesn't seem to natural to them. I work, but if I didn't, I would guess I would fall in the latter group.

    The funny thing is, I think women towards the latter end of the spectrum tend to be better moms. I think they develop more enriching activities with their children, create meaningful experiences, are more involved in their learning and growth. I have seen the struggle of my best friend who feels being a stay at home mom is a big challenge for her. I know it's hard for her, but she is one of the best moms I know because she takes her passion for achievement, organization, knowledge, etc. and applies it to motherhood. You're in good shape for being and amazing mom, Kelly. Good luck with all the enormous changes.


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