Before I was even pregnant with my first child, I knew that I would be a stay-at-home mother.
That decision was one of the many important things that my husband and I agreed on from the start.
My mother stayed home with me when I was a child and I will never find the words to express just how much her sacrifices have meant to me.
I was certain that to be the best mother possible, I had to be at home.
So, I gave up my career and stayed home without hesitation.
And over time, I lost bits and pieces of myself.
I became Katie and Matthew’s mom.
And I couldn’t find Nichole anymore.
I loved being here at home with them, but they became the only thing for me to focus on. Over time, I turned into Smother Mother.
It wasn’t until Katie was nearly 3 and Matthew was 5 months old that I realized that something had to give. I needed something more.
So I began blogging and doing freelance work. While I am still at home and plan to stay here, I have found a way to engage my mind in a way that I wasn’t doing before.
Being in full-mommy mode wasn’t healthy for my kids.
Katie began to flourish in interesting ways once I had some other things on my plate.
She grew more independent and self-assured, no doubt from a break from my constant worrying over her during every waking moment.
Turns out, there might be something to the idea that they grew healthier as I did.
A recent study of nearly 19,000 British children, conducted by Anne McMunn, a senior research fellow in the department of epidemiology and public health at the University College of London, provides some interesting results.
The study concluded that “[g]irls with stay-at-home moms were six times as likely to develop behavior and emotional problems as those with working moms. When the researchers took factors such as maternal depression into account, girls with stay-at-home moms were still twice as likely to have developed behavior and emotional problems as those with working moms.”
When raising my children was the only thing that brought me a sense of accomplishment, I knew that we were in an unhealthy place.
McMunn speculates that “[i]t may be something to do with gender role modeling…[t]here may be something that is very important for girls about seeing their mother participating in society outside the home.”
So, my take from this is that if you plan to return to work and you’ve been feeling guilty about it, don’t.
And if you have decided to be a stay-at-home mom, your children might just benefit from you having other pursuits as well.
Whether we work inside or outside the home, the bottom line is that when we find balance and fulfillment as mothers, we’re bound to influence our children in positive ways.