Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Children and Choices

I read this very interesting article about the current trend of women working longer than ever into their pregnancies and returning sooner than ever back to work. The article, and my child development courses said babies need at least their first year with a primary care giver for optimal development. It could be mom, dad, grandparent, etc. but someone who will give the baby as much one on one care as possible.

The problem is that because of the increasing two income lifestyle of most familes, both parents need to work if they want to live as they are accustomed too. Plus, if a woman stays out of the workforce for 1-2 years her earning power can decrase 18%. Plus a woman might enjoy her job, why does she have to give it up? But, Women who work full time don't come home and put their feet up on the couch and read the paper, they come home to a full time job too. Work never ends.

Personally I'm glad my mom was a stay at home mom. No day camps or frantically trying to find a babysitter for school holidays. If I'm sick, no problem, I can stay home without having to rearrange schedules, meetings, appointments. Growing up, I assumed "that's how it was". But... now that I'm older and perhaps some day in the future will have kids myself I really wonder. Yes, being home for your baby is important. But then if you want more than one kid, do you just stay home for years? What about that extra income? What about the career advancement opportunities lost? Are daycares really so bad? How do people who work and have children do it? How do people stay home at allll day do it?


Tee said...

I've often thought about how unfair it is that women have to make these choices. We're so torn for all the reasons you stated.

My Mom was also a stay-at-home-mom. When we got older she had a part time job here and there which were flexible and in town. (These types of jobs are hard to come by these days!)

It's interesting because my Mom had 3 daughters, including myself. All three of us, whether on purpose or not, took different paths. My oldest sister went to college. She got married and has established herself in a career as an elementary school teacher specializing in special needs children. She continues her education during the summer and in the evenings. (I think she has received her Masters, or is close to it.) ... She has no children and is approaching an age where she needs to make a choice soon.

I got married straight out of highschool to the first guy that treated me right. We went for the old fashioned way of life. I wanted to stay home with my baby. By the time "my baby" was at school full time, I wanted a second one - so I'm still a SAHM. For many years I felt sad about what I sacrificed but I've come to a point where I'm VERY happy about my decision to be a SAHM, and very mindful of how lucky I am. I know I can always continue my education later - but honestly the idea of working a traditional 9-5 is horrifying to me.

My little sister went to community college for awhile and didn't like it. She worked full time jobs and finally decided to go to graphic art school. She did that but got pregnant on accident right before she graduated. She did graduate but then had her baby. Soon she went back to work but is living with my parents. My Mom takes care of her son during the day. The father isn't involved. My sister got an excellent full time job and is a single Mom with (Thank God), the support of her family. She wants badly to get married and live a life similar to mine.

So there you have 3 different situations. All 3 of us are thankful for certain things and disappointed about others... Society tells us to "have it all", but sometimes having it all - really isn't worth it and you have to make choices. Very difficult choices.

Excellent topic, Aisha.

Aamina said...

Whatever happend to redoing your page? Its not that red design yet.

Daycares are great! Its good to have that interaction with other kids. I can tell you its brough many kids out of their shy shell.

say what? said...

who says babies need to be cared only for just one year.


Aisha said...

Hey Tee, thanks for sharing. What is your sister who teaches planning to do? Have you guys discussed it yet? Your other sister is very very lucky to hae your parents around.

Aamina, yu're right it does help them beocme less shy but studies show that kids in daycares have a higher rate of aggressive behavior too.

TDH- you mean you have to care for kids after one year?? :) You're right ofcourse, but the first year is the MOST VITAL. The others years are very very important too though. Therefore the conundrum! :)

Tee said...

Aisha - My older sister hadn't planned to have kids, but as the years tick by, I think she feels like if she doesn't, she'll regret it. It's a touchy topic which I try not to broach with her but last year she brought it up on her own and she just seemed downright confused about whether she should or not.

Mansoor said...

I think that's just the nature of the capitalist lifestyle. It's highly competitive and moves at a terrific speed. Employers can give women all the maternity concessions they want, but the fact is, these women are going back to work because, if they don't, the industry moves on and they're not so much pushed out and left behind.

Now that women make up a larger percentage of the American workforce, I think they're facing the same problem that men have faced for years: work or family. In order to climb up that ladder, you have to put in the time, and no one forces you to do it.

This might apply to a situation I just heard regarding professional men's tennis. Apparently, four out of the five top players in the world can't compete in the upcoming Master's tournament because of injuries. I think this might be because of escalation: one guy plays through a sprained ankle, then the other guy feels like he has to play through a sprained ankle. Pretty soon, they both have severe sprained ankles. For example, Agassi said of Nadal, "He plays very hard every single point."

Similarly, the two-income lifestyle has become the standard through escalation: one person has a 740, then the next person wants one. I think the solution is, if you want a baby, calm down, accept the limitations of a one-income lifestyle, and have one parent (mom or dad) stay at home.

ASH said...

This issue touches my family directly. When my wife was pregnant with our son she worked all the way up until the month before she gave birth. This specifically wasn't a problem and I don't think a woman is sacrificing anything by working up until the baby is almost due, unless she has complications.

What was hard was that within just a month or so of having our son she came under a lot of pressure to come back to work. Thus began our journey to find a proper daycare. We settled on one near our home (not too distant from our home). We quickly found that giving individualized attention to the children wasn't going to happen, and if anything it was basically a cattle-car daycare.

In order to get a good daycare that paid attention to our extremely young son we had to pay out a large sum of money for one of the more "elite" places.

In the end my wife got laid off, and she has been at home ever since. She is now living the nightmare of forced unemployment.....because so many years have passed nobody wants to hire her despite her many skills. This is a unique problem that I do not think men face when unemployed.

Thus more money will need to be spent so she can go back to school and start her career all over again at the bottom....a very frustrated feeling if you are in her position.

So I guess I live the article's meaning.......

Jane said...

Five years ago I "gave up" a promising job to stay home with my son. I've been home ever since. My daughter is now one year old and there have been times when I feel I've missed out by making this choice but ultimately I know I did the right thing for my kids.

I've sacrificed years of my career life and many material things. We live on a budget and don't have as much as others. However it is the right path for my family and I don't regret it one bit. We have only one car and we rarely eat out or buy new clothing but such petty "sacrifice" has been more than worth it.

Staying home is not an easy thing to do and not everyone is cut out for it. It is not a life of eating candies and watching tv soap operas. It is more than a full-time job, believe me. And there is no sick time or vacation days. It can be quite lonely. But years down the road I doubt I will wish that I had spent more time "at work" and less with my kids, helping them to grow. As I see it, I didn't have children so that others could raise them. I wanted to be a mother with all that entailed, the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult. It's been wonderful.

Huda said...

This is a very interesting subject, just from the perspective of what would [I] do if it were [me]?

Personally, I'm very divided because on the one hand, I didn't work this hard to get where I am just to give it all up one day, and especially to have to do that without any choice in the matter. What's wrong with a house-husband? ;)

On the other hand, I feel like I shouldn't have kids if I'm not willing to give them the time and attention they deserve, and as far as what I would do all day goes... it's not like being a full-time mom is easy. Also, good daycares are so expensive that sometimes it costs as much as the second parent makes just to afford a place that will treat your kids right.

I guess it's a decision the couple makes for themselves, and what works for one couple might not work for another.

Anonymous said...

today i read sura atakasar and i
think it pretty much is related to this problem. it says people r runnung after more and more meterial goods .it can b a source of so much restlessness.
staying at home with children?
it is hard after u have worked and have set standard of lving.but again what is more important.

Anonymous said...

Aisha asked, "Are daycares really so bad?"
Here's an anti-daycare website that seems to think so...

mezba said...

The solution is grandparents. If

a) grandparents live in same city
b) grandparents are willing to take care of the kids
c) grandparents are physically capable of doing so,

then the mother can go back to work as soon as she needs and the children will be taken care of properly. Many of even my white friends have this arrangement. This is particularly true of desi families, where the son sometimes have to financially take care of his own family as well as parents. In this case it makes sense for the wife to work and the grandparents to help out. This is common back home as well.

Aisha said...

Jane: "years down the road I doubt I will wish that I had spent more time "at work" and less with my kids, helping them to grow. As I see it, I didn't have children so that others could raise them." That's pretty powerful. I remember when I worked in an aftercare program there was one girl who'd been going to sch things since 6 weeks old. I always thought, "what's the point if you never see your child?" Still it's a tough decision.

Huda, yes I agree, its not like a mom's job is easy. By no means!! I just wonder how do you stimulate yourself intellectually going from being around adults doing "adult" things to being around a one year old all day... and you're right a good day care is so expensive it makes you wonder if its even worth it to send your child there.... oh- and there's nothing wrong with house husbands! :)

Ash: I remember your wife telling me about that. I guess you really have lived this article. It must be utterly infuriating to have to start from ground up when she's clearly more qualified.

Mansoor, you're right no one forces you to do it. Maybe that's why its a harder decision to make because your choice will haunt you. Again, I might have said it before it not just money. I quit my job now to go to school and I'm fine. It's more than the money. It's about the whole lifestyle you give up of being part of the workforce, and having that intellectual stimulation.

Ami: thanks for commenting:) You're right. You always are:)

Anon, thanks for dropping by and thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Aisha said...

Mezba, yeah grandparents if they live in the same aera and they themselves dont work can be very helpful for that. That makes life much easier and who can you trust more than your own parents who raised you? Good point. If possible, best alternative.

momyblogR said...

Great questions. I went to work on Wednesday and gave birth on Thursday BUT I never returned to work.

I always just wanted to be a stay at home Mom, raising my kids and being a wife. Not so interesting I know but I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.

I have no earning power but I do have Mommy power and for me that is all I need.

All the sacrifices we've made thus far have been more than worth it.

ASH said...

I do think you sacrifice some social and intellectual interaction. As a result of my working I engage in debate, discussion, and adult-only interfacing. My wife has complained that since she does not get this at the same level as she used to she has become "rusty" when debating the issues of the day with me.

I would like to think that by debating them with me I help keep her sharp....but she is right, ultimately there is no substitute for engaging with other adults outside your family and getting a variety of angles on issues.

say what? said...

I didn't mean to care for ANY KID, I mean to care for THE KID!!! :(


Anisa said...

yeah...this is a toughie! i know when i decide to have kids, it'll be so hard to be out of the workforce. i know i plan on going back to work, but it sucks that we have to just stop working for years and so much of our hard work is lost...

i don't know the answer! but i know that i'll put my kids first...so i better wait a while, because i'm too career-oriented right now!

mystic-soul said...

I don't think, there is any right or wrong answer. Its very personal for each individual. I believe it depends on basically 3 things 1) How much career inspiration you have. 2) How much financial and other support (grandparents etc) you hve 3) How well your husband willing to go with your decision.

In other words its all mix of ideal emotional world and practical realities and how fine you can tune all this !!

Aisha said...

Momyblgr: I was curious for your opinion as I know your children are the center of your blogging topics, what you thought atbout it all. Thanks for sharing:)

Ash, i guess the mommy tuesday playdates might help right? At least its some sort of outlet.

Anisa, I hear you. I'm not career oriented yet because I'm still in school. It's quite a dilemma as your biological clock does not wait on when "you're" ready though : (

Mystic, you're right its a personal choice and a balancing of many factors. The key to realize is the decision may never be an easy one either way.

TDH: LOOL sorry sorry little one.

momyblogR said...

I hope the fact that my kids are usually the center of my blogging topics isn't boring.

I know there is an entire world out there and I'm not in it. However, I love them being the center of mine. :):)

Have a fabulous day!

wayfarer said...

I love that i'm able to be a stay at home mom. I never thought i'd love it so much. I'm also lucky that i can do what i do from home (write). It's definately a full time job to take care of a child properly.

say what? said...

its alright now.
just had a diaper change :)

momyblogR said...

You were so kind to clarify but it wasn't necessary, really. I did NOT at ALL hear anything negative in your tone.

I actually felt a bit honored that someone of your educational status was interested in what I thought on the matter, lol!

It is interesting though to see what the view is of others on this subject. You always provide great food for thought. I do think about it when I'm not trying to figure out how I'm going to get one to dance practice and the other to basketball practice, at the SAME time. ugh!

Thanks again!

FunkyB said...

I stayed at home with my two for as long as I could. When my youngest entered kindergarten, I took a job working for the school they both attended.

Now they're in middle school, and I'm six credits away from my AA. I'll be 40 before I start my career.

I'll be 50 before I'll know if staying at home with them pays off.

Aamina said...

I keep trying to update, but its not working! Ah! It was a good update too...

Hasan the Not-So-Great said...

Since my brothers and I are old enough to stay at home alone (my youngest brother is 13), my mother has a job as a hospital translator. Her working was the main cause of us getting to go to unrah last last summer.

Baji said...

Great topic. Something I am currently spending a lot of time thinking about. I too have worked so hard with school and my career. But, having happy, healthy children is so much more important.

Aisha said...

Robin, how do you feel abotu the sacrifice you made? I know it'll take a few years to see if it was worth it but what about right now? What do you feel, do you think it'd have been the same either way?

Hasan- that's awesome that your mom went back to work after you guys were older. My mom did the same thing.

Baji- It's SO TRUE. It's a very big dilemma that only people in our unique situation can understand. It's hard to give up what you worked so hard for. It's also kind of not fair. But then again, having kids is not a mandatory thing so if you choose to do it, you should give them everything you can, and the most important thing they need is your attention and time.

Anonymous said...

Being a stay at home mom is a really hard thing to do. It is extremely isolating at times, but it's also one of the best things you can do. You may sacrifice some material things, but in the end your kid(s) will be grateful that you did it.

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