By Anita Doberman: Columnist
Everyone has a strong opinion on whether a mother should work or stay at home with her children.
Working moms say that it’s not the amount of time spent with their children that matters but the quality of time they have together. Stay-at-home moms say that the only way to raise children is to, well, raise them themselves, which means not working.
No one is willing to negotiate or question her position. The stakes, the well-being of our children, are too high, and on both sides moms believe they are choosing the best option for their families.
I am living the debate. As a mother of five and a military wife with a husband who is often gone, I struggle to dedicate time to my kids and find time for writing.
I don’t feel it’s my place to judge another mom’s decision to work or stay at home.
We all want it all, but have to realize that it’s not possible, and that no matter what we do we are going to miss out on something.
Lately I have struggled with trying to balance my decision to stay home with my writing (I also write magazine articles). My husband, who had only just gotten home from a deployment, is gone again for a few weeks, and I suddenly found myself busier than usual with writing and speaking engagements. It was a clear case of being careful what you wish for —I was offered great opportunities, but ones that required long hours and long drives.
For a few days I thought I could be the exception to the rule and have it all. That was until my 4-year-old told me, “Mommy, you are always on the ‘compute.’ I want you to take care of me.”
A knife would have hurt less than her little outburst. But it was true. I was doing more work, and it took away from my children.
In an attempt to spend more time with the kids, I wrote on my laptop sitting next to them while they were coloring or doing projects on the kitchen table. I thought that being physically next to my children most of the time allowed me to be a full-time mom and full-time writer.
As my daughter reminded me, it’s not possible. Writing is my passion and it will always remain something I treasure. But my children are above any passion and they take precedence. Which isn’t to say working moms are wrong — or that they always even have the luxury of making a choice. It’s simply to say that at some point, push comes to shove.
So I have had to make my choice again. I decided to say no to a few things, limit my time writing and really focus on my kids. When they laugh or smile it all seems worth it.
And, when they grow up I’ll have more time and more things we have done together to write about.