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To Work or Not to Work

I have been a stay at home mom for 17 years now but lately I have been conflicted about it.  I wonder if it’s about time to start working to save for my children’s college tuition or my personal savings.

I don’t want to be a career mom.   I know it’s an unpopular decision, but I just don’t. I’ve always believed it was enough to just be a good wife and mother.   There’s an idea that stay at home moms should be contributing a paycheck of some kind to the family budget or they’re a burden to the family.   But every time I seriously consider working outside of the home, something happens to make me withdraw the notion.  It could be a child with chicken pox, the realization that I want to be the one bringing my grandparents to their appointments, or (as is most often the case) a weeks worth of migraines that don’t respond to medicine.

So I can look for creative, flexible ways to supplement the income from my home.  Ah, the craft industry!  Anytime you can do something well, there’s this push to do it for money.  Even when you don’t need the money.   (Don’t get me started on the topic of self employment for self fulfillment.)

When I make a pretty sweater, I hear, “You could sell these!” When I take a good photograph, I hear, “You should start a business!”  I appreciate the vote of confidence, really I do, but is there really a happy ending down that road for me, especially in our increasingly marketed society?  I mean, how many photography businesses have opened up in your area in the last 5 years?  I can’t count them where I live.  Everyone is making jewelry or selling art.  And though I think it’s great that people are exploring their artistic side and business potential, I can’t help but feel like the pressure to succeed, the competition, self promotion, and borrowing of ideas in these businesses could easily sap the creative love out of the muse.

I like to express myself, just to express myself.  Is that too arcane?

Really, it seems that small business proprietorship replaced owning a two car garage, brick home in the hierarchy of American Status?  Does it matter that the garage is filled with unsold product (Mary Kay or hand poured candles ring a bell?) or that the very family the business is meant to help is going in too many directions to stay connected or really look at one another?

I am not dogging anyone’s career choice or selling your own work- I am considering it.  I have sold things I made for  specific goals, like Christmas money, and will again to fund a mission trip.  However, I don’t want to squeeze something I so enjoy to death , just to squeeze a dime out of it.   I don’t want to make things I love for “real” money unless I can do it my way, have start up costs so low that I can walk away from a boring project without guilt, and don’t have to sell myself.  I’d rather work at Wal Mart than spend my time convincing someone to love my arts and crafts.  (And this sort of job may, indeed, be the choice I make to save for a few years.)   Most likely, the luxury of such choosiness will net fewer sales.  Etsy is full of talented people doing this.  I love looking at their work, but I’m sure most have “day jobs.”  That would be my dilemma.

Anyway, it’s a subject of prayer lately.  I want to do the right thing for the right reason, keeping in mind that it IS enough to just be good.  To be a good mother, daughter, wife, and friend.

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  1. Well, here's my 2¢. My kids are grown and flown the coop, but when they were little (in the 80s) I decided we needed a 2nd income. Big mistake! No time for anything, dirty house, too tired to enjoy my husband or children. Two years later I was divorced and now forced to work full time.

    What about something part time? Would 2 days a week help? Three? You could try full time and test it out. Just make sure you are not too tired to enjoy your family.

    Praying about it will give you the answer. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Gail. I think it would have to be part time with my family responsibilities. It's not an emergency situation or anything, I'm just concerned about the upcoming college years and thinking out loud. But, I agree that God knows the right choice for us.

  3. You know, Ninotchka, I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I think if I am willing to do the right thing, no matter what it is, God will let me know when or if it's time for me to work and it'll feel right. My own mother was a stay at home mom who planned to go back to school for a different degree (teaching special ed.) and working once we were grown. However, she died at the age of 41, when I was 12 years old, and I have often thought about the rich childhood i had with her at home. She was available for us, for her parents and grandparents and volunteered in our community.
    When I had my daughter,I knew exactly how I wanted my home to be because I have the best memories of those years at home with her. Had she worked, I would still have them, but maybe not as many.

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