Being a stay-at-home mom (or dad) can feel isolating. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone. The e-book Choosing Home: 20 Mothers Celebrate Staying Home, Raising Children, and Changing the World is a collection of thoughtful essays that will resonate with anyone who has chosen to opt out of the traditional workforce. Choosing Home, published in May and edited by Rachel Chaney and Kerry McDonald, is available for purchase on Amazon for your Kindle.
The book’s introduction, written by Chaney, explains how American families and the workforce have changed in the last few generations. When more Americans lived on farms, the home was a center of production and most mothers didn’t have to choose between family and work. Women worked and they stayed at home, milking cows, sewing or weaving, making butter, raising chickens, and more. When the Industrial Revolution came and more people moved to cities, factories became centers of production and families shifted to buying more manufactured or processed goods from stores instead of making things at home. People began to view working outside the home as the way in which to earn an income.
Our society changed even more with the feminist movement. Women can now work at jobs previously held only by men, and women have more opportunities than ever. Now, many women’s rights advocates focus on equal representation in the workplace, emphasizing that women and men should earn the same wages for the same jobs. Chaney says these gains have “come at a cost,” and work done at home for no paycheck is not valued as it should be.
“Insisting both women and men must work in equally high-paying and prestigious jobs to attain gender equality explicitly assumes that high paying jobs reflect the pinnacle of success and importance. We disagree. When mothers (and increasingly fathers) stay home – whether they earn a paycheck never, now, or in the future – they change the world for the better by raising and prioritizing children, cultivating family and community, and investing in the future.”
Choosing Home is a celebration of women who have decided to opt out of what society says is the path to success. These women are a diverse group. Some started as working mothers and at some point decided to stay home. Some always knew they wanted to stay at home. Some have large families and some have small families. Some are home schooling or unschooling moms. Others send their children to school. Some can easily afford to stay home, and for others it requires sacrifice.
What they have in common is their conviction that their family and relationships benefit because they stay home, and they believe there is more to life than earning money and climbing corporate ladders. One mother states she is “not interested in joining that rat race to nowhere.” Another mom didn’t understand why some people felt sad about putting babies in daycare until she became a mother faced with the prospect of dropping her own child off at a center.
These moms also are open about the struggles that come with staying home. They face critics who think they’re wasting their education and talents. They sometimes lose their tempers with their kids. They wish they could provide their kids with some of the opportunities children from two-income homes have. One mom writes about how difficult it was to feel comfortable relying on her husband for financial support and not contributing her own income to the family.
This book does not seek to criticize parents who do choose to work outside the home. It simply chronicles each family’s journey. People these days frequently recite the mantra, “Do what works for your family.” For these moms, making the daily commute and clocking in doesn’t work for them. But staying home does.
As one mom said, “Sometimes we just need permission to follow our instincts.”
If you’re a stay-at-home parent in need of encouragement, or if you’re considering staying at home, this book is worth a read.
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