out to work

I had an interesting conversation at the weekend with another stay-at-home mother.  We talked about the frustrations and loneliness of the role.  She comes from a country where childcare is very cheap and the cost of living in other ways very high.  So for most professional women it is much more ‘sensible’ to employ a nanny and go back to work (they also do not have anything like our generous maternity leave legislation).  In that situation, choosing to stay at home is so much harder and lonelier.

It makes me suddenly aware of what a privileged position I am in.  I am so grateful for the opportunities to meet other mothers for play dates and coffee and walks.  This has always been part of my experience of being a parent and I have probably taken it for granted.

I also think of what is lost to a community if all the mothers are engaged in ‘productive’ work.  Our local toddlers group would struggle if it relied wholly on new mothers on short maternity leaves to run it.  And our playgroup requires parents to take turns on duty – impossible or very difficult where both parents work full time.  I can think of numerous other activities that I would be unable to do if I was working full time.

I am not criticising mothers who work: I hugely admire what they achieve.  I hope to do paid work again one day.  But I do know its not just our family that benefits by me staying at home:  the community does as well.  There’s a wealth of social capital to be found in women who do not go out to do a paid job.

So here’s to mothers who have stayed at home with their kids – to my own mum, to Sarah, to Kate, Jo, Ruth; to Jill, Karen Jenny, Sally and Alex; to Kathryn, Julie and Stef; to Wilma, to Glynis, to Enid and Gladys – precious women all,  I’m thinking of you today.

Published by


I started blogging after the birth of my first child. Since I stopped working, I realise I am defined far more by my relationships than by what I do. So, I am: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.

3 thoughts on “out to work”

  1. That’s a beautiful picture.
    My mother (28) was expected to give up her career as a midwife when she got married. I got the impression she had no choice. That must have been really difficult.
    I think her mother had to work cleaning houses during the depression to help feed her 5 children and then one of her grandmother Maria Cairns I seem to remember sold baking to the factory workers – would have to check my notes on that one.
    Thanks to the loyal men who supported us to stay at home. Anne had a book with markings and notes by my father and one of the passages that struck me was that he thought it important for kids to stay in one place and have a garden. I learned so much by staying home with my children. Looking back it is such a short but transformative time in the scheme of a lifetime. With love.

  2. Thanks, Wilma – and yes, thank you to all the men who do go out to work so that we have an opportunity to stay at home.

  3. Hi Amy – great post, thank you. I like what you said about the wealth of social capital there is to be found in women who don’t go out to work in paid jobs – very interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *