Friday, February 3, 2012

A Greater Risk

Tonight I read this article that reported that stay-at-home mothers are at a greater risk for depression than working mothers. It went on to report that:

  • Part-time working moms and full-time working moms reported better health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms.
  • Part-time working moms were as involved in their child’s school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than full-time working moms.
  • Part-time working moms provided their toddlers with more learning opportunities than both stay-at-home moms and full-time working moms.

I understand why a parent stays home; I think it's preferable for one of the parents to be able to stay home and care for the child. Milestones are not missed; you know your child better; you can care for your child better and give your child more individual attention.

Sometimes that decision is made for you: Unless they're independently weathly or have an unusual level of financial support, single parents generally need to work; if one parent is unemployed, the other will need to work, regardless of whether the working parent is the mother or the father; if the income of the second parent (again, regardless of whether that be the mother or the father) is significantly low and would not easily cover the cost of daycare and have some income left over, one could question whether it might not be reasonable for that parent to stay home.

I think about these things in terms of what would happen if Ed and I are so lucky to have a child (hopefully two). I dont know that I have it in me to stay home with my child all day while Ed goes off to work. And it would be Ed going off to work, since he has a full-time job, complete with much needed benefits like health insurance, while I've been struggling to find work since I graduated from college in 2007.

One of the reasons I like the idea of teaching, though, is that the schedule would be similiar to that of our child's; looking for daycare or other activities in the summer would be difficult and expensive. Subbing and/or adjuncting would give me a flexible schedule; the kids may have to be in daycare anyway for part of the day, but I could arrange my schedule so that the kids aren't in daycare for most of the day.

I have a different attitude about this because I'm older. Had I gone to college and graduated when I was 22, had I had children 10 years ago, I might feel differently about establishing (or reestablishing) a career at 35, instead of just starting my career at 35. I identify myself with my work. I'm not sure that for me it would be enough just to be someone's mom; I need something else in my life. It doesn't necessarily have to be a full-time thing, but I would need a few hours a day outside the home. (I would not be happy as a housewife.)

Possibly I'll feel differently if we're lucky enough to have children, but eventually, if we do have children, those children will grow up and I'll need to reenter the work force, so keeping my toe in the water can do nothing but help.

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