03 July 2011

social commentary Sunday . . . 'did you ever discuss who was going to raise your children??'

Greetings all,
Ever since a new fabulous mother at school gave my lifestyle the label "invested in husband's career" I have been thinking . . . we never really had the conversation about who was going to raise our children.  I had our first baby straight out of Uni, just after our 2nd wedding anniversary.  Handsome soldier went off to war & i was left home holding the baby, like it was 1915.  I had new degrees & a new baby in a new city, so i found an ace job & an even acer Nanny.  I just said to my husband "i'm a full time oil barroness, the Nanny is a retired Paediatric Nurse, i'm expressing milk, brilliant".  Yes, i had to speak fast & to the point, we got one short phone call every 2 weeks. 
When i officially retired from the real world, the next day i had twins.  I was a 26y.o. mother of 3 little girls, doing fist pumps in the air as i really only ever wanted to be a stay at home mummy.  Who knew??  Not me until it happened.  I know our life is different - my husband's job is in 4-5 year blocks, he can't just leave; it comes with reduced rent housing so we've never had to worry about our own mortgage; he has been deployed to war 5 times in 12 years + we move interstate every couple of years.  It was a no brainer i would be the full time/ at home/ dedicated parent/ constant/ primary care giver, we had 4 babies in 4.5 years.  Also from the experience of our nieces & nephews - i knew the real deal of parenting was high school & NOT just the baby stage, thus never planning to go back to work in the real world when all the children were in school (3 years ago).       
 Image of our children "raising themselves".
So i wonder, for normal families, who don't constantly move, have helpful extended family near by, can easily change jobs & actually want to use their university education . . . did you ever discuss or plan who was going to stay home to raise your children??  Has the plan changed, evolved, backflipped??  I have said this before - i have the right personality & patience to be at home with a bunch of children.  I love my own company & sewing, baking & gardening, doing craft & making play dough was perfection to me.  No cabin fever here & i was completely satisfied with happy babies = career greatness.  Our children were very easy, they could raise themselves. 
I'm driven & determined, but don't need a job title/ status to prove it.  Watching Beyonce's Girls Rule the World video this morning, my son said "girls rule the world, there is one in every family, they are the boss".  See, job satisfaction, i'm raising a boy who knows his career ceiling is under the strongest, most capable woman.
Watching Marley & Me last night (half watching, i was hand sewing) I heard Jennifer Aniston's character say "i've given up so much of who i am" & other lines about the huge sacrifice she made to be at home with her children.  Look, whatever, she's not raising my children, each to their own attitude.  I do wonder if i don't feel like this 'massive sacrifice' as i had my children young, before a career could be established or we didn't actually set out in our lives with a plan: baby 1 in 1999, work 2 years, baby 2 in 2001, work 2 years . . . as the story went "twins in 2001 & retirement".  We also had no idea where the Army would take us - how many wars + we're in our 6th house, 9th school & 3rd city.  It was a very different world when we married in 1997, we were young & while not entirely clueless, we are flexible & open to what may be.  Also in Jennifer Aniston's character's defence, she did say "this is so much better than the plan" kicking a ball around in the garden. 
 Still facinates me - how lifestyles are made up.  I can see that yes, i've invested in my husband's career but not in the having-his-commanding-officer-over-for-dinner-parties kind of way, hoping for promotion.  I still feel like a complete member of society, until i listen to the news & it's all about child care places/ rebates & getting women back in the workforce - who is waving the flag for those of us who are housewives/ stay at home mummies & absolutely loving it??  We are all doing what is best for our family.  Love Posie
PS sorry about lack of visits in blogland, i'm on 1915 internet speed & have a migraine, icky!!  Don't feel too sorry for me, my husband is home in 5 days, for 2 weeks, yahoo!!


Leah said...

I've been considering this myself lately. I'd been teaching for eight years when I stopped for maternity leave. We moved, so I didn't have a job to move right back into. Now I'm considering a regular job again and am torn - a few hours a day, so I'm available after school hours would great. But then in ten or so years, the kids will be grown, and I'll be 50. With no recent or relevant experience for an actual career. Or the other path, with before- and after- school care, and all round increased stress. It's a real dilemma.

Lauren said...

:) what a great post! My husband has joked that he wants me to go to work and he be a stay at home dad when we have kids, but with the career he has chosen it probably wont work that way. We will be moving around too but fortunately he wont be going away. I am really looking forward to being at home with some bubbas one day, I feel like it'll be less stressful most days then the job I do.
One another note may the next few days go quickly and I hope you enjoy the two weeks! I take my hat off to woman married to military men! and may your migraine depart! x

Anne said...

Hi Posie
I stayed home with three children until 5 years ago. They are all in their 20's now, the last only just! I like to think that they appreciated having me attend all the sportsdays, help supervise school camps, etc that I did along the way. I know that they ALL still ring Mum for advice or to have a moan when they feel sick (2 are interstate and the other is 3 hrs away). I did all the baking, sewing, crafting things too, even though they laughingly think I'm a bit of a 'granny' for it. My husband's mother was always around when he got home from school and he said that's what he wanted for his kids. Luckily that's what I was happy doing. Although I have to admit that there were times I thought I'd go crazy, I'm still here and the kids(adults, gulp) thankfully are all gainfully employed or studying, healthy and happy. Yay!

Naturally Carol said...

I love a plan that evolves..fluid enough to encompass the events of life that just happen! Your cowboy curtain is wonderful.

texwisgirl said...

i've never had children, but i can relate to the happily-staying-home, enjoying-my-own-company these days since the corporation i worked for was sold. my 4-legged kids and i have wonderful days here together. i did the career. did very well. now am happy to be someone less stressed.

God bless you and your beautiful kids!

Mama of 2 boys said...

What an interesting discussion point Posie. With us, hubby knew from the very outset he had a gal who wanted to be a Mama on his hands. He was happy with that... and still is! Although I do have to return to work for 2 days per week, I am still very much the one raising the boys. I like it that way, it is what I have always wanted. If I didn't NEED to go back to work, I wouldn't... and I would probably have a couple more children!
It's really nice to see a family like yours that is so well centred and who has it sorted out in such a successful way.
I watched Marley & Me too... I've seen it before, but I do like that movie :o)
Sorry to hear you're down with a migraine, yucky. Lovely to hear your soldier returns in a couple of weeks though xo

polkadotpeticoat said...

I always wanted to be a Mommy, I always joked I wanted to pop them out like Rolo's, that was crazy talking.....I can hardly handle my three from the ages 6-16 I'm going through many stages right now. Yet I never feel like I sacrificed anything, thats what lunch out with the girls and cocktails is for every once in a while. I always wonder how much the career woman who didn't stay home missed out on ....all the fun!
I can't stand the fighting but it goes hand and hand with all the silliness too! Smile

The Creative Beast said...

This is a great post! I love this commentary and the observation how "lifestyles are made-up" is the kicker for me. Isn't it funny how people begin to compare themselves to others even if they are happy in their choices??
Why do we do THAT??!?! What works for one person doesn't always work for another, after all...

I also like the quotes from the movie - I haven't seen it, but it brings to mind how many female characters in the US seem to always be "sacrificing", forgetting that they MADE A CHOICE! I get pretty tired of hearing these complaints and it's just the MOVIES!! ;)

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

Bree said...

We always said that we'd prefer one of us to stay home, which we couldn't do intially. Our son was nearly 3 by the time I stopped working and by then he'd been in daycare part time for 2 years. I do think that benefits their development tho.

Question for you - were you offended when the lady at school said you were 'invested in husband's career'?

I think staying at home, even with just one child who goes to Kindy, is jolly hard work. Not really sure how I managed before.

Tania said...

Very interesting subject and I do have a great deal of admiration for you to "hold the home fort" so to speak, as I don't know how I would cope with a hubby away for extended periods of time. We never had that discussion. Though I worked when we were first married, I never really enjoyed it or found it fulfilling. I could never decide on a career and I felt I was lacking in ambition. Both of us came from families where our mothers stayed home. And though old fashioned these days, when i became a mum, I realized there was nowhere else I would rather be. I love my own company and can happily keep myself busy at home. We've always had small mortgages to be able to afford this type of life.

trees said...

the subject never came up in our house, it was just assumed that the more patient one would and for the first time in 12 years, three children and two degrees later I made the decision that I have had enough of juggling motherhood, and a professional career - and am officially unemployed ( aka SAHM) and LOVING it!!! Unfortunately made the move at the start of school holidays so haven't had time to enjoy too much of it yet - but enjoying my kids more. Hubby even got used to it and is now expecting tea on table when he gets home (not happy Jan... ps he is also and professional juggling mergers take-overs and a stressed wife)

Mary-Anne said...

We had the chat before having kids, kinda. Not a long one as we both agreed but I think he would have agreed with me had I wanted to go straight back to work anyway. I worked my butt off getting qualified and well positioned in my career (scientist) before having kids and in all honesty I've probably killed it by staying home and I think that probably prompts me every now and again I stop short and ask myself whether I'm fussed yet about 'wasting my education' and 'giving up my career for kids' - nope, not at all coz I don't think I've given up a thing and my life would be so much poorer had I given up the chance to stay at home and raise my babies. THAT would be something to regret.

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh i was really unsure about this topic, thanks for the great insight into your lives & ideas. FYI i'm now allowed to watch Current Affair shows as i yell at the television.
No, not offended at all when the mummy at school said "invested in husband's career" as it's true really, he's the one providing for our future. Label me whatever you want, i know who & what i am, i'm happy, don't need to explain myself to anyway. Love Posie

Anonymous said...

Yes, really.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic....

My exhusband was also military & they ruled our lives - he was too scared to ask for anything or look at changing his work. SO it was just assumed that I would stay home/work parttime - never discussed ever. And this was despite his military salary not being enough for us to survive on when he was also paying child support.

From a financial point of view it would have been much more sensible for him to leave the military and be a stay at home dad - but then he would not have been able to cope with that, and he would also have worried about what people would think about his role. I think he would have felt emasculated.

I worked parttime the whole time my children were babies, and thank goodness I did as I am able to provide for the boys & myself quite comfortable when the military assisted to end our marriage.

Brenda @ Mira Narnie said...

Oh lovely lovely lovely and I'm so glad you had easy peasy babies to raise - you surely do deserve it given all that moving and lack of husband to come home each night to help our or just whinge too. From the get go, hubby and i knew I'd be the stay-at-home mumma. We are opposed Childcare, but i respect those that choose to use it. We don't have any family close by either, so it's just us. I dabble in a bit of work, but only shift work (at night) when hubby comes home to look after the kids. We are a team (just like you and your hubby by the sounds) and i think that's the key. When you both support each other, no matter your roles, or how much they overlap or are defined. It's the team work that matters. love the pic of your kids at the chalkboard! you are a source of inspiration in all aspects from motherhood, to craft and business. I always love visiting here Jennie. Much love b xx