Guilt and expectations

My post on  May 6, 2010, Making Peace with Work, on SVMoms kicked off a surprising number of comments and I'm thrilled that readers are engaging in the dialogue.  Some parents feel they have no choice - they must work because they live somewhere expensive and their partners cannot/will not be the sole financial supporter of the family.

I grew up in a single income family. My mother was incredibly involved with my sister and I while my father, who made it to all the important events, was basically stressed out for twenty-five years. And one of the biggest sources of conflict was money. My father was an excellent provider and we were very lucky.  We lived in a nice town, attended good schools and had fun weekends and vacations. But he and I remember the stress.

As a child observing those arguments, I felt strongly that I didn't want to be economically dependent on someone else. And I didn't want, if I could avoid it, to be the sole economic provider for a family. To me, that just adds a lot of stress to life.  It may work for some couples and that's great, but I knew from a young age, that it wouldn't work for me. And I recognized that I like attention and personal accomplishment - both well rewarded at work, but not so good is your job is stay-at-home Mom.

I have no idea what my children will recall as the source of the arguments they observe between my husband and I.  And I cannot predict what choices they will make based on those observations.  Here is my guess of the top 10:

  1. We were tired a lot, but not too tired to play
  2. We were home for dinner, at least one of us, virtually every night
  3. We weren't both out of town on business
  4. Once a year, we did go away for fun without them
  5. We fought when the house became exceptionally more disorganized
  6. The laundry stayed in baskets for more than a couple of days
  7. We exercised before they woke up in the morning
  8. We asked for help - an au pair who lived with us and close friends and family
  9. We helped others - their cousins and close friends were at our home to help their parents out too.
  10. We took full responsibility for our choices, explained them and accepted the consequences.

I hope you'll read and comment on the Making Peace with  Work blog as well as here.  What drove you to make the choice you've made?