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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Any Regrets?

Uploaded: Jun 7, 2014
When you decide to be a working or a stay-at-home parent, it's impossible to know exactly how that decision will affect you in one, ten, or twenty plus years down the road. How will it affect your financial future? Will your marriage be stronger or weaker than it is now? Will your future career be as enjoyable as the one you decided to keep, put on hold, or give up?

It's impossible to know the answers to these questions ahead of time. One of the most difficult parts of staying-at-home is hearing about how it did not work out for some and the regret they experience as a result. Staying-at-home hurt their career opportunities or their marriage more than they expected. Or something unanticipated happened (e.g., a medical condition, an accident, an affair).

Recently, I've enjoyed reading the comments on Motherlode about whether readers regretted their decision to stay-at-home or not. None of the arguments are new to me, but I'm curious to find out which poster I'll sound most like when my son is off to college.

For those readers with older children, do you regret your choice to stay-at-home or work?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jun 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Never had any regrets about staying home, but mine was probably an easier choice than most.

We moved here with one child and soon became pregnant with another which would have made job hunting difficult. We moved because husband had an exciting new job and we found somewhere to live close enough for him to use his bike or I could drive him to work so we were able to continue being a one car family. Since we had no family in the area, child care would have been a big expense too. My earning ability was limited due to my qualifications not being recognized here also. So, easy decision.

On the plus side, I really enjoy being home when the kids finish school. I enjoy being the driver for them and their friends as I hear their chatter and get a much better picture of what is going on in their lives from that rather than what they tell me. They often want to talk about school issues the minute they get home, whereas a lot later it is practically forgotten about. I also get to know their friends a lot better because they often hang out here when there is no school. I also get to know their friends parents better for that reason too.

Our home is often the default house for hanging out, so I get to choose the snacks they eat and it is my houserules about tv, computers, etc. which they have to follow.

I think my kids get along with each other very well, possibly because they spend most of their free time here and have to be used to taking each other into account. They are very busy and quite independent on their bikes, etc. but they tend to know each other's friends, schedules, etc. just as well as their own. This may not happen if they had separate after school childcare arrangements, etc. I can only hope that they continue to get on so well right into adult lives. Of course they fight at times, but as they have said on numerous occasions, fighting together is what siblings do and if someone else started fighting with one, they would always stand up for a sibling to support them in a fight.

Yes, I love staying at home and wouldn't have it any other way. I am glad that financially we are able to do this and that I am no longer a part of the rat race that I used to endure in my past life. I feel very much part of the world in which my family live and not a second class citizen because I do not have paid employment to make me feel fulfilled. Some of the professional working women I know try to run my choice down, but I feel that I have the better lifestyle. All to our own. One day I may choose to find paid employment again, until then I will continue to do what I enjoy in life.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 7, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Thank you for sharing your experiences as a stay-at-home mom. Interesting point that your kids like to chat about school the minute they get home (rather than later in the evening). It's wonderful to hear about the friendships they are forming with each other that will hopefully continue into adulthood.

If you end up going back to paid employment, do you think it would be in a similar field to the one you left or something completely new (you mentioned your qualifications not being recognized here)? And do you plan to wait until your youngest child is a certain age before you consider returning to work? Or, more or less, playing it by ear? As always, thanks again for being a reader and commenting.

Posted by Jessica T, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I love this topic! When I had my first child, I was completely torn up about necessity of going back to work. It took many years to let go of the guilt of not being as involved with my daughter's life as my husband was. As she's grown up and my career has progressed, I'm grateful for the way things have turned out. I never in a million years thought I'd be where I am today professionally. I still have moments of regret - don't get me wrong, but I'm confident in my ability to be a main influence in my children's lives while I work. I may have made a different choice given a different set of circumstances and that's ok too. I think it's likely that I might have taken a few years off and re-entered the work force later. Some of us are better parents when we are working than we would be if we weren't. I think this is certainly true for me!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 10, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Jessica T - Thank you for sharing your experiences! In my parenting groups, I hear a lot about the circumstances leading a husband or wife to stay at home or work part time. But fewer stories from parents who chose to return to work full time. Thank you for adding that perspective! It's wonderful to hear that you are grateful for how everything worked out.

Posted by randy albin, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jun 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

first of all, how can you afford to be raising a family? there's something going on in this economy that many people are not able to accomplish. the bay area is sky high costly. if you want a family, you need to do things right. end of story?

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Randy Albin - Thanks for reading and commenting. The Bay Area is an expensive place to live and raise a family. It's interesting to hear how other families are doing it.

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