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Is Motherhood a Career – We Say it Is

According to a report by ABC news, the stay at home mother (or father), should earn a reported $144,000 per year based on time invested and hours spent working. Doing the math, this means that a stay at home parent should be paid around $16.44 per hour (based on today’s market for similar jobs), and works around 8,760 hours in the course of just one year. The sad part is that for those people choosing to make motherhood a career, they will never see the paycheck. At least not the one daunting actually currency.

The question is, Is Motherhood a Career? And if it is, has it finally been accepted into a category where it can be praised and appreciated rather than seen as a compromise of professional success?

The New York Times recently ran an article (and research study) about a 19-year-old girl, attending Yale with all the qualifications of being groomed for an elite professional life. And yet she, at the ripe age of 19, has already decided that she will push aside the Ivy League education and the likely 6-figure job salary that will come with it in order to become a stay at home mother. Pretty amazing considering she doesn’t even know whom the father of these children will be. However, the study went on to describe the fact that more and more women, even with all the professional opportunity and education available to them, are choosing…CHOOSING motherhood as a career. In fact, this study which took place across the United States at Ivy League schools showed that more than half of all these highly educated, career driven women plan on pursuing the one career path that no college professor could truly prepare them for. Motherhood.

Just decades ago, the majority of moms did stay home with the kids, stuck in deeply ingrained gender roles that were never really questioned. And then there was the women’s right movements, which catapulted women into the role of breadwinner and prestiged professional. Now some 30 years later, women are dismissing the somewhat newly acquired rights and responsibilities of being a professional. Some experts suggest that younger women today are more prone to choosing stay at home motherhood as a career is because they have watched painstakingly as their own mothers have tried to balance both motherhood and a professional life. Perhaps they feel on a very deep level that it is difficult to do both well, and are choosing to reacquaint with the passions of mothers from so many decades ago.

But still, is motherhood a career? The definition of career is: an occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework: AND/OR…a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking:

Seems like by definition, motherhood is definitely, without a doubt, undeniably a career. Not only does it require special training, and does it become one’s lifework, but it is also a general course of action through a phase of life. And the definition of career, says nothing about being monetarily compensated.

So, then….why are so many people embarrassed by, resentful of, or even ashamed that they are a stay at home parent. And why, is the raising of our children into healthy, happy, and hopefully meaningful assets to society – something that still carries negative connotations? And if it’s not the mothers who are carrying the notion that they aren’t successful unless they are out working and earning a paycheck, then who is it? Remember, 40 years ago a stay at home mother was completely accepted, and was a vital part of a family’s success? These moms didn’t feel they had to work, nor did they feel that not earning a paycheck somehow discredited their autonomy. Remember June Cleaver?

The bottom line is this. Women (and men), or should we just say families, should have a choice to raise their own family with a stay at home parent. Regardless of who leaves the home to work or not, both make huge sacrifices, and both are pursuing what can be considered a career. Perhaps the biggest, and only difference is that while the professional may receive a 401K plan to retire on, the woman choosing motherhood as a career has to settle on love and values.

With the new trends in younger women choosing to stay home, or at least choosing to focus more time and energy on their family than they do their professional careers, its seems a loud statement is being made. While those who fought for the rights and acceptance for women to have equal rights in the workplace are likely having a hard time understanding the modern women’s choice – the real gift is the ability to choose and have both. By lifting the barriers to one world, women have been able to accurately see what matters in their life, appreciate what they have – and more importantly decide for themselves what they want to do when it comes to career and children.

As for whether or not motherhood is a career…it is! You would be hard pressed to find any other career where a person works so hard, invests so much emotion and love, energy and effort into the success of one project. Plus, it takes practice, patience, and skill to attune your skills as a mother and is a constantly changing environment that is full of uphill battles, decisions, heartbreak, and joy. Maybe more women today are starting to choose motherhood as their career path because they have finally realized that little else compares to the love and nurturing of children.

As for the 19 year old claiming she will put her professional career on indefinite hold the moment she has her first child, time will tell. But apparently, even at a very young age she realizes that choosing the career of motherhood really isn’t a sacrifice, but a blessing.

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