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Stay-At-Home Mom Regrets Her Choice

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Katy Read wrote a cautionary essay on Salon.com recently, sharing how her years at home with her two sons left her full of wonderful memories but short on experience for her resume. Now she’s a divorced single mom on the brink of financial ruin, trying unsuccessfully to find a job in a terribly economy. She fears, with college tuition looming, that she will never work again.

She writes of her mindset at the time she decided to opt out:

I became a mother during a moment in history when women faced unprecedented career opportunities yet were expected to maintain a level of interaction with their children that would have made my own mother's eyes roll practically out of their sockets. I was a busy reporter and naive new mom, two jobs that I was led to believe could not, for all practical purposes, be performed adequately and simultaneously. Oh, and while one was commendable, the other was morally imperative.

So she scaled back to a part-time freelance career as a writer while her then-husband continued on an upward trajectory in the same field. Now she cannot cover her expenses, much less retirement or college education.

What a “choice”: hands-on parenting 24-7 in the early years or financial stability in the later ones. Sometimes it seems like stay-at-home moms and mom who work out of the home are just dealing with different sides of the same coin. Pick your poison: live with unrelenting guilt about not being there for every boo-boo, or the fear that you’ll be left unable to support yourself later. Either way, you might be dropping the ball. And why are the moms generally the only ones who have to make such impossible, unfair decisions?

Stay-at-home moms, do you worry about keeping yourself employable in case of divorce? Or is the experience of staying home with your kids so valuable it’s worth the risk? 

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