Recent news reports got me thinking about how fortunate I am, juxtaposed against the many women around the world struggle to maintain a work/life balance while providing for their families and ensuring their children are well cared for.
Six years ago, my husband quit his job to become a full time stay at home dad. He was nearing the end of his career and wanted to spend more time with our daughters, then 1 and 3. Financially, we couldn’t swing being a one-working-parent family but my mother agreed to move in with us and help us pay the bills. Six years later, I’m happy to report our new living arrangement has been a success. Having a stay at home parent has made our lives so much easier allowing me to concentrate on my job knowing that the day-to-day needs of our family—laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. are being managed.
My husband has built strong relationships with our daughters—something that is critical to their social development. They are exposed to a different model about the way things can be done—different from any of their friends. Another benefit is that we have quality time together as a family. We spend time doing things together as opposed to cleaning the house or doing the grocery shopping. It gives us more freedom to talk. And, more important, to listen. Because my mom is with us, our girls also enjoy the benefits of an intergenerational family. They have so many people around them who love and care about them.
I’ve also been pondering this article, The Triumph of the Working Mother. Although studies may show that working mothers are happier, I think the real issues go much deeper. Women—and men—need to be supported in whatever role they choose and believe is best for their families. This can’t be an either/or. The roles of working women and men and caregiving women and men need to be respected and supported. It can’t all be about getting parents back to work.
Why does the United States lag behind in providing family friendly policies that would prove beneficial for all of us?
It’s about paid sick leave.
It’s about paid maternity and paternity leave.
It’s about realistic and flexible work schedules, fair pay, and easier inroads back into the workforce after taking time out to care for children or elderly parents.
It’s about quality, reliable childcare.
It’s about a community that accepts and supports choices.
It’s about sharing the burden of childcare and housework.
It’s about respecting what each of us brings to the success of our families, our communities and the country.
I remind myself every day to be thankful for a situation that makes it possible for my husband to stay home, without it being a financial struggle. And I am also lucky to have work that I love that focuses on the social and economic empowerment of women and girls—supporting their choices to work or stay at home, and to be able to financially support themselves and their families.
I am thankful to be living my dream.
Lori Blair is the Senior Director of Program Services for Soroptimist International of the Americas/LiveYourDream.org, a devoted mom to two girls, is passionate about ensuring all women have the resources to care for their families just like she does.