Dear Dr. Laura,
As a listener for over 20 years, I have heard countless people discuss situations that could have been avoided had they only listened to you earlier. I put myself in that camp because many of my young adult decisions were immature, inappropriate, impulsive and irrational. However, there is one decision I made almost 17 years ago that I have never regretted; the decision to stay home with my 3 children.
I was a school social worker prior to giving birth to our first son and at the time, my husband and I planned for me to return to work and place our son in day care. One night, while holding my newborn, I became overwhelmed with sadness and anxiety at the thought of our precious son being placed in the care of complete strangers. With tears rolling down my face, I said "I can't leave him and go back to work", to which my husband responded, "We'll figure it out." And we did.
I worked part-time in the evenings to contribute to the finances. I sacrificed my credentials and experience, but provided consistency, attention and friendships with other families in the same boat. After we had two more children, I continued to work part-time and be very active in their schools. As my children grew up, it became obvious that both of my boys had special needs. I knew I needed to be available and present in all areas of their lives.
Sadly, my husband died 18 months ago. I am grateful my husband supported and promoted our stay-at-home choice. It was THE BEST parenting decision we ever made together. Today I began a full-time job as a school social worker - my hours are the same as when my kids are in school. Ironically, the position is only for one year as the woman I replace is on maternity leave with 3 children under the age of 3 at home. I don't know if she is planning on returning to work, but if I had to make it, I'd choose the same one I made 17 years ago. When asked today where I previously worked, I proudly stated I was returning to work after being home for 17 years. It has been the greatest job I've ever had, the most important, and my children have benefited in ways I may never know.
Thank you for supporting stay-at-home parents and for promoting it with passion.