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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

'Stay-at-home mums are not as happy as working mums'. This mum disagrees.

Stay-at-home mothers are not as happy as mothers who are employed, a new study has showed.

Research company Gallup found that non-employed mothers in the US experience more negative emotions such as worry, sadness, stress, anger and depression, than those who work.

The research, which looked at 60,799 randomly-chosen women, showed that 41 per cent of stay-at-home mothers experience worry while just 34 per cent of employed mothers experience the same feeling.

You might think, oh, here we go: another survey. A bunch of stats. Each case is different; heck each day is different.

I always like to read a real life story. Here is one written for this blog by Ruth, about her experiences with almost one year old daughter, Maddie:

"I recently made the decision not to go back to work in the short-term. I know how lucky I am to have this as an option, but I wasn’t prepared for it to feel like a weird thing to be doing. 
As a child of the 70s, having our mum take care of us was then far from unusual. Mum did some casual marking of exam papers in the evenings and at weekends to bring in some extra money but apart from that she was around until I, as the second child, was at school. 
Notice I don’t say she was “at home”. That’s because the phrase “stay at home mum” is a pet hate of mine. Who coined that term anyway? Someone completely ignorant of the role mums play in getting their kids out and about and exploring the big wide world. Sure there’s some home time, quite a lot of it, but all the mums I know relish the chance for an outing. Even a supermarket trip can become strangely thrilling, but the reality is we don’t just stay at home. Someone find another term, please.
As a full-time mum, I love every day with my daughter. Don’t get me wrong though, it takes every ounce of my creativity to avoid ground-hog day.
I grew up hearing my mum talk about the outings we used to do with her as young kids – trips to the zoo, feeding the ducks and taking a whole day to walk around the local lake in the days before it had a proper path for the hordes of joggers who conquer it in 20 minutes now. 
We’d stop to look at every leaf and stick that took our interest and picnic along the way. These were idyllic, blissful days. I don’t remember having to rush here, there and everywhere or the controlled action-packed activities that cost you an arm and a leg that seem to be par for the course now.
Mum as a working mum had a big impact on me. I think I got a lot of my work ethic from her. She was always passionate about her work and she and Dad would talk animatedly about their respective days over dinner. I also loved watching her getting ready in the mornings, putting on make-up and smelling of perfume. She had a shiny new work car – a Datsun 180B – and when I had a day off from school I’d sometimes get to come into the city and have a smoothie with her at the cafĂ© next to her office. But she was passionate about “work” at home too. She seemed to take copious loads of washing in her stride and was always a 'MasterChef' in the kitchen.
I hope I can instil this passion for work in all shapes and forms in my daughter. I miss work, but I don’t miss a lot about it – the commuting, the endless meetings and emails. Meeting a work mate for lunch in the city I realise I’ve forgotten the terrier-like approach you need to get through Pitt Street Mall [Sydney] at lunch time unscathed. And did I really use to see these bustling food halls as sanctuaries? Why is everyone in SUCH a hurry?  It was great to hear all about my former work place, but it felt strange to be disengaged from people and projects that I used to be so intertwined with.
I wasn’t prepared for the lack of conversation with like-minded others in this new life of mine.  I haven’t really found my niche at Mothers’ Group. Everyone is 10 years younger.  I didn’t think it would matter but it does. Their priorities are so different. [Not to mention Alex Papps is on Play School but they can’t remember him in Home & Away let alone The Factory so where’s the common ground?]
I wasn’t prepared for the mind blanks that seem to come with motherhood. As someone who would pride herself on being something of a wordsmith, having complete blackouts on words mid-conversation has taken some getting used to. But hey, it makes other people feel good when they can finish your sentences.
And I wasn’t prepared for the sense of dislocation and isolation. It seems strange to call it that when simultaneously I have this incredible bond with a precious little person who makes me laugh and smile 7 days a week from 5.45am to 7pm and she is usually attached to my arm or leg at most times during the day. But I find myself sometimes asking: where exactly do I fit in? 
I’m not interested in making washing and ironing an art form. I’m enjoying finding pleasure in the simple things and the new creative challenges I find myself up against, but 'domestic goddess' is not something I aspire to. And I can’t possibly be as passionate about the work I used to do now that I’m out of the loop.
So… where do I fit in? I’m not sure, but I’ve come to the conclusion that finding a label isn’t necessary. My daughter is happy, my husband is happy, and most importantly, I’m happy. 
Where motherhood will take me I do not know. Maybe even eventually back to work. But right now, I’m happy as a pig in mud living day to day, or sleep to sleep."
What are your experiences of staying at home, or going back to work. If the latter, how old was bub/s? Or you do work from home? Share comments on blog - would love to hear other women's stories!

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