Why do I stay home with my kids? I guess the shortest answer is, because we can afford it and I want to.
Really though, I couldn't hack it as a working mom. I couldn't devote myself to my work while I was there, and I couldn't provide (and I don't mean provide as in financially here) for my family adequately when I was home. I was stuck in the helpless purgatory of failure - both as an employee and as a wife and mother. I vividly remember dropping Charlie off at the sitter (who we LOVED btw) - I recall having to turn my back to leave him as he sobbed and begged me to stay. I remember sobbing myself, all the way to work and feeling so hopelessly miserable that I wasn't sure I could do it anymore. We were drowning in dishes and laundry, grocery shopping at 11pm and hardly spending any quality time with our boy through the week. I cried a lot during this time.
After Sam was born, and I was home full-time with the boys, I felt alive again. I just felt in my bones that I couldn't go back to work - we were doing SO much better as a family. Eating home-cooked meals, wearing clean(ish) clothes. I was actually spending time with my boys during the day, And I was facilitating easy nighttime transitions so my husband got to spend quality time with them after work. I really started to feel like this was what I should be doing both for myself, and for them. I have a supportive husband, and the means to make this a reality. And I want you to know that I truly understand how fortunate I am.
Not going back to work has been harder than I thought, in some ways. Life is funny like that - giving me what I want but making it not quite that easy. Obviously there are days where I am just over hanging out with two toddlers (though the good FAR outweighs the bad), but the hardest adjustment for me personally is coming to terms with not financially contributing to the family, and answering the question, "what do you do?". I cringe when I hear this. I raise my kids, and run our house and THAT IS A REAL JOB. I am proud of what I do, but I am uncomfortable when asked about my career - because I don't have one anymore. Yet I am still motivated, ambitious and educated. Those are not qualities that go to waste in the daily running of a household, let me tell you. There is no corporate ladder here (or rather, I'm already at the tip-top), but there are escalating challenges, and I do not find my work dull. The pay sucks, but it did in my last job too.
People either understand the decision to be home or they don't. I get asked questions all the time, including some that make me uncomfortable, because they assume I've made a mistake.
How long will I stay home? I am not sure. Indefinitely.
What will I do if/when I re-enter the workforce (like who would ever hire someone who took an extended break from working)? I hear there's always openings in crime.
What if my husband gets fired? How could I turn down a job in our economy? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, but let me assure you that we looked at how this would financially impact us. Like, duh.
And my personal favourite, aren't you young for retirement? Always followed by raucous laughter as if it's such a hilarious joke. Get out of my life, pronto.
There is value in staying home. I shouldn't have to explain that.
In our house, for our family, and for me personally, staying home full time is the right decision. However, I firmly believe that happy families come in all forms and what is right for me, may not be right or possible for another. I speak only of my own experience, but know many amazing women who work part or full time all while raising their own families (without neglecting laundry or dishes!)