Role Reversal

I am a stay-at-home mom. For many people, that simple statement conjures up their own vision of who I am and what I do. Generally speaking, the stereotypical idea of a 1950s housewife pops into their head. I know this based on comments made by some of my husband’s coworkers and relatives over the years. It’s true that my husband goes off to work and I stay at home…or not, depending on where our unschooling journeys take us. However, that is where any similarity ends.

I don’t stay home because it is expected of me. That would be a joke in this day and age where most families are dual income. Neither do I stay home because I lack education or knowledge. I am an intelligent woman and happen to possess multiple degrees. It is my choice to stay home with my children. That isn’t to say that those housewives from other eras were lacking knowledge or intelligence, but they were generally lacking in their own choice.

Before my husband and I were married, we discussed how we would raise our future, and hoped for, children. It was important to both of us to have a parent stay home with the kids. While we didn’t know how it would look at the time, we also knew we wanted to homeschool.

I stay at home with my children, but I am not the stereotypical little woman supporting her husband as he goes off to work in the world. That isn’t to say that I am unsupportive of him, but the focus in that scenario is all wrong for our family. Our focus is on raising our children the way we believe is best for our family. In that endeavor, my husband plays the supporting role by working outside the home, enabling us to have a parent at home with the kids and making our unschooling lifestyle easier.

When all is said and done, my husband and I remain partners, working toward our collective goal of raising our children and enjoying life together.


This post has been edited from a version previously published at Living Peacefully with Children.

About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

4 Responses to Role Reversal

  1. Lauren  

    I really love your perspective on this. There can be so much baggage that goes along with being a SAHM, and I’m glad you’re busting it. I also like how you paint a picture of parenting equality where both parents choose the roles that work best for them and the family.

    I find my husband’s and my roles are rather fluid, and we both do some of each — the childrearing/unschooling and the working. He earns more income, though, so I often think others must consider me a SAHM. It’s good to remember that it doesn’t have to be a narrow definition.

  2. Michelle  

    I always believed that I would choose to be a stay at home mom. When the time came, though, we realised that we could not possibly afford to give up my income. How would we afford the mortgage on our nice home? How would we afford to live?

    I was lucky enough to have my retired mother offer to look after our daughter while I was at work and although I missed many milestones in our baby daughter’s life, I knew that she was well looked after and doted on by her grandparents. This made going back to work much easier for me.

    Then I was taken ill and ultimately diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Money still being a massive concern, I continued to work. Well, tried to continue to work. It became clear that I could no longer manage my (very well paid) full time job in the city so I reduced my working hours but eventually realised that I had no energy left to play any kind of active role at home. When I wasn’t at work, I was fast asleep on the sofa or being mean to my family because I was so tired and in so much pain.

    Something had to give. I gave up my job and became the stay at home mom I had once wanted to be. It felt horrible having to sell our nice home in a nice area and instead buy a tiny house in a not so nice area. I was worried about the impact on my daughter. And if the truth be told, I was concerned about the impact on me.

    What I eventually came to realise, though, was that money never made us happy. We are much happier now than we’ve ever been and one of the biggest joys was having our second child and being able to see her grow – from day one.

    We live a much slower life than other families. We have much less money to spend on the latest ‘must haves’. But. We love each other and the kids know they’re loved.

    This illness has totally changed my life and for that, I am truly grateful.

  3. Jessica A.

    I really like this. I can completely relate. I also have chosen to stay home with our kids while my husband works outside of the home. We work together as a team to provide the best for our kids. I like the idea of “unschooling”, and am doing more research into it – thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Jan Messali  

    I love your perspective on this. I always imagined I’d go back to work after having my children. But, once I had them I had an extreme desire to be home with them and raise them myself rather than send them to a sitter. I was blessed to be able to do so.