Week Seven: Kathy Benson

How did you choose the career you are currently in?

After my husband Bob and I had been dating for two years, we started talking seriously about getting married. I was in grad school and he was working in his first post-college job in the real world.

During that time our relationship was long distance, though we were only about two hours away from each other.  I was living in an apartment on campus in Champaign, Illinois and Bob at home with his parents in Chicago. In the light of the distance between us, we typically only got to see each other every other weekend and when I had winter, spring and summer breaks from school. So we talked on the phone, a lot.

We would have marathon length phone conversations in which we would cover every possible topic we could think of that might be important to have discussed before marriage. We both take wedding vows very seriously and wanted to be sure that we were on the same page on the issues and decisions that mattered most to both of us.

One of the issues that came up in our conversations was whether when we had children someday (it never occurred to us that building our family would or could be difficult) I would quit my job and be a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM).

Both of our mothers had primarily been SAHMs, though they had part time jobs over the years. By the time we were in college our moms both returned to full time work as teachers. I should say that, of course, being SAHMs to me, my husband and our siblings throughout our childhood and adolescence was more than a full time job for our mothers.

When I was in grad school, I was open to, but not sold on being a SAHM. I had been going to school for six years straight and was looking forward to putting my education/degrees to good use.

My mom had always emphasized that going to college was and should be more than trying to get your “Mrs.” She also reminded my sister and me that two of our extended family members, who had been SAHMs (with no college degrees) found out in mid-life, when their children were grown, that their husbands had been cheating on them for years. Those women ended up getting divorces and initially having difficulty finding employment without formal education and training in vocations other than motherhood.

I feared that scenario playing out in my own life and was determined to at least have my education and degrees to fall back on, if and when I needed them. More than that, I felt pulled towards what working in my chosen career (which back then was parks and recreation/program management) would be like – the joy, validation and experience that I believed it would bring.

But this was close to a deal breaker for Bob. It may sound old fashioned, but he wanted his wife to be a SAHM, so that his (possibly our) children would have the care and attention that we both had growing up in our homes. Bob and I went many rounds about this. Eventually he made a strong enough case and I decided that I was willing and excited to be a SAHM. Not long after that we got engaged. We planned to wait at least a year or two after we got married before trying to get pregnant, to give us time to settle into our marriage and new life together. We also chose to wait a bit so that I would have the opportunity to work a few years in the real world before starting our family.

So that is how I chose the career I am currently in. There is certainly more to me and my life these days than being a mom and homemaker (or “Domestic Engineer” as I like to think of myself). I have many hobbies and also do some part-time work (both paid and volunteer), as a writer, group fitness instructor and religious education teacher, which give me purpose and validation outside of parenting.

I look forward to the day when I will return to a career outside our home in parks and recreation, fitness, ministry and/or freelance writing. However, I don’t want this time in my life to go by too fast either. I want to be present to and mindful as a SAHM to our children while they are still young.

Though it isn’t always easy, I love being a SAHM and strive to be the best one I can be during these formative years in our children’s lives.

How did you choose the career that you are currently in?

________________________________

Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.

Kathy blogs at Bereaved and Blessed. You can also follow Kathy on Twitter @BereavedBlessed and her Facebook page.

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6 thoughts on “Week Seven: Kathy Benson

  1. Pingback: Thursday’s Voice: Week Seven

  2. I enjoyed reading about how you came to your decision to be a SAHM. And also, I relate to your wanting to put your schooling to good use! Do you think you’ll return to work outside the home (or inside) after your children are both in school?

    My undergrad degrees are in Psychology (because I was interested in it) and Business-Economics (because I wanted to be able to get a job after graduation). My masters degree is also in management, and believe it or not, all of that has prepared me well for domestic engineering!

  3. This is really interesting: thank you. I love your columns here. They give me so much to think about.

    I’m also a SAHM, but our decision was sort of happenstance: the twins care would be more expensive than my job’s actual payout (plus oy, my hours. 60 plus hours and on call at all times). I’ve struggled with not being in the career world (my job was very exciting). Finally this summer I’ve settled into a groove and am really loving the SAHM gig. I know I’m lucky, and finally, I feel lucky.

    Thanks again for this post.

  4. I love the honesty with which your portray what was a difficult, but purposeful decision! It feels, to me, that you’ve struck a balance between keeping your “professional” hat in the ring (through volunteer and community work) and being a full-time mom and fully present to your children … which is something I so admire.

  5. I really enjoyed this post and the thought you put into where you are today. For me I sort of fell into it. When we first started TTC my husband was getting his master’s degree and working part time. We were in NYC and I had the job with the benefits like health insurance so we planned that he would be a stay-at-home dad until he finished his degree and got a job back in Africa. Then we planned to have a nanny and we would both work. He would do the scientific and law enforcement side of conservation and I would do the community work and environmental education.

    Infertility delayed our plans and we moved back to Africa when I was pregnant with our first. There wasn’t a job for me and I was thrilled to have that time with my newborn. Our second came unexpectedly and deferred any thought of going back to work. Now I’m realizing that I really don’t want to go back to paid work while they are young. I am so thankful for the time I’ve had with my kids and I while I never thought I would choose to be a stay-at-home mom it has given me more satisfaction than any other job I’ve held. I feel really lucky to have this choice.

  6. From your stories, I’m not surprised, but I am proud that the two of you spent so much time planning for marriage before you were married, having those discussions about everything under the sun. I truly believe that if more couples did this, there would be fewer marriages, but more marriages that last.

    I always wanted to be a SAHM, and my husband always wanted to be able to provide for his family well enough that his wife could stay at home. When I was laid off two years ago, I drew my unemployment and applied for jobs every week as I was required, but found out the hard way that the job market here is not the best. We adjusted to our dwindling income, and I began working part time. I think that turned out well, as soon after we found out about our daughter. I love being able to spend so much time with her, playing and teaching and learning.

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