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Does Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Make Me a Good Example For My Daughters?

I wonder if they see (or will someday see) my lack of a formal career as an expectation of who they should be as adults.
01/14/2015 11:12am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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People are usually either traditional or non-traditional. I definitely lean in the direction of the traditional. In fact, I'm what most people would consider "conservative" (which is not always a popular term these days).

I am certain that my "traditional" upbringing and beliefs had a lot to do with my decisions about career and motherhood. I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I did go to college and got a degree. I taught special needs preschoolers in the public school system before I had my own children. That job was fulfilling and I honestly gave it my all. However, I never intended to do it long-term. It was a filler until I was able to do what I really wanted -- be a stay-at-home mom.

I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters who are currently 12, 10 and 7. I DO NOT regret my decision to make motherhood my sole occupation. Somedays, though, the weight of the influence I have on these precious girls is almost too much to bear and I question if being a stay-at-home mom is setting a good example for my girls.

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On one hand, I hope they see that they are my everything. I hope they see that my world revolves around them and that there is absolutely nothing on this earth more important than loving them and teaching them and being with them. I am happy to be the classroom mom, the mom who goes on field trips and the mom who leads a middle school writing club, because my time is not spent climbing proverbial ladders elsewhere.

On the other hand, though, I also want them to know that they can do ANYTHING. They can become architects or astronauts; doctors or chefs; lawyers or businesswomen; actresses or designers; engineers or teachers. I want them to know that there are no limitations on what they can achieve. I wonder, though, how will they know they can do anything when they see me doing nothing. Nothing from a career perspective, at least.

If you ask my daughters what they want to be when they grow up, you will get three very different answers. The oldest wants to be an architect or a writer. The middle one wants to be a teacher or a computer programmer. The youngest wants to be a singer or a chef. Based on these answers, it certainly appears that they "get it." They know they have options other than "just being a mommy," and they don't have to choose the same path I chose. Still I wonder, though, if they see (or will someday see) my lack of a formal career as an expectation of who they should be as adults.

I honestly have to say that, even though I have heard and read about the "Mommy Wars," the stay-at-home vs. working mother debate, it has never been a big factor in my life. I have never had a "war" with another mom about which choice is best. The only "war" I've had about it is with myself. However, if I listen to what my daughters have to say about their futures, perhaps that internal war is unnecessary. There's a great chance that my daughters' happiness will be different from mine. There is a great chance that their path will be less traditional than the one I have chosen. Or, perhaps it won't. Only time will tell.

In the end, what I really want my daughters to know is that they really can do anything they choose, whether that's having an illustrious, fast-paced career, being a stay-at-home mom, or finding happiness somewhere in-between. I hope that, even as "just a mom," I am setting an example that shows them they have choices and teaches them to have the courage to make the right decisions for themselves -- whatever they might be.

This post was previously published on Lisa's blog, The Golden Spoons. You can also find her on Facebook.