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The Mommy Wars Revisited

'I Was an At-Home Mom'

Stepping off the career fast track had its costs, but this mother wouldn’t have it any other way

My career? My dream was to become Brenda Starr, newspaper reporter, and a month before my first son was born I completed my master’s degree in journalism. But Brenda Starr is a full-time job — and that’s not what I wanted. As my kids got older, I realized that "staying home" didn’t mean I had to stay in the house every minute. So I started teaching one journalism course every semester, working just a couple of hours a week. Between transportation and the babysitter, I lost money on the deal. But it allowed me to keep a finger in the professional world while being a stay-at-home mom.

I did feel at times — from friends, the media — that I had made a politically incorrect choice. The inevitable question when I met new people back in those years was "And what do you do?" My "I'm a stay-at-home mom" often resulted in a blank look or another question: "When are you going back to work?"

I did return to more demanding work when my kids were in high school. It may not have been the high-powered career I might have had otherwise, but I earned a significant enough paycheck to renovate my kitchen and to help pay for my children's college. I fully expect that I will work full time into my 70s, partly to make up for lost wages and partly because I like my job.

I have no regrets. One recent morning while out walking, I saw a somewhat harried 30-something mom loading her two young sons and their equipment into her van for summer baseball camp. I remembered those days; I know they held their fair share of frustration, exhaustion and drudgery, but only the sweetness remains.

"Enjoy them," I told her. "It goes much too fast."

Mary Quigley is the author of the popular blog Mothering21.com about life with grown kids.

"I Was a Working Mom."  A mother looks back on her decision to pursue a high-powered career when her children were young.

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