The working mother’s routine is a race: Dash out in the morning, rush back home in the afternoon, arrange pick-up and drop-off, run errands on the way to or from the office. Wipe that runny nose. Defrost the meat for supper. Sign homework, schedule play dates, and visit the doctor with this toddler or that teen. The next day, master the art of multitasking all over again.
But what happens when the script changes? When you lose your job and are suddenly a full-time mommy? Or you actively choose to stop working to take care of a growing family? Challenging though it may be to run a home and hold down a job at the same time, reverting to stay-home motherhood after years in the workforce can be equally challenging. Will it be stifling to stay in the house day after day? How will your family manage without your salary? Where will you get intellectual stimulation, or find your social outlet?
To answer these questions, Family First spoke to four women who left the workplace to become full-time, stay-at-home moms.
A New Reality
Aliza Farber* had a demanding medical job that she imagined would turn into a long-term career. Her salary supported the family during shanah rishonah, when her husband was learning, and also when Mr. Farber attended college and law school. But as the family started growing, things changed.
“I cut back to three-quarters time after my oldest was born, and then to part-time after my third,” Aliza explains. “Then we moved to a new community for my husband’s job, and I thought I’d find work within a few months. Now, six months later, I still haven’t found anything, and I’m home with my eighteen-month-old — something I never anticipated.”
Like Aliza, Gitty Michaelson* had always intended to make work a permanent part of her life.
“I was a therapist for sixteen years, and I loved my job. I started out full time and eventually moved to part time. My husband leaves the house at 7 a.m. and gets home after 8 p.m., so everything home-related rested on me — but I was managing. Things got crazier as my family grew, but I kept working because I truly loved what I did and felt I was contributing something valuable to my family.”
But when Gitty’s employer told her that she would have to change her hours, she was forced to reconsider her situation. “That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says Gitty, who knew that it would be impossible to manage the new hours and take proper care of her family.
Intellectually, Gitty knew that resigning was the right choice, but she still felt conflicted. “I wasn’t just working to contribute to the family finances. I was doing therapy — which meant I was giving to a lot of children. It was very hard to give it up. But I had to face the reality that it was time to quit.”
The catalyst that led Esther Shifra Aranowitz* to resign from her teaching job had nothing to do with conflicts at work. For the first eleven years of her married life, Esther Shifra taught at the local Bais Yaakov in her out-of-town community. She loved her job — and the added benefit that her salary allowed her husband to learn. But the last year she was teaching, she gave birth to a baby who was much more demanding than her other children had been. After that, the focus of the family became “Let’s help Mommy survive” rather than “Let’s do this so Tatty can learn.”
“From the beginning, we had decided that we would take things year by year. So when I stopped working, it was a very clear-cut decision,” Esther Shifra explains. “I felt that I had done a good job teaching, and now it was time to become a full-time mother. Once I was home, it meant a lot to me to be able to contribute to my husband’s learning in other ways, like taking over the errands or arranging for home repairs so that he wouldn’t have to worry about them.”
A full load at home is also what prompted Devorah Singer* to leave the workplace. “For twelve years, I had been working in a great office doing PR work and office management, which I loved. But after my sixth child was born, it became clear that my home needed a full-time mommy. I felt grateful for the opportunity to stay home and take care of my kids, but it was still a very sudden change.”
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