Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: How can I convince my wife to leave her job to raise our child? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
This is from someone who did get left behind at home all her life.
My parents are one of those couples who never had any inheritance or connections from their families. All they had was the urge to establish themselves; be someone. And both of them did succeed at it.
In the process, I got left behind. Being an only child, I stayed home alone most of the time. I haven’t had aunts or grandmothers who took care of me, since I was 6 months old. I mostly managed on my own when my parents were at work.
All my friends went home to their mothers after school, while I was the kid who waited on the doorstep for her mother to come back from work. When she did, I would be beaming with happiness. I used to listen eagerly to that sound of my front door opening with a hope that it would be my father.
I was the kid who prayed day and night that I fell sick so that my parents would take off work and stay back home with me. All my childhood, I just kept hoping my mom would leave her job for me and stay back home – braid my hair, cook me special delicious meals everyday and have every part of her life circling me – just like a traditional mother. Every time I told her this, she just laughed it off.
My mom hates household chores – especially cooking. I wanted a mom who loved that stuff. She never based her identity on me. She is a woman of her own. I hated that I am not at the center of her world.
I loved Sundays because it would be me AND my mom for that day. I hated any holiday that I had, on which my mom would be working. I hated every time my father went somewhere on work for a couple of days.
When I was 10, I swore that I would never ever be a working mother.
I am 20 now. If given a choice, would I change anything about my childhood??
Now I understand that all I have been was a selfish child. She has not spent every single minute of her life with me. So what? Moms who stay at home don’t do that either. Children need room to grow up.
My mom never ignored me. She joked with me, teased me, played with me. She still does all those things. More than anything else, she talks to me and I talk to her. She shaped my academics and my personality. She told me bed-time stories every single night – she never missed a day. She taught me mythology. She taught me politics. She taught me history. She taught me science. She listened to all my stories of school. She told me all her stories of work. She always knew what was going on with me and I always felt loved.
I respect my mother not only as a parent but also as an individual. I see her as someone smart, kind, wise and knowledgeable. Her passion to learn and grow as an individual did rub onto me a bit. Even today whenever I come across a bizarre scientific fact, I call her up and ask if she knew about it. And not once, did she act disinterested in what I was talking to her about – be it Nazis or be it this girl at school. My mother has always been my intellectual colleague. She is the one who showed me what a woman should be like.
Today I don’t care about what she cooked or how long she spent on dressing me for school when I was five. It’s not what defines my personality. Having an intelligent, financially-independent mother who has an identity of her own does.
The times my mother couldn’t be with me, my father tried to compensate. He tried to support my mother as much as he could. He has never been the man who tried to dominate his wife. He respects her as an equal – socially, emotionally, financially and intellectually. He understands her. He understands me. This is the quality that makes me respect my father more than anything else. This, according to me, is the kind of father every child should have.
To all the men out there who think women should stay at home to take care of children without a career of their own, please think of the image of yourself and the society you are painting in your child’s head by thinking so.