A friend recently asked for opinions on being a stay-at-home-mom vs. a working mom. I was going to comment on her blog but realized that my comment would probably be long enough for my own post instead. So here goes:
I think that people need to make their own decision about which is best for themself and for their family. And....I don't think this decision can sometimes be made until after a baby is already born and the mom has to see how things go and how she feels. My mom was sort of both. She drove a bus and was gone in the mornings until about 9am. She was also gone in the afternoons when we first got home from school but was always back by about 4pm. It was pretty ideal. If we were sick, she either didn't work that day or once we got older, at least she was home during the majority of the day (she usually started her bus run at about 2pm).
I myself always knew that I would not be a SAHM. The first reason for this was driven by finances (of course!). I did manage to finagle part-time work though after B1's birth. I got off every day at 3:30 and was home in time to make dinner and for us to eat at a 'normal' hour. Before her birth, I didn't get home from work until 6 or sometimes 7pm. That sucked. By the time B2 came along, I was teaching and getting off work every day by 3:30ish. Now remember though, teachers bring work home. But the nice part is that we can schedule our own hours in the evening when it comes to grading papers, etc.
I NEED to work. I really mean that. I had postpartum depression and even now, every so often, I deal with slight anxiety/depression. This is hereditary on my mother's side of the family and I was lucky enough to inherit it. Hopefully our daughters will take after Hubby and his side of the family because they all seem to be a bit more 'normal.' Ha ha! But seriously, I do need to work. I need adult interaction. I also think that I appreciate the time I spend with my children more because I am not with them 24/7. I am a happier person because I work and therefore, my spirit when I am with my children is better than I am sure it would be if I didn't work.
We were very lucky with the daycare that we found for our children. I was never apprehensive about leaving them with anyone. This may come from living in a small town and knowing my daycare providers for many years before they were actually my employees. I don't know. But I always knew my kids were in good hands. I also think that it is good for kids to be around other children, and not just in a 'playgroup' setting, etc. They need to learn how to share, take turns, sleep in the same room, eat what is put in front of them, and many other traits that are taught in a daycare setting. They are also exposed to germs at these places, which in my opinion builds their immune systems. We can't let our children live in a bubble and try to protect them from every little thing. They are one day going to have to go to school (unless someone chooses to home-school, which is an area in which I have strong opinions) and we can't always keep them shaded from the 'big bad world.'
Once again though, people have to do what is right for their own situation. There are so many factors that must go into the decision. Someone once told me when I became a mom that if there is something I am not comfortable with, then don't do it. You know what feels right for you and you can't worry about what everyone else thinks. It's a decision to be made by you and your husband. You are the child's parents and must always be on the "same team" when it comes to raising that child. Hope this helps....