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I'm Done Making Excuses for Being a SAHM

Tired of hearing about the Mommy Wars? Me too—and I'm convinced that there's a lot less of this stuff brewing under the surface than mainstream media would like us to believe. But I've noticed lately that I find myself making excuses for the parenting choices I've made. What the heck?

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I've been a parent for almost 21 years now (gulp) and I have no regrets about most of the parenting decisions I've made along the way. Sure, there was that lousy attempt at making my own baby food (messy) and a brief period where I thought "quiet time" was optional (it wasn't). But being a parent means making decisions both big and small, every single day. Decisions about work/life issues really shouldn't be up for public debate, any more than Coke vs. Pepsi should cause major dissension between BFFs (it's Coke, btw).

When I was a new mom, I almost always had to explain that I had chosen to stay home with my son, at least for the immediate future. And even now, when I meet new people and the topic turns to jobs or parenthood, there's always that point in the conversation where I feel that excuses are necessary. Somehow I always feel obligated to make excuses or explain the period of time I was a SAHM, like saying, "We saved money ahead of time so I could stay home" or "We sure didn't take many awesome vacations!"

The end game in parenting should be the same for all moms: to raise confident, intelligent, kind, capable and self-sufficient young adults. How we get there is up to us.

While I've been a SAHM, a part-time employee, a freelancer, a WAHM and a full-time employee during my time as a mom, I have to admit that I make my lamest excuses over the time I spent at home raising my kids. I'm not sure why, because I loved that time in my life—as exhausting and all-encompassing as it was. But I also loved each and every "phase" of my work/mom life because it worked for us at that time.

What have I learned about work/life balance along the way that I wish I'd known back then?

1. You raise your kids on a timeline

Decisions you make about housing, schooling, work/life issues, discipline methods, bedtimes and house rules are not absolutes—they are fluid, changing as the needs of your family changes. What works for you when you have three kids under the age of 5 may not work when they are tweens and teens. You can't really make a decision as the mother of a newborn that will still be right when he's 12. Sure, it might work out that way, but most likely your work/life situation will change along the way.

2. My choices don't equal your choices

Boom. They just don't. The end game in parenting should be the same for all moms: to raise confident, intelligent, kind, capable and self-sufficient young adults. How we get there is up to us. And I'm telling you from 21 years down the road that you will get there, regardless of whether you are a SAHM for life or a corporate VP. Making the choices that work best for your family makes you the best parent for your kids.

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3. We all have more in common than you think

Your kids get sick? So did mine. Problems with breastfeeding/teething/potty training/teachers/karate instructors/playground bullies/teenage angst/college applications? Same. Put a bunch of moms in a room together and you will find they have more in common than not. I've noticed even 21 years later that I can still quickly find common ground with the mother of a newborn, a 4-year-old or a middle-schooler.

Being a parent goes way beyond my choice to work outside the home or stay home with my kids for a while. So I'm done making excuses.

Image via Twenty20/cancanancavidan

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