The Value of a Stay-At-Home Mom


Courtesy of Julie Kilen

Reporter Clara Kilen as an infant being held by her mother, Julie Kilen, in 2004.

“A couple of weeks ago, I crashed my car … I almost started crying right away,” said Avery Ott. “The first thing that popped into my head was, oh, I should call my mom.”


Avery Ott, a senior at Francis Howell Central, recently hit a car for the first time and was overwhelmed by panic. She had never been in this situation so she didn’t know what steps to take to reach a solution. She frantically called her mom who was at home and able to rush to the scene. Her mom consoled her and resolved the situation. This event caused Avery to reflect on what she would do without her mom. Her mom has been a stay-at-home mother her whole life and this enriched her childhood by being present every step of the way.


“I just don’t know what I would do without her… she is able to show so much love and be so supportive because she is at home with her kids,” said Avery Ott. 


The relationship between a child and a mother is sacred and unreplicable. The time children spend in the womb bonds them to their mother and breastfeeding releases high levels of oxytocin which strengthens their connection. A mother nurtures their child emotionally and ensures their wellbeing. Before modern feminism, a women’s role was to care for children and the home; however, in the past 50 years, this traditional model has dissolved. Although feminism has done many great things for women, it has taken the emphasis off of being a mother and placed it on being a member of the workforce. It has become the norm for a woman to attend college and pursue a career. Having children has become an afterthought and being a stay-at-home mom has almost completely disappeared from society.


Women who do choose to become mothers, oftentimes pursue a career alongside it. Being a working mom is seen as empowering, but there is little praise for stay-at-home moms. Melissa Ott, Avery Ott’s mother, has been a stay-at-home mom for 18 years and she feels as though it can be a thankless job. The kids are crying, the house is messy, and the judgment from others lingers in her mind. It is demanding to be a mother and people often underestimate the difficulty of caring for children, especially for Melissa who has five children. 


“Being a stay-at-home mom is tough sometimes. There is no sick leave or paid vacation,“  Melissa said, “It can often feel thankless and overwhelming.”


Society tends to look down on these mothers and devalue their work because they do not hold traditional jobs. It is vital that people understand how important being a mother is. Mothers shape children who will eventually enter the workforce and lead society. Committing to raising a child full time is not for the faint of heart; it requires diligence, patience, and love. If parents are not raising their children, then who will?


Many women in today’s society have become distracted from their role as a mother due to an increase in single-parent households or because they simply enjoyed pursuing a career; this slack has been picked up by teachers. Elementary school teachers are noticing an influx of children who lack social skills and bring behavioral problems to the classroom. Becky Schwab, a second-grade teacher, is experiencing an increase in behavioral problems and thinks the cause may stem from working parents 


“I have noticed an increase in [poor] behavior. [I think the contributing factors are] working parents or single parents with a lack of energy to discipline” said Schwab. 


The problem observed by Schwab could be solved by normalizing mothers whose job is to care for their kids. If it was typical for a mother to stay with her children daily she could model good behavior to her children, and take this burden off of the teachers. Schwab fully believes that taking time to develop a child’s attention span, provide physical contact, and teach manners at home would improve their performance at school. Stay at home moms serve to do all these things and provide a loving atmosphere. 


Pursuing a career is the default for a modern woman because it is seen as fulfilling and a contribution to society. Motherhood is rarely considered when it comes time to pick a career path; motherhood is just as, if not more, fulfilling than a 9-5 job. At times Melissa Ott puts herself down for not holding a typical job.


“ There have been times I have let myself feel slightly inferior because I don’t hold advanced degrees,” said Melissa,  “But I loved being there for all of the little smiles and all of the firsts.”


 Although the world may hold a lower opinion of those without advanced degrees, the joy and fulfillment that kids bring to a mother creates contentment. Seeing your child live a happy life is rewarding beyond that of a typical office job. A mother is bonded with their child from the very beginning of their lives and staying at home for a child allows this bond to flourish. There is the opportunity to watch your child grow and be there for every little milestone.


Parenting is a team effort. Being a stay-at-home mother does not excuse the father from being present in their child’s life. Mothers and fathers alike can support children and provide the love that a child needs growing up. Fathers can be excellent parents and providers, but their role differs from mothers. Sheri Jones, a mother who works part-time, agrees that mothers provide a unique aspect in raising a child. Jones believes that the softness of a mom cannot be substituted; the love of a mother is irreplaceable. Melissa agrees with Jones that there is a loving nature that is unique to mothers.


“While loving and nurturing our children isn’t exclusive to mothers, I do believe we are in a unique position… most mothers have a natural connection with their kids,” said Melissa.


Mothers who need to work to financially support their children can make it work, but sadly it may come at the cost of missing milestones, such as a baby’s first steps. Jones says that she has found her balance by creating her work schedule around her children. Unfortunately, not all women have the work flexibility to do this, but those who do should take full advantage. Jones regrets the period in her life where she felt as though she was working too much and was not present in her children’s life. It broke her heart to not be involved in her child’s daily life because she was working. Motherhood is a tough duty, especially when a mother is balancing her work life and home life. Children need their mother to be present in their lives, and while being a stay-at-home mom is not the only way to make this happen, it is an admirable path to take to help your child have the best upbringing possible. It allows a woman to be involved in her child’s daily life and provide much-needed support and love. 


The opinion that being a stay-at-home mom is demeaning to a woman’s potential is far from the truth. Why is working seen as more dignified than raising a child? Working moms and stay-at-home moms alike deserve praise for their contributions to raising the men and women of society. It is a tragedy that a woman pursuing a career that society deems “normal”  is viewed as more valuable in society than a woman who utilizes her natural ability to birth, feed and raise a child with motherly love. A stay-at-home mom can be there for her kids if they need something dropped off at school, help when they have crashed their car, or simply a hug.