Today I met a very lovely mommy from Ireland at the playground who has lived here in Jersey for seven years. As we discussed the challenges of being a stay-at-home, she said that she is concerned about her daughter's impression of a woman's role. Her daughter has said that "boys go to work and girls stay home." Her mother has been pointing out women she and her daughter encounter in professional positions and explains to her that they are at "work."
I said her daughter (a three year old) is probably old enough for her to explain that although she isn't leaving home to work, she is in fact doing a very difficult and important job. Also, now that I'm thinking of it...her daughter is probably old enough to understand her if she explains that she is staying home to raise her herself and to teach her things only she could teach her.
Anyhow, it just resonated with me. As mothers, guilt follows us everywhere. She was very happy in a career role, but with all of their family in Ireland, just couldn't get comfortable with leaving her little one with strangers (which is exactly why I decided to take time off from my career).
I hope that the love with which she has made her choices is what makes an impression on her daughter over time. I hope the same for myself and for other stay at home moms and dads who decide that they are willing to sacrifice the income and the social respect that come with having a professional career in order to raise their own children.