Mouths To Feed- To Work or Not to Work?

One small car, one small house, one giant legacy.  Those nine words define my grandparents’ life choices.  They moved to Johnson City in 1953, bought a teeny little house, and began their work and ministry at Milligan College and at home.  At the time of my grandmother’s death just a few years ago, they were still operating with one car and still blessing every person who entered that same teeny house.


Over the years, they made choices and sacrifices that directly affected the well being of their children and grand children.  Not the least of which was the choice that Grandma would invest her intellect, energy, and love into the occupants of the teeny house.  Granted, this was the norm while the WWII generation was booming out the babies.  However, the model of their generation is fruitful, powerful, timeless, and worthy of consideration as we make choices that will shape the next generation.


To work or not to work?  That is the question.  Every able-bodied two parent family has to make this choice.  (Single parent choices will be discussed in a future column)  I would recommend that engaged couples have a brutally honest discussion on this topic.  I’ve known many a physician, corporate executive, engineer, attorney, etc that stunned their husbands when they walked away from those careers to do the toughest job on the planet:  raising decent human beings.


In order to continue the wife’s career, some families delay having babies, some dads stay home with the children, and some moms figure out a way to do their jobs from home.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I know several stay-at-home dad families for whom things are going very well.


But what I run into more often are young working moms who want nothing more desperately than to be at home with their children.  They’re calling me to talk about strategies for continuing to breastfeed after returning to work, but end up sharing with me their frustration about feeling they have no choice.  


“I have to work,” she says.  “Ok”, I say, “Show me the money.”  What are your expenses now and what is working going to cost you?  Have you done the math on day care, eating out, dry cleaning, house cleaning, and formula (breastfeeding can save you about $4000/yr)?


If you want to know how to operate on one income, read a Dave Ramsey book.  He will teach you how to find “financial peace” and has very specific advice regarding stay-at-home-parent families.


Everybody thinks it can’t be done.  It CAN be done.  There are sacrifices.  Truly, there is no choice without a corresponding sacrifice when it comes to family.  But, wouldn’t you agree that most short term sacrifices bring long term blessings?


Maybe one small car and one small house is the answer to your “to work or not to work” question.  Maybe, for you, the sacrifice would be as simple as just eliminating a few luxuries.


Luxury or legacy?  That is the real question.  Very few people can give both of these to their children, so don’t you think we better get busy building the latter?


Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has taught new parent classes for more than 10 years. 

Copyright 2007

Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC