Identity, motherhood

MILFing isn’t for everyone

I have been a stay at home mom for eight years.

When I stopped to calculate that number, I surprised even myself.

Nearly a decade of childrearing.  Holy milf, indeed.

When I made the decision to stay at home, I was not in love with my job, but was in love with my babies.  Simple, right?

Add a third baby, physical trauma, and postpartum depression into the mix and ‘stay at home’ was not as blissful as Leave It to Beaver would have you believe.

The other day I watched Mindy Kaling’s take on ‘Stay at Home Milf’dom in her sitcom episode of the same name.  Facing the end of maternity leave with her newborn and the start of a work relationship with an obnoxious new colleague, Mindy quits her job, telling Danny she’ll be the best MILF there ever was.  As always in the show, the irony is rich as Mindy follows the directives of a website called ‘Modern Mominista’, cooking and cleaning while looking perfectly fashionable.  Not completely sold on her decision in the first place and enduring a rough week at home, Mindy trades places with Danny for a day.  She feels alive with triumph after successfully completing a surgery.  Her victory is short lived, however, when she arrives home to Danny’s gourmet meal.  It looks as if he’s excelled at stay-at-home daddydom.  As she confesses her true feelings to the baby – how she loves him so much, but feels as if practicing as a doctor is the only thing she’s really good at – she discovers the secret to Danny’s success: his mom’s help.  Mom and Dad come to an understanding of how hard staying at home all day with baby really is.

from The Mindy Project, Season 4, Episode 5

from The Mindy Project, Season 4, Episode 5

The idea of this episode was not to vilify fathers as clueless with unreasonable expectations – though I was upset when it looked as if Danny was going to show her up (The plot redeemed itself with equal frustration 😉 ).  It was an honest – if humorous – look at all facets to the decisions of parenthood and childcare.  Mindy’s reticence at telling Danny how she really feels gets to the heart of all dilemmas surrounding motherhood – where the circles of self and mother intersect.

I didn’t want anyone else caring for my children as infants.  While that decision was fueled by love – it was followed with the close seconds of my need for control and my ambivalence toward my career.  Do women who view their careers as vocation love their children any less?  And what of women, like me, who stand by their decision to stay home, but struggle with the day-to-day carrying out of it?  Who are driven to anxiety and depression by the stimuli and stressful responsibility of it?

There is no clear-cut answer – as evidenced by Mindy’s confession to an empty room that she’s actually happy to go back to work.


7 thoughts on “MILFing isn’t for everyone

  1. Very good questions. The only thin I’d add (or adjust rather) is the part about women. I’d like to change that to parents. I understand that you might have used the word women because you are a woman. But I dislike the idea that it is women the ones who decide to stay home with the kids for the most part. But that should change, in my opinion. I like how in Canada, fathers also get a paternity leave so they can be with their babies.

    But back to the question, isn’t it terrible that we are tricked into thinking that we might love our children less if we decide to still have a career? Nobody say it to our faces. It is ourselves who agonize with guilt thinking we love them less. Personally, I don’t think stay-at-home parents love their children more. And in a perfect society, all parents should be given the opportunity to stay at home (maybe rotating between each parent) without losing ground in the work force. I do think it is important for children that one parent stays at home for the first few years. That is why a rotation-based paternity leave should become a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      I totally agree, Claudia. On the leave, on the self-punishment, on rotating parents. 🙂

      And you’re right: I discussed this issue through the lens of motherhood because I am a woman and the parent in our relationship staying home. Also, because Danny in The Mindy Project in uber-traditional fashion wants the mother of his child to care for him. That certainly doesn’t mean it must be the mother, though.

      Thank you!


  2. What was the other question? Oh yes. The struggle. I stayed home with my kids for a while. As much as I loved it, it almost drove me nuts. I loved being with them, teaching them, nurturing them, laughing with them but also I couldn’t wait to go back and be the person I wanted to be. Which I eventually did. And two seconds later, despite being super happy with it, I felt guilty for not being home with them. No rest for the wicked

    Liked by 1 person

      • I hope you find the answer. I never did. I loved, loved, loved watching grow, helping them grow and learning with them. The mother in me was ecstatic but the person in me was utterly unhappy. Years later when they were finally in school, and I was very happy as a person, the mother in me wasn’t happy and felt very guilty. I think that externally I was able to find a good balance and managed to not really miss anything with my kids, internally I was a mess and also chronically exhausted. I did not enjoy the long, long days that come with being both a mother and a career woman.

        Liked by 1 person

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