Every woman in America has faced this choice: work and provide income to raise the family, or stay home with the children while they are small? Many Americans, of course, can give only a fleeting thought to the question, if any, since they need the income to put food on the table and clothes on the family. But for many of us, it is a choice. A choice that is all wrapped up in not only fiduciary and family questions, but also intellectual, self-image, and responsiblity issues as well. What, as mothers, can we contribute to the world, and how does that stack up against our contributions at home?
To be honest, we’ve probably all considered this question, wrestled with it, and come to a kind of peace with our current decisions. But today, there’s a twist.
How does the math change for mothers with a life-threatening disease?
There are several mothers on my ibc-support list who have been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer (that means the cancer has spread to the bones, lungs, liver, or other parts of the body beyond the original tumor; it is a very serious diagnosis) and are struggling with this question anew. They are doing a morbid kind of calculus: if they have five years to live, they will need to keep working to provide for their family, particularly for needs after they are gone. If they have two months to live, they would want to stop working now to spend as much time as possible with their babies. But what of those with an estimate of two years? What of the vast majority of us with no definite prognosis but a late-stage cancer nonetheless?
What is the responsible thing to do?
There are no easy answers. The moms on my list are coming together to discuss their own choices, their heartbreak, their struggles, but there really doesn’t seem to be an easy answer. There is, however, one thing that makes the calculation much easier.
Life insurance. If you’re one of the moms here lucky enough to be in a position to choose whether or not to work, please, please consider taking out a life insurance policy for yourself. Now. Before something happens. Whether you work outside of the home, at home, or in the home, your work is valuable. You are valuable. And if, God forbid, something should happen to you, there would be a huge financial as well as emotional hit to your family. Particularly if you have young children who will need child care of some sort, or tuition bills. I know this is a very hard topic to consider, but, after reading along while fellow moms have to make these heartbreaking choices, I can’t help wishing that every mom had a life insurance policy big enough to protect her family and help make the decisions of her last few years easier.
If you choose to work with a Stage IV diagnosis, more power to you. But if you aren’t really feeling up to it, and would rather be home with your children, it would be nice to have the choice.
Edited to clarify: I believe that all moms who can afford it should consider taking out a life insurance policy. It has nothing to do with a diagnosis, and everything to do with planning effectively for your family’s future. You. have. value. Financially as well as emotionally, you are a lynchpin in the workings of your family. I dare you to tell me otherwise.