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by Michele Mistry, mother of 3 children aged 5,4 and 2; a Communications & Marketing specialist, fashion designer, runs Chrysalis Kindergarten and Homeschool, Glenvista Jhb

I am a mum.  Humbly, I request to not be labelled a ‘stay home mum’ or a ‘working mum’. Too often we create labels that pen us in. We then find ourselves attempting to escape or live up to that label. It is soul defeating.

Dear mums,

We are all at different places on our journey, knowing this, sometimes the view from a different perspective can change the entire dynamic of everyone’s trip. I’d like to share mine with you.

My husband and I decided that one of us would stay home with our children until age 5.  This was based on sage advice from our Guru (spiritual guide). We had only a vague awareness of its impact.

I struggled with this decision at first. It seemed a lot to ‘give up’. I felt like my life was disrupted and I was continuously waiting to get back to it. But now I see the true value in being home with my kids, for them and me.

This decision has a high cost if measured in western standards. Two come to mind:

  • A single income: we now live simply.
  • Choosing my children over my career: for women who have seen a measure of success and independence, leaving can be overwhelming. It’s hard on your ego, you feel undefined. There are no labels anymore to define who I am. Herein lies my freedom.

There is no greater spiritual opportunity then becoming a parent. Children put a spotlight on everything you need to change personally to grow. Perhaps this difficulty is what used to prompt me to return to my career.

My culture is historically a maternal one, wherein children were given priority. They were often termed little ‘gods’. Mothers were dearly respected, for the Love in all its forms, needed to raise children well. We are ‘The hands that rock the cradle and rule the world’.

Unfortunately these values are diluted by more material ones and mums suffer as a result. The value of earning an income is given greater value then raising our own young. Hence our inner conflict.

5 Years after our decision, there is increasing scientific evidence supporting it. Research into different negative social phenomenon point to 3 root causes:

  • The effects of television,
  • the increase of medical intervention in childbirth and
  • the separation of the child from the primary caregiver from birth to 7 years old. (

We can once again become a whipping pole and add to each other’s guilt, or we can acknowledge our role in children’s lives, our own children and the broader community’s. Let’s take responsibility for what we can, when we can.

Much love

Michele Mistry