Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caution: Mom at Work

Let's just jump right into some controversy, okay?  It seems like other people are afraid to say this, but I know I'm not the only one feeling it, based on some conversations I've had. 

So...deep breath: I hate being a stay-at-home mom.  There, I said it.  Not a "mom," mind you.  I love being a mom.  It's the SAH part that gets me.

Today, a friend made a comment on Facebook about people thinking that being a stay-at-home mom is easy and that those people either aren't one or aren't good ones.  That's pretty critical, and I don't really want to get into that debate.  I certainly do think it's hard as hell meeting everyone else's demands each day, ignoring my own, having any sense of a schedule destroyed by someone who refuses to nap or eat or leave his damn diaper on, eating while doing 10 other things if I remember/am allowed to eat at all, and not having a hot cup of coffee in 4.25 years of mornings...  Sigh.

Frustrations aside, I'll still go all "Mama Bear" for these two, got it?

I was, however, struck by a follow-up comment criticizing people who say they're "just" stay-at-home moms.  Well, I'm one of those people and I feel the need to defend myself, even if it is behind the shield of a blog so as to avoid a FB comment war (you know the ones...).

I was raised around women who worked.  My mom had me while she was still in college.  She finished and stayed at home while I was little, but I really don't remember those days.  I do remember her going back to school for a teaching degree, starting to sub, and getting a job.  I also remember that my grandmother worked her entire life, even earning her MSN, back when women didn't do that.  All of my aunts worked, including one who was VP of a rehab center; when she "gave up" her career to raise her two boys, all I heard was criticism from the family about that decision.

I'd show you the diplomas, but they're in a box in the attic...

My point is that I was raised to NOT be a stay-at-home mom.  I was taught, from an early age, that it is my responsibility to support my family financially.  Everything I've ever heard or seen tells me that I'm not being as good a wife and mother because I have my degrees and am not doing all I can to support my husband and kids.  Yes, I was raised to think like a man, apparently.  Pride was a hard-working woman with well-behaved kids.

I know that many people disagree with that -- hell, I wish I DIDN'T feel that way and could be as happy being at home as some of my friends are -- and I know that raising kids is a hugely important job.  I just have decades of words and actions in my head that I feel like I'm constantly fighting.

This, by the way, is one of the main reasons I have trouble being around other SAHMs.  I'm miserable being at home; I just wasn't prepared for it and keep thinking of all the fun spreadsheets and presentations and meetings I could be a part of (I know, it's an illness).  These friends, however, seem content, organized, happy, prepared... everything I'm not.  I adore my children, who make me laugh and are fascinating little people, but my sense of fulfillment is met with team recognition, a paycheck, my name on a project, closing a deal...things that are distant memories on days that I'm continually changing diapers, picking up toys, and wiping faces after meals.  I miss my heels and suits and handshakes and $4 coffees.

My former "work" side of the closet: empty hangers and shoes I never use.

So no, being a SAHM is NOT easy.  It's a lot of work and sacrifice and there's never a day off (if I'm puking and feverish, I still have to take care of the kids; I'd kill for a sick day).  But even a SAHM may not value what she's doing if she wasn't raised to value it.  While I avoid saying I'm "just" a stay-at-home mom to avoid the ire of the super women around me, I know that there are enough other people around me who see me as "just" that.

At least I know I'm doing something right.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post . . . really. I am a SAHM by force (the price of daycare for 4 kids and the fact that finding a full time job isn't easy) not by choice. I do believe there would/will be days when I will miss it and I know this won't last forever but I miss feeling "human" on days like today. I LOVE my little 2 day a week job - even if it is working with kids - because teaching is what I've always wanted to do. I feel like I've accomplished something at the end of the day when I go to work. Staying at home . . . I feel like I never get anything accomplished. I guess I just wanted you to know that I understand and concur. (And I don't think you are horrible for NOT always loving being a SAHM)