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Wasting potential as a SAHM. It's true. - Page 3

post #41 of 91
Oh mosschops, I'm with you on that one. I haven't even begun to pay back my student loan and am now homeschooling with no income in sight. Sigh! Why did I even get that degree!?

Breathe - great thread.
post #42 of 91
Quote:
Originally posted by Breathe
I feel like I could take your thoughts, post them verbatim into a document and publish it as a book.

Reading your stories is like reading about the modern SAHM . . . she's a former hi-powered businesswoman; a musical genius whose instrument is collecting dust; an accomplished and highly educated professional who has CHOSEN to put her career on hold . . . for who knows how long; and a recent high school grad whose whole "career" is yet to be discovered.

To me, this is EXACTLY why motherhood is SO hard and SO complex and SO difficult to describe that no one ever does it justice. We come to it from vastly different places, and yet we share so many of the same feelings. And we're so damn tired and overworked that we rarely have an opportunity to explore our feelings and needs!

It's obvious from reading this post of yours, Breathe, that you are in fact a very gifted writer! You managed to put together all the replies in a succinct and wonderful way. DO write that book, okay??

PS - I've decided to mark this thread for the archives. It's a gem!!
post #43 of 91
I just have to say that I know these feelings well! I love love love being a mommy, but I also own my own business and while that is wonderful, it also provides me with much guilt about not being there very often! I go in a few days a week when dh gets home, and a couple others I take my son in with me. When I take him, I'm not really working, just checking in. When I go in by myself, I feel like a version of the person I was before I had a baby: smart, funny, energetic, in control and excited. They say that being a mother changes everything, and I have to agree. I have a hard time some days remembering that I am creative, intelligent and an all around wonderful person! Like when the baby is crying for no reason or doesn't feel well, or just gets bored with his toys or my silly games. But of course, then he smiles and laughs I wonder why I would ever want to leave his side!

My business is a huge accomplishment in my life - I am proud of it and worry about it all the time - it is not only my livelihood, but my link to the "real" pre-baby world.

I think balance is the key to life - some sort of creative/thinking outlet is essential for all people, not just moms! We all need some "me" time, and we all want to feel like we can contribute something to our world in addition to raising a wonderful little person.

I am so thankful that my husband is such a wonderful man and father. I feel totally comfortable taking me time - I can scrapbook, go shopping, or just read a book, knowing that my son is in the best of hands. I have a friend whose husband has a really hard time with fathering their son, and I feel so sorry for her! She works extra hard, and then is getting her MBA as well. We set aside time every month to go to dinner so that we can talk like adults!

Anyway, that's my babbled feelings on the subject! Great topic Breathe
post #44 of 91
OK, I know this is about SAHMS. And I understand SAHMS have unique challenges.

But I just want to say that working doesn't necessarily alleviate these dilemmas.

I mean, I HATE my job. I feel like I am wasting my potential every minute of every hour I am here.
But I am stuck, because I am the breadwinner. That's not how we planned things, but there it is.
So I hate work, I go home and don't have my all to give DS.. and do absolutely NOTHING for me.

I too wish I could play my flute, write poetry, devote time to my spiritual practices.....

I see where the culture doesn't value SAHMS.. but then it doesn't value mothers, period. And as angry as I am about that.. I sometimes tell myself I need to stop looking outside myself, and my fellow moms for validation. I can't find support for most of the things I do in our culture.
There's plenty of support if you want to mindlessly consume.. but not for much else, kwim?

Anyway, I don't think any mom, SAHM or otherwise, is truly wasting their potential. If you are mindful, if you at least have an inner life and a consciousness and a voice..
We don't have to define ourselves by what we DO.. better to think about who we ARE.
post #45 of 91
Back again! Breath thanks for starting this thread. It looks like we needed it. Oceanswimmer, I am an RN also but being a hospital nurse became very frustrating to me with all of the monetary, staffing, and insurance issues. I rarely felt as if I could do my best for my patients because of staffing issues and had hopes of making it to a level where I could help nurses - maybe a vp? I felt very needed working at a county hospital that served the indigent but there were times we ran out of tape and had only one bp cuff for our floor. One of the reasons I went to school to get my ms. I think it's really hard for rn's to break into the upper echelons of hosp admin and I don't understand why a male with a degree in bus. admin who has less experience is the usual choice over a woman with degrees in healthcare and business. Slightly crunchy, I haven't read sequencing but if I only knew then, what I know now, I would have planned and mapped out the whole education, career, mothering scenario. Unfortunately, my body did not cooperate and I had difficulty conceiving for years. I guess in a way it has all worked out. I don't really miss working because I did work for so long and financially we are now secure enough that I can stay home. Because of our biological clock issue, I think even if I did the ideal, bs by age 22, work 2 years and then ms by 26, climb the ladder for 5-6 years and have two children by age 35, it would still leave a huge gap of at least 6 years to get the kids off to a good start. I also think that for me spacing kids at least 4 years apart would allow me to give each child the individual attention they need. I know that when I do go back to work, I don't have it in me to go for the high positions that require 50+ hours per week. I want to pick my ds up from school and be at all of the games and practices. Conference rooms and budget meetings just don't compare!
post #46 of 91
I honestly don't see it as "wasting my potential" as a stay at home mom--because no matter how wonderful my career was before, the days that I am living now are priceless and have taught me more than college and any job ever has. There are some talents that came to me effortlessly, but being a stay at home mom forced me to exercise a muscle in my soul that was very underdeveloped.

It is undeniable that I have had to sacrifice a part of myself to stay at home with my kids, but I now see that as one of my biggest accomplishments in life. I see staying home a contrast in zen like repetitive actions and duties (cooking, cleaning, childcare) mixed with intense moments of self discovery and emotional moments of witnessing the TRUE beauty of life...the love and devotion and connections we make with our children. If I diluted the experience by taking on a carrer at this point, not only would my kids lose out, but I would too. I feel that I have to be *present* in this important task, not distracted or thinking about my next deadline. Because it is all about savoring the small moments...these priceless, never to come again moments that swell your soul and enrich your humaness.
post #47 of 91
Quote:
Originally posted by asherah

But I just want to say that working doesn't necessarily alleviate these dilemmas.
Thanks for posting this. I think sometimes we get the "grass is greener" thinking. Your post made me realize that even if I worked, I may not be fulfilling my potential!

I love staying home and plan to untill my kids aregrown, but we definatly need some plays to voice our feelings. Thanks so much to Breathe for starting this thread.
post #48 of 91
I have to say when I stepped out onto that looooong limb, I had no idea what a wonderful thread this would become! I am also so impressed that it hasn't digressed into an us vs. them (SAHMs vs. WOHMs... or "here is why life as a SAHM should be fulfiilling in and of itself thank you very much" thread. )

Thank you Breathe!

I love your thread ideas too, though think this one is doing a great job of the Support one already!
post #49 of 91
Thread Starter 
I also appreciate the points about no one job meeting all our needs or using all our gifts. On MANY days I have reminded myself that I have *never* had a job that didn't frustrate/bore/anger me at some time, so there's no point romanticizing the working world over being at home.

I guess what I meant to say is that I don't feel like a very well-rounded person right now. And admittedly, maybe I wasn't either in my old jobs, but I have definitely been closer at other times in my life.

I mean, I frequently complain to dh that when we go to social functions with working people (that would be EVERYONE in our life, except my best mama friends), that no one EVER asks me any questions.

So then I think, "What would I like to be asked?" Hmm. "So Eleanor, tell me about how you think the feminist movement affects your feelings toward motherhood?" Right. When you get right down to it, acquaintances and family members (at least ours) never really delve into anything deeper than "How's work?" with *anyone*. The difference is that I *think* everyone ASSUMES that they KNOW what my days are like . . . 'cause it's just babysitting, right?

Either that, or raising children is so common that people think they've BTDT and there's really nothing to discuss.

And when being painfull honest with myself, I realize that I really *don't* have anything else to talk about besides mothering. And that is both WONDERFUL and fulfilling and all I need, and also somewhat shocking and scary.

And that's where the sentiment came from in starting this thread . . . realizing that of all my multiple intelligences, only one (my Motherwit?) is truly being used. But if you'll remember, I also started out by saying that I don't honestly see HOW I could do anything more than I already do. So therein lies the dilemma.

Of course I can bide my time until ds is a little bigger . . . but then do you think that being pg again has anything to do with my returning angst about where I fit into this picture?!?
post #50 of 91
Quote:
Originally posted by Breathe
Of course I can bide my time until ds is a little bigger . . . but then do you think that being pg again has anything to do with my returning angst about where I fit into this picture?!?
Yes, I think it probably aggravates those underlying feelings. I know it did for me. I remember having all sorts of new worries/concerns pop up as soon as I found out I was preg w/#2. And I was actively trying to get pregnant, desperately wanted a 2nd child, so there wasn't ambivalence about the pregnancy to blame.

That is a good point, Asherah, about the grass being greener. I was trying to allude to that in one of my posts but you drove the point home much more clearly...thanks! I had that reinforced twice in the last two days. I've had the need to talk to many of my former full-time colleagues at the college where I teach (we are in the middle of final exams right now) and every time I talk to a female colleague, she always asks about my girls and then, usually with a deep sigh, tells me how lucky I am to be able to be home with them. Everytime I talk to a male colleague, they vent about work, about how drained or frustrated they are. I remember those same feelings as a full-time employee. It is a good reminder for me. I KNOW I'm lucky to be home and I truly am grateful. I wouldn't trade it for anything. But when I was told by the college president recently that I should come back full time, that he saw a role for me in the upper tier of the administration, there was part of me that wanted to jump at the opportunity. It was an emotional reaction and I loved having my intellect and professional abilities praised, but if I had to chose today between being a college dean or being here with my girls, there really wouldn't be a choice to make. But I know part of me would mourn the professional loss.

I do hold onto the idea that before long my girls will be in school and I'll have more hours in the day to carve out a new niche for myself. And that's going to happen all too quickly.
post #51 of 91
"So then I think, "What would I like to be asked?" Hmm. "So Eleanor, tell me about how you think the feminist movement affects your feelings toward motherhood?" Right. When you get right down to it, acquaintances and family members (at least ours) never really delve into anything deeper than "How's work?" with *anyone*."

You know, I think this is just one of those stock phrases that people know is safe for small talk. It's the same with my kids who are homeschooled. People are so used to filling social space with the question "so what are you doing in school?" that they are stymied when they find out you don't do school. They ask not because they are actually interested, and not because it is the only interesting thing to talk about. They ask because they lack the imagination (or courage) to go beyond those stock phrases.
post #52 of 91
I can feel for you. I am happy most of the days to be a SAHM and student, but then there are days where I am watching other women who are going out on the town (work, lunch, shopping, dressing up not casual etc. ) or I talked to friends who I haven't in a long time and find out that they are doing this and that and have so much of this and that because they are working outside the home. I feel like a totally failure and I want to be out doing all that too right then and there. I fight this all the time, you're not alone in this. If you ever wanted to talk at a time you're feeling this way just private e-mail me and talk.
post #53 of 91
There are tears in my eyes right now- thank you for such an open and honest thread.

The other day a letter came in the mail from my old job, and in it, I found that they had hired someone permanantly to replace me. (No big surprise there, I'vebeen on "indefinite maternity leave" for almost a year, but they hadn't really found someone to take my place...) The person they hired was my biggest rival at our biggest competitor. For some reason, it has really thrown me for a loop- That this person who I had such strong disdain for is now doing what I still consider to be "my job." This thread has just really hit home for me today.

I miss the fulfillment of the pats on the backs and getting a real paycheck every two weeks. I miss having conversations with adults and feeling like I was really having an impact on people's lives. This has been a terribly stressful week, and my two year old is really discovering some very challenging two year old behaviors, and in weeks like this, I definitely over romanticize what it would be like to go back to work and feel like a productive member of society.

Quote:
Reading your stories is like reading about the modern SAHM . . . she's a former hi-powered businesswoman; a musical genius whose instrument is collecting dust; an accomplished and highly educated professional who has CHOSEN to put her career on hold . . . for who knows how long; and a recent high school grad whose whole "career" is yet to be discovered.
I can't even tell you how long it's been since my poor violin has been in to be serviced, and how long it's been since I've played music that wasn't related to what my students were learning. I really, really miss the musical side of me, and although I know the teaching is important, and that my little girls love the endless repetiotions of "You are my Sunshine" and "Twinkle, Twinkle" sometimes I really just miss that aspect of me. It's like there's a whole different side to myself that has been put in storage for awhile- something about me that no one sees because I'm so wrapped up in diapers, nursing, and keeping my house running smoothly. I know I made the choice to do this, and it's not a choice I regret or would cahnge, given the chance. Some days, though, it seems like the mundaneness (it's a word now!) of mothering seems to overwhelm everything creative and beautiful.

Quote:
Here's something I hold on to. When I was studying trumpet with a trumpet goddess in NYC, she told me however long you put the trumpet aside you will always be a trumpet player, and when you come back to it your playing will have grown because you will have grown.
Muse, thank you for this. It rang true in me as a musician, but also relates to everything else I have set aside for motherhood.

But I'm also grateful for this thread because it's reminded me in poignant ways why I chose to do this in the first place, and helped me to make a ocmmittment to really enjoy the choice I've made.
post #54 of 91
The thing about playing Twinkle Twinkle made me laugh, as it's taken me ages to have that not be the first tune that pops to mind when I pick up an instrument!!! And it made me think about how one of the hardest things about mothering is it never ends, we don't get home at 6pm and put it aside, even if we go off and do our own thing for a couple of hrs it is always ingrained in our psyche. Which is an amazing thing in itself but also overwhelming, and I think we lose some of our private creative emotional self in that.

As someone said above (sorry I've lost tracK), maybe we should hold onto who we ARE rather than what we DO.

I took an Art for Mothers 6 week course with an art therapist when I was struggling a yr ago, and having 2 hrs just to explore my own creative consciousness in a new medium every week was very therapeutic. I thought maybe I'd make things for the walls, for my son, whatever, but I went in there and made a mess, tried new things, laughed, cried, and did it for absolutely noone but myself.

Remembering that and reading this thread is inspiring me to set up something similar using music for local mothers....maybe...hmmm..See, I need that thread where we push and encourage others! Mindfulmom, I love your idea for new threads; definitely!!!
post #55 of 91
Thank you to everyone for openly discussing this! Our ds is 18 months old and it seems like this has been a huge issue for me for the past year. Yesterday, I took a ridiculous online IQ test just to prove to myself that I was still smart. Guess what? I am!!!!

For me, some of the pressure I feel to "use my potential" really comes from what other people view as my potential.

I spent a lot of time and money on school and got pregnant only months after I had graduated and started working. There were a lot of raised eyebrows after our ds was born and I closed my new practice. Frankly, some people around me still don't get how I can "waste" my potential, but the ones that matter see me happier than I have ever been - the potential I had then didn't make me nearly as happy as the potential that exists now.

Who knew I would be able to grow a baby, birth him and raise him with (relative) grace? Who knew I had the ability to love so deeply? Who knew I would be able to read Good Night Gorilla hundreds and hundreds of times and always manage to laugh like I had never read it before? I sure didn't. No one around me did either. I had that potential all along and never knew.

Finding balance and learning new things has been my key. I've learned to knit, bake bread and finally keep my houseplants alive. I've written several little books for my son, taken tons of black and whites of him and learned Illustrator to put them together. I make myself check out books from the library on topics that are new to me. I make myself do all these things to keep things fresh and my brain working.

Somehow I have faith that the old and the new will blend and when it is time I will move forward with more energy and more assuredness than I had before, knowing that I didn't listen to what others had to say or how others thought I should be, but I listened to what I needed and wanted to do, even if it meant being the most overeducated and underemployed mom at the playgound. I see this SAH time as a real chance to explore and open some of those doors I never did becasue I didn't see myself or others didn't see myself that way.

And I don't know about you, but I've realized I have a pretty skewed view of what hard work is - I grew up with a father who worked at least 60 hour weeks and several siblings who currently do the same (a sister who does it with two kids!). My mother raised 4 kids virtually on her own, but I never saw her as "working hard" until my ds was born. But I feel like maybe I am finally get it that getting up every morning and giving my best, my heart and my humanity to my child surely constitutes working hard!

Lots to think about - thanks.
post #56 of 91
Quote:
Originally posted by Stacymom
There are tears in my eyes right now- thank you for such an open and honest thread.

The other day a letter came in the mail from my old job, and in it, I found that they had hired someone permanantly to replace me. (No big surprise there, I'vebeen on "indefinite maternity leave" for almost a year, but they hadn't really found someone to take my place...) The person they hired was my biggest rival at our biggest competitor. For some reason, it has really thrown me for a loop- That this person who I had such strong disdain for is now doing what I still consider to be "my job." This thread has just really hit home for me today.

I miss the fulfillment of the pats on the backs and getting a real paycheck every two weeks. I miss having conversations with adults and feeling like I was really having an impact on people's lives. This has been a terribly stressful week, and my two year old is really discovering some very challenging two year old behaviors, and in weeks like this, I definitely over romanticize what it would be like to go back to work and feel like a productive member of society.



I can't even tell you how long it's been since my poor violin has been in to be serviced, and how long it's been since I've played music that wasn't related to what my students were learning. I really, really miss the musical side of me, and although I know the teaching is important, and that my little girls love the endless repetiotions of "You are my Sunshine" and "Twinkle, Twinkle" sometimes I really just miss that aspect of me. It's like there's a whole different side to myself that has been put in storage for awhile- something about me that no one sees because I'm so wrapped up in diapers, nursing, and keeping my house running smoothly. I know I made the choice to do this, and it's not a choice I regret or would cahnge, given the chance. Some days, though, it seems like the mundaneness (it's a word now!) of mothering seems to overwhelm everything creative and beautiful.



Muse, thank you for this. It rang true in me as a musician, but also relates to everything else I have set aside for motherhood.

But I'm also grateful for this thread because it's reminded me in poignant ways why I chose to do this in the first place, and helped me to make a ocmmittment to really enjoy the choice I've made.
Stacymom, your post is so evocative of what we all collectively struggle for...and with;
essentially, it seems we want to be all things to all people.
We want to soothe the hurts and re-build the destruction we witness all around us in the world at large. Somehow, knowing there is some corner of the planet that is thriving and peaceful is fulfilling -- and as women, we are called to spread this healing energy as far as possible.
Trouble is, reality hits and the baby needs feeding, the two year old is asserting independance, and before you know it, all thoughts of contributing to the 'world at large' gets lost in the mix!
The same goes for musical yearnings....it's such a difficult time balancing the persons we are individually, and the part of us that suddenly 'belongs'-- body and soul -- to a family.
At times like that I wondered what happened to me and where Iwent!!??
Oddly enough, what my dad said was too true: before you know it, the kids are grown and you're wondering where they went. You look in the mirror and *surprise* discover a new person looking back....she's different, and yet the same.
I find it so refreshing to see the same issues of concern when I was a young mother 25 years ago!
I too wondered if my brains had taken a holiday.
I too wondered if I'd forget to draw, paint, write, sing, or work my career...!
I want to extend some hope and say you will all find your respective voices because *you* haven't ceased to exist...it feels like it for awhile...I also want to assure you the world will be a better place because you are growing and maturing in ways you never could without the loving committment to your families day in day out.
Someday, when you pick up that pen, the violin, the briefcase, or whatever your tools may be, you will be re-entering the world with a transformed perspective. You will suddenly recognize the people who are chronologically our ages, but who lack depth, compassion, wisdom and patience. You might see the moms who are struggling to juggle the job-and-a-half that working and mothering comprise, and realize these women are doing two jobs and getting paid for one.
Your work, whatever it is will have more depth and more power because you have grown.
Whether it is evident to you or not, doing this work changes you forever, and it's worth every exhausting, wonderful minute of it.

Maybe when you return to the workplace, more options might be available for families besides quiet desperation and double incomes that don't quite stretch far enough...I guess I'm still idealistic to believe this generation of moms has so much creativity and passion to give -- the world can't help but be changed for the better for your dedication and love-in-action.

Sorry to ramble, but I had to give you gals some recognition, and perhaps a glimpse of light
post #57 of 91
I feel like most of my skills are or will soon be applicable to mothering my children. I'm not a math major or anything. I was an EMT when i got pregnant and lo and behold, I have had to do breathing rescues with my dd. My administrative skills have been used to do birth certificate work and to plan events in dd's life. My artistic skills are used when creating birth imagery. Okay, yeah, I'm not putting out as much as I once did, I admit it. Sometimes I am really sad I can't make art the way I used to. Now I have more time for music though, something that was smothering in my past life. Mostly, I have always love acquiring new skills. I am a chronic student. now, I am a student of the art of mothering. I don't feel like I'm wasting anything even if I am. I've always put old skills on hold while learning new ones. I love my life and feel like this contribution superceeds all my others. Ya know?
post #58 of 91
thank you for this thread Breathe- you wrote exactly how I feel so eloquently.

And thank you Ocean-swimmer for that perspective. Yes, I do feel I am growing from being at home with my children. Some days it is too much and I feel like running away, but the older they get, the less I feel this way. Though, as a musician, I do miss my art. And yes, I do sometimes miss the workplace. At those times I remind myself of the quote "Nobody ever spent time on their deathbed wishing they had worked more."
post #59 of 91
Oh, I just had to mention
I thought I knew what the lyrics to Twinkle, Twinkle were about. Then, one day, I caught my (then) six year old singing it to his baby sister: it is about babies!
I've never forgotten that memory or the associations with that song. My son, now grown, was once a little boy who 'saw' his little sister (18 years old now!) as a star....I learnt from my kids how limited my vision was, and how wide it could be, if I remembered to pay attention and be fully present with them.
In all honesty they truly gave me a wonderful motherhood.
post #60 of 91

from a future sahm

There are too many career tracks that you can't take seven years off and return in a serious way and that you can't work part-time in a serious way. I will never get a tenure track position at an higher ed institution (in English lit) if I am a sahm after I finish my degree. In fact, unless I go into higher ed administration (which I don't need a PhD to do), I will at best get a low-paid, low-status appointment as a lecturer (also doesn't require a PhD).

I'll also be 40 when I am ready to re-enter. Ageism and lack of experience/qualifications will work against my entrance into the non-profit or business world. Not impossible, but I'll have to claw my way up (and prob won’t make it not terribly far up) at a time in my life when most people are already well-established. It will be an ego-battering endeavor. I will simply never have the kind of career I could have if I didn't stay home with my kids (imagine the difference between entering the workforce in a serious way at 33 rather than 40)

I know very well what I am giving up.

No one, not even the best nanny in the world, will be able to take care of my kids as well as I will be able to. But child rearing will not use the critical thinking and creative skills at the same level that I use them today. I will be wasting a lot of my potential irrevocably, and I feel very frustrated by my lack of choice in the matter

It is not that the work of mothering isn't valued enough by society, it is that we are forced by the nature of professions in this country into choosing career or kids. It is institutional sexism and it won't change because there is no pressure for it to change. There are enough people willing and able to enter these professions permanently full-time when they finish school in their mid-twenties to early thirties.
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