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I feel like I'm not contributing...

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Let me start by saying I love being a SAHM to my almost 8 month old. I have wanted to be a mom all my life, and I am grateful that we are able to afford it and that I have a supportive DH. However, I have worked since I was 16. I have a master's degree and I worked very hard to get to where I was in my career before DS was born. I always prided myself on being independent and providing for us. I feel very lucky that we are mostly able to afford our previous lifestyle, but at the same time, I feel like I'm not contributing and DH is working much harder than he had to before. I was making a great salary, now I'm making nothing. It's not really about money, I am ok with the small sacrifices we have had to make, but I feel like I am not doing enough for my family, in addition to feeling like I abandoned my career and will be starting over when I do return to work. It took about 3 years for me to find a position I really liked, and leaving it behind was a little sad. Being with my DS is more important that any of that, but the transition from full time professional to SAHM has been kind of a culture shock. I guess more than anything I feel out of the loop and a little lonely. Everything I do, think about, and talk about revolves around parenting. I have thought about getting a part time job, but it's not really what I want either. Any advice from those who have BTDT, as far as the transition, and concerns about the future state of your career?

post #2 of 29

That is a great picture of your DS.  Love it.

 

I'm just here taking notes... :notes I'd like to hear what mom's advise.  I don't have advice because I am in similar shoes, except that I actually want to do part-time work to feel productive and not lose my skills (in my field, you have to keep up with technology).

post #3 of 29

I have no advice because I am in the same boat.  I too have a master's degree that is currently stagnant.  I loved my job too.  I'm more than ready to go back to work but there are no teaching jobs, and subbing is not an option because of the whole childcare thing.

 

To be honest I'm pissed.  I feel trapped.  And I am sick and tired of people cooing at me that my DS is so lucky to have me at home, and oh! you're doing the right thing being a SAHM, your son is so lucky.  Whatever.  Its almost like once you become a mother your worth no longer lies in your skills or your mind but in your presence.  All identity other than mother goes out the window.  Funny...fathers do not have the same standards or issues.

 

Sorry...I'm struggling with this too.

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

I think a lot of my problem is that I used to be taken seriously at work, I had certain skills that were valuable. Now, everyone questions everything I do, and just because I don't have a degree in breastfeeding, parenting, etc. does not mean I don't know what I'm talking about. When I had an opinion about something before, it was heard. Now I have to defend my parenting choices or explain them over and over again.

 

The other thing is, I feel like I have nothing to talk about. When DH comes home and tells me about his day, I end up telling him about what the cashier at the grocery store said, or something equally trivial. I feel very rewarded by being with my son, but I also feel like I'm no longer interesting.

post #5 of 29

I can totally relate. I think part of it is that in a good work atmosphere, you get recognition and have measurable accomplishments. You conduct meetings, you meet deadlines, you check things off your task list, you come up with creative solutions to problems, etc.. I just don't get the same kind of feedback for good parenting.

 

One small suggestion--a hobby. I sew a little bit and I usually have a couple of piano students and those things give me a world outside of just being a mother as well as a creative outlet. They help with the identity issues.

post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 

I was thinking of that...I need a hobby. I have always wanted to learn to sew, or how to use my camera, and many other things. I really need something to focus on that feels like an accomplishment in the non parenting world.

post #7 of 29

I totally understand what you mean.

 

I don't have a masters, but I finished two undergrad degrees with a high GPA. I was incredibly go-getter, involved in stuff, active, etc. Then I got unexpectedly pregnant in my last year of college, had ds 2 months after graduating. I too, find fullfillment in mothering, it's what I've always wanted to 'do'.

 

However, the past few years, being at home, and now with another new little one, I realize how much of myself I've lost. Little kids take so much energy that it's easy to wrap oneself up in taking care of them and raising them. And forget about yourself. I did. I still do. And I've been struggling with how to find myself, how to figure out this post-kids life I want. Because, to be honest, I know that this time period when I am their world is short. And I don't want to be one of those moms whose sole purpose in life are their children and who lose it when the kids become independent.

 

How to do this, I am still figuring it all out.

Combine it with where I live, and it's tough. I feel like people here are always on the go. Which was great before kids, when I had the time/energy/inclination to do lots of stuff outside the house.

 

I'm also annoyed at the fact that my husband hasn't had such a huge adjustment either. When I talk of getting a part time job somewhere, as a way to help out and also get some time away from kids, the topic of childcare always comes up. Why do I have to only worry about this? Why is assumed that dh can work whatever times he wants, whenever? No one asks him what he's going to 'do with the kids' if he decides to work 70 hours one week. Oh, and then I get suggested to do a WAHM gig. Because, you know, between watching the kids, it's sooooo easy to work. angry.gif

 

My older son is also very inquisitive, which makes hobbies difficult. When I started sewing, he wanted to reach in and play with the needle. Yea, really cut back the sewing hobby. :(

 

Ami

post #8 of 29

I used to be in that place.

 

The first three years of parenting are so intense. There is little space for mothers to be themselves outside of mothering.

 

Adjusting to being a SHAM is huge and sometimes difficult. The world looks at you differently.

 

Wait until your little one is 3. Something magical happens and suddenly you will see that you are you again. Your child will not need ever second of your attention. You will have space to develop yourself outside of your mama identity. The space for hobbies will open up. Your child will be be a little more independent and child care issues may become a little easier.

 

Of course, if you have another child the cycle resets and you go back into intense mothering again. But the second time around it's easier since the huge adjustment from work life to SHAM is no longer a part of it.

 

Read Radical Homemakers. It will change your prospective on your value to your family and to society. winky.gif

 

post #9 of 29

I had a huge adjustment to being a SAHM.  Part of me wondered if I'd go back, when I'd go back, etc, etc.  The original plan (before I had a baby) was for me to work part time for a few years after my first, to transition to being a SAHM.  That didn't work out, and I've been home full time since I was 36 weeks pregnant with #1. 

 

After about 13 months, I was ready to go back to work. I got pregnant again. 


After #2 was 13 months old, I was ready to go back to work.  I got pregnant again.  ROFL

 

And, now that #3 is 5 months old, I can honestly say that I'm not going back to work any time soon.  My #1 is just over 4 years old, though, so it's taken me a while to get to that point.  My life is busy, parenting is intense, and we plan to homeschool for now, so my career is on the back burner. 

 

There have been HUGE changes (we downsized housing, for one), and it's been a long road.  But, I can say that I'm where I want to be.  I think that it took until my #1 was 3 years old to feel really secure in my decision to be "just" a homemaker.  I do have some hobbies that I enjoy, I try to keep my brain active (by reading and staying current on current events, stuff like that), and I am more than just a mama.  But, I really like our family life with me home (it's much slower and not hurry, hurry, hurry), so it's worth it to me for now.

post #10 of 29

I feel like this and I didn't even really have a career before. I only went to college 1 year, and have worked several part time jobs at once since I was 18. I think it's just getting out of being accountable to someone other than yourself, and making a schedule/routine that works for both you and your LO. I even wrote a thread about this..I think I called it "I feel like I got more done as a WOHM." Anyway, I've been SAHM for about 8 months now and I'm still having an adjustment period. It's hard to go from one extreme to another.

post #11 of 29

Yes, I can sympathize, and I, too, never had a career before. But I had jobs, and I worked a lot, and hard. DH always made way more money, but what I brought in made a significant difference. Maybe I felt like I had more power? I don't know. It was all very different then, and it's been many years, but I still sort of miss it. I love my life now in many ways, but sometimes it does feel like there is something lacking. 

post #12 of 29

I only have a BA, but I did have a job that payed well and that I loved when I became a SAHM. It was a very hard transition, and I felt like I'd made a terrible mistake for I bet the first year anyway. I had some PPD and I don't know if the transition was a contributing factor or if the PPD just made the transition harder. I love being a SAHM now, but I would say that there's nothing wrong with going back to work if you feel like that would make you a happier person. I know I'll never make what I made before, particularly since we lived in the Chicago area before and live in an area where there is a much slimmer job market now. That makes it easier for me to continue to be a SAHM, because I wouldn't make the same financial contribution I made before, but it would absolutely be a negative if I had a strong urge to eventually go back to work and try to pick up where I left off.

post #13 of 29

I think much of the problem with identity new SAHMs have is because of society's need to assign a role to everyone.  You go to parties and everyone wants to know "what do you do" because in our world what you do = who you are.  THen the assumptions are made.  It's maddening...but I think it is a response to the rule that contentious topics such as politics and religion (and anything else interesting that may spark disagreement) are verboten in "polite" company. 

 

Where I live I am surrounded by college professors, many of them women with children.  On the one hand this is kind of cool because these women are doing it all, but on the other hand it deepens my self-loathing because I am not doing it all.  Sometimes conversations are uncomfortable too, because it is assumed by these ladies that I am only capable of conversations centering around our children.  So depressing.  When I do jump into conversations that have taken an intellectual bend I am often shut out and made to feel like I am doing something inappropriate...and again I think this comes from the social role=identity problem.  And its not that these people are unkind in any way; they are actually a really warm and caring bunch.  But...

 

Having a hobby does help, but at the same time I hate that I have to have a "hobby" to not want to run screaming naked through the streets.  Because the whole implication of an "hobby" is that its done only for pleasure and is not very important.  Its not a "real" job or anything.  I guess for me its like a bone someone throws a starving person who is watching everyone else feast.  Infantilizing.


And, yeah, it totally irks me that my husband does not have to deal with any of this crap.  Nor does he ever have to worry about childcare, or what having a child attached to you 24/7 feels like.

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 

I like this thread, I find myself agreeing with all of you, whether you had a career or degree or not.

 

I hate the idea of a hobby in the sense that it seems so...housewife. I do like it because it will busy my mind, but it's probably not something I would mention to others to make social chit chat.

 

I have a good balance of WOHM friends and SAHM friends, and I tend to want to spend time with the WOHM friends, only because I don't really want to talk about mom stuff, especially when I'm taking time out of being a mom to do something with a friend. I mean, it's ok if it comes up, but I feel like SAHMs are always discussing mom related things, and I don't want to be that way to other people who really could care less.

 

I guess my interpretation of SAHM is something negative...even though I'm finding it to be a very positive experience. It really has to do with what other people think of me, and I know that shouldn't matter, but when I'm struggling with my identity it's hard not to notice what others think. I guess that's the root of it, I don't really want to define myself as SAHM/housewife/superwoman *gag*. I still want to be me, with a kid.

post #15 of 29

I felt the same way, so much so that I began picking up some freelance work when my DD was around 9 mos.  I felt like if I wasn't "working" (which I had really been doing all along... babysitting from when she was 3mo etc, and finishing my Master's thesis....but somehow all this didn't feel like "real work" whatever that means) I didn't deserve to ask for the housework and childcare to be divided.  I still do the lion's share, though now DD's father will put her to bed most nights.  And so now I work part-time while wrangling a toddler at the same time.  So I still consider myself a SAHM.  I felt like I related sooo much to everything that's been written here.  And half the time I think, "What was I thinking?"  (about working without childcare, not the baby, she's awesome) It's so stressful, though I enjoy it at times.  And I hate when people are like, "Oh wow, it's so wonderful you can do that.  You can get up and write at 4 in the morning."  And I think,"Wow, are you stupid?  Do you want to get up at 4 in the morning to work after waking up six times a night?"  She doesn't wake up in the night very much anymore, but still...

 

I can't figure out why I feel so lazy being "at home" even though we are very busy.  While my BF will come home from work and lay on the floor with the baby and play with her and watch football and feel perfectly satisfied that he is working as hard as he should be (and he is).  But when she was a newborn, we would lay on the couch together and she would nurse all day and sleep in my arms.  And I felt so so so lazy.

 

Sometimes I think the only solution is to just stop thinking about it.  My boyfriend is proud of how hard he works.  I should be too, but I never am.  I just want to strike a balance between not feeling lazy and not feeling overworked.  Where is it????

post #16 of 29


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View PostHaving a hobby does help, but at the same time I hate that I have to have a "hobby" to not want to run screaming naked through the streets. 


And, yeah, it totally irks me that my husband does not have to deal with any of this crap.  Nor does he ever have to worry about childcare, or what having a child attached to you 24/7 feels like.

 

To the first sentence, HECK YES!!! It's so frustrating. Even with a hobby, it's something that is done 'around' everything else. It is 'frivolous', so it's usually the first thing that gets the shaft.

 

And the the bolded, I think you pinpointed exactly where I am having issues. I feel like I am never alone. I can never BE alone. Even if I am alone, I have to be worrying about this other being. Why? Because, well, if something happens, I get called. Not daddy, mommy.  The majority of the childcare is on my terrain. Somehow, the fact that this child came out of my body, and I am literally feeding it with my body makes me the one who is expected to do everything, to be 'responsible' for it all, regardless of whether I work or not. But if I am NOT working, I do not have any reason to complain about it or seek outside stimulation/fullfillment.
 

 


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrs.t View Post

....because I don't really want to talk about mom stuff, especially when I'm taking time out of being a mom to do something with a friend. I mean, it's ok if it comes up, but I feel like SAHMs are always discussing mom related things, and I don't want to be that way to other people who really could care less.

 

I guess that's the root of it, I don't really want to define myself as SAHM/housewife/superwoman *gag*. I still want to be me, with a kid.


See, I could never be a housewife. Without kids, I would go insane being home all day. As it is, it is kinda driving me insane WITH kids. lol. Somehow, the act of SAHM means that my brains have been sucked out, my interests only revolve around the kids/home, and any desires beyond that are seen as 'crazy' or pathological.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsBone View Post

I feel like this and I didn't even really have a career before. I only went to college 1 year, and have worked several part time jobs at once since I was 18. I think it's just getting out of being accountable to someone other than yourself, and making a schedule/routine that works for both you and your LO. I even wrote a thread about this..I think I called it "I feel like I got more done as a WOHM." Anyway, I've been SAHM for about 8 months now and I'm still having an adjustment period. It's hard to go from one extreme to another.


 

This is a hard adjustment. And I think that we as mothers carry this burden more so than our husbands. Because, really, if anything is wrong or off, mom gets the questioning, not dad. I find it frustrating too that I can never really be 'off the clock' like my husband can. If he's working, he's working. And if he talks about needing 'down time' no one bats an eye. Yet I, who have not been without one child in months, mention down time and people question 'why'. I'm home all day, how much more time do I need? In fact, I should 'do more' by finding a job to help out dh. AAARGH!!! It is invalidating, and hard to deal with, mentally.

 

Ami



Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbieB View Post

I used to be in that place.

 

The first three years of parenting are so intense. There is little space for mothers to be themselves outside of mothering.

 

Read Radical Homemakers. It will change your prospective on your value to your family and to society. winky.gif

 

post #17 of 29

I can identify with loads of what has been said here... I've just been reading a book called 'The Milk of Human Kindness' about how childcare and specifically breastfeeding are not measured as part of the Gross national Product, as part of the economy, etc, despite making the most valuable contributions...it's a seriously radical, questioning book and reading it was really quite validating form e as a SAHM (and long term breastfeeder). I have ongoing battles with my Ex about the fact that i 'don't have a job' but he does, so automatically I have to pick up the flak for everything. Meanwhile I work twice as many hours as him doing unpaid childcare and also study on top of that.. Sigh. It's a real mental block with most people. That if it doesn't earn money or appear to have a measurable result, it's not 'worth anything'. I think it is deeper than just worrying about what other people think, for me. It's also that I am a very intellectual person and I just feel a bit out of my mind talking about Thomas the Tank Engine all day wink1.gif When I have days when I go out with DS most of the day and we have quality time DOING stuff like swimming and going to the library I feel tons better, like I am actually 'doing something'. But when I'm at home I just feel like I'm on a treadmill of doing tasks that never end while constantly being interrupted an average of once a minute, and of course also trying to do quality activities with DS. I am NOT a natural 'housewife', and I have lots of hobbies but it doesn't help. Working is different.

post #18 of 29

First, I'd like to say that you are totally not alone in your feelings. I struggled with the decision to stay home for about two years BEFORE I even elected to leave my last position. It made sense financially for me to stay home....with four children childcare was expensive and I wasn't bringing home more than $200/week working 36 hrs after paying taxes and childcare. But I was scared of stalling my career, losing skils and relevancy. What helped me with the transition of going from FT work to 99% SAHM ( I work one day every two weeks) was having the ability to hold an extreme part time position and working on my degree. I'm currently just about finished with my BS in Nursing (I have an AS). So once a week, I leave the house and have a class where I'm not talking about potty training, children, schoolwork, or any mom stuff at all. I know you has a Masters.....but maybe there is a post grad class that is pertinent to your field, or a conferences/continuing ed in your specialty?

 

Maybe there is volunteer opportunity that works with your schedule or where you can bring your children?

 

I also looked at the transition as a time to not only be at home with my children, but a time to be home with myself. That, and I think that by the time I chose to stay home I had already worked out my struggles with the change in the two years of angst prior.

post #19 of 29


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs.t View Post

I was thinking of that...I need a hobby. I have always wanted to learn to sew, or how to use my camera, and many other things. I really need something to focus on that feels like an accomplishment in the non parenting world.



photography is an extremely rewarding hobby!  I have friends who are so good at it that they book themselves out for weekend stuff, evening dances, portaits, etc.  They bring their babies, when they need to, and try to book for when they don't need to.  :D  VERY rewarding, both at home and in the bank!  I have one friend who is now part of shows etc. now!

post #20 of 29

I'll add to the recommendations to read Radical Homemakers.  The home can be a center of production just as much as a workplace can.

 

I contribute quite a bit to my family, beyond cleaning and caring for children:  financial planning, tax preparation, general organization, repairs and mending, research for upcoming purchases and decisions, making many things that we need, creative problem-solving.  These are more than just hobbies to kill the time; I'm putting my talents to work for the benefit of the whole family, and I find these accomplishments very fulfilling.  Having a job is not the only way to be independent and provide for your family.

 

That said, if you want to keep your career options open, you might look for some small consulting-type jobs in your field, and keep up with reading the trade publications. Maybe provide resume critiquing and job search advice to soon-to-be graduates?

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