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If you WOH, what did your mom do?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

Just curious, but I think about this a lot as it gives me some guilt. My mom stayed home to raise us. She was awesome, and it's been a struggle to give up that "ideal" since it's how I was raised. I often find myself comparing myself to her and thinking about the experiences I might not share with my DS. (I also worry that I'm A LOT like my slightly-workaholic father, who was always just nearly missing cherished activities...)


However, I also know that she really, really struggled (and continues to struggle) to find herself after all the kids moved out. And so on the flip side that has, in part, pushed me to foster my own identity and career during motherhood. I know that it was really important for her to be able to stay home to raise us (it's what she always wanted to do -- she was a SAHM who really loved what she was doing) so it really pains me to see her sometimes struggling to recover her sense of identity (though happily, grandmother is a role she's slipped into easily!).


I'd be curious to hear other people's experiences... How has your own mother influenced your feelings about motherhood & career?

post #2 of 44



My mom always worked.  Alot.  I remember distinctly being the first kid at preschool every morning and the last kid every evening.  Many nights I fell asleep on the floor in her office after she'd picked me up at daycare and gone back to work.  She still works basically the same amount.


I make sure my kids are never at daycare as long as they possibly can be.  I don't bring work home or spend extra time there (I know I'm lucky that I don't have to, but it's also a decision I made too). 


I never had an issue with my mom working.  She was always able to leave and see all of my activities, doctor's appts, stuff like that.  That daycare thing though really bothered me. 

post #3 of 44

My mom was a miserable SAHM who never felt like she had a dime to her name.  Yeah, that probably influenced me being a WOHM somewhat.

post #4 of 44

Procrastinating?  Me too!!  winky.gif


My mom stayed home until we were in school, then WAH until we were in the upper elementary grades, and then WOH full time.  She still does.


I think WOH is really ideal for me b/c it gives me an identity other than as a "mom" which is important for me.  I also have absolutely no clue what I would do after my kid grows up and leaves the house if I stayed home.  I want a career after my kids leave the house.  I want a LIFE - one that doesn't revolve around them.  I know that SAHM's can achieve that, but not without a significant amount of effort, and I'm not a social person by any stretch of the imagination, so I really need outside influences to force me to create relationships outside my immediate family.


I mean, what do people do after their kids move out?  Both my parents work, and they have hobbies (dad flies, mom sails - they do both together but my mom isn't a pilot so she rides along), so they're pretty busy when us kids aren't home (none of us live at home anymore).  But what would they do if they hadn't both worked and didn't have careers?  I honestly don't know.  I guess they could start looking for a career, but thats difficult in middle age, going back to school would be hard unless they had the money to afford it, neither of them would be happy having a "job" and not a "career".  I don't know.  I know my mom enjoyed being home when my older brother and I were very little, but it was also completely a financial waste for her to work - I think she netted like $10/week after daycare expenses (we're 6mo apart b/c big brother was adopted).


I don't know, I guess I think I liked that my mom wasn't SAH b/c she had other things going on - she wasn't so focused on me and my brothers.  I mean, she WAS focused on us, she's a GREAT mom, but we also had the opportunity to learn how to be independent with some limitations.  Like, she worked some evenings, and so we had to take the bus to some activities once we were teens.  Or, when I had soccer with my brother after school we took the bus home together. 


We weren't entirely left to our own devices though - my dad would sometimes drive one way, or pick us up if we were working late, my dad drove me to crew at 4:30am every day when I did crew in high school.  I don't know, some of the SAHM's that I knew growing up were too........something.  Not quite sure what.  Ok, I'm going to stop while I'm ahead.  t2009 - sorry if that made no sense.  Since we're both studying for the danged bar exam I'm sure you understand that my brains aren't fully functional atm.

post #5 of 44

My mom WOH full-time when I was younger (I don't think part-time was an option in her field at that time) and I always assumed I would do the same.  I don't remember ever having any kind of issue with it and I certainly didn't feel that she wasn't around enough or anything like that.  I did notice, when I got a bit older, that she was pretty tired for a while.  Things got much better for her when she started her own WAH business when I was a bit older.  I didn't feel like having her home more was such a big deal for me (it was nice but not huge) but I did see that life was much easier for her, and that made her a better and happier mom.


That said, I always assumed I would be a working mom; that was my template and now I feel pressure from both my parents (dad more than mom though) to keep up with my career even though I have a very young child.  Right now I WOH full time but DD is not handling day care at all well (she was home with various combinations of me, nanny, and MIL - mostly MIL - until 18 months) and I am seriously considering going back to part time because I feel it is just too much of a cost to ask her to bear to support my career goals.  I get raised eyebrows from my parents when I say stuff like this though - they feel like day care is not only dandy but crucial for social development.  I agree that the contact with other kids is good but I think 3 hours a day would be fine.  8 hours is just stressful.

post #6 of 44

Can I come procrastinate too?


My mom was a single mom, my "dad" and my bro's dad nowhere in the picture, not even to pay any support. She worked her hiney off and we were still dirt poor, on food stamps. It still gives me a little thrill to fill up the gas tank--we never put in more than $5 at a time growing up.


She was a nurse so she was able to work around my school hours, she worked a lot of night shifts too. But I did come home to an empty house pretty regularly in high school. Of course by then I had an after school job and was working too.


Does my upbringing influence my desire to WOH? Probably... I trust DH with my life but I'm glad I make my own money and could support my family if I ever had to.

post #7 of 44

My mom WOH full time for my entire childhood.  She went back to work when I was six weeks old (no FMLA back then).  My older sister was in school and we had a nanny who took care of me during the day until first grade, then my sister was in charge for the few hours we were home after school.


As a kid, I never questioned it.  That was just my life.  I think the fact that I got to stay in my own home helped with that.


As an adult, I have conflicting feelings about it.  Nannies are expensive; my mom made decent money but I can't believe she was coming out that far ahead every month.  I think she worked more because she wanted to, not because she needed to.  Sometimes I wonder why she didn't want to be at home with me and that stings a little bit.  And sometimes I'm really proud of her for being so pioneering - she was the first woman in her company to go back to work after having a child, that takes guts.  But she was home at 5:15 on the dot, never worked late, never worked weekends, came to all my school plays, doctor's appointments, etc.


Now that I am a mom I am comforted by the fact that I came out of it okay, that I don't feel abandoned or damaged or anything like that.  Heck by the time I was school aged it was fun!  My sister let me do whatever I wanted, lol (indoor water fight anyone?).  But there are a few things I'd do differently, namely take a day off here or there to chaperone a school field trip or be a room mom or something (my mom never did that) and to be absolutely vigilant about being present during the times I am home.  My mom was ok at that but I definitely remember being 12 and chattering away to her telling her everything that was happening at school and realizing she was only half listening to me, she was playing computer solitaire.  I know she probably just wanted to mentally unwind and that was why, not that she didn't care about my day but it really made an impression on me (and that also marked the time I stopped telling her absolutely everything, which is a little sad).


So in summary, my mother has made me feel okay about working, and admitting that part of it is that I want to and not just that I need to... and there are little things I would do differently, but overall she did the very best she could and what more can you ask of anyone?

post #8 of 44

I'm joining ya'll on procrastination island... well while I wait for this humongous report to generate & export...waiting ... waiting winky.gif



My mom - a SAHM while we were little, and then went back PT when my brother (the youngest) started school f/t.  She worked before we were born in clerical areas and I know she loves accounting stuff (she should have studied it and I encourage her to go back and pick it up!!).  Now she's a WOHM/Gran-ma doing 2nd shift factory work.


My mom had some impact on my idea of motherhood BUT the bigger impact has been the impact of my dad getting laid off from many different jobs and our moving around alot.  I am more focused on keeping a secure financial future for my family, and maintaining a balance between work & family mostly for DH since his dad was the typical workaholic.


I don't want to be that and so out of touch with my kids... ever

post #9 of 44

When I was living at home, my mom worked as an ER nurse. She became the director of nursing at a hospital when I was in college. She's a workaholic. Right now she easily works 12-hour days, 7-days a week for weeks at a time. 


My mother loves her work, and she's incredibly good at it. I always wanted that sense of professionalism & respect, and I never considered that I wouldn't work. At it turns out, I worked from home for a long time, which wasn't the best fit but worked for our circumstances. The idea of *not* working just isn't appealing to me at all. Identity, for me, is wrapped up with career.


On the other side, DH's mother stayed home & did all of those happy, SAHM things. DH doesn't feel he benefited and in fact wishes his mom had just worked instead. He said that he felt she was too focused on "creating a home" and less on just being "Mom" that it became overwhelming.

post #10 of 44
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

My mom was a miserable SAHM who never felt like she had a dime to her name.  Yeah, that probably influenced me being a WOHM somewhat.

Same here. My Mom was a SAHM for the bulk of my childhood never really working until I was well in my teens. Frankly she was not that happy, her marriage was rocky and bordeline abusive at times but due to not having any skills/income she stayed, and despite putting on the happy face it was clear she was not happy. Our family was always on the financial edge and frankly that influenced me  a great deal, my first marriage crashed and burned and by the time I remarried I pretty much knew that I would work. I went back to school and started on a career path and while I don't currently earn a great deal due to choosing positions that offer flexibility, I am still on a clear career track.


So I guess yes my Mom did influence me, especially because she died relatively young at 50, just as she was finally done raising kids (she died a year after my brother graduated from college) and was just starting a real career earning real money.

post #11 of 44
My mom retired from nursing the day I was born. And she doesn't particularly care for kids, she was just having her 2.2. We were fed, clothed and she went to open houses and band concerts. But we never got messy, grew anything or even went for walks on the beach in the winter. So much more bleak than even my kids existance with me working.
post #12 of 44

My mom was an active duty officer in Air Force intelligence when I was born.  At the time, you had to get out once you were pregnant/had a baby, so she did.  She was a SAHM for most of my childhood but joined the reserves when I was in third or fourth grade.  That commitment required one weekend a month and two weeks a year except when she was called to active duty for war (Desert Storm, anyone?).  My dad was in the Air Force as well so depending on where he was stationed, sometimes she could do her work at the same base and sometimes she had to travel for her two week stint.


Growing up, I never NEVER imagined I'd work.  I went to a crazy high school in northern Virginia for science and technology where the expectation was that 1. you'd go to college and 2. you'd study engineering, medicine, law, or the like.  I loved high school but still never imagined I'd work.  Went to college, was premed, h-a-t-e-d chemistry and discovered I could study recreation (needless to say, my high school never mentioned that that was a field that you could study).  Went right to grad school because I hadn't the first clue how to find a job.  Finished and started working for a university.


Worked for a few years, got married, and we moved to our current community because I could SAH.  Had twins and discovered that I am not cut out to SAH and went a tad crazy.  I did not want to put my young children in childcare and once a job literally fell in my lap, they were 3.5 and I felt much better about them going.


It's worked out to be pretty perfect.  I work like a fiend but love it.  I literally have the job I wanted from the day I realized I could study recreation and there is huge future potential for me with my organization.  It's hard because my husband is the executive director of a small non-profit so we both have demanding jobs and wacky schedules but as I realize that we're 1/3 of the way through our children's childhood, I'm glad I made the leap and took my job because I foresee working for 20-30 more years and would not want to be 12 years from now looking for something for the next 8-18 years with no experience to stand on.


This has turned into a book but most of my LLL friends don't understand at. all.  My mother was always very busy during my childhood (super volunteer) and I'm not sure if she didn't work because we moved fairly regularly or because she was dedicated to being a SAHM.  My own severe lack of patience is what's influenced my decision to work. 


Thanks, everyone, for sharing your stories!

post #13 of 44

My mom was a teacher and she went back to work when I was 3.  I started nursery school/daycare at that age.  My mom was in grad school at the time and my dad also worked a lot and was finishing his bachelors.  It was nice that she was a teacher because once I was in school we had the same holidays and summers off.  So I guess she did influence me because she was able to balance work and family. 

post #14 of 44

My mom was a SAHM and loved it--she is a born mama.  She held a couple of part-time jobs when my younger sibling got to high school/college, but not for any length of time.  Just decided it wasn't for her.  She is almost an empty-nester now (my little bro that just graduated college still living at home), and I imagine having the place "empty" will be a big deal for her.  She is SO excited to be a grandmother, first to my daughter, and now my brother & his wife are going to have another.  She has drummed into my psyche since before I can remember that a mommy's most important job is to stay and home and educate her children, so I felt a lot of guilt about telling her that I would be WOH.  She can't say too much, because my DH stays home with our daughter right now, but I know she thinks that I should be a SAHM.

post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the stories (and keep 'em coming!)! It's so interesting to hear everyone's background -- so different, yet here we all are on the same MDC forum! It's actually all super refreshing & comforting to hear that all the smart ladies on here who are also great mamas came from such different circumstances growing up... There's hope that our kids will be ok even if we pursue careers & sometimes (or all the times) have crazy schedules & lives. It's easy to get stuck in or own histories or mainstream/media driven images of motherhood... but really there are so many paths to raising happy little people. I love my mom & she was a great SAHM (like BeautyforAshes's mom, she was born to be a mom) but I'm getting more comfortable with the idea that it's OK that I do things different... Thanks!

Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

Procrastinating?  Me too!!  winky.gif


Totally procrastinating! 


post #16 of 44

These stories are all so interesting! My mom was a SAHM to me and my sister, though she did teach piano to kids out of the home a few days a week after school. She gave up being a music teacher when she married, and I think she was always a little sad about that. Plus my dad worked so much that we hardly ever saw him so she did everything, which led to a lot of fights and resentment on her part that we felt. So that influenced me a lot and I grew up knowing that I would work because I didn't want to feel how my mom felt (I know that there are happy SAHMs, my mom just wasn't).

post #17 of 44
My mom cycled through working and staying home a few times during our childhood. But she always seemed happiest working, as opposed to the couch potato when she was unemployed.

I am not sure how much my parents have influenced my parenting besides what not to do.

I work because, I make twice as much as DH. I work so I don't go insane. I work because I am paying my way slowly through college. And I work so I can provide my son fun stuff like swim lessons & farm camp. We are happy and our life works for us.
post #18 of 44

My mom worked 3 days per week until I was about 5.  Then she went to 4 days, and worked that until my brother and I were in high school.  My dad always worked FT, but it was flexible, and he did a lot of child care/transportation/cooking.  They lived paycheck to paycheck, but we did LOTS.


Funny part is, I blame my mom for my career choice.  She was a secretary at a big firm (wc.com --think Lewinsky trial), and always got gifts from her attorney that awed me.  Trips to NYC for the family to stay in his condo and to see broadway shows each year. Theater tickets, opera tickets, etc. I LOVED the lifestyle as a teenager and ended up becoming a lawyer.  Not the WORST choice I've ever made, but I'm definitely regretting it now that I want to SAH and can't because of my student loans.  Oh well, such is life, right?!


S~S~M and t2009, you two ignore that part and get back to work!

post #19 of 44

My mom was SAH until my brother (7 years younger than me) went to college.  Back in those days, there wasn't the term "SAHM."  The general culture revolved around the dad that worked and the mom who stayed at home and kept house.  Housewife or homemaker was always a term I heard.  I think I was born in the era when this was particularly common (1950s through 1970s).  My grandmothers/great grandmothers all worked in some respect, whether it was co-owning a store or in the case of one of my greatgrandmothers (a funeral home) or they worked hard on farms. 


Even though my mom was home, I can't say that she SAHM'ed in the way that I see the term used now.  Her first priority was the house.  She never played with us, never helped us with our homework, never took us anywhere for the sake of it (except to sports/music practice, etc.). 


That being said, she was a good mother and we love her.  However, I don't think her staying at home had any bearing on the decisions that I made with my life.  My own personal interests dictated the outcome of my present life.   Part of it too was that I really needed to be free of both my parents (not because I don't love them, but because our views on life are very different, and this started before I was even ten years old).  Often at home, I felt very stifled and oppressed.  Both my parents were a bit overbearing and had no patience for opinions differing from their own.  If anything, I decided very early to be as independent an individual as I could be - and part of that meant not relying on anyone for anything.  Even though I am now a mother myself, I still have the same view on this.  It is just who I am, I suppose.  So, my position as a WOHM has nothing really to do with a reaction to my SAHM, but is mostly a reaction to both parents and wanting to be independent. 

post #20 of 44

My mother and her husband took turns SAH.  when she did work she did a variety of things, cashier, waitress, seamstress, cna etc.  My ex and I also took turns SAH and DH SAH right now.  I prefer working and having him home than the other way around. 

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