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We all make our own choices

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

I have been reviewing the boards here (SAHPs) and over at Working/Student Parents. I am contemplating how to find the right balance in my own life. On the one hand, before kids, I was a very career oriented person, and never thought I would ever sacrifice my career for children. I enrolled in a phd program before kids. Now, I have two beautiful children, 3.5 and almost one. I almost didn't make it back to school after my first was born, and probably wouldn't have if my husband hadn't practically forced me to. I made it work, and I finished. Now I have to make some decisions about work. I am contemplating whether to try to stay at home parent, or build a consulting business or something, but not take the expected academic track.


So, I come on here to see what major issues are for SAHMs, and I find a lot of postings about how HARD it is, how exhausted you are, how you don't always feel appreciated, still have a hard time meeting initial high standards, etc. Then, on the working parents board, the posts are about problems with child care, how to connect with your child when you work long hours, and how on earth to juggle it all. It's like we moms just have it so rough no matter what road we take!! Either you get very little appreciation and work the hardest job in the world -- staying home, or you stress yourself to the max and feel like you aren't quite present either at work, home, or both, by working! It seems like part-time might work might be a good solution, but so hard to find.


Anyway, I guess my question for you is how did you know it was for you? Did you give up a career? Are you out just temporarily?



post #2 of 55

I went through grad school and then for the last 10 years had a very demanding/successful career. Then we had an unplanned pregnancy.  I went back to work for a short while after maternity leave while DH was home with DD (unemployed). Once he found a new position I quit without any regrets. It has almost been a year and although it has been a rough one I don't regret it for a second. I complain and get so exhausted but honestly I can't think of a better use of my time. I am SLOWLY  building a business using my acquired knowledge that I will be able to maintain while being there for my DD. Once I untangled my identity from my career I was able to realize that I can do everything, just not at the same time.


post #3 of 55

I think you partly see a lot of complaints here because it is a safe place to complain to others who can understand. Personally I don't know a lot of other sahm irl & often feel judged for my choice by my working friends that I don't like to vent to them ever.


I did go to college & was working as an office manager. I will admit I was not particularly career driven - I never was one of those people who felt completed by work. I worked because it was what one did & so we could pay the bills.


I'm sure at some point in time I will work again but I don't know when or where & it really is in the distant, unplanned future.


Personally I know that being a sahm is the right fit for me & our family. It was something that was really important to dh & I both, that one of us could stay home with our children. For the first time in my life I really feel settled & like I'm doing what I should be doing. That doesn't mean every day is rosy & easy, just that I know I'm on the right path so there is at least a sense of peace in what I am doing.

post #4 of 55

I think you hit the nail on the head--moms (or primary caregiving dads) have it really hard no matter what road we choose. Our society of nuclear families means there are few resources beyond outside childcare for moms that want to return to work, and those that stay home can easily end up feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and unappreciated. 


I finished my BA when my son was an infant and had planned to go straight to grad school, but couldn't fit it into my life at that point. It's still a dream but I imagine it won't happen for quite some time. I now run a small daycare center from my home, which allows me to stay home with my son and still bring in some money. It's not exciting or challenging work and I often miss being in the academic world, but I wouldn't give up this past year for anything in the world. There are definitely days when I'm bored and lonely and feel like my brain is atrophying, but the sense of fulfillment I get watching my son grow, day by day, is worth it. 


It takes some creativity to be able to work and stay home, but it's definitely possible. And it's also possible to be a SAHM now and launch your career later. As an academic/professional, I imagine you may feel a certain sense of hesitation straying from the traditional path. I felt myself explaining and justifying my choice to stay home and not put my degree "to work." I've made peace with my decision to stay home, knowing that I will eventually go to grad school and start a career, once my kiddos are in school. Like lovepickles said, I think there's plenty of time to be both a full time mom and have a successful career--but trying to do both at the same time can be overwhelming!

post #5 of 55

I agree with the poster that said that you hear alot about complaining from SAHMs on this board simply because it's a safe place to vent. I have days where I feel like I'm contributing nothing to society by staying at home, but then I remember to tell myself that I'm raising children, if that's not contributing to society I don't know what is! What better person to raise and mold and teach a child than his own parent!? That said, I don't think that working moms are doing a bad job, I just think that there are pros and cons to both. But yes, moms can't win, either way. It's a lot of work staying at home, and it's a lot of work to work full time and raise children. I have decided for me, that staying at home, even when it's aggravating, not fullfilling, boring, tiring, frustrating and selfless, is still the best course of action for my family. I will go to school someday and pursue my own interests, but for now, my interests lie in my children. That doesn't mean I never do anything for myself, I do, but I don't make it a huge deal if I can't get as much "me" time as I would like. I know I'll get it back someday and I relish in these moments with my kids because I know it will be over before I know it!

post #6 of 55

I gave up a job/career I loved to stay at home. One I can't go back to. I was in the Marine Corps. I loved being a Marine, I loved my job. However I knew it was best if I got out and stayed at home with my children. I don't regret it one minute.


I did go to college before the military for Criminal Justice. I was originally planning on being a police officer if I didn't stay in. Again, not exactly a career I can just jump into when my kids have grown and moved out. I don't regret my decision there either. I love being home with my kids (well at least 99% of the time I love it).

post #7 of 55

I work FT out of the house now, but stayed at home with my son until he was 20 months old, so I've done both, and I totally 100% agree that BOTH ways are hard and both present their own unique set of challenges.


And honestly?  I'm still not sure where I want to be.  I'm expecting a second and while I don't want to go back to being a FT SAHM, which really just ran me down emotionally and mentally, I feel so uneasy about being away from a tiny baby for so long every day, not to mention that I miss the hell out of my two year old when I'm at work.  I'm thinking of asking my boss if I can drop down to 30 hrs/wk after maternity leave to try and hit that magical middle ground you talk about...


Which I'm sure will also be hard and have its own set of challenges. eyesroll.gif

post #8 of 55
I agree with what the other Moms have said.
I have two degrees and was on the career path prior to my first child. I even went back to work after mat.. Leave ( when she was 1). I resigned once my second child was born. My main deciding factor was that I could always go back to my career later, but would never get another chance to do this again. I don't regret it for a second! Sure it's super hard, but it is so worth it. Either choice is challenging, so i guess it depends on what you'd prefer your challenges to be.

And, FWIW, I did work PT in between my first two kids. It certainly was a nice option; however, I am the kind of person that puts110 % into all that I do, and I never felt like I could do either sufficiently...

There is no perfect solution, unfortunately. I say, follow your heart!

Good luck, Mama!
post #9 of 55
Great thread. I received my doctorate last year and I'm currently studying for my state licensure exam. After I pass, I plan to return to work part time. I've been at home for a few years. This seems to be a win win solution for me.

My DD is 8. I've been happiest when I was at home part time and in school part time.
post #10 of 55

I had a demanding career before DD was born, and I returned to work FT when she was 6 months. Her dad stayed home until she was 12 months, and then she went to daycare. It was too difficult to perform in my job FT and parent her the way I wanted, so I dropped to PT (which in my job was about 40 hours a week, working most evenings at home :P). It was a decent balance, but when DS was born, we decided that I should stay home even though that meant a huge drop in household income - I made more than my husband. We're hoping that I can stay home until DS goes to school at 4.5. I hope to pick up some contract work starting soon to supplement our income.


What it comes down to, for me, is that being an adult is hard work, no matter what you do. Frankly, with one little at home, I find being a SAHM easier than having a demanding career and parenting. Yes, it's hard work and I worry that I'm not contributing enough, and I miss my job sometimes. But I didn't like having my DD in daycare - it felt wrong to me even though she was happy (and still misses her dcp). But I'm pretty sure that life isn't supposed to be a free ride - I've seen all sides and what it comes down to is that there's nothing really easy. To me though, the freedom to raise my DS the way I want to in his first years, and to be fully available for DD when she needs me (she's in school) is worth the down side.

post #11 of 55
It was hard for me the first year or two after dd #1 was born, but since then it has been easier than I think it would be to have kids AND work outside the home. All the stuff at home would still have to be done, and I'm afraid most of that would fall on me as my dh works a ton of hours. I mean having kids is work regardless of whether you are home with them or working AND taking care of their needs. Neither choice is as easy as life before kids.
post #12 of 55

PhD turned SAHM here.Peace.gif


Yeah, being a SAHM is hard, but I have found it much more rewarding and better than working. However, it really depends on your kids, your DH, what your job is if you do work, childcare situation, ect.


I found being a working mom of one ok. A working mom of two WAY more stressful. Part of it is that my job was a demanding academic research position. My boss could have cared less that I had kids, he expected me to work long hours and weekends AND didn't understand why my DH with his own job didn't just do everything else for me. Even when I did put in the minimum work hours I could get away with, the shuttling kids to and from daycare, keeping up the house, and trying to spend quality time with my kids was too much. I felt like I never got to actually raise them, I felt more like they just slept at my house while at childcare and I had to run damage control from the daycare.


Keep in mind NOT every situation is like this. This was just mine. In the end I am glad I went back to work because now I KNOW I want to be a SAHM and this is where my heart is. Had I never gone back I probably would have thought what if, what if. Now that I am at home everybody is happier, myself included. I have time to feed my kids and family healthy homecooked foods, we do classes and activities, enjoy long summer days together and snuggle on rainy days. I don't have to worry about them while at work, or worry about work while I am with them. I don't have to stress when they or myself is sick, we can just take care of each other. Overall, it is a much slower and enjoyable pace of life.


On the flip side, our neighbors both work and have a great situtation. They found a wonderful nanny that comes to there house and also does little chores like laundry and some light cooking to make it a little easier. They are teachers so they have reasonable work hours, holidays and summers off. I think this is really nice for them and makes a huge difference. It works well for there family and they are able to enjoy both working and raising children without all the stress.


No it is NOT all sunshine and roses. We have our difficult days where I feel like I am dealing with one disaster after another but overall I love it. My DH is extremely supportive. After experiencing me working out of the home he is VERY appreciative with all that I do in the home now and that makes all the difference for me! He makes sure I get "me" time to pursue my interests and hobbies and helps when needed. HE knows that even though I am at home, I still WORK.

post #13 of 55
I'm an attorney turned SAHM. When DH and I first got married I told him the fastest route to a divorce was making me a SAHM with a minivan. When DD was born, I knew I couldn't be away from her 80-100 hours each week. It wasn't the type of parent I wanted to be, and we didn't need my income. I know many moms who are excellent parents and who work full time. It just wasn't how I envisioned mothering my children so I made the choice to leave a successful practice (there's no such thing as a part time lawyer in corporate America). I missed it so much at first, but I realized I was grieving. I started a journal just about myself..no DH or DD thoughts or feelings allowed. 19 months later I go back and read it, and I'm amazed at the person I've become. First though I had to let go of my own desires and designs. I quickly found I didn't miss them anymore. Everyone has a path, I very happily found mine in the last place I expected. I hope you find your happiness too.

Forgot to add that I don't drive the minivan...yet. wink1.gif
post #14 of 55

babylonghorn- totally off the subject but I never wanted to drive a minivan but I do now.. its awesome. It drives better than the sedan I had before kids. I love it..


Ok, back on subject :)

post #15 of 55
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post

I think you partly see a lot of complaints here because it is a safe place to complain to others who can understand. Personally I don't know a lot of other sahm irl & often feel judged for my choice by my working friends that I don't like to vent to them ever.


I agree with this. This board is often negative, but I assume it's because people don't choose to post when everything is going well and because there is enough judgement between WOH and SAH moms that complaining to them feels like it would bring up a sore subject. 


That said, I gave up a career to be a SAHM. I spent many years dreaming and working towards an international health and development career and as soon as I got pregnant I KNEW I couldn't do it and be the kind of mom I wanted to be. Too many hours, too much travel. I've never regretted my decision to quit (that was 7 years ago) because I know what I do is important and matters to our family, but I have always known I made a sacrifice to be a SAHM. 


In hindsight I wish I'd been more aware of what I'd want when I became a mother back when I was in college and graduate school. It just never entered my mind that I wouldn't want to go to developing countries for 6 weeks at a time once I had kids. If I'd known what I know now, I would have done something more flexible, but still in my field, like public health nursing. Something that I could do part-time while the kids were young. 


For me, this SAH gig won't last forever. My kids are still very young (6, 4 and 2 with another coming in 6 weeks) and I plan to be at home until my youngest reaches some age that I feel okay investing in something outside the family (maybe kindergarten age, not sure). I'd like to go back to school for nursing and start building a new career then. But until then, I try to enjoy it (and most days I do....although this pregnancy is seriously wearing me out) and realize that it won't last forever. And I am guilty of only posting when things are rough ... which isn't all that often.

post #16 of 55
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for your very thoughtful replies. I am always so impressed with the MDC community -- everyone keeps it so real, so respectful. It's actually quite helpful to know that these SAHP boards are probably more negative since it's a safe place to post, and people on post when feeling down. But, also good to know that is sortof the risk -- feeling that way is a real possibility, though certainly not for everyone and not all the time.


Also prior to kids, I assumed SAHMs were women who didn't want/have a career. Maybe that was true to some extent when I was growing up, but it is so fascinating that these days, the "typical" SAHM worked prior to pregnancy, often in very high powered jobs. I love hearing all of your perspectives, what you went through, how you feel you have changed, etc.


I also like the idea of having both career and kids, but not necessarily at the same time.


berry987, I totally get what you're saying -- I also worked in international health before I went back to school! I always thought I wanted to travel, etc., and would have no problem doing it with kids. I watched my colleagues make it work. But, I had no idea how motherhood would affect me, and now I know there is no way I want the lifestyle of leaving my kids for weeks at a time, or simply having to put in that many hours, even with a domestic position (or international post for that matter).


babylonghorn, interesting approach with the journal. You said you've changed a lot -- in what way?


crunchymama - kinship! It is so rare to find people in the same/similar situation! Granted, right now, my advisor is very understanding, and for now, I'm doing okay and have a lot of flexibility. I also have a great babysitter for my 1-yr-old, and my 3.5 is loving preschool. I still leave pretty early, and am trying to cram a full-time gig into part-time hours.  But, I agree that 2 makes it a lot harder than one! So great to hear that you are very comfortable with your position, and don't second guess yourself. It's hard to say how I'll feel in 10 years, but for now, I think I'd be okay with doing it, as long as I could keep one foot in somehow with consulting or something from time to time. I really fear getting so far 'off-track' that later on, when I'm ready to restart the career, I will be seen as out of touch. And heaven knows, I already am -- before kids, I was so aware of current events, kept up with so much stuff. Now, I can barely find time to read the news (I guess I spend all my free time on MDC!).


bejeweled -- what kind of doctorate? You don't have to be too detailed if you don't want, just curious as to what kind of part-time work you might be able to pick up.


Okimom - I can see how being a marine corps member would be really hard to do while being a mom. But, people do it, right?? Are you in touch with anyone who has made that work? It seems really, really hard.

post #17 of 55

Hello - coming in a little late to the thread here, but thought I'd respond nonetheless.  I have a law degree and practiced for almost 7 years, and now I'm home.  We can't afford it in the long term (when you picture "lawyer" please let me assure you this was no corporate job - I worked as a legal services attorney, representing low income people and as a result made very little money), so it's something I'm doing for now.  Having a time limit on my ability to stay home makes it all the more precious, I think, although I would love it if I could do this forever.


Like a PP, I never dreamed I would want to be home.  My own mother was a SAHM and her life seemed limited and absurdly unexciting.  The working mothers of my friends seemed very glamorous to me by contrast.  It was not until my first child was born that I realized why people stay home.  At that time we were unable to afford for me to remain out of work - DH's business had just collapsed - and returning to work to leave my baby was the most painful thing I ever had to do.  I would walk out of the day care with sunglasses on to hide the tears streaming from my eyes. I pumped for 15 months and cried, shut up in my office, every time I did it.  I was able to work part time for a few years, but then I took another job to be closer to home, and my new employer would not entertain a part-time request.  I was able, however, to negotiate a long 4-day work week with one precious day home with my child.  Fast forward a few more years to the birth of another DC, and now I am able to be at home for a while, although technically we still can't really afford it (and believe me, our life is quite modest).  I am actually planning to make a 180 degree career switch in a few years and go into teaching - partly for the family-friendly schedule and partly because I love working with kids in that capacity.  Mostly because I will have glorious summers off with my kids, and be home by 3:30 PM.


So, having done all variations of the WOHM part time, WOHM full time and SAHM, I can tell you that for *me*, the latter is bliss.  I get sometimes frustrated on these threads when a SAHM who has never worked outside the home comments that being at home with kids is so much harder than her life before kids when she worked.  Well, yeah, of course it is - I think all of our lives were simpler and easier before we had kids (is it possible I used to sleep in?  Come home from work and collapse on the couch and order take-out? Take a walk whenever I wanted to?).  Less joyous, missing something, perhaps - but certainly easier.  My point is that comparing a life of working pre-kids to SAHM-ing post kids is comparing apples and twinkies.


I know staying at home is not for everyone, nor would I suggest it is the best route.  But I'll tell you for *me*, it is vastly easier and I am miles happier.  It is impossible to describe the stress involved when a child is sick and you and your DH are having a fight at 5 in the morning over who has to be the one to stay home, when all your heart wants to do is take care of your sick child but there are pressing work obligations.  For years I juggled the craziness of trying to be there for every play, and every school concert, and leaving the office at noon to race home and retrieve a homemade ice cream cake from the freezer to bring into DD's school on her birthday, and then race back to the office.  Running out to grocery shop at 9:30 at night after the kids are asleep (with DH home, o' course).  Cleaning my house at 10:30 PM and making lunches at 11 PM for the next day.  Extracting myself from my DD's arms as she cried "don't leave me!" to go to work.  Thinking about my kids all day at work.  Dreading the occasional business trip.  Having weekend and evening commitments so that I missed out on soccer games, bedtimes, and so on.  Coming home and needing to focus on your kids, but simultaneously needing to put dinner on the table.  Oftentimes working late at night after everything is clean and kids are in bed, to make up for all the work left undone when I raced out of the office at 5 PM.  I just found it really, really difficult and painful.  Things are much easier and happier now for me, and I'm really grateful to be out of the rat race.  It feels like such a luxury to only have one area of focus, instead of being torn and always feeling like a bad mother and bad employee.


Having a choice is a luxury, period.  I know there are SAHMS on these boards who would like to work but whose salary would never cover the cost of day care.  I know there are WOHMS who are dying to quit but can't afford it.  I would say, since you asked, if you have a choice as to whether to SAHM or WOHM, congratulations!  I would also say that I doubt you will ever say "gee, I wish I had spent less time with the kids."  The early years in particular are precious and fly by.  I am highly educated and think there is nothing I would rather do than run my home and revel in the time spent with my children.  Just my own experience for what it's worth.

post #18 of 55
Thread Starter 

PennyRoo, Thanks for your very thoughtful response! You make very good points about how to think about this! Your post is very helpful in painting a picture of the reality of what it is to work out of the home and raise children. Your situation sounds so exhausting! I am currently in the middle of that race to get everything done, but am failing miserably. House is a mess and dinner is not always prepared at home. Then, when working, not able to focus.

While it would not be easy for us to make the decision, and it would take some planning, time, and possibly a move, I think we could work it out for me to stay home, with the plan of earning at least a little bit with some consulting here and there. Of course, then there are days when I am just exhausted being around my little ones too, as early as 9am...

post #19 of 55

I knew SAHP was for me because I've always looked forward to doing it since I was a child. I wanted to be a SAHM like my classmates wanted to be teachers and cops. This remained through high school and college, even though I worked very hard to look within myself and find a niche in a career. It just wasn't happening. A career was not my desire, my passion. SAHPing was a no-brainer for us for practical reasons (mainly the amount of money I'd bring in wouldn't be worth it, and the time it took to do a job wouldn't be worth the money), but it was my sincere heart's desire to throw my full attention and effort into the domestic realm. I still struggle with myself, because part of me wonders if I *should* be feeling otherwise, if I *should* want to go out and work. It is, I guess, what our culture seems to expect of educated women. I LOVED college and if it weren't for kids, I'd be a lifetime student. But I just have no desire to have a career, and am learning to accept this in myself. 

post #20 of 55

I enjoy being a stay at home mom. thumb.gif  It has it's pros and cons like everything in life, but for me it's very important that I be there with my kids in the early years. I think one of the "problems" with being a stay at home mom is it's not viewed as a job by society. I get the "oh you just stay home" all the time. It's a bit irritating. It is absolutely a job. If I wasn't home I would be paying someone else to raise my kids.  I think a lot of the depression with SAHM's comes from this mentality that they aren't doing anything. It can make them defensive or completely unprepared for the JOB, like "this is so hard, look what i did all day" or "i never expected it to be this hard" etc. etc. It's a job, it's a wonderful rewarding job, but still a job.  This  misconception  that SAHM's are just moms that are to "lazy" to work needs to get thrown out! My house is not always spotless, I am home with children all day! Or we are at various outings forthe children. I used to have a lot of guilt about it. "well, gee I only stay home how come my house isn't spotless??" The reality is, is that kids are messy. ROTFLMAO.gif and  going to park or playing puppets with them is much more important. I view the kids as my job and the housework just as some added nuisance I'm stuck with because I'm the one home. Can you tell I'm not a huge fan of housework?  lol.gif  It has helped put thing ins perspective for me though. Just because I'm home doesn't mean the house will be spotless, the kids 100% well behaved, and I will have a four course meal on the table every night. Life just isn't a 1960's tv show. lol.gif   

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