- topicStay At Home Parentstagged by mamazee, 10/21/13
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- A Mama's Peace
Is society as a whole pretty negative about SAHMs? - Page 2post #21 of 21010/23/13 at 2:49pmpost #22 of 21010/23/13 at 2:57pmThread StarterTo answer the question: I do all housework and laundry and shopping while everyone is gone, and then I do as much food prep work as I can while they're gone, and then our evenings and weekends are all available for family time. I also have time to spend on myself reading and I do some volunteer work.
I watched my mom work full time and then have another full time job on weekends and evenings, and I didn't want to do that.post #23 of 21010/23/13 at 4:06pmQuote:@amber3902 reading this is very upsetting as a SAHP with my kids in full time school. I an spend time with them while they are in school. 4 days a week I go and spend 20 mins first thing reading with my child in her classroom and other children who's parents are unable to attend do to various other commitments. This would not be possible if I had to work. I am also able to volunteer to help out on field trips and in the classrooms, spending time watching my children grow in their learning environment. I could be at the school every day volunteering in some capacity watching them grow, learn and make friendships. I'm not however as I take care of almost everything house and life related. My husband works 12+ hour days. There is no time for him to pitch in and help. He can work 24+ straight days in a row sometimes. Other times he can be working away for weeks or months on end. I get to do everything a single parent would do, without being single. And I don't have the extra stress of having to make a living.Originally Posted by amber3902
OP, I think part of the reason you're getting more flack now that your kids are older is because it seems the only reason a mother would stay home is to save money on child care. Once your kids are in school people don't see what other reason there would be for you to stay home.
There are so many modern day conveniences, dishwasher, microwave, washer and dryer, that the previous generation didn't have, that other than child care they don't see what takes up so much time every day that you can't do when you get home from work. Not trying to give you a hard time here, but really, I'm able to clean my whole house in a couple hours, and I do that once a week, and it takes me on average 30 minutes to cook dinner every night. Granted, I don't have to time to cook everything from scratch, and I don't can and freeze vegetables, but I think we still manage to eat pretty healthy.
Spending time with your kids of course is very important, but you can't spend any time with them if they're in school. And housework doesn't take all day, especially if the biggest mess makers are at school all day, so what's the point of being at home while your kids are in school? Again, not trying to attack SAHMs, just trying to help you see their perspective.
Gooseberry, maybe you'd like to start a thread in the working parent's forum to discuss how to handle housework/child rearing while working full time. I think I could offer a few tips I've picked up over the years.
There are many days that I have lots of downtime. I too have Fibro and it often flares. I also have celiac and get migraines randomly. Working for me would be difficult with these conditions. Certainly not impossible and I have "worked" on and off in the past as well.
However there is almost no daycare where we are and it's mega expensive when you can find it and my children are not able to stay home by themselves yet. So working hours would have to be between 9-2/230. Which means my job choices are limited and if working 5 days a week it would only give me 25 hours tops. Which isn't worth going to work for once we factor in the increase of taxes (I already make some residual income from our income property and DH makes enough that my working *would* impact his taxes), extra clothes and extra food costs (not being able to cook from scratch all the time). Not to mention my health would suffer from all the added stress and extra hours of "stuff" we would have to add on to the end of our day. And we would lose out on our family "downtime".
As parents and a family we put a large focus on our children learning through play at home and through being with us. If after school was all about groceries, Dr's Appt's, errands and cleaning *our* needs would suffer.
As it is my youngest comes home from school exhausted every day and needs time to play and relax. My oldest has many different Dr's and specialists she needs to see. It's unlikely any job I could find from 9-2 would allow me to take the amount of time off I would need for Dr's Appt's alone. Never ins being able to go and help at school field trips.
Also every summer I would need to quit my job or spend it all on summer camps or daycares (again *if* I was able to find space). And personally I like the fact that we can choose to be lazy or explore or hop in the car and go on vacation whenever we want in the summer. I tn't have to worry about schedules and bookin time off or being allowed to have time off. If my husband comes with us then we only need to worry about scheduling vacation around one job.
ProD days I don't have to take time off or scramble for care. And my oldest gets sick every couple months for a few days at a time. She's been like that since she was a baby. And again I would have to take off more time. We don't have family here really (1 but they work full time) and I would never want to be asking my friends ALL of the time.
I can't work weekends and evenings (and wouldn't want to, we'd rather be together as a family) because my husbands schedule is so up in the air. He might be home, or not. He might think he's going to be home and then get called in.
Trust me I've looked at getting jobs, there's even a few I have been offered (wasn't looking but lots of work here) that sounded almost perfect. But trying to make the logistics work of *our* life and what does regularly occur (not the what if's) there is no point at all in me even trying to get a regular job outside the home.
If my husband and I were to spilt tomorrow I could have good job with a live able wage within two weeks and a short course. Or many other jobs, as I mentioned our job market is crazy here. And yes I'd then HAVE to make childcare work. But it would not be easy, and parts of our life would suffer.
So for the amount of downtime I have during the day (sometimes an hour or two, often much less) fitting in a job just to make extra money isn't worth it. Money isn't everything. The life we've built for ourselves is comfortable meets our NEEDS and not just our WANTS. For other's their mileage may vary.
OP, I live in a very "1950's" town when it comes to SAHP. While many moms want to work they are unable do to their husbands/SO's work schedules. Here SAHM's are a very large part of the community. And no one looks down on Working Parent's either
However I do get the "go back to work" attitude from some people. Mainly family back from where we grew up. However in that area it was *very hard* to stay home on one income. I did go back to work after a year with my first and our life suffered greatly. The best work/SAH balance I had was when DH was only working 8 hours a day and I was doing daycare 3 shortened days a week our of our basement suite in our old home. My house stayed clean because we weren't in it (daycare was in the suite), I could still help out at school sometimes, although I did miss some field trips and I could get errands done on days off and I could schedule Dr's appointments on days off and the odd time during care (could either take the kids or take a day off). However I hate doing daycare in *my* house and since we moved to a place without a separate area I don't think it would work. Besides I'm loving this SAHM schedule I'm rocking now!
And again as a side reminder to everyone, this is the SAHP forum. Discussion about topics pertaining to and support for parents who choose this lifestyle is the goal of the board. SAHP should not feel the need to have to justify their choices or lifestyle in this forum. Debates and Questioning the differences between SAHP and Working Parents belong in Parenting.post #24 of 21010/23/13 at 7:29pmA lot of people are confused when they find out I'm a stay-at-home-mom, because I went to college for 9 years to get my bachelors, masters, and PhD degrees, then I had a really awesome job making a good amount of money for a few years before I had children. However, I'm happy with my decision to stay home. People can think what they want, but I'm confident that I'm doing what's best for me and my family. Being a SAHM is the hardest, most challenging, and most rewarding thing I've ever done and I don't regret any of the life decisions I've made. I don't think I wasted my time getting an education and I definitely don't think I'm wasting my time now that I'm a full-time mother.post #25 of 21010/23/13 at 10:10pmQuote:Originally Posted by amber3902
One thing I've always wondered and probably why others may tend to view SAHMs negatively is the question: If your kids are in school, what do you do all day? And then the answer is: I do the laundry, clean the house, run errands, etc .etc. But then I say, funny, I do all that AND work 40 hours a week, so why do you need to be home all day when I'm able to do the same amount of work you do and work eight hours a day?
I never had any desire to be a stay at home parent until my kids started school. Then I quickly found that my kids went to school, then daycare, then I picked them up and ran them to whatever activity was on the schedule for the evening, and then it was bed time. I might get lucky and find time for a brief meal. I quickly found that I missed my kids. I wanted to be their Mom, not their driver. Add in the class parties my kids begged me to attend but I couldn't get away from work for. Heck it was a struggle to find time to have a discussion with their teachers when there were issues because I had to find the time to get away from work.
Being a stay at home mom now is fantastic. I can volunteer, I can attend class parties. But best of all I can schedule their activities for right after school so in the evening when my husband gets home from work we can spend time as a family. On the occasions that an activity has to happen in the evening. I can have a meal ready before we leave. I honestly don't know why people think that the value of being a stay-at-home parent is gone once the kids are in school. In my house it became something that we ended up making happen just this year with my kids age 7 and 9 and both in school.post #26 of 21010/24/13 at 5:42am
Pepin, I’m so sorry if my post upset you, that was not my intention!
Hey folks, I was not trying to imply that SAHMs are lazy or anything like that at all! I was just trying to explain why some people may have a negative perception about SAHMs.
They don’t know all the stuff you do all day. They don’t know that you volunteer at school, take care of sickly relatives, etc. And yeah, I understand that sometimes it just makes more sense to stay home than to work.
The OP's question was is soceity negative about SAHMs? Unforunately, yes, there are people out there that will judge you for staying home. Same as there are people that judge you for working and not staying home. I was not trying to start a debate or say you have to justify your life choices. In no way was I trying to say that what you do isn’t valuable or important. I was just trying to help ya’ll understand why ya’ll get flak from people when you say you’re a SAHM. And sometimes it helps to hear opinions from the other side and understand why people think the way they do. I’m not saying how they think is right, but sometimes it helps to understand why people have the stereotypes that they do, so you know how to fight it, or at least understand and accept it so you can move on with your life.
For example, in the working parent's forum, there was a poster who complained that other moms in her area were always scheduling play groups during the day while she's at work and was feeling frustrated and excluded. But then a SAHM explained that they prefer to do play groups during the morning because the kids usually need naps in the afternoon. And they also want to reserve their evening time for when dad gets home from work. Now, it didn't solve any problems, but after hearing WHY the SAHMs did things the way they did, it was easier for the working parent to understand why play groups were scheduled during the day. If that SAHM had not chimed in and explained things from the other side, the working parent would have continued to be frustrated and annoyed at the SAHMs. Now she understands and does not feel so excluded. I also helped me understand because I was feeling some of the same frustration myself. Sometimes it helps to hear things from a different view point other than your own, and that's all I was trying to do.
I get flak from people for working and not staying home, too. I felt guilty for not staying home. But then I realized that I am the only one that is going to have to deal with the decisions I make, no one else. You know your situation better than anyone else, and you should never feel bad for making the decisions in life that you do.
Edited by amber3902 - 10/24/13 at 8:20ampost #27 of 21010/24/13 at 6:12amThe question itself of what do you do all day would surely provoke a defense , how could it not? It's like asking, why are you so fat- I really just want to try to understand why, no offense.
But while you may be able to do it all with your lifestyle it's all about ones values ; like me and meals. I highly value and am passionate about nutrition therefore it wasn't feeling right for me to feed my kids processed foods I didn't make; to someone like my sister, she's not happy without a new car every year. Or like pepin- she wants to be the mom she didn't have , again, her own priorities. I always wanted harmony and peace in my marriage and getting 5 hrs of sleep/ nite was raising my bitchiness yearly. Now it's like we're "playing house" and we're loving it .
Goose- I hear you. Many of my working mom friends feel pressured by their husbands to continue to work esp. When their kids go to school and school years can be busier than preschool years.(. Like what jolly said) They live on Xanax and Botox and cry almost daily. They feel trapped. That's not a life I my opinion. I didn't want to be there in five years. So I would say to maybe get some therapy to get to the heart of your feelings and if you are truly unhappy in your situation get your hubby on board with a plan to change things.
I was raised by a widow professional woman with 4 kids, youngest 2 yrs old. She had to work. Home wasn't peaceful , she wasn't happy ever- never even seemed glad to see me in the afternoon. She blamed a lot if her horrible fits/moods / tantrums on job stress. Did lots of stuff on my own and struggled as a result. So maybe like you pippa I want to do better because I can, I know what I missed out on.
One more thing: my mother who is 72 said when she was a child in her town women did not work. The only women who worked were widows and the whole town would kind of figure out something for her to do- like secretary or something.
And yeah butterfly- what about summer, illness, teacher In service days, baby sitter issues. We were always scrambling to cover these and I even caught myself being resentful that I didn't have free inlaw care like a lot of others- and I realized- this is my job, my kids , my first priority - or it should be! And already I've been able to be that back up sitter for one of my husbands work friends and my sister.post #28 of 21010/24/13 at 9:10am@Amber3902- I think if you reread what you said you didnt just give an opinion and you did make judgements even if they were implied. I got some fantastic advice one time about "considering your audience" This is a SAHM's forum. Probably not the best place to say things like "I can clean my house in 30 minutes" which implies if it takes me 3 hours I some how neglect it most of the time or I am inefficient. Perhaps that wasn't your intention but I hope you can certainly see from everyone having to remind the board that this is in fact a SAHM's support board that many of your comments were skewed towards judgment. I think a "clean" house for example is very very subjective. A friend of mine considers her house "clean" if there isnt anything growing in her fridge... I dont judge her for that however my standard for "clean" is very very different. I won't even say better but I will say different. I am a labeling fool... I fantasize about having a labeled spot for everything in my house. I realize this isn't even an "ideal" for many people but again that is my point.post #29 of 21010/24/13 at 9:30ampost #30 of 21010/24/13 at 10:07amQuote:Originally Posted by lrj85
@Amber3902- I think if you reread what you said you didnt just give an opinion and you did make judgements even if they were implied. I got some fantastic advice one time about "considering your audience" This is a SAHM's forum. Probably not the best place to say things like "I can clean my house in 30 minutes" which implies if it takes me 3 hours I some how neglect it most of the time or I am inefficient. Perhaps that wasn't your intention but I hope you can certainly see from everyone having to remind the board that this is in fact a SAHM's support board that many of your comments were skewed towards judgment. I think a "clean" house for example is very very subjective. A friend of mine considers her house "clean" if there isnt anything growing in her fridge... I dont judge her for that however my standard for "clean" is very very different. I won't even say better but I will say different. I am a labeling fool... I fantasize about having a labeled spot for everything in my house. I realize this isn't even an "ideal" for many people but again that is my point.
Sorry, did not mean to imply that someone was inefficient if it takes them longer to clean their house. (I did say it takes me two hours, not 30 minutes though.) And yes, what's clean to one person may not be to someone else.
And like Gooseberry, I didn't even realize this thread was in the SAHM's forum. I only clicked on this article because it's one of the first things you see when you first log onto this site. The article that links to this thread says - Negativity towards SAHMs, why is there so much? I was just trying to answer that question. And it seems like you would get a better understanding if you actually got responses from people who work, and not just from other SAHPs. That would be like me asking other working parents, why do SAHP always schedule play dates during the day? I'm not going to get very good answers if I don't actually ask other SAHPs.
If I had known that the OP didn't want an honest answer to her question and was only venting or looking for support from other SAHPs I wouldn't have bothered posting.
Edited by amber3902 - 10/24/13 at 10:31ampost #31 of 21010/24/13 at 11:49amI can see both perspectives on this issue...as a SAHM now of both school age and babies, I feel lucky to be available for field trips, volunteering, dr appts, school breaks, etc, and have dinner prepped by school dismissal so I can focus on them all evening. I will miss that when I return to work, and scrambling for childcare will be no fun. When you factor in the cost of childcare it is not unreasonable for me to just stay home right now, however, our financial situation will improve significantly enough that I can't justify continuing to not work once all are in school.
If I'm being honest, I'm a bit envious of those who truly can afford to have a parent on standby, and if we were well off I think I would too.
My own mother never returned to work, and although she cleaned, cooked and was always home for me, she still laid around napping and reading a lot, which seemed to exacerbate her depression and poor health. It also forced my modestly earning father to work so much overtime that we didn't see him much, so *in that situation* I can see why many were disapproving. It really depends on what you do with that time and what you sacrifice by not working.
I can see where better intentioned moms could stay busy and enjoy being able to always be there for the kids! I am so thankful for the awesome non-working moms of only schoolagers who are a CONSTANT presence on my kids school. They do so much that I can't since I have youngers at home. I would never judge them; I'm glad that works for their family. And they always look so pulled together next to me in my spitup stained t-shirts, lol.
Edited by neycie - 10/24/13 at 1:49pmpost #32 of 21010/24/13 at 12:42pm
I have been a stay-at-home mom ever since my baby was born. While I haven't encountered any direct problems with it, there is something out there that makes me feel lazy. It might just be my own mindset than anything. Of course, we're not yet in the ideal home situation. My husband just graduated from college, is job-hunting while working customer service, and we're living with my grandmother in her basement apartment. When I describe this situation to people, I can't help but feel they're thinking "Why aren't you collecting income?"
Now, I like working, but my husband and I have talked about this even before I was pregnant. If at all possible, we would like for me to be home before the kids enter school (though homeschooling is something we are seriously considering, so...)
In all fairness, I live in Utah where big families are celebrated, but even then SAHMs are expected to get a job as soon as they possibly can.
As it is, I like being with my baby. Do I sometimes feel lazy? Yes, but then I think how cushy my last job was (didn't pay much at all, but the situation was very nice and I was rarely stressed out) and I am so grateful to be home.post #33 of 21010/24/13 at 1:21pmQuote:
Thinking more about what you said, actually, it's not like asking someone why are they fat. It's like if I was were to try to imagine what it is like being a Syrian refugee. I can presume to know what it's like, but unless you have actually lived that life you have no idea. So when I ask what do you do all day, it was because I honestly don't know the answer because other than my short maternity leave I have never stayed home with my kids. Sorry if that question was offensive but it was a sincere question and nothing more.
And I certainly don't think I'm able to "do it all". In fact, you are the one that is able to do far more than I ever could. I'm certainly not going on field trips with my kids, or volunteering in their classroom. I'm certainly not making meals from scratch. So I really don't think I "have it all". I really don't.post #34 of 21010/24/13 at 2:29pmpost #35 of 21010/24/13 at 2:31pm
I think society as a whole likes to judge the (bleep) out of women, period. There's really not a way to win.
Don't have kids --- you're selfish. Do have kids --- you're ruining the planet. Work when your kids are little --- you're a bad mother. Stay at home when your kids are older --- you're a lazy drain on society. Breast feed --- why do you have to be such a martyr? Formula feed --- don't you care what's best for your children? Unmedicated childbirth --- you're undermining what feminists fought for. Epidural --- you're buckling under to the patriarchal medical establishment.
On and on and on. I know both SAHMs and WOHMs in my circle and both feel like they're attacked by society. 'cuz that's just the way society is.post #36 of 21010/24/13 at 4:03pm
Be forwarned started as a response to this thread became more of an article. For that I apologize. Or not. I'm only human.
Argh! Okay, now I've got my dander up. Didn't mean to but as I read the thread it happened. But i recognize that's mostly not because of any ignorance displayed here but since I also last week read a blog post by a man lauding his SAHM wife-- he was very supportive, and for the first time in a long while I too felt vindicated, validated, and all that good stuff. Which is very important for any human being to feel. And yes, SAHMs are completely human. We have that right. But in response to the man's article were many many responses by "working mothers" stating in various derogatory ways that they did everything a SAHM does and more, that they do it all with one hand tied behind their back, while hopping on one leg, while spinning in a circle while working 30-40-50 hour week? Why did they make it sound like they somehow are knitting with organic wool in one hand, cooking elaborate organic meals from scratch with the other, gardening with one toe, having time with their DH if there is one, while somehow spending 24 hours a day with their kids-- artsing and crafting and outings and adventures--all the while of course juggling a full time job or career? No, you can't. It can't be done. I know because I've tried. You would have to be superhuman, and "working moms" too, are only human. And SAHMs are as human as you are.
Why does it feel then, that so often there is a pervasive sense that we are less than? I am a SAHM. I am also Ojibway Native American by heritage and it's as my mother says, the white man has done what he's done because "Well after all, they are not even human!" And it's true. In order to justify their own acts, the violence, enslavement, imprisonment, the slow or swift murder of millions of indigenous peoples, the white man placated his own cognitive dissonance in this mental/emotional and literal dehumanization of those who breathed walked thought felt hoped dreamed rejoiced and despaired birthed and died and suffered just as he did. And at his hands. And this holocaust is far from unique. And it's far from over.
I have done it both ways. That is how I know it can't be done. When my oldest was a toddler I went to school part time, and then full time and then worked full time while finishing school, as well as doing required volunteer hours and supervision to meet the criteria of a licensing body as well as my Master's program. Did I mention I was a single mother for much of that time? Then I was also in a courtship with the man who would become my new husband a few years later. And was I able, in this time, to meet my daughter's needs? To be somehow, magically, with her spending quality time while simultaneously in class? At work? Pulling long hours doing research? Doing volunteer time to make requirements? Or when I was home writing long papers late into the night or studying? No. Hell no. But it's not that I didn't try my damndest to make it work. Something suffered. That something was my daughter. And me. Most importantly: the relationship between us. There is an aphorism that states a person can only do 3 things really well. Maybe there is more truth than poetry to that. Maybe we should listen.
Of course I tried my hardest to be there for her. To race during a quick break between classes and work to pick her up from school. To take her on trips to the museum (there was one walking distance from my house). Or the park. And to a certain extent I was. But I was also absent. Missing her, whole days, nights, weekends, months it seems, escaped us. Years. I still remember the time she was 3 til the time she was 6 as an insubstantial blur. I still feel the ache that I've missed that time time to be there for her, when she truly needed me, her only mother. My only daughter. That time is gone forever. But there is time for regret.
Because of the demands of my program, and job, there were whole days I did not see her until picking her up late at night from my parents or sister (I was lucky they could watch her sometimes). I was late so often picking her up from preschool or kindergarten it was a travesty. So embarrassed, the last one to leave. I'd apologize profusely each time. Yet I could not afford aftercare fees. Her teacher was nice enough sometimes to look the other way. I found it so painful trying to mete time for a new relationship against the needs to spend (barely) adequate time with my daughter, that we ended up spending more time as a threesome than I felt was right, in the event something were to go sour, she was already getting so attached. Already starting to him 'daddy'. This sobriquet, the bestowal of which I greeted with both hope and trepidation, proved premonitory, but not before the heartbreak I feared had first come to pass: we split up for a year while the man traveled overseas to fulfill his own longtime dream. The time between his leaving and our eventual reunion was one of the hardest I've bourn. Not merely the sorrow of my own heart, but the longing for that 'daddy' for my girl was the pain only a mother knows, but cannot by will alone provide. I could write an entire essay on that mother's journey, the tension of procuring a father for one's child, the pushpull of allowing a relationship into the mother's let alone children's lives (and of course, in a way they are one and the same for single mothers aren't they?). But I won't say more here.
Was my house clean? Not near. Did I cook from scratch? Occasionally. Mostly I bought hopeful, organic things that lay wasting on the shelf, and too many ready made or easy make meals. She ate more meals with other members of immediate or extended family than me. She became an extremely picky eater. I remember coaxing bites of pancakes (with syrup!) into her some weekend mornings. What parent has to encourage, coax, insist her child eat dinosaur shaped organic chicken nuggets for pity's sake. She spent nights away from me. Did I mention my job entailed working nightshift a few times a week at least for months on end? Dayshift too. The year I finished school my program had upped to FT, working full time, while my ex-boyfriend/future husband sailed overseas and my daughter was in Kindergarten was a craze of neverending busy-ness. I recall being so frazzled, underslept and miserable by the end of that time. Then i graduated, he returned, we re-connected, we eventually got engaged, I was still working, and feeling strangely adrift from my daughter in ways I can't describe. What had happened to us? I had been practicing "attachment parenting" with her since before her birth (natural birth with midwife in hopsital in case you're wondering. Hey if my mother could, so could I. Not to mention my great grandmother and everyone up there in the woods with her-- they didn't have epidurals!) Babywearing, cosleeping, EBF, you name it. I think it helped our bond, honestly, that I had done those things from the start. Who knows without that, how damaging the later effects of my growing absence wold have had on our diminishing bond?
Near the end of this, my then fiance, daughter and me got a place together, he and I were both working outside the home and I was still finishing volunteer hours for licensing requirements. Did I mention I was pregnant for about six months of this time?
I was stressed to the max, the breaking point. there were complications in the pregnancy, in the relationship. Luckily things worked out within a few months, we were married and I had my second baby, naturally, at home. And there I stayed.
Since then we have two more children. That's three children in seven years. Three times I have tried to proceed with doctoral work and three times 'failed'. Or you might say, backed off because I recognized the train of hecticity that awaited me and my children should I board it. I have been there for my babies as no other human can be there. No daycare on earth can be there on the level of need that exists for them as babies and young children. That's what I do. I'm 'only' their mother. And I'm their only mother.
It's not that I don't have the guilt for being there for my babies. It's there. Society, friends, family sends the message everyday. It's powerful. Oppressive. Never ending. And I hate it. However, I must continue to do what is right for my family. all me stubborn if you wish. Call me stupid if you must. Call me lazy if that makes you feel better. Just call me a stay home mother. I have done the research and there's no denying it. Not only as a laymom. But I'm fortunate enough to have a degree in clinical psychology. All the most recent, stringent, and lucid findings on healthy attachment. It's there if you just look. And there's no denying it.
You see, if you work away from home, if you school, if you just spend hours a day away from your kids then you aren't there for them during that time. I know. I've done it. You aren't simultaneously at a job and being with your child are you? You aren't in class and with your precious little ones. Sure we can imagine a few scenarios for argument, but for most people that's impossible. You can't be in two places at once. Can you? Even the time we spend multitasking, (though society applauds it) it is becoming evident, actually hinders our effectiveness as people. You see, I've done it, I've tried to do it all, and I've failed miserably. Heck, even as a SAHM, on a good day, I don't spend 10 hours in the kitchen baking and cooking elaborate meals from scratch anymore. A baby ago, I used to sometimes. Even if I did, I could not simultaneously help my oldest with her homework, read my son a story, give my first grader a bath, vacuum the house, be online at MDC, play a game, nurse the baby, scrub the toilet, calm a meltdown, wash everyone's hands, set the table, do an art project, talk with my husband, grocery shop, change the baby, freak out about finances, hear my daughter's poem, sneak a snack, organize the desk, listen to my second daughter's fears, pay some bills, drive an errand, wash the dishes... while tap dancing, and standing on my head. Not even a SAHM can do all those things in a day. Even if we could, we can't do them all together. Even if can do all those things we still burn out. When is there time to ourselves? We are human we can't do too much or we suffer. We can't do everything at once. We can try but something's gotta give. Something will lose out. What pays the price? Usually the relationship. Spouses. Parent-child.
Strange because to most of us, in our lives, the relationship is the most important, the most precious thing to our survival and to our hearts, and to our well being. Yet under stress, it's the first to bend. Sometimes break. Don't they?
Of course we can argue, we all need money. Without money, we cannot survive in this society. We need it to have a roof over our head, feed our families, have a car, pay the bills that never end. And that's just the minimum. Isn't it? What about life insurance, vacation, savings, college for children (ha these days), unforeseen emergencies, and all the 'stuff'? Comforts, luxuries. The argument can be made.
Funny, we often hear the "working mother" argument that they do what they do to provide. I'm not arguing against it. You do what you do to provide for their family. Maybe you're a single mom. I've been there. I most often though hear the statement that 'if you're lucky enough to afford to stay home, then..." or "for most of us it's not an option..." Really? Its good to be up on the latest research. Last winter there was an article in Psychology Today that described how the majority of SAHMs are actually working class. The researchers expected to find more lower income families with moms working outside the home but the majority of "working mothers" they found were actually from upper-middle income (usually white) families. Perhaps they have been told or raised from a young age to expect to have "it all" and do what they do to provide or uphold a lifestyle choice, to hold to an impossible double standard for women. Wouldn't be the first time. Believing that they can do it all and do it well... Maybe they can. But they can't do it all at the same time, let alone simultaneously, and well.
A job isn't going to cut you any slack, you must be there to earn your way. You must do what you are paid to do and do it well or lose the job. If you are in school you must keep up with the program or fail. But to what standard do we hold the halls of motherhood? Who will see us falter? If we fall on occasion, if occasions grow to become norms, if our interactions bear the strain, if our whole parenting style crumbles, and we watch as our dreams and very ideal for motherhood washes away before our helpless eyes. Who will be there to witness the betrayal of our own hearts except our children? And perhaps a spouse? And maybe then we will say "this isn't what I wanted for my kids. This isn't how I thought it would be. This isn't who I am." Something isn't right. But we have somehow gotten to this unfamiliar shore. And we feel powerless to stop it. Or to change. We don't know how to do anything differently now. And who will hold us accountable to the relationship if it suffers in the balance?
Do I have regrets about being a SAHM? Well it does suck barely making ends meet. It's not the lifestyle, or the stress, that I want for my family. I still have a distant hope or dream of finishing a PhD in my field. That would give me real earning power. And help our financial situation. It would take years and doing to make that happen still. There are a few jobs or services I could do in the meantime, in which the pay is meager, and are not ultimately my goal or my career passion. Whenever DH and I have done the numbers for me to work any of these 'entry level' interest jobs it just does not add up for daycare. Even if I wanted to put my 18 month old in daycare. Which is not okay with me. Still I wonder if I could just forge ahead with school and/or work outside the home again, put my heart in a box somehow, leave my baby crying for me, to do what I need to do to to get ahead with my career path. I can feel the ache of holding my heart's breath, trying not to feel too much, as I do what society tells me is "right". Do something tangible. Make my mark. Earn my livelihood. Become real, in the eyes of the world.
Because words don't exist for what we do, sometimes it's easy for us to believe we aren't doing anything. Reinforced by the eyes of the world, to believe we are selfish, we are lazy, we are incompetent, we are takers, we are losers, we are 'lucky'. Because the world lauds busy-ness we also learn to believe that to be fully human is to be busy. We are anxious if we aren't doing something all the time. We are also taught that to be busy means constantly doing something. I know loads of SAHMs who are constantly busy. And yet they are also, sometimes not doing something. We can be busy to the point of exhaustion, busy in both senses of the term. Doing and not doing. So busy we lose track of ourselves. And feel guilty for needing a break from all this-- not doing. It's hard to explain unless you've done it. And people who aren't doing it say, I don't get it. Yes we have gotten the memo from the world. That we are not enough. Not doing enough. Not earning enough. Not busy enough. Not real enough. Maybe even... not really human?
There is a danger in this thinking. We have seen it the world over, many times, and nothing has changed, as the genocides of the world continue and violence against women rises unchecked.
But I am human. Please see me. I'm a mother. Every human on earth rises from a mother, was born from a mother's body, depends on their mother for food, shelter, comfort, touch, love, presence, nurturing, mental/emotional flourishing. Our very survival as humans depends on countless mothers. And who will be there for the children, if not their mothers? What message does that send to their psyches, that they are not enough worth our own time, energy, involvement, care? That we would put them in the care of others first. That they are not worthy of our attention. That they are not enough. Society already gives that message from every angle. I don't want to perpetuate that message as their mother. I give them what I strive to be the best of presents, though it is at times quiet, loud, happy, sad, it is far from perfect, it is timeless: my presence. I want their first song on earth to be a hymn of constant love.
ETA While writing this, spent a good chunk of that time NAK, changing my daughter, getting her a snack, and trying to interest in her in toys and drawing, albeit semi-successfully...
Edited by Tara2 - 10/24/13 at 4:28pmpost #37 of 21010/24/13 at 7:29pm
One thing that you *never* hear about in the SAHM/ "working mom" debate:
Where is the discussion about the socioeconomic and racial implications of childcare? Most childcare providers are paid poverty level wages, and (at least in my area) most childcare providers are immigrants and women of color. The US government subsidizes childcare for low income women-- childcare costs more per year than most of the moms who utilize the subsidies have *ever* earned in a year.
Also, you never hear about the fact that, more often than not, the "choice" whether to stay home or go to work and utilize daycare, is not really a choice at all. It's either stay working & put baby in subsidized daycare, or be homeless. Or, it's that DH makes too much money to qualify for daycare subsidies, and mom wouldn't make enough to cover the cost of daycare. Very few people are fortunate enough to have extended family who are in a position to watch baby for free while mom works.
I'd love to hear ^^that^^ mentioned in a SAHM/ working mom debate on the 6 o'clock news.post #38 of 21010/24/13 at 8:05pm
Personally, I don't understand why there's even a debate at all. The women's liberation movement fought to give us the right to be whatever we want. Of course we're not all going to make the same choice. I know women who would lose their mind if they had to spend half the day settling disputes over action figures and cleaning yogurt off the wall. They love their jobs and have quality child care while they're working. That makes the most sense for them. I had my ideal job and quit to stay home with my kids. Maybe it's not what feminists intended, but I figure they earned me the right to be whatever I want and I happily and confidently choose to be a full-time parent. It doesn't make me a better mother. It makes me a person who takes great pleasure in being a part of all my children's trivial moments and someone fortunate enough to be able to logistically make that work.post #39 of 21010/24/13 at 8:13pm
My own mom usually worked part-time but never held a full-time job after she was married (in '78), not even after we kids left the nest. She now keeps busy with socializing, volunteer work, keeping house and taking care of my dad, and occasionally watching my daughter. She never really figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up and never had a "career", but I think she's been fairly happy this way. I am not sure how she has been looked upon by others though.
Me, I WOH, but only part-time. Like others in this thread, I've found that something suffers when both parents work full-time. We are rushed and frazzled when I work more, and I don't have time for the ways I'd like to care for my home and family. Part-time is a good balance for us and I am able to do it because I am in a well-paid career that offsets the cost of childcare quite comfortably. If my marriage went south I could get a full-time job without issues. In fact, my family couldn't get by without my income, not without some big changes to our standard of living. I have encountered the other attitude described upthread of "I don't see why you can't just SAH". But the last time I got that was from a SAHM in my neighborhood who said blithely that I might just decide not to return to work after having my next kid... and she also, in the same conversation, asked me if I'd gone to college (and this was after learning what I do--a job that requires an advanced degree), so I think she just didn't really get what I do or what I was trying to tell her when I told her my income was necessary.post #40 of 21010/24/13 at 9:29pmPutting my mod hat on for a minute - again everyone is totally allowed to post in the SAHP forums, however the guilds lines of the forum are placed at the top and all I posted before was just a simple reminder that we remember what forum we are in. Just as we would in the Working Parents forum or Single parents forum. Some topics or words in posts will come off as judge mental or hurtful to various users of each forum, it doesn't mean it was made or meant that way, but sometimes can come off that way. Thank you for keeping this civil and trying to see all sides.
Taking my mod hat off:
I think there have been many insteresting points brought up. (Not on a computer just on my phone, on vacay but had to check in to this thread please forgive typos or glaring mistakes!)
I agree with preemieprincess on "choice". I hate the word choice. If it's going to be a choice then there shouldn't be any debate at all on any side of the coin. It shouldn't matter whether daycare is expensive, affordable or free, if a parent wants to stay home the only time "choice" is truly a choice is if they can make it without guilt.
In Canada, the province of Quebec has universal childcare. All parents regardless of income pay the same flat affordable daily rate (I think it's $6 a day or was the last time I checked). It would be easy for some peopl to infer that since daycare is so affordable that mom has no resin not to work. But there are so many other reasons why mom find staying home important to the family.
I applaud and sometimes am slightly envious of those working moms that have a truly flexible job that they LOVE. And then other times I think I couldn't deal with the added stress it would add to my life.
Truthfully I don't just want to work any old "job" but I don't know "what I want to do/be" and there isn't an all access college/university close enough to figure that out while having kids. Our current college is pretty limited in choices. If/when I finally figure out what I want to do/be... I'll probably have to move or live away from my husband (and possibly kids) to be able to do it... There is so many things that I think we forget in our own daily lives. I don't know what it's like to walk in anyone else's shoes... And no one know's what it's like to walk in mine.
I wish there was more support for all parents to make the best choices for their families without the thoughts and judgements of other's making the path more difficult.
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