How do you respond to family/friends about STAYING HOME? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 11-03-2012, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey Mama's, and Dads,

 

Just curious what quick, witty response do you give when people question your decision to be a SAHM. I was raised in a pretty alternative household, where both my parent's worked outside the home a lot. I always feel like my parent's, especially my Mom are judging me about my decision to put my career on hold (whatever that may be, i have a B.S in early childhood) to parent my son. I think she feels like I am not being a feminist, and just being a housewife.....which is SO far from how I feel. I LOVE my role as my son's mother, a step-parent and my husbands biggest cheerleader. I love being home, and being the CEO of my family, even if that means I bear the brunt of the domestics, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. I view parenting as my MOST important job ever.

 

Anyway...sorry this seems to have turned in to a bit of a rant, which i didn't intend, I just find myself feeling a bit judged by friends and family. My family is very career oriented, and my only other sibling is a VERY successful computer engineer, while I married a middle school history teacher and we more or less live on his humble income. To be fair...I do work part-time as a nanny, and doula, about 15-20 hours a week, but I often feel judged about this too, like I'm "wasting" my potential. I also love this life, I don't need very much money. My husband and I have 3 kiddos between the two of us and we live below our means, which isn't much, about 50,000 and feel like we have everything we need.

 

So SAHM.......how do you answer this questions? THANKS!


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#2 of 21 Old 11-05-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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Ouch.  hug2.gif

 

I don't have any bright ideas about how to respond to all the things your folks are throwing at you, but I wanted to give you some support!
 

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#3 of 21 Old 11-05-2012, 10:29 AM
 
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I'm so in tune with what you wrote about the personal fulfillment and joy you get from being home (aka the "CEO of your family")! This is the best "job" I could imagine. I feel like I was custom-designed for this role.

 

And, like you, if I think too much, I sometimes dwell on the downer comments I've received about being a SAHM. I have a Ph.D. in a science-related field and I know (I just know) that in a way, I've sort of disappointed -- or at a minimum, surprised -- my mentor and other professors who invested a lot of their time and talent in me along the way. I am convinced that those educational experiences have enhanced me as a mom (all moms are, at their core, teachers, right?)  -- but you know, not everyone sees it that way.

 

So far, nobody has directly said to my face "Oh, I think you're wasting your life!" If somebody did, I don't think I'd have any trouble defending my position, even though I'm a pretty non-confrontational sort of person. Nope, what I notice are the side comments or subtle jabs that can make you almost feel a bit paranoid because you're pretty sure they're insulting what you do, but it's not blatant (kwim?) Or, I occassionally hear people making jokes about SAHMs and they don't realize they're presently in the company of one (...awkward). These situations don't seem to lend themselves well to witty responses; maybe it's just me, like I said, I tend to be pretty non-confrontational and I also find it hard to come up with witty responses on the spur of the moment.

 

I will say that the more I embrace the role of SAHM, the less defensive I feel about these kind of remarks. Sure, they still shake me a bit sometimes, but then I honestly sit back and reflect on what I accomplish in a day and it makes me feel good about myself again. Maybe what I'm trying to get at is that the "quick, witty responses" you ask about are more of a dialogue I have with myself. And my husband is a pretty awesome cheerleader, too, which helps. So, surrounding yourself with positive people (sounds like your husband is one of those people) and then a little bit of self-cheerleading can go a long way.

 

But I am surely curious to read others' replies to this thread --

 

Best of luck :)

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#4 of 21 Old 11-05-2012, 10:58 AM
 
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Since you a have degree in early childhood, just tell them cheekily that you're doing research. hehe

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#5 of 21 Old 11-05-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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I was mostly home for 16 years. I just said "we make family our priority here". There's really no way for other people to respond to that without getting defensive... so they just sputter a little.
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#6 of 21 Old 11-05-2012, 12:34 PM
 
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I think I would sidestep that particular argument whatsoever.

 

Career-oriented or not, it sounds like your family is a smart, intellectual, etc. bunch.  Share with them your intellectual pursuits.  I'm sure you have one.  Even if you're "just" a housewife, I'm sure you're doing some kind of research on the side.  Just being a doula involves a lot of research.  Perhaps you read a lot.  Or maybe you watched an interesting documentary that sparked an interest.  Or I dunno, something...  Try to dazzle them with a couple of highbrow interests ;) and then get off the phone because you're "very busy".  And then rinse and repeat as necessary.  =D

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#7 of 21 Old 11-06-2012, 05:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Such awesome responses ladies. THANK YOU for taking the time to write so thoughtfully. Glad to hear that other's can relate and I am not the only one who is going through this. smile.gif I think that being a SAHM mom is not the only "right" way to parent, it just seems to be the only right way for me at this point in time.
 


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#8 of 21 Old 11-06-2012, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post

I was mostly home for 16 years. I just said "we make family our priority here". There's really no way for other people to respond to that without getting defensive... so they just sputter a little.


truedat.gif What a great response. Not to imply that moms who work don't care about their families....I know plenty of mother's who are single and have to work, but yes I am home, not because I felt like taking a vacation, but because raising my family and doing it well is my TOP priority and for me to do that I need to be home, I can't juggle more than one ball very well winky.gif


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#9 of 21 Old 11-06-2012, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Yellow Brick Rd View Post

I'm so in tune with what you wrote about the personal fulfillment and joy you get from being home (aka the "CEO of your family")! This is the best "job" I could imagine. I feel like I was custom-designed for this role.

 

And, like you, if I think too much, I sometimes dwell on the downer comments I've received about being a SAHM. I have a Ph.D. in a science-related field and I know (I just know) that in a way, I've sort of disappointed -- or at a minimum, surprised -- my mentor and other professors who invested a lot of their time and talent in me along the way. I am convinced that those educational experiences have enhanced me as a mom (all moms are, at their core, teachers, right?)  -- but you know, not everyone sees it that way.

 

So far, nobody has directly said to my face "Oh, I think you're wasting your life!" If somebody did, I don't think I'd have any trouble defending my position, even though I'm a pretty non-confrontational sort of person. Nope, what I notice are the side comments or subtle jabs that can make you almost feel a bit paranoid because you're pretty sure they're insulting what you do, but it's not blatant (kwim?) Or, I occassionally hear people making jokes about SAHMs and they don't realize they're presently in the company of one (...awkward). These situations don't seem to lend themselves well to witty responses; maybe it's just me, like I said, I tend to be pretty non-confrontational and I also find it hard to come up with witty responses on the spur of the moment.

 

I will say that the more I embrace the role of SAHM, the less defensive I feel about these kind of remarks. Sure, they still shake me a bit sometimes, but then I honestly sit back and reflect on what I accomplish in a day and it makes me feel good about myself again. Maybe what I'm trying to get at is that the "quick, witty responses" you ask about are more of a dialogue I have with myself. And my husband is a pretty awesome cheerleader, too, which helps. So, surrounding yourself with positive people (sounds like your husband is one of those people) and then a little bit of self-cheerleading can go a long way.

 

But I am surely curious to read others' replies to this thread --

 

Best of luck :)


It is very true, it is hard to take offense to something if you feel very secure in the choices you are making. I think a lot of this has to come from me. Fully committing to my choice and knowing it is RIGHT for me. I see other women who seem to be doing it all, but then they will confide in me that they feel like they are just actually doing it all, but none of it very well. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I need to cheer for myself I think :)


Me, slinggirl.gif mama to 1.5 yr old kid.gifDS, step mama to two tweens, married to a sarcastic sports nut censored.gif. We are unschooling! mdcblog5.gif http://twocoolfourschool.wordpress.com/

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#10 of 21 Old 11-06-2012, 12:53 PM
 
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I need to cheer for myself I think :)

yeahthat.gif  While my parents have been surprisingly supportive (in spite of my career-woman, successful sister), I have had to deal with comments from others.  I can completely relate to what Yellow Brick Rd said above.  I went back to visit college professors and they were clearly crestfallen BEFORE I even told them I was pregnant, because I was working a "lowly" job - one, whom I especially respect and worked hard to win the admiration of, told me with marked resignation, "I always thought you could do whatever you wanted to do."  Since they've known about my decision to stay home, I don't think their opinion has changed markedly.  And I felt a bizarre need to do what tiqa suggested, and justify my new life with telling them all about my reading list, haha.  

 

It's true, my passions and reading are a huge perk of being home and part of who I am now.  That said, motherhood ALONE is an intellectual pursuit!  I think the biggest factor is definitely finding peace in yourself - then you can't help but be a glowing advertisement for just how fulfilled a person can be as a SAHM/SAHD. orngbiggrin.gif

 

Alot of negative comments cover guilt and insecurities from those who made different choices (or didn't feel able to make an unpopular/unconventional choice).  That, too, comes from not being happy and secure in their decision, so seeing the humanity in that helps me.  Feminism is all about empowering women to choose what they want to do, and where they want to be - and sometimes, that's home! smile.gif


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#11 of 21 Old 11-06-2012, 06:50 PM
 
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I almost always say, "I can't imagine NOT being with them every day."  Because I just can't.  I feel like God gave me not only this responsibility, but this OPPORTUNITY, when he blessed me with these children, and to think of missing the little things day in and day out...yeah, I just can't imagine it.

 

We are very similar to you, living on a small income (I don't bring in anything though), below our means, content with where we are at, and I've definitely had people kinda scrunch their nose at that, but oh well.  I actually never even finished my degree with only a year left (it wasn't even a degree I wanted...I started out in nursing, decided there was NO WAY I'd fit into the traditional medical model LOL, then switched to a health studies type major, but thought it would be stupid to waste all that time and money on a degree I didn't even want, and was only doing so that I'd make everyone else, who had high expectations for me, happy!).  I think it was really hard for certain friends and family members, initially, to understand me, because I was always a really high achiever.  So to most of them, staying home with my children just didn't make sense.

 

Makes perfect sense to me, though. :)

 

eta- I got married when I was 18 so at least that eased them into the baby thing a *little*..,. LOL


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#12 of 21 Old 11-06-2012, 09:10 PM
 
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My family is very career oriented, and look down at me for staying home. But then, they lookes down on me before I had a child and was working full time, so it's hard to tell the difference. I think it bothered my father the most. He always looked like he was sucking on a lemon when I was around, but candid pictures of him when I wasn't there show a relaxed or happy expression.

I've never thought of a comment that didn't just give them fuel for their criticisms. My best advice is to laugh. There's no reply to a laugh.
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#13 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 04:34 AM
 
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I dunno if I would say my response was being defensive... I would say it was just changing the topic and/or distracting the focus.  That's all.  :)

 

FWIW I do remember now that when I was graduating college I told my father I was probably going to get married within a year or two (I did, too) and he was all against it, saying, "well, what if your career takes you in one direction and his takes him in another?" and it was all kinds of awkward because a) I didn't have a career-focus (I never did) and b) he was all surprised about the fact that I wanted to be a wife and have kids.  Oh well.  My own mother was a SAHM (still doesn't work actually even though I'm grown and he's dead now) and I think he kind of looked down on her for that.  =/

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#14 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 05:15 AM
 
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This is SO the thread for me. I'm also a high achiever, formerly really academic person with the twist that I have a BSc and BEd but there are ZERO teaching openings in the area. Nepotism is rampant in the school boards and unless your dad is the superintendent or something, the only way to even fill in a maternity leave is to be on the supply list for at least 4 years.... NOT a family friendly scenario. So I had crappy jobs, got laid off while pregnant and now here I am with my lovely 19 month old DD, not even having emailed a single resume in the last two years. Once DD was born, I certainly felt better about having no job to return to and decided to stay home until the benefits ran out. Then I decided to stay home until her birthday. Then I just couldn't contemplate leaving her with a stranger and forking over 65-75% of my paycheque to work at a job I didnt love and wonder if she was safe and happy with the DCP.

All that to say that when it comes up, I say "it's not worth it to bring in $600 a month after childcare costs". That usually shuts people up since they agree that they wouldn't work to make $3.75 an hour lol. My family is very modest with no higher education but DH's family is much more academic. But my MIL did stay at home until the kids started school so she gets it. And I can see that even though he is an easygoing baby, my nephew misses my SIL all week. I love being here for my child. I do miss work but I need to make a career change anyhow. The best thing is that both DH and I think we might as well start TTC while I'm home with DD and complete our little family :-)

Ok so this turned into a bit of a rant too, sorry :-)
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#15 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ahh, I think a nail was hit on the head. One thing that I struggle with too is that in highschool and college I was a always a really high-achiever. Graduated suma cum laude and got my dream job right away...and you know what...I hated it. I stuck it out for 3 years and then quit to become a nanny and also did my doula cert which took me 2 years. The truth is I like being a nanny, quite a bit. Now that my son is in the picture I work about half the amount of hours, but I enjoy my work (I like helping families), enjoy the extra income, and most importantly ds comes to work with me. People keep asking me what I will do after ds gets older, and I don't know. I feel pressure to give some answer about going back to school to ged my M.Ed or going back into teaching, but deep down I know that probably isn't the case. I will probably still work as a nanny and a doula because it is flexible, and I ENJOY it, and I also want to be able to homeschool and working as a nanny allows me this opprtunity. So....I guess we need to feel confident in making decisions that are right for US, not anyone else. Easier said than done irked.gif


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#16 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 06:51 AM
 
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My mom was a SAHM until I was a teen so I didn't hear much from my own parents. Dh's family and my sil I think have viewed me as something less because it is not a choice they would make.

I would say that it is the right decision for our family and we are happy with our lifestyle and change the subject.

 

What are they saying to you that needs a response beyond "this is what I want, this makes me happy"? If they don't want you to be happy then I don't know what you can say or why you would bother continuing the conversation.

 

I would say what you have in this thread. That you have discovered that you find great joy and fulfillment in nurturing and supporting others as a mother, wife, nanny and doula. You've discovered that a mere paycheck does not make you feel happy and complete but human connections do. Too bad our society isn't willing to compensate those roles more but there is value in doing things beyond how much money it will get you.


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#17 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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Ahh, I think a nail was hit on the head. One thing that I struggle with too is that in highschool and college I was a always a really high-achiever. Graduated suma cum laude and got my dream job right away...and you know what...I hated it. I stuck it out for 3 years and then quit to become a nanny and also did my doula cert which took me 2 years. The truth is I like being a nanny, quite a bit. Now that my son is in the picture I work about half the amount of hours, but I enjoy my work (I like helping families), enjoy the extra income, and most importantly ds comes to work with me. People keep asking me what I will do after ds gets older, and I don't know. I feel pressure to give some answer about going back to school to ged my M.Ed or going back into teaching, but deep down I know that probably isn't the case. I will probably still work as a nanny and a doula because it is flexible, and I ENJOY it, and I also want to be able to homeschool and working as a nanny allows me this opprtunity. So....I guess we need to feel confident in making decisions that are right for US, not anyone else. Easier said than done irked.gif

 

Exactly!!!  I wanted to become a yoga instructor, but my whole family thought that was somehow beneath me - everyone I knew pushed me to continue on to law school, since I was always a super high achiever academically, had loads of scholarships, etc.  When I dropped that (way before having kids) - nobody understood.  And being a SAHM now just compounds the issue, because it's even less likely that I'll "go back and finish" like the bewildered, disappointed people in my circle wish I would.  eyesroll.gif

 

Part of becoming a mom is learning more about who you are, and developing that self-confidence in your choices - the courage to follow your heart. stillheart.gif For me, it was a big turning point - I stopped trying to please everyone else, and just listened to my heart.  And I am SO happy and fulfilled as a SAHM on a budget!  I don't feel intellectually or creatively stunted - in fact, it's the exact opposite!  I do tell others I couldn't imagine it any other way.  orngbiggrin.gif  AND someday, I may now be able to revisit my yoga instructor dream, plus I will (after crazy toddlerhood) have even more flexibility to read, write, paint, etc.

 

My family has given me a deep sense of purpose and commitment that was lacking in all the other things I was "good" at.


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#18 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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My mom stayed at home with us when we were little and my sister is a SAHM too, so I am lucky to have their support.  I'm pretty sure other people in the fam think I am crazy for staying at home (although I do WAH part-time as well) because we are generally pretty broke.  Nobody has really come right out said anything, though one family member liked to point out jobs that he thought I "would be really good at" for a while after dd was born ;) My sil works outside the home and is really good about saying how everyone should do what works best for them-totally agree, and that is usually my answer!  I just say that this is what works best for our family right now, end of story.  I try to stay away from making people feel bad/defensive about not staying home and this is a good neutral answer that people can't really argue with. 


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#19 of 21 Old 11-07-2012, 10:10 AM
 
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In 10 years from now (hopefully sooner, though), you're going to feel pretty solid in your choices and with your identity as a mom and parent. You'll look back and wonder what you were so concerned about! Trust me.

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#20 of 21 Old 11-17-2012, 02:12 PM
 
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Avismama I think your tagline says it all :

Mama, wife, doula, nanny, family educator, foodie, crazy about baby-wearing, outdoor enthusiast! femalesling.GIF treehugger.gif delayedvax.gif nocirc.gif

 

You've answered it for yourself - you sound very self fulfilled, don't let others make you doubt that

 

By the way, before I had my DD, I was between things & ruminating on my life choices. When people asked me "what do you do?" I would answer, "nothing". It inevitably made an impression & often brought a smile - sometimes the truth is the best comeback.

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#21 of 21 Old 11-22-2012, 09:05 AM
 
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I just talk about all of the reasons I choose to be a SAHM.

 

This is the most challenging job I could possibly have with infinite growth potential.  I can think of no greater thing in life than spending time with family, and that's what I do every day.  Life is good, and I am so thankful that I have the privilege and opportunity to be a SAHM.  My education and how I was raised has informed my present choice.  These things are not in conflict.

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