Wasting potential as a SAHM. It's true. - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 91 Old 03-20-2004, 03:56 PM
 
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I hope it is ok that I post this here--OK both legally & OK so as to not damage the spirit of this thread.

MOD, if I am in violation, delete me.

Readers, If I offend, ignore me!

This poem was printed in Mothering within the last year or year and a half. I love it & it makes me cry every time I read it.

A Woman’s Choice

It’s the small details:
rat’s nest in his hair,
holes in her tights,
who is whose friend today at school,
making sure the right combo
of green & orange gets into their mouths,
being there at 3:45
to greet the loudmouth bus driver
& rescue my 5 year old from bumpy sleep.
No pay, long hours, no public recognition
yet in my heart a small voice says
cancel all job interviews
hold that resume in a file waiting, like
my high heels & work suits, in the cupboard,
let my degrees gather dust on the wall.
I want to be there when the first tooth falls,
a quiet rite of passage & mine
to revel in.
It means postponing ego strokes.
It means no time just for me,
but also not being split down the middle
working double shifts.
I can wait for the glory
of a pat on the back & a salaried job.
Right now there’s some small things
I must attend to:
this three year old girl in pig-tails,
this fragile boy in the schoolyard.


by Jennifer Boire
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#62 of 91 Old 03-20-2004, 06:38 PM
 
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This is truly a wonderful thread, I hope we can keep it going. Reading this reminded me of an old movie with a similar theme called The Turning Point. It stars Shirley McLaine and is about two rival ballerinas, one becomes pg and chooses motherhood, the other goes on to be a professional dancer. I remember watching this with my mom over 20 years ago and she really liked it. I think it struck a note with her as a person who was always a mother. I am going to rent it and watch it again.
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#63 of 91 Old 03-20-2004, 11:37 PM
 
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Hey El,
It's me, JB! (A and A's mom) As is so often the case, you seem to be sneaking around in my head and reading my thoughts, then expressing them more eloquently than I could hope to these crazy days. Thanks, but it's giving me the creeps already! :LOL

I have SO struggled with this issue and discussed it a million times w/dh only to get nowhere closer to resolution and to find myself still stuck with so many conflicting and confused feelings. I know I still have time to do things when my children are older but I sometimes feel like my brain and talents are molding and like I have to defend/explain myself or convince people I meet that I AM smart and talented, b/c there's no real 'external' confirmation of that right now that I'm not working, iykwim.....

This is one reason I'm exicted (though overwhelmed as we talked about) at the prospect of teaching music classes w/you. It's an opportunity (though still in the 'mom' track somewhat) to use some of my other skills in a professional way. I think that will be good for me in many ways and yet I often wonder how I can fit it in with my current demands of 'just' being a mom.

Aargh. I'm so physically and mentally tired these days I haven't even been able to read all of these amazing posts, much less express all the million things I'm feeling and mulling over. Like I was saying earlier to you about responding to emails, I feel like I sometimes only have the energy and time to read them, but then to formulate and actually write out a meaningful response is just beyond me! And I used to consider myself (and be considered by others!) to be a fairly accomplished and articulate writer/speaker. HA!! Now I feel good if I manage not to come across as mentally deficient in some way. SIGH.

Anyway, I really just wanted to say that as usual you are right on track in being to express something that obviously so many of us are struggling with and that so many of us have longed to have the opportunity to hold up and examine from many different angles. Thanks to all of you for shining light on this difficult part of the amazingly rich and complex job of mothering. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one out there struggling along.

El, let's talk about this more IRL, huh? I'm so glad to count you among my incredible mama friends!

Yes, to all the rest of you- I actually know Breathe in real life! And she's as wonderful as you think she is!

Aren't you all jealous??

Peace and hugs to all of you doing this incredibly important work and thanks for sharing so honestly and eloquently. I learn and grow so much from all of you.

J
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#64 of 91 Old 03-20-2004, 11:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by mamawanabe
It is not that the work of mothering isn't valued enough by society, it is that we are forced by the nature of professions in this country into choosing career or kids. It is institutional sexism and it won't change because there is no pressure for it to change. There are enough people willing and able to enter these professions permanently full-time when they finish school in their mid-twenties to early thirties.

Excellent point. I recently moved back to the US from Sweden, and have been struggling with the shift back to a model that generally requires one parent to be the primary caregiver. I can't tell you how much harder my life is here in the US. It's not good for my kids that dh and I aren't able to share parenting and work, and it's not good for us either. Hell, it's not good for society--the fact that so few women end up in decision-making positions means that women's voices have little power to chart a course for society. On a personal level, my potential clearly is being lost when I don't have fifteen minutes in a day to think clearly, much less work. And dh, still a very involved father, can't be anything like the full partner in our children's lives that he was in Sweden.

I want the best for my children, and in my experience they get the best of me and the best of dh when we are both caring for them as well as doing something else. In Sweden it helped that society was incredibly respectful of children, so we weren't having to protect our children from society. (The fact that 50% of the positions in national government were filled by women certainly played a role in the amount of support the society provided.)

Dh and I are working toward creating balance here in the US, but it's hard, and if we hadn't had a very balanced relationship in Sweden, I don't think we'd have had a clue how (much less the motivation) to make balance an attainable goal. As it is, it's going, but it's slow going, and dh and I feel like we're fighting the system here every step of the way. It makes me feel so tired....
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#65 of 91 Old 03-21-2004, 12:00 AM
 
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Hi mamawanabe,
You make some great points about the bias our workplaces have against individuals who take the time away from the business world to raise children. This is why it's so important to re-enter the workplace and be an advocate for change.
I don't see how it will happen any other way: how can those judgemental future colleagues believe you've been doing anything less important than they?
Pass you over for a promotion? Why?
Technical expertise is a dime a dozen...unless companies are hiring trained monkeys (and believe me, there are days I wonder!) -- the most valuable individual in the workplace is someone with a strong background in child-rearing!

I was 39 when I re-entered the workplace. I also worried about keeping up with younger folks on the job, my gray hairs, my doubts that I could resume my job with the same zest and enthusiasm I had at 25 or 26.

It wasn't easy but I did it. Truth is, I gained far more than I thought I lost, including a sense of humor
On my first day, one of my colleagues asked how it felt to be among adults all day.
I told him at least at home everyone acts age-appropriately!
We had a good laugh.
We are so much more than our jobs and isn't it wonderful.

My post is meant to reassure you it's worth it!

Hugs, Ocean_Swimmer
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#66 of 91 Old 03-21-2004, 11:01 PM
 
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Wow, I think this is probably the best thread I've read on MDC! Thank you mamas -- it has been refreshing and illuminating and reassuring to read such honest, heart-felt, well-thought out posts.

I work part time out of the home -- 2.5 days/week. And I must admit, I feel it is a GREAT balance for me and my family. I have a career that I worked hard for and am good at, and which contributes to the world and pays well. I'm also lucky enough to be in a profession that can accomodate p/t work easily. And still I feel like I am home enough to feel like a SAHM too. I too have the struggles and joys of being home all day with dd.

Most of the time, I feel that I have the best of both worlds. But at other times, I too find the grass greener. Just today I was thinking "well, if I were a SAHM full-time, I'd be willing to take dd to the YMCA daycare for an hour so I could exercise and be physical. Or trade a few hours a week of childcare with a friend so I could dance more, or take a painting class. I feel like I am losing part of me here, not fully realizing all of me." But I don't feel I can do these things now because I'd hate my sole "outing" of the day with dd to be to drop her off with someone else, when I'm already out of the house 2.5 days per week!

But the truth is, mothering does take sacrifice. Something has to "give." And when I think about it, I'm really happy with the balance we have. I sooooooo agree with a previous poster about being a SAHM in our current culture -- relatively isolated, without the bustle of family and walking to market and tending chores in the same way as it has been in the past, and remains in other places. I wonder if our culture were different, if we'd feel less isolated, more supported, more validated, and ultimately happier and more fulfilled on a daily basis being SAHMs.
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#67 of 91 Old 03-22-2004, 02:53 AM
 
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This thread has been on my mind all weekend long. Thanks you ladies, for your warmth, candor and wisdom! I really feel energized and uplifted by reading of others' experiences that are so close to my own, and knowing that there are others who have felt the same frustrations somehow makes them seem easier.

I was thinking about what I said earlier, about my old job hiring someone to replace me, and how that had really thrown me for a loop. Well, as I was nursing my little one this weekend, I realized that I was glad that I was replaceable there, because I knew that I could never be replaced at home. My younger dd is just getting to the stage where she is very aware of all the different people around her, and all she wants is Mommy. Tiring and frustrating sometimes, yes, but also gatifying to know that she is so secure with me, and loves and literally needs me in that way. And my 2 1/2 year old came running in the kitchen today with her first pair of skinned knees this season (thank goodness for spring!) and I kissed them better and we spent a few minutes in the rocking chair, and I knew that there was no one else who could do this like I could. Before I had my first baby, my boss was really desparate to keep me working full time. He told me I could bring her to work with me as long as I wanted, and he let me pick the hours. It worked out okay for about six or seven months- I worked about twenty or so hours a week, but then she started getting too old to want to be in the sling for hours on end. He really offered up a lot of different suggestions, trying to get me to stay, including offering to open up an on-site daycare for Abby, and paying for it out of my dept budget. It was tempting, because I knew I could keep nursing her, and see her severla times a day, but one night I was thinking about it, and realized that I still wouldn't be there all the times I wanted to be. Someone else would be reading her stories, someone else would be picking her up and kissing away her hurts, and I just couldn't give those moments away to anyone else. When it comes down to it, yes, my potential as a career woman and a mother is being wasted by soothing skinned knees, singing lullabies, and spending countless hours in the rocking chair. But, I was lucky enough to be able to make that choice, and although there may be people who can be better at my job than I was, there is no one who can mother my kids like I do!

(I hope this isn't seen as a slam against moms that do work, choose to work, or have to work, it's just my thoughts and experiences.)

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#68 of 91 Old 03-23-2004, 04:48 PM
 
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Count me in as another person swimming in these same thoughts (inspired partially by the recent Brain, Child article).

I'm trying to decide (still, Breathe!) if I should finish my PhD or just let it go. I've invested so much to get where I am (I'm not even going to tell you how many years), but I'm not sure that's the way to think about it.

One of the things I've gained from mothering is a much greater awareness of what types of work give me energy (community organizing, political agitating) and what saps it (too many shoulds, my dissertation?). I've been trying to think about what feeds me and focus on doing those things in my free time. We need to feed our souls in order to be able to feed the souls of our family and friends. I often have to think twice about it what feeds me (ah ha, mindfulness), b/c often what I think will feed me (baking cookies with ds) doesn't; it's more of a should. I'm working on peeling those shoulds away one by one.

I think that it's important to focus on the whole sum of my experience as helping shape who I am and thus, valuable, even if sometimes it takes me a long time to hear the message that I'm not really interested in what I got my BA in or my PhD. It's still learning and that self-awareness is priceless considering some folks never get there.

Nice to have so many soul sisters on the same road, carving out meaningful lives for ourselves with whatever we can find lying around.

Angie

PS - And I agree that the institutional factors (sexism, ageism, and the structure of work as full-time) in the US really make it difficult to find balance. But I'm also amazed at how creative we all are in our efforts to find it. The Equinox is the perfect time to think about the issue of balance...

Angie, Mama to Finn (6/01) and Theo (4/05)
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#69 of 91 Old 03-23-2004, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey LiminalOne, My immediate reaction was to say, "Don't you quit now!!!" But I hear what you're saying about needing to find an authentic reason to continue. Or not. It's a tough road, and one I remember SO well! PM me if you wanna talk about it more. Hugs to you!

I think what I love about this thread has been our ability to support each other in our mixed emotions regarding motherhood. I almost said ambivalence, but it doesn't really sound to me like anyone is ambivalent about being a SAHM, or a P/T SAHM, etc -- we have said *repeatedly* that we KNOW we've chosen the right combination for our children.

And I believe that we all feel inner peace about our choices, most of the time. But we do have our moments of doubt . . . like the one I had when I started this thread.

But it is possible -- in fact LIKELY? -- that we can feel comfortable in our choices and yet uncomfortable with some of the consequences? And if there's anything I've learned about motherhood, it's that people often want to paint it, or our experience of it, as "either/or". Either you're happy being at home, or you're not. Either you're in the moment, smelling your child's hair and getting playdough happily stuck under your fingernails, or you're not. And the implication seems to be that if you have moments when you're wishing for more -- or even just *wondering* about more -- then you're not truly "in the moment" of motherhood.

And you all are smart enough -- critical enough in your thinking -- to realize that this is just not necessarily the case. I can love catching my son at the bottom of the tunnel slide AND STILL wish that I were playing my piano more. I can feel pure bliss when he falls asleep on my shoulder AND STILL believe that the public schools are worse off bc I'm no longer there teaching kindergarten (and feel a little guilty about it).

Isn't it a sign of intelligence when you can assimilate dichotomous ideas? Let's say it is, and I believe this has been an incredibly intelligent thread for that reason.

And so I thank all of you, once again, for helping to bring this to light for me.

Hoping you're all feeling peace today, and if not, hoping it will return tomorrow!

El
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#70 of 91 Old 03-23-2004, 05:41 PM
 
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Oh mama! LiminalOne, your post makes so much sense to me. Should I finish my art history degree? Should I try out midwifery school? Should I just stay at home and happily do nothing at all?!? Sometimes I even wonder if I should really follow what makes me happiest or what my family needs.

It's hard to find those interests that you follow for genuine love (though for me mothering is definitely one of 'em). I used to think that doing something like writing a dissertation would be really hard, perhaps impossible, but I realize now from watching DH do it that though it is of course hard, that love and interest lead research and that it all spills out from an initial question pretty naturally.

And Breathe, doesn't every choice have consequences? Aren't we always pretty much unhappy about something? Or maybe not unhappy, per se, but at least not particularly thrilled? Sometimes I don't like making dinner just because it means dishes to wash! I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I hadn't married DH. Where would I be? Sometimes I'm just totally surprised by where I am. And of course I always always wonder where it is I am going. Mostly I try to be mindful and just follow where my feet take me. At times I realize that my path is already written, not for me by something else, but by my own hands through every choice I am going to make. That's destiny in my mind - something that springs forth from inside me; the writing of my life by my being. I see it in my son - he was born with a temperment and a personality and it will color who he is and where he goes.

Oh thank you everyone.

anna kiss partner to jon radical mama to aleks (8/02) and bastian (5/05)
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#71 of 91 Old 03-24-2004, 05:09 PM
 
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I haven't read all the replys but needed to just say THANK YOU for having to courage to write this thread! I feel EXACLTY the same way...and will elaborate more when I don't have a crying toddler to attend to.....

Grace - photographer, wife and mom to 4 great kids (Ethan 5.00, Ainsley 4.02, Owen 12.04, and Ellis Ann 10.07) :
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#72 of 91 Old 03-26-2004, 06:34 PM
 
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Ok, I know it has only been a few days - but PLEASE don't let this thread die.....I just got the chance to read all the posts and my mind is just a jumble full of questions and thoughts.

I LOVE the idea of a support thread of some sort and hope that something can come of it.....

Grace - photographer, wife and mom to 4 great kids (Ethan 5.00, Ainsley 4.02, Owen 12.04, and Ellis Ann 10.07) :
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#73 of 91 Old 03-26-2004, 06:37 PM
 
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Graceoc, please ask those questions! I'm sure you'll get some replies. I've been meaning to compose a new post for days and just haven't had a chance to do it yet. I've been thinking a lot about different needs/personality types and how that might affect our perceptions of ourselves as SAHMs. I'll try to get it down on paper tonight...
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#74 of 91 Old 03-27-2004, 04:50 PM
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I hope you understand why I'm putting this here but I failed my test yesterday and I'm feeling like I haven't been successful at anything. This was the only thing I had outside the home and I freaking *failed* and I'm feeling depressed. My dh doesn't understand, he called me a baby (can you believe it someone at my age being called a baby and actually getting hurt by it?!) But I really don't know what's wrong with me.

I've been a mom and nothing else my entire adult life and I think I'm really having a lot of trouble dealing with the feelings that I'm middle aged and have nothing (not even a good test) to show for the effort.

Sorry this is depressing but I thought some of you might understand.

DB
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#75 of 91 Old 03-27-2004, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey Debra, I'm so sorry. That must be really disappointing and discouraging. How brave of you to put yourself out there, though. I know that dh and I both have had some shocking professional setbacks, and it is always hard to take, but I imagine it's especially so when you feel like your options are limited. Hang in there and allow yourself to mope for a while, kay? You'll regroup and figure out what to do next, but not until you've wallowed a bit! HUGS to you! E.
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#76 of 91 Old 03-28-2004, 11:53 PM
 
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Haven't read through everything, but I posted this awhile back and it sums up my reaction to my own friends who have expressed similar feelings to yours.

Quote:
Found this in my “Holiness for Housewives” book – doesn’t matter if you are religious or not though (or what religion for that matter) – this applies to all of us.

“…I cannot, with the utmost energy of imagination, conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called DRUDGERY…the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If DRUDGERY only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home – as a man might drudge…But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is TRIFLING, colorless and of small import to the soul, then, as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, books, cakes and boots; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology and hygiene, I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s (read SAHM) function is laborious; but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.” From GK Chesterton, “What’s Wrong with the World” – 1927, p 165.

We are not MINUTE – what we do is not merely DRUDGERY – it is certainly not TRIFLING (watching soaps and eating bon bons – anyone?)

You are EVERYTHING to your child(ren). You are QUEEN and ARISTOTLE and COUNTLESS OTHER THINGS to them even when you have locked yourself in the bathroom and are half crying/half yelling at them to just leave you alone for five freaking seconds already!

No one else going to WORK or their CAREER or their JOB every day is making a difference the way you are. NO ONE – I DON’T CARE WHO THEY ARE! You cannot pay anyone, any sum of money, to be your kid’s mom like you are. It doesn’t matter one damn if you are PERFECT at it. Besides, you think anyone going to “work” is doing their job 100% 24/7? Please! Doctors lose patients. Lawyers lose arguments. Accountants miss numbers. Fill in the blank with the career of choice that makes you tingle with it’s PRESTIGE.

That’s all you’re missing ladies. PRESTIGE. Stay-at-home-mom conjures up PRESTIGE for few except those that might say “Oh, that means they have money and don’t HAVE to work, how nice!” (Blech. I really doubt one SAHM here is not making a financial sacrifice to be home. I really doubt one SAHM here couldn’t have more things, take more trips, drive a nicer car, live in a nicer neighborhood and then complain that they HAVE to work if being a SAHM wasn’t so important to them and they didn’t realize the VALUE it will bring to their children’s lives. - I know, I know there are single mothers out there, I’m not talking about them! How sad that this blessing has been ripped away from them!) Anyway, back to my rant…

You might not have had to get a degree to get your position as mom, but that doesn’t make you uneducated or worse - wasting your education! Heaven forbid!

You are missing APPRECIATION and PAY and PRESTIGE, ladies. Well, I can’t pay you, but I do APPRECIATE you and I do think of your position as the MOST PRESTIGIOUS ON EARTH. I do! Grab your kids and give yourself a freaking hug already! You think anyone else gets to hug their “boss” on a regular basis? When they’re having a bad day? You think anyone else going to “work” gets a little relief now and then by watching their “boss” do or say something SO CUTE that tears well up in their eyes? Forget it sisters, we are BLESSED and WE WORK HARDER than anyone else on earth and our work is MORE IMPORTANT, so there!

Okay, off my and back to your regularly scheduled programming…

WOHM married to SAHD, living the dream w/our: 3 girls (14,12,10) and 3 boys (7,5,3) and tie-breaker due Jan 2014

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#77 of 91 Old 03-29-2004, 12:22 AM
 
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Just another post to add that I believe a SAHM can "have it all" - you just can't have it all - all at once! kwim? If it's important to you (and you're lucky enough to be healthy and live to ripe old age ), you can have a career, be a "mom", play an instrument, be an activist, etc. etc. - we just can't do it all at once!

I don't think "society" necessarily says we have to be "supermom" but b/c we live in an enviornment of immediate gratification, we put that pressure on ourselves to do everything and be everything all at once! "Turn, turn, turn, to everything, there is a season" - yes? Of course there are sacrifices in every decision b/c you can't do everything and be everything you are all the time.

That has been the key to balance in my own life experience. I'm a forward thinker by nature. I tend to be constantly thinking ahead and I need to be more "in the moment" - that is indeed where the joy is (if not the happiness). Other people live in the past - what if? what if? Of course I have memories that make me but it's when I'm most depressed that I find myself focusing on the past. When I have true JOY - I am in the moment. And at the moment,

I'm a mother.

Completely fulfilled... if not completely happy and living up to my "full potential" at every given moment... kwim? And Breathe - though I hate the title - what an awesome THREAD! And I completely agree on the dichotomy thing. It's hard to wrap your mind around it, but yes, that's it!

WOHM married to SAHD, living the dream w/our: 3 girls (14,12,10) and 3 boys (7,5,3) and tie-breaker due Jan 2014

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#78 of 91 Old 04-01-2004, 02:06 PM
 
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OH, that I could be as eloquent and philosophical as you all are! I visited family for 10 days where there are a lot of stressors for me (sibling issues, selfish niece, traveling, traffic, weather, aging parents with health issues) and noticed a constant tension in my shoulders and neck. I haven't felt that since working fulltime when it was almost a constant.

Magically, it disappeared when we got off the plane in Hawaii! For me, that validated my choice to stay home with my son.

"I've been a mom and nothing else my entire adult life and I think I'm really having a lot of trouble dealing with the feelings that I'm middle aged and have nothing (not even a good test) to show for the effort."
originally posted by Debrabaker

You have a wonderful family to show for it!

If it is any consolation, I think that women who realize late in life that they missed having children feel worse...
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#79 of 91 Old 04-01-2004, 05:38 PM
 
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Originally posted by DebraBaker
This was the only thing I had outside the home and I freaking *failed* and I'm feeling depressed.
Wow. Just this past Saturday my dearest friend here in Cleveland, mom to 2 girls (2 and 5) failed an exam for the second time. She studied so hard, but you have to see this woman's life to believe it. She works from 6 pm to 2:30 am four nights a week, gets up at 7 am with her girls and is a mom to them all day, running the older one to school, she's a clean-a-holic always doing housework, and she cooks wonderful homemade meals every single day for her family. She gets no help from anybody. Her DH shares child care duties willingly, but nothing else and scoffs at the idea of a cleaning lady.

She was devastated and basically said *exactly* what you did. She thinks she's a failure, that her life has passed her by with nothing, and that she is not good at anything. She called me in tears and my heart ached for her. Anyways, I suppose this is totally off-topic but my heart went out to you, DB.


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#80 of 91 Old 04-01-2004, 06:46 PM
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Thanks for understanding. I'm feeling a lot better now and realize that there is more even testingwise in this life than the test itself....I'm developing my character and I wouldn't likely be able to do this well if I *passed* all the time.

I just get frustrated I try to make my old body do something and, heck, it just doesn't cooperate with me. I'm going to school in the fall and I'm really worried I will bomb in school as well.

Sigh.

Debra Baker
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#81 of 91 Old 04-02-2004, 08:07 PM
 
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I am excited at the prospect that my children will be in this world with all of your kids.
Most times I feel like I've got plenty of time to catch up, but there are times when I feel like a "waste" and always like I should be doing more, KWIM?
I guess when we were working, we got "validation" with a paycheck, or a title.....and I don't ever think (at least not for awhile ) my DS's could exactly articulate how much we are needed or loved or appreciated with words but those little kisses, smiles, and hugs say it all for me.
And for all SAHM's, I propose a tax credit for staying home!
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#82 of 91 Old 04-03-2004, 05:11 PM
 
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Whether you are a SAHM or a WOHM, no potential is wasted! Its the hardest most important job in the world IMO. I've heard other peoples comments like "you're wasting your degree" and "you're not really working, its a 'baby vacation'", etc.

Those comments used to hurt my feelings, but I know now that they just didn't know what they were talking about, or maybe felt insecure and wanted to put me down to feel better about themselves. On my death bed, I know I will have absolutely no regrets over being a SAHM mom.
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#83 of 91 Old 04-03-2004, 11:00 PM
 
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I really agree with the direction this thread has taken recently, and believe me I love reading confirmation that we ARE indeed making the right choices in the long run. As I posted before, I WOH 14 hours a week, which is what I need to work to do things the way dh and I want to do them (put simply), but is hardly allowing us to "live large" like before, and frankly feels like a hell of a sacrifice to have my once hefty salary slashed like that practically overnight. (So when's that shameless boasting thread starting up?! LOL ) And I do completely agree that it's for "all the right reasons" and that raising two (or more?!) amazing children is the best thing I could ever hope to do with my life...

BUT...

..I still do sort of agree with the original sentiments many moms including me felt whereby we feel we ARE wasting our degree or our gifts/talents/skills, kwim? And we're really pissed off about it!

Getting down to the nitty gritty, a big part of me thinks the idea that you have to go to a 4-yr college or graduate school in order to be a good mother is ridiculous at best and downright dangerous at worst. Are we saying that women prior to the 1960's (when women attending 4-yr colleges started spiking) were all bad mothers?? Are we saying poor women who can't afford to go to college are bad mothers?? Of course not, since isn't that pretty much counterintuitive to what it means to be AP in the first place? (e.g., getting back to our natural mothering instincts and roots, for lack of a better word)

So I think that when someone like my mother, who put herself through college and then graduate school as a single mom, broke all gender barriers in her particular career/position, so that she could afford to give her daughter access to education and a successful career... when someone like my mother asks, in all earnest curiousity, "What was the point of your degree if you were just going to stay at home?"... well, I think as much as I hate to admit it, that they just might have something there.

It is very hard for me at least to reconcile my own desire to maximize the amount of time I spend with my amazing kids and live out my values, with the sneaking suspicion that those baby-booming mothers and grandmothers who are mouthing off about how our generation is singlehandedly unravelling modern feminism, are right.

Anyone else feeling pulled in both directions?
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#84 of 91 Old 04-04-2004, 06:41 PM
 
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I've been a mom and nothing else my entire adult life and I think I'm really having a lot of trouble dealing with the feelings that I'm middle aged and have nothing (not even a good test) to show for the effort.
DB, this is me, too. I know, I know, I have 6 beautiful children and a loving husband and . I'm not dismissing the value of my children or husband. They're incredibly important, obviously. But having them in my life doesn't take away the feeling that I have done NOTHING with my life. I haven't accomplished any of the goals I set for myself and I think that is what makes me feel fairly worthless. I know that being a mom is an important job ~ I do ~ but I always wanted to be more than just a mother (no offense intended by that statement), so I feel I've failed.

Sure, I'm a mom. But am I a good one? I don't really think so. To be honest, I yell too much and criticize too much. I'm not nearly as patient as I need to be....not nearly as understanding as they deserve. I WANT to be so much better for my kids, and some days I DO succeed at being the type of mom I want to be. But more often than not, I don't. And then, on those days when I'm having a particularly difficult time, I wonder........when they're all grown and gone, are they going to LIKE me? I mean it ~ my mom and I have zero relationship because even though I love her, I don't like her at all. What if I give up 30+ years of my life for these children and when all is said and done, they don't want to have anything to do with me?

And since we're all being *totally* honest, I'll confess something else....I don't really like being a SAHM. But I don't really want to go work full-time, either. Not because I wouldn't like to have a job, because the thought of doing something I enjoy AND getting paid to do it is appealing. No, the reason I don't go get a job (aside from the fact that I have no marketable job skills now) is because I believe my being a SAHM is the best thing for my kids and because I don't trust anyone else to do it. I also believe that God blessed me with 6 children for a reason and one day I am going to have to give an accounting for how I lived my life ~ and how I raised the children given to me ~ and I don't want to be ashamed by having to say that I cared more about myself and what I wanted than I did them. So.....I stay at home and I raise my children.....and I AM able to find enjoyment in my job most days, but I also struggle against my extremely selfish nature that says, "What about me? When do I get my turn?" I can't look toward the future, when I am 52 and my youngest is 18, as the time when I'll be "free" to pursue my own interests, either. I have 2 special-needs children and I may still have one living at home when the youngest leaves. There's no way for me to predict whether my son will be able to live independently, so I can't plan for a future where my time is my own.

Like so many others have said already, I, too, have interests and talents and skills that aren't being used. I sometimes wonder why God gave me the talent and ability to DO something if I wasn't ever going to use it, kwim? It just creates frustration and resentment within me to WANT to do something and to know I can't......and to not see a time where I ever will. Sigh.......when I look back on my life thus far, I see many forks in the road ~ places where I had to make a choice and go forward in one direction and not the other. I made my choices, thinking I was doing the right things, but now I don't know anymore. I realize I have to live with the choices I've made, but I also wonder if I'd be happier NOW had I made different choices back THEN, kwim?

Anyhow, I'll shut up now. I don't even know if I stayed on-topic enough to post this, but I'm going to click "submit", anyhow. Thanks for putting up with me! ag
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#85 of 91 Old 04-04-2004, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow. The sheer volume of replies to this thread show what an important issue this is for many mothers.

Kate, your post had a very spiritual undercurrent to it . . . you refer to God' gifts and blessings to you several times and it got me wondering what a strictly spiritual approach to this dilemma might teach us. I am not a practiving anything, but was raised in a protestant church and something about your post reminded me of messages saying that it is in fact a sin to fail to use your gifts. I personally do not jive with the whole sin concept, but I do wonder if some spiritual reflection (or whatever each of us does in our private, thoughtful time) might shed some light on how to ensure that we ARE using our gifts. For instance, what would a Zen Buddist say? Anyone want to take a stab at that? Other perspectives?

On this end, I have had a pretty important epiphany about my own gifts and how to use them (inslead of losing them!). A dear friend (also a SAHM and an AP one at that) and I have been debating for months whether or not to go into business together, and just this weekend we both admitted that our hearts were truly not in it. We both know of some places where our passions do lie and yet are not being explored (for me, becoming a yoga teacher, for her, becoming a doula), and we have vowed to support in each other in persuing these areas . . . at least *thinking* about them.

In the meantime, I have decided to apply some of the energy (and $$) I thought I was willing to invest in a new business venture into my mothering. In a spurt of high energy and clear thinking this a.m. (during insomnia, if you believe that!), I realized that many of my gifts which are buried right now can be unburied and used daily with my son . . . it will take creativity and LOADS of work, but I have a vision of how to do it. And I'm going to approach it like a project. And dh even agrees that it is well worth spending money, if needed. And talk about a win-win situation! I get to be creative, and musical, and artistic, and athletic, and possible even a leader in my small community, and my son is main beneficiary! YES! Now that feels like something I can work hard for.

And I better hurry, before Baby #2 arrives and it all starts all over again! (but I have a plan for then, too!)

It's amazing what getting out of that first trimester has done for my spirit! Phew!
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#86 of 91 Old 04-05-2004, 03:41 AM
 
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[quote] Anyone else feeling pulled in both directions?[end quote]

Yes - a bit. And I'm sort of surprised by that. I've been following this thread with interest...but didn't think I had much to contribute. I've really been loving the SAHM stuff. I find learning about parenting to be stimulating and fun. And I was getting tired of work and performance pressure. (I'm an older mom so have a fair number of years of working already under my belt).

Still - I went to a concert tonight and felt that pull back to the professional world. I'm a choir director and still keep my hand in with a little youth choir and teaching a few private lessons. It buys the groceries and pays my cell phone bill and only takes a few hours a couple of evenings a week. So I'm not completely out of the loop - but its nothing major either. The college choir I directed the 2 years before ds was born had a concert tonight and I went. They sounded great and it was wonderful to see some old students...but sitting there I suddenly wanted my choir back. I wanted to be collaborating with them to make music on a challenging level - and I wanted to explore new music - and join some interesting choral associations - and plan a concert....and then I got home and ds was crying cause dh forgot to feed him and he was tired and hungry and my heart just exploded and I couldn't wait to get him in my arms and I wondered why I was gone for so long. Is this making any sense? So I guess that pull is still there ( I thought it had gone) and I'll have to figure out some way to combine things.

My dh is fond of saying "life is about trade-offs". When he first said that I thought it was a depressing comment...but the more I look at it - he is right. And that is OK. In some ways I'm lucky. I married late so had lots of time to work my a$$ off and get more degrees than I really need etc. So by the time we got pregnant I was really feeling ready to make a change...and I'm loving it. But I don't want to give up all the other stuff completely too. Don't know yet how I'll do it.

Thanks for all the beautiful, thought-provoking posts. And thanks for 'listening' to my post-concert ramble.

J
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#87 of 91 Old 04-05-2004, 03:49 AM
 
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Originally posted by momto3g3b
I can't look toward the future, when I am 52 and my youngest is 18, as the time when I'll be "free" to pursue my own interests, either. I have 2 special-needs children and I may still have one living at home when the youngest leaves. There's no way for me to predict whether my son will be able to live independently, so I can't plan for a future where my time is my own.
Wow, you have such a uniquely challenging situation momto3g3b, I don't think you can rightly refer to yourself as "selfish" at all!
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#88 of 91 Old 04-05-2004, 04:01 AM
 
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Originally posted by Breathe
I personally do not jive with the whole sin concept, but I do wonder if some spiritual reflection (or whatever each of us does in our private, thoughtful time) might shed some light on how to ensure that we ARE using our gifts. For instance, what would a Zen Buddist say? Anyone want to take a stab at that? Other perspectives?

Buddhism would say that we need to practice being in the present moment. To be fully engaged and mindful of what we are doing at any moment, wether that be nursing, cleaning, cooking...Buddhism would also say the motherhood is a great opportunity in life to practice compassion and egolessness. I have been practicing Buddhism for a number of yrs but it wasn't till becoming a mother that I truly understood either of those concepts. But the important thing is also to be compassionate towards ourselves; we cannot give give give all day long to a small child without also taking care of ourself and our basic needs first.

I actually believe that for me playing music IS a need, and is connected with my spiritual practice. If I can play 10 minutes a day, as well as practicing some meditation and yoga a few times a week then I can be in the present moment with my son so much better. He benefits, I benefit, and hopefully in some way the whole world benefits.

There is a Chinese saying; If you neglect your art for one day it will neglect you for three. I believe it is crucial we stay connected to our "arts" even on the smallest level. I have been trying to be more creative in my days with my son, really enjoying cooking new meals, doing art, and last week I sawed up some blocks from a tree branch. It felt much more inspiring than standing around in yet another parent toddler group and I felt more like myself. I have to remind myself there is no "fixed" way for how to be a SAHM and I CAN still be myself and do interesting things.

Breathe, I am dying to hear about your new project!!! Tell us more !
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#89 of 91 Old 04-05-2004, 10:25 AM
 
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What a great topic of conversation, I'm so glad you brought it up and that so many have posted their feelings and perspectives. I have three boys - two of which are older 14 and 10 and one 16 month old. With my first two I had no choice but to have to work full time from the time they turned three months old.

I have a very good job and have established myself as a leader in my field. I got remarried a few years ago however and we decided to try for our own child - my third boy. Since I've had him I've been working a modified schedule - three full days a week. I am lucky in that DH's schedule allows him to stay home the days that I am working and vice versa. At first I thought it was great that I could still go to work part time and keep good money coming in and have that adult connection on a part time basis.

However we've recently decided to downsize to a smaller house and I'm going to quit my job and become a SAHM. My main reasons for this are...

- When I work I like to do a really good job however working part time I feel like I'm doing a half *ssed job at work and a half *ssed job of being a parent! Trying to juggle both is just way too much for me.

- Two weeks ago I had to go to my oldest son's high school orientation to prepare him for next September. That was SCARY! I could swear that just yesterday he was learning how to walk. Kids grow way too fast and having had to work all those years I feel like I missed so much time with them. I want to be home for all my kids - I think it might even be more important for me to be home now for my older two then it is for my youngest.

I don't feel like my talents will be wasted - I feel like I'm wasting my mothering talents when I'm at work!

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#90 of 91 Old 04-05-2004, 03:40 PM
 
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[- Two weeks ago I had to go to my oldest son's high school orientation to prepare him for next September. That was SCARY! I could swear that just yesterday he was learning how to walk. Kids grow way too fast and having had to work all those years I feel like I missed so much time with them. I want to be home for all my kids - I think it might even be more important for me to be home now for my older two then it is for my youngest.

[/B]
You know - this is interesting. Somehow I always thought that once my kids were old enough (in school...whenever we decide that will be) that I could go back to work. But last year a colleague of mine quite work so she could be home for her 2 high-school age boys. We talked about it and her thoughts were that yes - they needed her home when little. When they got to grade school, she went to work and thought it was fine. But once they got to be teenagers, she thought they needed her more available again. Interesting. And it makes some sense. And for me, a new way to look at things.

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