I’ve been cruising around the Internet today and lots of heated debates around SAHM and ‘working” Moms, the fur is flying. I think it is a really personal choice based on about 1,582 things that each person needs to consider (or maybe the choice gets made for you….). I was not supposed to be here, really I wasn’t. My plan, our plan, THE plan was that I would go back to work after my son was born. I took three months maternity leave and after two weeks of being back on the job, I got laid off…..lots of us did…..all Project Managers were “let go”. Wow that was a lot to wrap my head around, now what???
Honestly, I was scared. Financially we could swing it (thank you husband) but mentally the idea of not working was……well completely foreign to me. I hadn’t considered it before and it wasn’t a choice, more like an unexpected circumstance. I worked my entire life at that point…from the time I was 16 until I got laid off at 35 and sometimes I worked multiple jobs. And before I was legally able to work, I worked. I raked leaves, shoveled snow, cleaned, babysat…I hustled because there was no money tree in our shabby little apartment. I was raised by a single mom and we were broke. I worked because I wanted clothes, junk food, roller skates and in order to get those things I needed to make money. I mentally took in many lessons from my single mom. She always said “don’t become a secretary” and the not always verbal but always present and paramount life lesson – don’t depend on a man. Well shit now I have a 3 month old baby and no J-O-B and a husband OK with me staying home.
To complicate things further I had a very difficult delivery with life threatening complications which were discovered at 39 weeks pregnant. So a part of me was just happy to be alive. I had to talk myself through the not working thing, I really did. Told myself that if this was my last day on earth….how would I want to spend it….working some job or taking care of my baby. Truth be told I did send out some resumes but it was a half-hearted attempt. Part of me could not justify making a choice to work and leaving child care up to someone else a big chunk of the time……simply because I HAD a choice. It’s a different game all together if it isn’t a choice, I get that.
So why the hostility between SAHMs and working moms….my theory is guilt. Only my theory based on my own experience not a universal truth peeps so calm down….your theory may kick my theory’s ass at recess….I don’t really care. You see I had guilt as a SAHM because I was used to being financially independent and I had to constantly tell myself it’s OK, it’s best for the family (and it was best for us the hubs traveled internationally, no family help, we moved and starting a new job would have really messed things up if I could find a job). I felt guilt for the lessons my mom taught me growing up. I was falling short by depending on a man. I think working moms feel guilt because they don’t see their kids as much. It’s just a hard frickan’ job if you do it right whether or not you work outside the home.
I had to step away from my practical always working self and do something completely different from what I carefully planned. Sorry atheists….but for me being a SAHM was an act of faith. You see at that time between the health issues, unexpected unemployment, moving and other changes I really felt like the universe was telling me to stay home, so I did. Honestly it is not something I did gracefully. It was out of necessity and circumstances that were bigger than me.
So fast forward 11+ years and how has being a SAHM served me. If I am honest I got the perks and the liabilities in good measure. The perks are obvious, I haven’t missed a thing with my kids. First steps, first tooth, first haircut, first day of anything – I was there for all of it (still am). I walk into my kids school and I know half the faculty, the school board and 70% of the kids by name. I have created a network of go to moms that can get me through the next 7 years of school in this district. I have volunteered for everything (exception: I refused to get on the school board that is just bat shit crazy).
The liabilities are pretty stacked too thankfully some of them have passed. My first born was a colicky baby who had night terrors and did not sleep through the night for FOUR mofo years and that is the truth. My kids are about 20 months apart and I got up with each of them every.single.time. During those years I fantasized about a fist full of Tylenol PM and a dark quiet hotel room ALONE. That was hard and I wasn’t “loving” the SAHM thing then….thought it would be good to get away from the little lovies a few hours a day but I couldn’t. I looked forward to medical appointments some days it was easier to have the blood drawn from a nurse. What saved my ass was a small group of women in a Moms Club. Their reasons for being home were more planned but the friendships made the hard times bearable.
Bottom line is every one is on their own particular journey and I really don’t think it’s my place to judge yours. If you want to judge mine have at it….I learned a long time ago that what other people think of me is none of my business.