Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Grass Is Not Greener

What do you DO all day?

It must be nice to have so much time on your hands.

I need the stimulation of my career.

Why did you get your degree if you're going to waste it?

Isn't it boring to be at home?

No wife/daughter of mine is going to sit home all day!

Can you do this/go here/buy that/bake this since you're home anyway?

I'm not the type of person who could be a SAHM.

We've all heard them a thousand times. I have been a Stay At Home Mom for 10 years now and I have heard 'em all. We all know the stereotypes of the SAHM who knows the storyline of "Days of Our Lives" and eats chocolates all day. We also know the rosy image of perfectly groomed mom baking cookies while well-adjusted toddlers play with blocks in the perfect family room. Neither one of those happening here.

I don't need to convince people that being a SAHM is hard. Or important. Or fulfilling. I need to convince myself. I think that is why those comments sting us SAHM so hard. We feel like we are always having to prove that we are not lazy or intellectually challenged. Being a SAHM is the ultimate self-starter position. Think about it. If your job. . .
  • didn't have a boss
  • didn't have clear guidelines
  • didn't have any hard deadlines
  • didn't have a schedule for production
  • didn't have a routine that stayed the same for any length of time
  • didn't have any specific works hours
  • didn't have any breaks
  • didn't have fear of discipline from the boss
  • AND didn't have a PAYCHECK
. . .would you keep that job very long? Probably not. This is a daily struggle for us SAHMs. To quote my "good friend" Kate Gosselin, mother of 8, "My day is make a meal, serve a meal, clean up a meal. Repeat." Trying to keep a home clean while having small children in it everyday is like straining rice with a tennis racket. I am sometimes so jealous of my girlfriends who have careers outside the home. They get to wear clothes that match and talk to people who know more than 50 words. They get to go to meetings and power lunches and say things like "Expense report." I get to go to Target and spend 45 minutes trying to keep Wyatt from contracting typhoid fever from licking the cart all the while comparing prices on toilet paper.

I do love being a SAHM. Most of the time. Some days. Sort of. I love the freedom I have to plan my week the way I want to. I love the fact that my kids are with me. I get to spend time with friends during the day which my dear dear dear husband likes to remind me when we have the weekly "my life sucks more than yours" fight. Yep, I spent 3 hours at the McDonald's Playland with Kary and her two youngest kids. It was more relaxing than a day at the spa. (Note the sarcasm.) These things I get to do are really like business trips. When you have to go to Florida to call on a client you are working. Even though it's sunny Florida you aren't visiting WDW or laying on the beach. Same with SAHM playdates and such. Prettier scenery but still work.

I'm really not sure the point of this whole post. It's not to convince people that SAHM have value. It's not to complain about how rough my life is. It is certainly not to start a WOTH/SAHM war because that is just dumb. We're all moms and make the best decisions we can. I know I get annoyed when a WOTH mom utters the comments listed so I try my very best not to even have those kind of thoughts about my WOTH mom friends. Honestly, I think we are so critical of moms who do it different because we are so insecure in our decisions. Motherhood is a constant state of second guessing. Is this right for my kid or is that right? We tend to beat down the other choice to make ourselves feel better about our own choices. The other reason we make those comments is pure stupidity. Simple not thinking about how it sounds to a mom on the other side of the proverbial fence. Moms are gifted at reading subtext and often use this power for evil instead of good. When a WOTH mom says "I need the stimulation of my career." she means she likes her career. When a SAHM hears that sentence she hears, "I am superiorly intelligent to you and am simply too evolved to spend my day watching soaps and Dora the Explorer in my PJs b/c that is what you do."

Again, I have no idea the point of this post but face it. The grass is not any greener anywhere else. Except if you live in Florida and have a dog to pee on it. Then you have really green grass and mine is brown for fall.


kkoois said...

Amen, preach it sister!! You have just described me and my life. I especially liked the part about having to manage yourself without a boss, deadlines, set hours, etc. I am one of those who watches more tv than I should during the day, but the cost of that is my husband having to go get his clean underwear out of the dryer in the mornings because I can't seem to get it folded and put away in the drawer. Anyways, I don't know what the point of my comment is (hee hee), except that your post was very correct. Not greener, just different. Sing it sista, Jen!

Mommy Brain said...

Great post...it's been brewing for like a year inside your head...glad you got it out. I too, found the description of the job quite revealing and truthful. It's great and it sucks all at the same time. I find that the worst part is that after 11 years of doing the job I feel like I'm not "qualified" and I question my "worth" and the "contribution" I can make outside the home...the down side of the SAHM job is the way it can suck self-confidence out of a once confident woman. At the end of the job, you are left with bad hair, fat jeans, white gym shoes, a blank resume and the question of "what now?"

I guess I am complaining...or just wondering as I stare down the end of my preschool years where the woman I once was disappeared to?

I know my kids are great and have good manners and that I've had the luxury to volunteer and contribute in ways that would be impossible if I were working...but I'm still a little scared of the future.

Guess I need to percolate on this more.

Great post Jen!

Kary said...

This is your best post ever. I think I validated one of your points when you referenced me and my first thought was "What is wrong with spending the morning with my two kids at McDonalds? It's because of my bad parenting skills, isn't it?" But I totally get what you are saying, and second it.
This is why I have chosen you to be my BFF~you are real, you are right on, you are a FABO writer, and a great mom. . .even if the Kindergarten teacher won't spot calling you. Have you ever considered homeschooling?

Tena said...

You abso-smurfly rock!! I totally agree. James and I also have the "my life sucks more than yours" every so often, but he always seems to win. It irritates me.

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