Friday, May 7, 2010

first friday

photo is for Calliope's Photo Friday whose desk theme conveniently matches the theme of this post.

I know, I know I said I was going to give up my first Friday confession thing. But I kind of miss it, plus I have my own confession ready to go right up front.

I'm going back to work on Monday. And (here's the confession part) I'm really, really happy about it. My job has the usual quotient of annoying stuff and people connected with it, but mostly it's fun and challenging and makes me feel that, in my own way, I'm saving a tiny little corner of the world.

And it's not that staying at home is actually unpleasant -- it's more that I don't see it as the best thing for anyone involved. I have certain strengths as a parent, including a reasonably large vocabulary, an even temper and a preternatural tolerance for repetition.

But, more to the point, there are a number of lacunae in my skill set, the most gaping of which is my pathologically shy and (let's face it) antisocial nature. If I want my kids to be able to deal with other people, well, let's just say, that's not something that they're likely to learn from me.

So, in summation: TGI(almost)M

Add your confessions (anonymously, unless you don't feel like it) in the comments. For example, tell us why you love/hate working/staying home and why everyone who doesn't feel exactly the same way is, at best, sadly misguided.

If there are enough confessions, I'll add a few more of my own. See if you can guess which ones they are.

89 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love my job because it pays really well for the amount of effort it realistically requires and it is occasionally pleasantly challenging. I hate my job because of the unending ridiculous regulations, the evil coworkers, the psychotic bosses, and the paramilitary organization that oversees our division.

I could not be a SAHM because repitition kills me. I'm not especially shy, per se, but I am completely socially awkward, so I have no ability to teach my daughter social skills. I'm not creative enough to keep my girl entertained all day.

Anonymous said...

If someone says they're a SAHM, I want to ask what they're going to do when DH comes home and says "I love you, but I'm not in love with you so let's get a divorce." (translation: I'm banging that coworker that I told you I wasn't attracted to)

Anonymous said...

I love my job and was happy to head back to it when my one-year maternity leave was up. It's stressful and I work long hours – often getting home after my son is in bed – but I couldn't live without the adrenaline and adult conversation.
I also wonder about SAHMs who apparently don't worry about being totally financially vulnerable.
Not sure I could head back to work with a newborn to look after all night but hey, I'm not saving the world, even a little corner of it.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't stay home because we'd all end up in therapy. Also, financially, it's just not doable. I get so much of my identify from work and as much as I love being "So & So's" mom, I'm more than that.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced no one will ever love me. Couldn't stay home. Don't like kids enuf-not even my own.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not a SAHM because I'd be horrible at it, but I'm also glad my child has a family member to look after him/her because I can't help but think of full-time daycares as somehow akin to factory farms. I'm sure I'd get over it if I had no other choice.

Anonymous said...

Stay at home moms are lazy and set a bad role model for their kids. They say they're taking care of the kids, but really spend all their time on the 'puter and watching tv.

Working moms are selfish and neglectful and probably hate their own children. If they really wanted to stay home they could.

Have I managed to offend everyone yet????

Anonymous said...

I took my 5 month old to daycare yesterday, then called in sick and went home and went back to bed. I wasn't sick, just sleep deprived.

I don't love my job, but I got really stir crazy during my maternity leave.

Anonymous said...

Going to work gives me time to get my bloggy fix. And I have little doubt that the teachers are better equipped than I am to take care of the kids.

Also, I drink way more as a mom than I ever did before.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed staying home on my maternity leave- especially towards the end as I faced going back to a job I HATE. I look at SAHMs with envy when I see them out and about with their kids for story time at the library and such- feeling that I'm missing out BIG TIME.

However, I'm pretty certain that I wouldn't enjoy the tedium and monotony that can be part and parcel of being a SAHM and that I only enjoyed my maternity leave because it was fleeting.

Anonymous said...

I wish I didn't have to work but that just doesn't work financially for our family. I envy the SAHM's

Anonymous said...

anon@12:42: Me too. But I find that work tends to cut into my drinking time.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is kind of offensive as a SAHM, but I'm also glad people who know their limits don't stay home, because then their kids do watch tv all day, feel the resentment of their moms and then hit my kid at the playground while their uninterested mothers text.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is kind of offensive as a SAHM, but I'm also glad people who know their limits don't stay home, because then their kids do watch tv all day, feel the resentment of their moms and then hit my kid at the playground while their uninterested mothers text.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster above who said that that mothers who work don't really love their children.

Anonymous said...

My mom stayed home with us. My parents 'made it work' and scraped by because having Mom home with the kids was important to them. My parents now have almost no retirement fund and I resent them and the position it puts me in. I would never do that to my kids.

Furthermore, while my mom loved/loves us very much, it was clear that she needed a different kind of stimulation than staying home with kids provided. It was clear to me when I was 5 years old.

I love working, and I love coming home to my family, and I love knowing we are financially secure.

Anonymous said...

anon@2:06, I work and I love my children dearly. I work so that they can have a roof over their heads, clothes on their bodies, health insurance, and food. I don't think living in a box under a bridge with their non-working mom would make them feel more loved and fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

"I agree with the poster above who said that that mothers who work don't really love their children."

Wow. Just wow.

I love my children. But part of loving them is financially supporting them, too.

Anonymous said...

You know, I was hoping these comments would be about us individually but it's turning into an us vs them slam-fest here. We all do what works best for us and our family. Don't judge.

niobe said...

Just for the record, I personally have no issues with judging. Or not judging, as the case may be.

In defense of the commenters who posted negative things, I think the way I phrased the question ("why everyone who doesn't feel exactly the same way is, at best, sadly misguided) suggested that people were free to post over-the-top remarks. Which they totally are.

But given that, I'd bet that several of the more inflammatory ones were at least partially tongue-in-cheek.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of Niobe's query...

Just because I love someone, doesn't mean I want to spend every waking moment with them!

Anonymous said...

I am completely torn. I have a part-time job that I enjoy. I have a baby that I adore. But I don't like it if when he was the only intellectual stimulation that I got on a daily basis.

Having said that, I wish, wish, wish I could stay home with him and do all those cool Mom and baby things. But we just can't afford it. We tried it and we nearly lost everything - so back to work I go. A family of five on one salary just doesn't work.

I've committed myself to spending quality time with him instead of worrying about the quantity of time... and when he's up in the middle of the night or sick, I'm the one that gets up and takes care of him. So far, he seems to be happy with the whole arrangement.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I don't like about staying at home with my kids is that we don't get to take fancy vacations or live in a bigger house. If I worked we would have a much fancier lifestyle by society's standards.

What I do love: sleeping in every morning, knowing that no one is mistreating my kids, getting to play like a kid again, being silly, teaching my kids the things I want them to learn, and knowing that no one else in the world is spending 9+ hours a day with my kids knowing their idiosyncrasies better than me.

I don't worry about what would happen if something happened to my husband, I don't live life by the what-ifs.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand it when working moms say they do everything sahm do. Um I don't get to leave my kid in day care for hours every day and believe me there are days when I would love to. Thankfully most days I'm happy to stay home.

Plus I hated my job and it made me angry and awful so I'm guess that is not the type of mom a kid needs.

Oh and my husband works from home so the only coworker he has access too for banging purposes is me.

Anonymous said...

I "work," but some days I play online practically all day and I just took a 2.5 hour lunch break with my boss. SAHMing would kick my ass.

Anonymous said...

I'm cheating on my husband with his best friend (male, if that matters) AND my best friend (female, if that matters). Though not at the same time.

Oh, wait. Was this confession thread supposed to be mommy related?

Anonymous said...

i always scorned SAHMs until i became one. i hated my job, despite the awesome $. it made me a bitter, sad, resentful person. turns out i love being a SAHM, & now i secretly look down on parents who can't take the daily stress of being a full-time parent.

Lolly said...

Well. just wanted to say I love your photo -- especially the doodad! Wassis?

As to the other topic, (a) staying at home is REALLY hard, including when you feel you'll never have an adult conversation ever again and that you'll be in that situation forEVer; and (b) kids will have their own disposition no matter what yours is. I am SO SHY and INTROVERTED and would rather curl up in my room (or sitting up in a tree, for that matter) and read a book; my single-mother-raised child is extroverted and withers if kept away from friends.

Just - do & be as you feel is right. It all works out :-)

Anonymous said...

@ May 7 11:25 am

My husband is an engineer. He works with tons of guys and two completely unattractive women. I am not worried.

Anonymous said...

In light of the fact that I'm returning to work on Monday after 8 wks of leave, I'm sad to go back but I think that has more to do with the fact that my daughter is growing and she won't be this small much longer.

I have a lot of respect for SAHMs but I would go bat shit if I did it myself. I get stir crazy easily and I need the adult interaction. That said, I've got the best of both worlds as I work about 38 wks a year and can pop in and see my kids during the day if I need to since they're close by and stat with my family.

There are days where I wish I could win the lottery and stay home. Those thoughts usually come after a night of very little sleep though.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I don't like about staying home with my kids is. . . . . . . . . . . .my kids.

Anonymous said...

I have the best of both worlds. I'm a SAHM, but we have a part-time babysitter. When I get those few hours off, I do a pretty good job with my kids. Without the break, I'd be a hell of a lot grumpier and more likely to resort to TV or whatever.

Anonymous said...

@2:03 p.m. Maybe the texting mothers on the playground aren't "uninterested" so much as they feel it's important for kids to interact with each other without a parent hovering over them every step of every interaction. Maybe other kids hit your kids on the playground because your kids are jerks.

Anonymous said...

A repeated scenario that drives me batshit:

SAHM: I'm a SAHM.

Me: How wonderful! You're lucky that you were able to do that.

SAHM: (looks nobly off into the distance) Well, we had to make SACRIFICES.

Me: (palm itching to give SAHM a good slap)

You may have made "sacrifices", but you're still paying your rent/mortgage and have food. Quit acting like anyone could do it if only they'd give up the cable TV and BMW. You are not special; you are lucky. You had a choice. Not everyone does. Be grateful, and STFU.

Cate said...

I am a stay at home mom. I am a mess most of the time because I feel like I never do or say enough to meet my own unreasonable expectations. I feel guilty for pretty much everything. I used to scoff at moms who said they weren't cut out to stay at home. But I have now learned that being aware of your shortcomings is a gift to yourself and also to your children. As long as you and your kids are healthy and happy nothing else matters. Besides, who cares whether the other mother you know cloth diapers/breast feeds/formula feeds/makes their own baby food/practices EC/lets her kids watch tv all day/eats junk food/etc.? The internal judgment and shame cycle of being a mom is enough without having to worry about someone else judging you too. Stop the madness

Anonymous said...

I'm somehow a half "working mom" half "staying at home mom". I know that makes no sense, lets put it this way, I work mornings and am home with my toddler all afternoon/evening, and my husband works afternoons/evenings and is home with our toddler all morning.

Also I work in a daycare within a school and can honestly say I hope I never have to send my child to either one of those things. I love my job and I love the kids, but some of the things that go on in the school make me sick. Especially the way some of the EAs treat the special needs students when they think no one is looking. My child has special needs and there's no way I trust the public school system enough to send him there.

Also the daycare is great, but the parents miss out on so much of their children's lives. In some cases I know their children better than they do, and that to me is sad. However people need to work, they need to pay bills and keep their children fed, so whatever way they have to go about it I respect that as long as they're meeting their child's (and their family's) needs.

The way we do things in my family has its benefits and disadvantages but it works for us. I can't say it would work for everyone, but I do love that our son has time with both parents instead of just one. Though the mommy and daddy alone time is often lacking.

Anonymous said...

Cate, Girl, you have issues if being a mom to you is an "internal judgment and shame cycle!"

Anonymous said...

I work part time. I need to keep my career/skills up to date. I adore my husband and know he would never divorce me, but other things could happen --- he could die, become permanently disabled, or laid off. The laid off part did actually happen last year, and I was able to increase my hours to full time. Thankfully it wasn't for very long, but I felt proud that I was able to support my family on such short notice. My career takes a lot of pressure off of him, and the BEST thing I can do for my kids is to raise them in a two biological parent home with parents who truly love each other, and aren't stressed out.

I don't look down at a SAHM, but in this economy, I worry about my friends who stay home, especially if their husband's jobs are precarious. I sure wouldn't want to trade places with them, most days. It's not the money for the extras, its the security. I'm investing in my marriage -- for my children. I consider it a true partnership to be able to take on financial responsibility when my husband is not able to do so, just as he took on household duties when I was on bestrest, recovering from surgery, etc. I need him to know he does not carry his burden alone.

Anonymous said...

In our family, I've learned that we have too many kids and I have not enough education for me to work outside of the home and not lose money. Maybe when they're all in school...

Anonymous said...

For a few different reasons, some of which I blame my own dearly beloved SAHM for, some of which are purely my own neurotic issues, I was convinced staying at home was the ONLY way to raise children. And for the first couple of years, while breastfeeding and whatnot, I was good with that. Loved it, and seem to know what I was doing. Brilliant. Then I weaned my youngest, my hormones flipped the fuck out, and I lost my goddamn mind. So I ended up being a mood-swinging anti-social / agoraphobic psycho bitch for the next five of my children's most formative years. No drugs had the desired effect, no homeopathics, no nutrition, no self-fucking-analysis seemed to help, and while my husband made "enough" for me to stay home, he traveled all the time. Maybe he *was* banging a co-worker, I didn't give a damn, I couldn't blame him, more power to him, I had cheesecake. Either way, my sex drive went the way of my sanity. Point being, after years of feeling uppity and superior for planning on and then becoming a stay at home mom, I did indeed fall on my face and feel like a miserable failure, largely because I WAS.

Now that things are straightened out internally, and I recognize that my children and I would've been better off had I worked or took classes or ANY damn thing that got me out of the house and gave them some peace and quiet, I'm actually able to enjoy it, and they have lives now.

But I desperately wish I'd gone to school, learned anything that would make more money than just the daycare bill, just given myself some options, been able to support us while my sane and willing husband stayed home with the kids... just ... OPTIONS, Ladies.. OPTIONS. And oh yeah... we're fucked if he loses his job. Hard and deep.

That having been said... @7:45PM, hell yeah! What you said. Maybe some SAHMs text because if they dont txt their GFs to tell them what a loon you are, hovering over your spoiled twit, we'll lose our shit completely from your "interested" baby talk and knock your ass out. Just trying to keep the peace, honey, and being SAHMs gives us lots of practice at keeping one eye on our child while they get their break from us & we accomplish one damn thing that doesn't have to do with bodily functions.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a baby, and for a long time didn't think I wanted one, but once I really sat down and thought about it I realized how it wasn't the thought of being a parent that scared me but rather the thought of having to socially interact with other moms. Reading this I can find nothing in common with 95% of you, as I find your judgy, catty, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing behavior absolutely appalling. I hope to God I never feel I have to sit there rolling my eyes at how someone else parents to boost my own self-confidence a notch or two. Can you step back and see how pathetic that is? I've started making a list of things I hope I'll never do if I'm ever a mom, and while I am human, imperfect and will probably do them all at least once, I hope the entitlement and self-righteousness I see here do not become habit with me. Ladies, check yourselves before you wreck yourselves! Being a _________ parent does not make you all that. Everyone is trying their best. Raise up your own damn kids and trust other people to raise their own in the way that fits their families the best.


Sincerely,

This Is Why All Of My Best Friends Are Guys

after iris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm not working now, but when I was, and it was just part-time, I was awful to my kid sometimes when we were trying to get out the door or I had to do some work at home. I personally am a better parent not working, and since we don't have money problems with just one salary, I don't have to. But I still plan to work again when circumstances permit, mostly because it's good for my self-esteem. For me it's a selfish thing, and yes, it is nice to know if we divorced I could support myself by keeping my career going. I think that's important for me as a person and as a mother.

Anonymous said...

@anon3.30am - Iknowrite???!!!! Other women are such bitches, and men are soooo much cooler. And I bet 95% of these judgy, catty, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing fishwives are just devastated that you, anonymous internet stranger, find their behavior pearl-clutchingly appalling.

/sarcasm


To answer the question: Love my job. It's creative, fun and it pays well. My kids benefit from going to daycare a few days a week. They do such cool activities - I would never be able to recreate that stuff at home. That said, if you have the option and the desire to stay at home then that's great; more power to you!

I adore these threads Niobe. Dramz on the internetz!!! I'll be back with popcorn.

Anonymous said...

@6:07 am -- It's okay, I understand. You got a good look in the mirror and didn't like it very much, did you?

Anonymous said...

Things I Will Never Understand About Mommies:

Mommy Guilt. Do your best, apologize profusely to your children when you eff it all up (as we all do) and move on. Hanging on to it seems a bit, well, self-indulgent and overdramatic. Accept that you aren't going to be perfect and stop making a big deal out of it. Trust me, as someone whose parents to this day refuse to apologize, the fact that you can look your children in the eyes and tell them that you're sorry is going to stick with them far longer than whatever you did to warrant an apology in the first place.

The hovering. Oh my God, the hovering. Sure, your kid is going to come off the playground once in a while with scraped knees or a black eye, and s/he might even (gasp) get shoved around (or do some shoving). Let the poor souls develop the social skills you lack by interacting with their peers. A couple of scrapes is nothing compared to the sense of independence and trust you are instilling in them. So text away, and let your kids handle their social interactions themselves.

Don't be the mom who pushes ahead of every other woman in the bathroom because Sweetums is potty-training. That is rude. Curb that sense of entitlement, and ASK POLITELY if you may go ahead. Most people will say yes, and if they don't, assume they have a reason so drop the martyred sighs and the death glares.

The Facebook TMI. NO ONE wants to see pictures of your kid on the toilet, especially proudly waving TP. No one wants to see pictures of Caidyn's First Bidness in the bowl, either. It's not classy. It's not classy. It's not classy. Stop it.

Anonymous said...

I don't like my job but I need it or we don't eat. I could not stay at home because we'd be living on the street, but even if I could I wouldn't. Why? Well husbands leave, and they die, and if you have no work experience, you're older and you have no money, you're screwed. I went through that scenario as a kid, and wouldn't put my child through that. Besides, I like my own money and if I want to buy zebra print shoes I don't have to ask anyone for the money to do it. If you stay at home, more power to you, but it's not my thing. I have no judgment for either decision and neither should anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8PM:

What drives me batshit is when someone who made BAD financial decisions and did no pre-planning whatsoever said that they didn't have a "choice" to stay home. I am "able" to stay at home because my husband and I worked our asses off for over a decade before our kids came along and didn't buy stuff we didn't need on credit we didn't have when I was working. We planned for me to be a SAHM for years and yeah, that meant some sacrifices. But we do have cable, though, unfortunately, no BMW.

So, maybe don't get so mad that you don't have a "choice" and at the people that DO and be mad at the person that put you in your situation: yourself.

Oh, and just so we are clear here, I think that each parent has to do exactly what works for their family. If that means you work outside the home or in it, perfect. I don't think either way is THEEE way and I sometimes wonder about the path not taken. I just do the best that I can to be a good mother and support my friends as mothers, no matter what choices they make, so long as they are't ones that should involve CPS.

Anonymous said...

Those SAHM's worried about their husbands dying/losing their job/ becoming disabled, get life insurance, disability insurance, and an emergency fund.

Also, if your husband works and you don't that doesn't mean he is in charge of the money. Work together on it and decide together how to spend your (as in the household's) money, staying at home doesn't mean depriving yourself of things you want. Actually even if you do work you should be working together on these things.

Anonymous said...

Don't take this the wrong way but I think Niobe should stay home with her babies. She's very lucky she has them.

Anonymous said...

@7:45 Not a jerk, just timid and not used to the Lord of the Flies ways of daycare.

Anonymous said...

People are really mean when they are anonymous. I'd love to have all these comments suddenly pop up names so I know which blogs to avoid. But I have to say the working moms seem to be winning the judgmental contest. Niobe, you should run a tally of who is more judgmental and mean-spirited--SAHMs and WOHMs.

Anonymous said...

"Those SAHM's worried about their husbands dying/losing their job/ becoming disabled, get life insurance, disability insurance, and an emergency fund."

Believe me its not that simple. One issue is health care. When my husband was laid off, I had to carry health care for the family. Had I not it would have depleted our emergency fund very quickly. Cobra is ridiculous. We already pay hundreds of dollars a month in life and disability insurance, and if the worst happened the insurance will definitely HELP but not pay for everything. Also, it takes months to prove a disability. Many times the disability insurance doesn't kick in for months or years while you fight with the insurance company over whether or not the disability is permanent. Nothing replaces the security of keeping my career up to date. Nothing.

after iris said...

Anon@1.06 - You're right, people are mean when they're anonymous. I'll own up to mine, so you can avoid me if you like. I'm the person at 6.07am who doesn't like people who think it's cool to say things like 'ugh, you women are all such bitches''.

Anonymous said...

There are some seriously judgmental women out there. Here are few points to ponder. Not every country runs like the US. In quite a few countries, maternity leave is paid for one year or more. In some countries, days cares are not factories, and some governments even give you money to choose your own care. Those rascally socialists. Independence is something I value, and I don't care if a relationship is all wine and roses, the stats on divorce says you should be prepared to run a household on your own at some point more often than not. Kids in day care don't fare any worse than those who've been cared by SAHM. Certain classes of women have had the luxury, if you want to call it that, of staying home, while others have not. The SAHM phenomena has always been a mostly white upper and upper middle class woman thing. Generations of women in my family worked, and they raised productive female and male children that worked. To turn your nose up at a woman who chooses to go to work, says more about you not them. Likewise if you stay home, good for you. Choice people, you'd think women of all people would understand the importance of having CHOICE.

Anonymous said...

I'm a SAHM. Not by choice. I was laid off in the fall of last year. I have had zero luck finding a job in my field. The few postings that I see I apply for, only to find out that the other 500 or so people in my field who also got laid off also applied.
I have 2 children. Under 5. It was never my intention to be a SAHM. I would work, they would go to daycare. I talked up daycare to everybody I knew: socialization, safe, well cared for, academics, etc. So imagine the mindf*ck when suddenly I'm home with them. I really exisisted on a 'fake it til you make it' thought process for 4 months.
Then, a few things happened. The baby got older (easier), the baby started sleeping through the night, older child started to be more independent (read potty trained), and the most important: we joined the Y.
Now, I could workout, shower, and get dressed without the kids or husband bothering me. The kids have fun in babysitting for a couple of hours and everyone is happy. Seriously, the best thing we ever did.
I still apply to every freaking job posting that I think fits me but it's not as crucial. I have realized other benefits to being home: the kids aren't as sick, no worry about who will stay home when one of them is sick, we eat dinner at a normal time, I get to see the milestones for the first time myself, my kids aren't stressed out from the chaos of daycare, I could go on.
I don't judge people for their choices or reasons. A happy family is the best family.

Anonymous said...

My original point was just that knowing what is best for you and your family re: working or staying home is best for all involved. I do not hover but I do watch my children at the playground. I sit on the bench and watch. When older kids push my two year old, I redirect her to another area of the playground. That is my job. Keeping my kids safe, watching their back, and knowing their capabilities and limitations, intervening when necessary. That may be hovering to you, but I am doing my job. I take it seriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm a SAHM right now, and for the last 4 years. I'm too afraid to go back to school to get my PH.D so I hide behind "being home for my kids".

Anonymous said...

I'm a SAHM mom and I love it. And, yes, I am aware that I am very lucky to be able to stay home. And, no, I don't worry too much about my husband leaving me/dying/losing his job. I've learned in the past few year not to make plans too far down the road. What will come will come. And I'll deal with it when it does.

Anonymous said...

Ooh. This is fun. I work and my DH is a SAHH and we still use daycare and are happy to have it. No one knows my son better than me (though my DH and possibly my DM, who provides some of our childcare, may know him as well), but I do feel phenomenally blessed to (a) have the opportunity to work at a job I enjoy (b) have a spouse who stays home and manages much of our home life and (c) have extended family to provide (some) childcare and (d) have a wonderful paid childcare provider on top of all that.

All that said, it's still hard to fit everything I want to fit in, in, so kudos to you who are juggling more with less, whatever strategies you're using to do so.

Anonymous said...

You can't choose one thing without losing something else. Judging ~other~ people's choices is missing the point.

"Nothing replaces the security of keeping my career up to date. Nothing."

True.

Also true: work/life balance should be better supported in our culture than it is.

Believe it or not, the issue of why we make the choices we do and the undesirable consequences that follow ... is ~a little~ more complex and a lot bigger than just other women's (in your opinion) stupidity or selfishness, lack of planning or discernment. All things are NOT equal; choices are NOT apples to apples. Nor are they made in a vacuum where only thoughtful, empowered women control all the variables and influences.

"To turn your nose up at a woman who chooses to go to work, says more about you not them."

In my experience, most people turn their noses up at women who (supposedly) ~don't~ work. Not so much the other way around. Unless you count some employers (don't kid yourself, discrimination still exists, we just pretend it doesn't). Women who have kids and also work outside the home have a great deal of stress and pressure. But the weight of negative public opinion is against the SAHMS.

Oh and one more thing ... it's way too easy to Monday morning quarterback other people's parenting ... like texting instead of watching their kids ... vs. 'helicoptering' ... just to name two examples. Don't kid yourself: if that kind of one-sided, one-dimensional judgement were turned back on you and applied to YOUR life, someone would find you lacking, too.

Judging is way too easy, which is why fools rush to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm an accidentally-on-purpose SAHM. It's a two-fold thing: I wasn't making enough to offset daycare, while at the same time DH makes enough money so I can stay home. It was something we had always wanted to do, and frankly I'm honored to have the luxury of taking care of our baby.

Do I go batshit? Yeah, especially when I feel marooned by parenthood, on days where the baby is losing it and compounding a 24-hour headache and the husband won't be home until 8 and I won't get any sanity time. But to me, it's worth it when I see my baby's smile at the end of it all before he goes to sleep. Worth every wrinkle, crinkle, and future trip the the shrink.

Side note: Niobe, I've missed the confession threads. Maybe once a month? Pleeeeease?

Anonymous said...

I only judge SAHMs when they decide to stay home without giving their husband an equal say. I've seen it happen.

Because really, how would you like it if he announced HE was going to stay home, and you were solely responsible for financial support of the family?

As long as we're talking about women's choices, let's talk about dad's choices, too. I've seen the decision to stay home for moms translate into a lot of overtime for dad, sometimes even a second job. That cuts into the time he has to bond with his children. On the other hand, both parents working full time is stressful for everyone, so I'm not saying that's the best choice either. I'm just saying give dad a say, and if the reality of the choice has one partner too stressed out, the choice may need to be reevaluated.

slouchy said...

whoa. anonymity makes (some) people stunningly cruel.

Anonymous said...

Anonymity does make everyone cruel.
Which is why every so often I use it; it is not something I like about myself. It provides me a release which I cannot allow myself in daily life.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Couldn't read all of them.

I love that I work; beside my job, I can use it as an excuse that my children/house/cooking are not perfect. When on maternity leave, I didn't improve any of these.

And I think any way has its taking and giving; personally, my solution would be to have a 30 hours day. Not. Except if it meant I have the right to drimk more.

Anonymous said...

I never even considered being a SAHM. For two reasons really - my mom did and she was miserable and it wasn't fun for anyone. I thought the same would be true for me. Second, I love my career, spent many years working towards it, and it is a major part of my identity. And - third - I am very lucky in that I have a job where I can easily bring my child - for trips, into the office on occasion, and to work-related social events (where there are lots of other kids). I don't feel the least bit of guilt. I also know that I am incredibly lucky and am always waiting for the other shoe to drop....

Alice said...

I could not have stayed at home all the time. I'd have gone in for baby battering. But I was lucky enough to work part time from home - very lucky!

Niobe, if you read this I would really love to get in touch with you about surrogacy. I really need to talk to other people who have done it - and you sound like a bit of a specialist. It really looks like we'll do it - and I don't know a soul in the world who has done that!

Thanks, Alice

Anonymous said...

" I have realized other benefits to being home: the kids aren't as sick, no worry about who will stay home when one of them is sick, we eat dinner at a normal time, I get to see the milestones for the first time myself, my kids aren't stressed out from the chaos of daycare, I could go on."

My kid adores his small home daycare but the rest rings true. During my one-year maternity leave, we ate a (healthful, home-cooked) dinner as a family at 6 on the dot every night (now I'm often still at work), I had coffee with my best mommy friend a couple of times a week (now I'm lucky to see her once a month) and DS always had clean clothes that fit him (now we're behind on laundry and I STILL haven't had time to buy him rubber boots yet this spring). I'd read a novel a week just by having nap time. It's so easy to get to doctors' appointments, get the car serviced, arrange for tradespeople to come to the house, have time to buy gifts/cards for people, etc. etc.
So yeah, staying at home could be boring at times but (at least with only one living kid) it was so nice to not be racing around like a mad woman all the time.
Can I also ask - does anyone know any SAHMs IRL?
Everyone I know (well-educated women in their mid-30s) takes the one year we get (in Canada) then goes back to work. The only stay-at-home parents I know are SAHDs.

niobe said...

@12:59: About 1/2 (maybe more) of the women I went to school with are SAHMs. So, yeah, I know a bunch IRL.

Anonymous said...

I know five SAHMs in real life. All except one of them does something part-time from home or in the evenings. This is both for the money and also to keep a bit of a professional foothold for when the kids hit first grade. Some of them love it, some of them hate it. But they are making the best decisions they can based on money, the kids' needs/personalities, and the parents' needs/personalities.

@ 3:30am: Judgment isn't entirely a bad thing - when you apply it. My stepdaughter (in grade school)has little girl friends her age who wear eye make up and short skirts and high heels out of the house, and have mommies who smoke in front of them and buy them trashy teen magazines. I feel perfectly fine telling my stepdaughter that I don't approve of those choices. Because that's my job as a parent - to try to keep her safe (from taking up smoking, from child sexualization, from crazy body image problems). And of course I'm polite to those moms. But yeah, I think they are doing their daughters no favors with those behaviors. And no, I'm not going to tell my stepdaughter that smoking in front of kids is a valid parenting choice and that we're all just doing the best we can.

niobe said...

@alice (or anyone else who would like information/thoughts about surrogacy) Please feel free to email me at like.niobe.all.tears AT gmail DOT com. I'm always happy to share my experiences or answer any questions.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Canada and a SAHM. I have a part-time equivalent contract and my two boys go to a sitter/friend twice a week so I can stay caught up.

It's the best possible balance for my family. I've done the working mom / full time daycare thing, and it was fine for my son at the time, but what I found was taking all the joy out of life was the constant running to be somewhere. With several days a week to be home, I can do the preschool / swimming lessons / errands / library reading circle thing without driving myself completely crazy, but the extra money I'm earning lets us relax financially.

And incidentally, my husband was laid off very suddenly the month before Christmas - from a job that seemed very secure. I like having one foot still in the professional world because it takes the stress off both of us to know that in a pinch, we can still meet our obligations. And to the judgmommies further up - we don't take fancy vacations, we never eat out, and we drive used cars. So blow it out your hole. "Making sacrifices" will only work to a point.

Anonymous said...

respect is given..disrespect is earned,

Anonymous said...

Part of me would really like to be a SAHM, but the other part of me loves my job. My husband and I have busted our butts to be out of debt, only to have infertility treatments sweep away much of our savings. The rest of our savings is going toward our adoption which runs $25,000 thru our agency. To be able to afford just one, I have to keep working. To give our future child a future sibling, I will have to keep working. What I envisioned - absolutely not. But it is my reality.

I guess what bothers me about SAHMs or working moms is the smugness that whoever you are, you are right and your way is the only way.

meinsideout said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog - and geesh...I have never seen so many anonymous commenters!

I am going back to work on June 2 - I love what I do but I wish I could only do it three days a week, spend three with the babies and one day at the spa - but - I am grateful for what I have!

after iris said...

Do you know what I love? I love the way some people make sweeping generalizations calling everyone else smug. I'm talking to you anon@7.50am.

Also, I think it's worth noting that for an anonymous confessions post a surprising number of comments have been balanced and anecdotal rather than judgey and combative.

Oh, finally, Anon @ May 7th 3:57 PM: You are my favorite person on the internet right now. Hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I am a SAHM. I wish I could figure out a way to work without going crazy. I was way too stressed when I was working. Now I feel like I've wasted my education. Everyone else seems to have figured out their lives but me.

Katie said...

What I have noticed is that the people who make the meanest, nastiest, most judgmental comments and statements are those that are unhappy with their own choices and decisions. I try to keep that in mind, whether the topic at home is how to raise children or anything else.

To sound completely trite, "Can't we all just get along?" This parenting thing is tough enough without attacking each other.

For me, I enjoy being a SAHM, but I sometimes do miss my job and the "outside" world. I plan to return to work when my children are a bit older and my biggest fear is that I won't be able to find something because of being out of the workforce for 5 years (or so).

Anonymous said...

I love my job. I have to work.
My confession: I hate it when a SAHM complains that she is busy. I know it is boring, it is a sacrifice and you are doing something I wish I had the money and patience to do. But there is no way in hell you are as busy as I am. Period. I still go to soccer games and music concerts and volunteer for the school and for the community, but I do it on top of a 40 hour a week job. So, no, sorry, you just aren't that busy. You may FEEL busy, but, sorry. You aren't.
Wow.
That felt good.
I've been wanting to say that for about 16 years....
Oh, and p.s., you also aren't that busy if you have 2 adults in the house and 1 or 2 kids.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ May 8, 10:44

There we go. That's exactly the sort of self-satisfied bullshit that drives me crazy. "I worked hard and made good decisions, so I DESERVE this. If you don't have it, clearly you didn't work as hard as I did, or you didn't make good decisions."

News flash: there are plenty of people who worked their asses off for years and didn't buy stuff they didn't need on credit who still don't have the luxury of making the choice you made. There are plenty of people who worked just as hard as you did -- or harder! -- and made just as good decisions -- or better! -- but who are not in the position you are in.

Those people, unlike you, were unlucky. Maybe infertility wiped out their savings, and 401Ks. Maybe someone got cancer, or was in an auto accident. Any one of these things can wipe out "years and years" of planning, yes, even if you have insurance. I could think of a dozen more examples.

It's the same myth of meritocracy that makes me want to bite Republicans. It's a basic logical error. Okay, maybe you got rich through hard work; it does not necessarily follow that everyone who works hard will get rich. Never discount the luck and advantages you had along the way.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:46 AM:

Yep, I am self-satisfied, because we did make good decisions and we did have back up plans. And it wasn't easy for us, not in the slightest. Lucky, HA, don't you DARE discount my years of hard work and sacrifice as luck - how insulting!! We experienced MANY set backs along the way, including infertility treatments (two rounds of IVF), a lay off (for my husband), and other calamaties. But we worked our way through them and didn't let the "poor, poor pitiful me" approach keep us from reaching our goals.

Yes, you are correct. There are people who life has handed some real crap, and because of that, they don't get things the way that they planned for, but that isn't the norm, that's an exception that people like to trot out to make themselves feel better. But MOST people make poor decisions (or no decisions at all) and don't think or plan ahead, because they aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary.

It's not meritocracy and it's not simply good luck. It's hard work and dedication and not expecting handouts from other people. The attitudes of "Oh, poor me, take care of me, pity me" are what has gotten our country in the place it's in.

Oh, and I am not a republican, btw. I don't actually consider myself to be of either party. I am just a hardworking American who is tired of hearing excuses from people who really don't have any. Now the people that do have something terrible happen to them, then by all means, let's help take care of them. The rest? Need to get off their duffs and stop complaining.

And anon 9:44 PM, Newsflash to you: You are not that busy, either. You fill your life up with meaningless crap that takes you away from what is really important, just so you can feel important. Your "stuff" isn't more important than the "stuff" that keeps me busy on a daily basis. We all can fill our days up, but at least you can drop your kids off with someone else while you get your stuff done.

Anonymous said...

1:48, you're entirely missing the point. It's not discounting your hard work and sacrifice to say that luck had a hand in it. It's just the truth.

Here, let me compare it to something we apparently both understand: infertility (me = 3 IVFs, 1 loss, 1 living child).

We worked hard. But we were also damn lucky. There are plenty of people who worked harder than we did -- had 6, 8, 10 IVFs -- and still don't have a living child.

I busted my butt to have that baby, and I'm proud. But I'm mostly grateful, because I could have busted my butt just as much and *not* had a kid.

Similarly, you busted your butt to save so you could stay home. Yay you! But you were also lucky in that your plans were not derailed by any one of a number of events that happen every day to many people. Be proud, but also, be grateful.

I don't see where anyone has "expected handouts" in this context (I'm not even sure what such a handout would be) so I'll leave that alone.

Look, being self-satisfied is the opposite of humility. Humility is realizing that we are all a product of our decisions AND our circumstances, and if you're happy with where you are, you have both your own actions to be proud of and the luck of your circumstances to be grateful for.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a darn thing wrong with being happy and proud of where I am. Call it self-satisfied, call it whatever you want, I call it being happy and proud of where our hard work and dedication has gotten us. Sure, I guess you could say we were lucky, but a lot of people have good luck and don't take advantage of it. And luck was a very small part of it, so it does irritate me when people try to brush that under the carpet.

What MY problem and MY point is that a lot of people say they CAN'T be SAHMs due to "circumstances", but the bottom line is, they never were willing to make the sacrifices and pre-planning that that are necessary to facilitate a having a parent stay at home. I don't consider giving up cable and the bmw "sacrifices," but the original comment made basically made it sound as if only rich people can stay home and that just isn't true. My husband and I are far from wealthy. We live a decent lifestyle, but we still have to watch every penny and pass on things we'd like to have or do. It isn't "lucky," it is carefully planned and orchestrated, both before I stayed home and each and every day.

I think what happens is that a lot of people don't think they will even want to stay at home, then their babies are born, they want to stay home and "can't" and they get upset and don't face up to the fact that they made a lot of decisions that led to that. Then, I think others don't want to stay home, but feel guilty (and I don't think they should) for wanting to work, so then they say that they "can't," but the truth is, they don't really want to.

What originally irritated me and what my point was is that being a SAHM does requre a lot of sacrifice. Heck, being a parent is all about sacrifice. Working in or outside of the home doesn't really change that.

And I am plenty humble and grateful for everything that I have in this life. I do realize that being home with my children is not something that every can do, but I think more people can do it (if they want to) and just don't realize that they can. But I also think that being proud of where I am and not taking crap from people about it who are (perhaps?) jealous is okay, too. And being told that someone's hand "itches to slap me" because I am a SAHM makes me figure it's time to say something about the sacrifices and hard work that it really takes.

I get what you are saying and will surely admit that there are people out there who planned very carefully and had all of that blown to pieces by unexpected circumstances. Those people have my utmost sympathy. But for those that whine about not being "able" to stay at home, and haven't had any of the unexpected tragedies that you mention happen, then I guess I have to ask, "What did they expect? Did they expect someone to pay for their lifestyles?" And that's what I mean by handouts. If you WANT to stay home, you need to plan for it. If you are working now and don't want to be, don't dig on people that are at home, just start figuring out ways to make it happen.

And if you want to work outside of the home, again, I applaud that. This is not a judgment on parents that work outside of the home. I think there are benefits to both. I just get tired of being told how "lucky" I am to "get to" stay home, which demeans and dismisses the hard work and sacrifices it took to get here.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and your infertility example shows me that you completely missed my point.

Infertility is not something that anyone chooses. It is a disease. The extent that you are able to treat and overcome that disease is also not a choice.

For an overwhelming majority, the ability to have a parent stay at home or not IS a choice. The comparison is faulty because you are not comparing apples to apples. One is an unfortunate disease that you didn't sign up for and one is a lifestyle decision that you did.

Anonymous said...

http://herbadmother.com/2006/07/war-what-is-it-good-for/

Anonymous said...

Wait, After Iris is offended because someone had the --gasp-- nerve to say that women are catty and mean? Hel-LO, can you all HEAR yourselves? This is pathetic, absolutely pathetic.

after iris said...

Ah bless you, I think offended is something of an overstatement!

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a SAHM. I work about 8 hours a week for a job I get paid money for, sometimes more, sometimes less. I don't worry about the "what if dh can no longer support us?" because frankly, I have a higher earning potential than he does, and it would take me somewhere between 2-4 weeks to get such a job. DH doesn't stay at home with the kids because he doesn't want to.

We did work and plan hard to make it possible for me to stay at home (while still saving for retirement exc). It didn't happen by magic.

When my first was young (as in about a year old) I was working 3-4 days a week. I was actually less busy then than I am now.

My confession: I hate when moms who do work outside the home look at me like I'm not busy. I care for two kids with special needs. I am involved/help with my teenage brothers (who are being raised by a single parent courtesy of a death of a parent), I help my MIL who has lung cancer, I maintain my license so I can continue to very minimally work, and I get things set up so on the days I do work outside the house they can be on autopilot (which this is more difficult than when I regularly did outside the house work). I also pick up more of the housework than when I was outside the house dh and I split them more (i.e. I do the lawn mowing, snow blowing, basic house repairs, simple improvements). If you just ran into me, many people do not realize either of my kids have special needs, most don't know of how involved I am with my brothers, or how I help my MIL. If I did work outside the home, there is NO way I could do all that I do. I don't know how I would even manage all of my kids doctors appointments and therapy appointments much less all of the other things. Yet, I do juggle them well enough, most people do not have a clue of the majority of it.

Frankly when I go to work, I find it relaxing, quiet, and refreshing. And I have a high paced job that keeps me on my feet and lifting the whole time...

There are positive and negatives to both ways. I'm glad I'm a SAHM. I just don't like to be judged by that simple label.