Tag Archives: SAHM

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: What Working Moms Really Think About Stay-At-Home-Moms

Over the past two years I’ve been debating the pros and cons of being a stay at home mom or stay at work mom and have picked the brains of countless other working moms who have already waded through this dilemma or are currently struggling with it themselves.

Here’s what working moms had to say (based on my formal interviews of moms-at-large and casual chats with friends), including the good, the bad and unfortunately, even the ugly:

The Good

SAHMs have it the best.

  • “She’s so lucky she can spend time with her kids.”
  • “She’s so lucky she can afford to stay at home.”
  • “She has the best life and doesn’t even have to work.”

SAHMs are the true working moms.

  • “I don’t know how she can stay at home with the kids 24/7.”
  • “I couldn’t stay home with my kids – I’d go insane.”
  • “I don’t want to stay at home.  I like working and I need a break from my kids.”

The Bad

SAHMs should be doing more since they have so much free time.

  • “She’s a stay-at-home-mom so of course she has the time to exercise.”
  • “Let’s have the stay-at-home-mom do the research for our group trip.  The rest of us are working and don’t have the time.”
  • “Why wouldn’t she do [X]?  She doesn’t work.”

 SAHMs are cop outs.

  • “I can’t believe she wasted her [X] degree to be a stay-at-home-mom.”
  • “She’s just a stay-at-home-mom.”

The Ugly

SAHMs don’t have the right to complain. 

  • “She has no idea what it’s like to manage a family and a life:  she’s a stay-at-home mom.”
  • “Why does she have problems with [X]?  She doesn’t have anything to worry about except playdates.”
  • “Her kids should be better behaved.  I mean, she spends all that time with them.”
  •  “Why is she so unhappy?  She doesn’t have to work.  Her life is so easy.”

Today’s Verdict:  Hung jury.  Staying at home or staying at work, having kids is a full time job.

Can a Working Mother Be a Good Mother?

That is the question.

Most parents lashed out at Rahna Reiko Rizzuto when she confessed that she left her children in order to pursue her own dreams and find herself after five years of motherhood.  Readers practically flayed her on the stake, condemning her for choosing herself over her children.  Was it really necessary to accuse her of being “worse than Hitler“?  Does being a good mother really mean we have to give up being ourselves, sacrificing our identities at all costs?

Read my take in today’s Salt & Nectar Guest Post “The Good Mother:  Selfless or Selfish?

Enjoy my post and a great blog from the two lovely lawyer moms, Sarah Stewart Holland & Sarah Pahnke Reisert, at Salt & Nectar!

The Case for the Stay At Home (not to be confused with the Stay At Home Mom)

I’m determined not to sound whiny – especially after Hubby’s comment about some of my Dilemma Diary posts – but really, working part-time is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s great when your home life is going swimmingly and you don’t have deadlines falling all around you, but quite the opposite when you have sick kids, a sick nanny, a sick husband work deadlines right and left.

As a rule, childcare is short on the days you’re supposed to be home and not working (but need to be) and the days you’ve designated for the office are cut short by this or that from the home front.  As a mom, you’re the one (at least I am) who has to leave later in the morning and take care of the kids before work and the one who has to come home early to let the nanny go and take care of the kids before bed.

Plus, if you’re as lucky as I am to have a daughter who loves you so much that she won’t let her Daddy put her to bed on nights you want a break (read with sarcasm), you can’t log on to continue your work until 9 p.m.  And if you do manage to do so, you’ll be in bed at midnight, only to be woken up periodically by screaming children, and then struggle to fall asleep for an hour and wake up at some obscene hour to start the same day over again.  Forget just being more tired than the previous day (when you thought you couldn’t possibly get more tired) – try being infinitely more in the hole at work and infinitely worse at the doomed, desperate scramble to get out.

Yes, in the scheme of life, it ain’t so bad.  I have two healthy kids, a partner, a home, a job with a nice paycheck.  I have the luxury of grumbling, as it were.  But I make no claims to comparing myself to someone in actual dire straits.  I’m comparing myself to the imagined Wonder Mom who I admittedly foolishly think exists:  she is never tired, never burdened by work, financial or child-related woes, and lives a peaceful, unblemished existence . . . somewhere in an alternate universe, of course.

So, today’s verdict: Forget the decision whether to be a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) or a working mom.  I’ve decided.  I want to be a Stay at Home (SAH).  You know, a SAHM, but without the responsibilities of having children . . .

(blissful daydreaming for six uninterrupted minutes, aka .1)

. . . now back to work before it’s time to go home and pick up the kids.

(That was a little whiny, wasn’t it?).

The Nightly Ritual

Trying to have a conversation with my husband about what to do:  continue working part-time, move to a “balanced” schedule, go back full-time, or quit completely and be a stay at home mom, feels like walking through a molasses swamp.  Each step is painfully slow and laborious and we inevitably get stuck on this topic or that before ever being able to see our way to an answer one way or the other.

The conversation has been going for months and we’re not any closer to figuring out the answer as a unit as we were when we first started the discussion.  For one, we can only talk about it when neither of us is working and when we’re not tag-teaming the children, leaving us a small window between 9-10 at night, which isn’t exactly the ideal time to talk about anything.  And two, it’s anxiety provoking to wade through all the options right before bedtime when we’d much rather spend our 30 minutes of precious downtime watching Netflix’ed 30 Rock episodes.

The nightly scenario goes something like this:

Hubby pressing the mute button on the t.v. remote, “Have you thought about what you want to do with your job?

Me looking up from my laptop, “Yeah.” I continue Internet surfing.

“What do you want to do?”  Hubby fiddles with the remote, getting ready to press the volume button.

Me:  “Well, I think we need to come up with a flowchart that shows all the different options we have, how they affect us financially and what the timeline is for each option.”

I think that’s called a matrix,” Hubby corrects me.  “Not a flowchart. Yeah, we need a matrix.”  Hubby un-mutes the television.  I go back to the Internet.

Tonight’s version was basically all of the above, ending this time with, “Well, let me know if you quit your job.  Or decide and then blog about it and let me know when the post is ready for me to read.

Tonight’s verdict: Still undecided.  (Back to surfing the Internet).

The Fear

I complained to my Hubby Sunday night about my writer’s block for the mediation brief I blogged about trying to write on Sunday.

His response:  “You don’t have The Fear.”

The Fear?”

Thoughts of one of my favorite teenybopper flicks, Fear, starring a young Mark Wahlberg and even younger-looking Reese Witherspoon (both pre-stratospheric stardom), came to mind.

Further clarification: The Fear.”

Maybe he’s referencing Lily Allen’s lyrics lambasting materialism in The Fear?  That doesn’t make sense.  (But it’s still a great song).

Hubby:  “It’s what keeps me going at work all day long.  If I’m not good — make that damn good — at what I do everyday, I’ll lose my job.  That’s The Fear.  And you don’t have it.

Then he added (in pedagogic tone),

You should produce your best work product everyday.”

Hearing this instantly ignited my “Aaaahhh!” response.  Don’t tell me something I already know.

This is probably the worst part about working part-time and working at all, for that matter, when you have young children.

For part-timers, you have shorter office hours and/or days, so you try to squeeze in as much as you can in as little time possible.  As Hubby would say, “Those days are your ‘work days,’ and you just jam it all in during the day and after the kids go to bed at night.”  It’s a great plan – in theory.

But running at full steam on the designated work days only works when you’re firing on all cylinders, or at least most of them.  When you’re scraping by on only fumes, it’s all you can do to stay awake in front of the computer screen and remember to state your appearance correctly during a Court Call.

It’s not only the lack of sleep, but the lack of focus and motivation that comes with it.  In a totally zapped mental state, you are expected to function like Joe and Tom sitting in the offices to your left and right.  Not only is this impossible, but it makes you tear your hair out.

Good thing I have an office and am not in a cube , so I can keep my self-reprimanding moments private:  “Focus!” or “Stop!” when my mind wanders or “No!” when I reach for my iPhone for a diversionary game of Words with Friends or Memory.  (Although, Memory has been getting a lot harder lately).

I know I used to have The Fear, but I don’t think I know what it is anymore – at least in the sense that I used to.  In the numb haze my life and mind have become, The Fear doesn’t have the same intensity.  And having been blessed with the faults of procrastination and sloth, living without The Fear is virtually not living.  No motivation has me drifting aimlessly through day after day.

Maybe subconsciously, I’ve worked to erase The Fear because I want to get laid off.  Goodbye handheld device, goodbye Outlook calendar, goodbye billable hour!  And goodbye worrying about staying on top of my game when it has become perfectly evident that I’ve slipped.  In this fantasy, I am 100% mom, 100% happy.

That’s the key word:  fantasy.  It’s not just unreal because it’s not my life, but because I can’t fathom the idea of not being a lawyer anymore.  As much as I want to be a full-time mom, no work hassles involved, would I be happy as “just” a mom?  What would this new identity be like and would I like it?  My mind reels with the unanswered questions and worrying about whether I could take that leap when I’ve always thought I would be a career mom, working full-time, setting an example for my kids and conquering the world.

Back to Hubby’s comment:  Okay, maybe I don’t have The Fear.  But, that’s not to say I’ve completely lost the will to be my best and succeed.  Now something else has the power to motivate me to give 100 percent (or as much as I can muster) instead of The Fear.  Something I didn’t have before that pushes me to succeed because those two little ones’ very existence depends on me.  I don’t need The Fear.  I have The Love.

Today’s verdict: Hung jury.