I am a S.A.H.M... I alternately love it and hate it. There are days when it is the best life in the world and days when I think I must've been brainwashed by aliens because no reasonably sane woman would intentionally subject herself to this crap!
Kids are wonderful, no really -- they are. Just usually they are more wonderful when they belong to someone else! Hubster and I teach our kids right from wrong, positive over negative, glass half full rather than half empty... you know what we all pretty much teach kids. So, WHY are they consistently on the wrong side of the equation? At parent teacher conferences there is no hint of these issues -- they all get good grades, behave well in school and are not trouble makers... so far. (fingers crossed, knockin' on wood etc...) We've made it through high school with the oldest and are hopeful our next 3 will survive it relatively unscathed. Some days I must wonder... will I SURVIVE the wait???
Staying home was a decision the Hubster and I made early, as in before we even were engaged, much less married. I think we knew we would be getting there and strangely enough HE brought it up in the car one day without any provocation from me and as I recall, my 3 year old daughter, was singing away in the back seat while we were in traffic. So he says something along the lines of: I think that, based on our very different childhoods, you should stay home if we have any kids. Unless you really want to work, then you can if you want. What a job offer! Naturally, we had to clarify what his feelings were on the differences between our childhoods, because he is 9 years older than I am and that can mean all kinds of stuff! I was just shy of 9 when he graduated HS! LOL! Basically it came down to the fact that I was a latchkey kid, 2 brothers in daycare, two parents working, and after my parents divorce I had little to no supervision -- which was GREAT for me! However it was also how I got into a lot of trouble. I thought I was independent and could do whatever the HELL I wanted and too bad for Mom if she disagreed. On the other hand, Hubster had a whole family complete with 5 sibs, a dad and a stay at home mom -- until he was in High School. He, maybe wasn't perfect, but would have been considered a goody two-shoes by my standards.
Suffice it to say, the concept of a stable home with someone to be there for all the needs of our future kids, and let's face it -- NOT WORKING, was appealing! I was young and apparently naive about the job that lay ahead. Shortly after this conversation, on July 27, 1996, I was offered and accepted a lovely engagement ring that he picked all by himself. (HAHA, make that my boss said this is what she wants, and here is the good deal you will get for it... ;-) Oddly, I lost my job right after that and that was the last full time job I held. I did occasionally help the old boss out when he needed an extra hand, but his daughter got the full time job. I was jobless, living with my fiancée and my, now 4 year old, daughter. What a deal! I could have gotten another job, BUT soon-to-be-Hubster said, why bother? We had a wedding to plan, a honeymoon to go on, not to mention a baby to make, a home to sell and another to buy! That was going to be a BIG JOB! So, I planned a wedding which we decided to have in November, which caused all sorts of family issues that may or may not show up here one day! We were living in an 800 sf condominium -- kitchen, dining room, living room, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Nice and easy to maintain size-wise. I systematically began cleaning everything from ceiling to floor every couple days. I even had my days free, since preschool was near his office! Can I just tell you I was BORED! I really was. That is why I began to clean. I was a smoker then, so the most exciting part of my day was watching the people on the bike path from our deck while puffing away and blasting the radio.
Moving up a bit in time, I am pregnant, very sick from it and essentially non-functional because of it. We had family turmoil from his lot. Our condo had been cleaned so well it was like a gem in a hell hole! It was listed for sale and so I was constantly having to heave my sick self out of the place for those who wished to see it. Eventually it sold and we were buying a house, moving and after a time I was feeling better. Can I tell you that cleaning an 800 sf condo vs. an 1800 sf house are two different animals. But clean and organize and garden and mow and repeat every other day or so, I did. The new neighbors must've thought I was psycho.
It took a while and after that baby followed by another baby we settled into a routine and called it our life. It turned out we picked the right place to live. Just about everywhere I turned there was a S.A.H.M. I was still a little bored and cleaned like a nut for a long time. I was finally done in by a never-ending battle with baby barf. Hubster, awesome guy that he is got me a housekeeper. That was AMAZING, except for the fact I cleaned before she came every week so it was also another chore -- albeit one I created. I have only myself to blame for that cracked up behavior. Moving 800 miles away has taken all hopes for another housekeeper out, so my kids have had to step up and learn to do chores. It is good for them. After becoming a cleaning freak I had to learn that my kids were going to trash the house no matter what. Eventually they are also old enough to clean up behind themselves and help with household chores and cleaning more and more as they get older. So I began picking my battles. It was a looooooong process that was many years in the making and I still have a hard time not re-doing it when it isn't quite right.
Being a S.A.H.M. has been a blessing for my kids and mostly for me, but often I think I have suffocated myself and do not really know who I am anymore. It is definitely an interesting thing to think about. Conversations with others like me yield an interesting variety of feelings and assumptions either by their Hubster or the S.A.H.M. The thing that bugs me most is that quite a few of us S.A.H.M.'s feel that they have to sacrifice so much of themselves because they have chosen the privilege of staying home. They forget, as did I for a while, that this staying home business is just that -- A BUSINESS. A FULL TIME JOB! Cook, clean, mind kids, drive here, drive there, wash clothes, wash kids, remember to wash self as often as time allows, iron (if you can really find the time for that, you are better than I am!) homework, sports, volunteer at school, pay bills, food and clothing shopping.... the list goes on. It is a sacrifice to be a S.A.H.M. so when you need to go out and get a few hours from the kids, you have the right to expect that you will be given a break by your Hubster. Sure he's been at work all day, but he is capable of minding the kids he helped create and he is capable of making the occasional dinner if you are beat, and he is capable of being in charge when you say I need to get the heck out of here for a while.
What, you say? You have a right to expect WHAT??? I know it sounds crazy. After all, you do not work and you make no money, so how can you expect that you will be allowed to go out and have adult conversation that is uninterrupted by either the kids or the Hubster -- and when they do this while you are out -- making you feel like you were wrong to go out, get your hair done in a decent salon or have equipment for doing the things you need to do in the house that is functional -- ie: appliances -- or even things to do outside for yard work, exercise or just plain fun -- ie: decent mower, good sturdy bike that fits your person, whatever. The point is, if you have the privilege of staying home, you have sacrificed for the entire family! That does not mean we get to go and spend frivolously on things. Take for instance the fact that I sort of like to mow the lawn. BUT we had 2 crappy mowers, so I was disinclined to use either. Partly because I am short and it took much more effort for me to use them and partly because they were CRAP! I have bitched about this problem for a few years to the Hubster, and every year I got the same answer: "I guess I will just mow the lawn then, since they work fine for me..." (HAH! That there is the male martyr showing itself!) This year I finally got my new mower and I LOVE it. It is important, TO ME, that I be able to competently achieve a chore/task I set out to do. Otherwise, I feel like I am not doing the job well enough and it reflects poorly on me. After all I am a S.A.H.M. therefore I should get it right... Right? I am learning to quit thinking this way. Perfection will NEVER be achieved, but boy is that hard to remember sometimes.
Sacrifice for the sake of family is a wonderful thing for those of us who have the opportunity. However, a martyr to the family it does not make. Only we can choose to allow the sacrifice we make to be a benefit to us or make us become martyrs. Personally, I have chosen to tell my family that I am entitled to the things I need. I may have to wait a bit until we can afford certain of those things, but having a fairly agreeable husband does not hurt. After all, he does not do the laundry so who is he to judge the machine I want, especially when I take the consumer reports and online reviews to present a case for my desires.
So, S.A.H.M. I am... and martyr to the job I am NOT!