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The Tipping Point

2011 June 6
by Pamela

This week marks Elizabeth’s 2 years and 9 months on the Earth.  I will resist the urge to make jokes about how both of us have lived that long to tell about it. 

2 years and 9 months have been a mark I’ve been waiting for because it’s what I consider my tipping point.  I worked outside the home until Mary Claire was, you guessed it, 2 years and 9 months old.  I’ve now been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM, my official title) for as long as I was a work-outside-the-home-mom (WOHM, a title that paid far better).

So I’m about to dive into territory that is ridden with landmines.  Please hear me out and know I am writing, as always, from my own personal experience.

The debate between SAHM and WOHM’s has been heated in the past, present, and future.  Both sides are adamant about the choices they’ve made, defend them vehemently, and can be pretty harsh towards the other camp.  The bottom line, as I’ve always perceived it at least, is that good moms work extremely hard and want to be validated for it.  And no matter what camp you’re in, there is sometimes guilt and regret that reside there as well. 

But since I’ve been a part of each group, I can say definitely that being a WOHM is harder than a SAHM for me.

Back then I had a really good job in a very family-friendly environment.  I got nearly 6 weeks off a year and no one thought less of a colleague for calling off sick for a kid’s doctor’s appointment or field trip.  When I worked, Mary Claire was at home with my husband or my mom.  She never went to daycare because of my Mom’s enormous sacrifice.  We also rarely paid for childcare.

But I still think it was harder when I had to work.

The reason for me is that I was always a divided person and that conflict left me never feeling completely fulfilled anywhere.  I felt a lot of guilt and loss leaving for work everyday and whenever I called home and heard Mary Claire’s voice in the background, there was a part of me that felt I had forfeited my parenting role for a paycheck.  My time at home was often spent getting ready for work the next day or week even though I was pretty organized at the time. 

Plus there was no time to do anything fulfilling on a personal level.  I already felt guilty for being gone 50 hours a week, so I certainly wasn’t going to take a cooking class or start a blog in my free time.  I remember one Sunday, sitting in church and looking over at two women who had been coming to our services for some time.  I thought they seemed like such great women, people I’d love to be friends with if I only had time to nurture friendships.  Which, of course, I didn’t.

Fast forward five years and I’m now the SAHM to three children.  I spend my days changing diaper upon diaper, nursing, doing dishes, breaking up fights, and picking umpteen pairs of shoes up all over the house.  Not to mention the toys strewn everywhere.  Oh and I homeschool Mary Claire, arrange for their playdates, host half the neighborhood on a daily basis, run them to their various classes and activities, give them baths, make three meals a day and a few snacks, grocery shop, mop floors, empty the dishwasher, oversee chores, and try to maintain some semblance of order. 

Did I mention that I don’t get a paycheck anymore? 

But for me, being a SAHM to our three girls is still easier than being a WOHM to one.   My family loves me and wants me here, which is more than I can say for any former boss I had, as wonderful as they were.    There is no performance evaluation, no quotas I have to make each quarter.  There is very little that HAS to get done today.  I’ll admit that on most days my tasks are not nearly as intellectually fulfilling as my previous work.  But I am able to carve out some time for myself everyday to read, write, and have conversations with people I love and that fills the intellectual and emotional gap.  Plus I truly like my family and enjoy spending time with them.  Our girls fascinate me and although I’m often depleted, I think I’m able to give more to Bob than I was able to previously.  I serve our community more than I did before and have deeper relationships with friends and neighbors. 

Maybe the best thing of all?  I can take a nap during the day.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. Katie permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Hey, if you weren’t happy with the way it was before, then it sounds like the change was a good thing.

    And also–CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU THIS SUMMER!

    • Pamela permalink*
      June 8, 2011

      Really? You’re coming up again? That will be great!

  2. Paige Lloyd permalink
    June 7, 2011

    What a beautiful commentary on being a SAHM. The truth is that any choice we make will have advantages and disadvantages. I don’t think it’s right when people villainize either side of the coin, making judgments about those parents that are probably not true. It’s good to read a blog that has been there and done that and is respectful to both “sides”. I am firmly in your camp – I may have made a good paycheck working (before I had my first child), but I truly would not even consider going back (as long as we could afford that option), not because I think it would be evil and make me a bad mother, but because, like you, I can see that I really don’t think I would be as fulfilled as I am by being able to be available full-time, with a totally flexible schedule that allows me to follow my own pursuits that I simply would not have time for if I were working. And then if I were working, I would have to send my children out to be educated by others, instead of having the joy of learning and teaching alongside them and growing together. Others may not put a high value on that, but for me and my family, it is priceless! : )

  3. Karina H permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Great post!Thanks for sharing, going to fluff my pillow so its ready later :-)

  4. Alyson permalink
    June 7, 2011

    This made me smile :)

  5. June 7, 2011

    Glad you feel your life is enriched by staying home. It does seem like more “work” because it is when you are doing two jobs. I’ve loved staying home with my kids and although we don’t have as much “stuff”, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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