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The Dilemma of the Stay-at-Home-Momma

Monday, September 14, 2009

stay at home mom job bannerI have only been a stay-at-home mom for a month, but I have been at home (involuntarily) for more than a year. Damon and I moved here last summer for his new, big-time corporate job. This was also an opportunity to buy our dream home and start a family after nine years of schooling, saving, and sacrificing. I planned to continue my career in philanthropy/nonprofit management after a summer break. Nothing was happening on the baby-making front so I re-doubled my focused on landing a job, but the economy conspired against me. No organizations were hiring at my level, and I was getting turned down for entry-level positions. Then I became pregnant in December. I didn't waver in my job hunt. If anything, I was more determined to get work because I had a baby on the way and that meant more expenses. I still sent out resumes and went on interviews, but God had other plans. My every attempt to get hired was thwarted. Then I started to show and thought, "no one is going to hire me now." Surprisingly, I got invitations for two interviews in May. I disclosed my pregnancy beforehand to both prospective employers. I didn't get either position, but I don't believe it's because of discrimination. I now know that God wants me to be at home with my baby. That's how I became a SAHM.

So, why am I calling it a dilemma? For starters, I have heard a lot of comments from working women (single, childless, mothers) that rub me the wrong way. I writing this post because I am tired of certain family members and friends telling me how
lucky I am and how nice it must be. Don't get it twisted. The truth is that it's a blessing and a curse. Yes, I am lucky that my husband's job enables me to stay home to care of our daughter, but one income means no money for extras. I have to watch every penny and have become a coupon fanatic. I am a driving a 10-year-old, two-door Honda Civic (imagine managing a car seat in that). I have been to the hairdresser once in the past year and the only new clothes I have bought are from the maternity section! Yes, it's nice to be home with Marlie, especially during her first developmental stages. I love being able to see her first smile, hear her first coo, and to be here when she crawls and walks. But I am on duty all day, every day...24/7. I can no longer eat lunch at my leisure and there is no time to watch television. It can feel like a prison sometimes. The amount of preparation it takes to get her ready to go somewhere often outweighs the need to get out of the house. I admit that I often think back to my former life as a women with a career...waking up every day with places to go and people to see, getting dressed in designer suits, putting on make-up, going to business meetings and wowing people with my smarts. I wouldn't trade places with the old me though.

Having lived both lives as a working woman and a stay-at-home mother, I can tell you nothing is what it seems. The grass just always looks greener on the other side. There are definitely benefits and trade-offs. At some point I will go back to work. In a year, two years...who knows? I know my brain needs more stimulation than reading up on the latest in cloth diapers and watching Sesame Street (looking forward to watching that!). Plus, I want to set an example for my daughter that women can have careers and families. I am considering work-at-home opportunities or starting my own business once Marlie is older. We'll see what God has in store for me. For now, I am happy to just hold the job title of Marlie's Mom.


Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

You are right on with this article. I worked for 10 years as an architect, even worked after my son was born, and when I finally had the opportunity to stay home after my daughter was born I got a lot of those similar comments. Strangely a lot of them from men. You know what I told them? I said "get a husband to support you" and they shut up.

Raising children is not easy but it is noble and frankly more important than ANY job or career. But most of us do make sacrifices for it to happen in large part because society has seemed to make it "weird" to simply be "mom".

jmt said...

Benefits and trade-offs for certain. There are always things that will pop up in one front or the other that you will not expect. But as for the packing up to go somewhere? It really does get easier. Especially when she's pooping less! :) You can go out for a couple hours stretch and not worry about having but one diaper and travel wipes in your purse. Enjoy your time at home for it's precious. Yes, working outside the home gives you freedom in certain respects, but what you're given as a stay at home is TIME. So make the most of it. :) Happy Tuesday.

Amy @ Six Flower Mom said...

Great post! You are right - a wonderful curse! I know exactly how you feel!

Shari@aPsychMommy said...

Isn't it amazing how people are so free to just spout their opinions without thinking about what it must be like in the other person's shoes?

Unknown said...

Just wanted to post a follow-up because it seems that my article has been misconstrued (not by anyone who has posted a comment here). I am venting my honest feelings on this blog and it bugs me when someone tries to make me feel bad for being honest. My intent was not to complain about being a SAHM, just to point out that my life isn't perfect like some may think. My intent was no to sound like being a working mother is easier (I would never even think to go there). So imagine my horror when I get a couple of emails (they chose not to post) taking me to task. They completely misinterpreted what I said. I won't lie...their words stung. usually, I just ignore judgemental people. I guess these postpartum hormones have made me ultra-sensitive or something (how much longer will this last?)

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