Monday, September 10, 2012

SAHMs - Heavy Weight Champs or Bullies?

I was reading a lovely post by a lovely blogger (mrs. darcy) and since I recently had an article published about Mommy Wars, it got me thinking about ANOTHER Mommy War:

SAHMs (that's Stay At Home Mom for you people living under a rock. Or men)


Working Mothers.

Yes, yes, I know all mothers are working mothers. That's not what this is about, silly.

The pendulum that swings on this is wide, loud, heavy, and will smack you in the face if you get too close. But let's do it anyway...

(And if you are comfortably in the middle, or even on the far side of one or the other, but not judgmentally in anyone's faces, then you can leave right now and go eat some cookies).

Mmm. Cookies.

The two extremes are these:

1. SAHMs who are smug and self righteous, while secretly hating tiny parts of their lives


2. Working mothers who are smug and self righteous, while secretly hating tiny parts of their lives.

Since it's no secret that SAHMs have felt looked down on by the ultra feminist movement, who thinks they (the SAHMs) are setting them back about a century with their love of bread baking, sewing, homeschooling, and apron wearing, we're gonna explore the other side. I know, surprising, huh? You didn't think I'd take the other side, didja?! Ha! The Blogging Ninja struck again...

The other side is this:

The way super conservative SAHMs make Working Mothers feel. Since I've been one, I feel like I can talk. And of course this doesn't apply to everybody - that goes without saying. But I said it anyway. So don't leave me nasty comments. Just pretend I'm talking to my bad self, not you.

For the very conservative, typically religious, SAHMs (of whom I have been one), here are some things you should know about SOME Working Mothers:

1. While you are making it work on your husband's income, not everybody can. Yes, I can hear you saying, give up your car payment, downsize your house, don't take vacations, shop used, put back the organic fruit, etc.  But you know what? Some have done all that, and their husband's income still doesn't pay the bills. Jobs do not grow on trees in this economy, and sometimes we take what we can get. Sometimes this means your college educated man takes a job with less per hour than he made right out of high school. I know you THINK everyone can do it, but that's just not the case. Is it the case in MOST cases? Yes, you're probably right. But it's not the case in my case, and it's not the case in other's cases. We literally could not make the budget if I didn't work. And guess what? We don't have any debt. We don't have car payments, we never vacation, we don't wear new clothes, we get our hair cut at the beauty college, we rent a small house. We are simply under-employed.

2.  Some don't have the fairy tale marriage you have (or claim you have on FB. Haha! Joking). Not every man is the Picture of Respectability. There are things you don't know about women's marriages, and they could be one of the reasons why she isn't staying at home. For instance: if there's threat of divorce, how long will the dream of staying home last? Or maybe he's just not into this SAHM point of view.

3. Some women genuinely feel that they are better moms for working. I know. This is a tough one for moms who spring on fairy wings through their houses, dusting, planting kisses on their well behaved offspring, and never having a bad day. But for some, those bad days aren't very few and far between. Do I think women should think long and hard about having children and dropping them off at daycare? Yep, and yep, and GOOD HEAVENS YEP.  I knew a gal who would take her kids to daycare on the days she DIDN'T work. This was so sad to me. I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now. But it doesn't mean the Working Mother loves her kids less than you do. I repeat: it doesn't mean she loves her kids less than you do. I know it feels like it to you, but it's simply not true. What if they love with a fierce, exhausted, passionate, busier kind of love than you feel? It isn't less than your coloring book, read aloud, SAHM kind of love. It's just different. Maybe they're scared of who they are when the walls of home are closing in on them. Maybe they feel like they neglect their kids when they're right in front of them, and do better when they get a chance to miss them a bit (I've felt this. Is it right? Probably not. But I think it's a common struggle. Did you know homeschooling SAHMs can neglect their children? They can).

Am I saying everyone should be a working mother? No. Do I think Moms should want/desire/TRY their best to stay home with their children? Yes. But is it helping to look down our noses at one another? Aren't we wasting our children's childhoods with patronizing judging when we could be meeting each other at the park, coffee in one hand, toddler's hand in the other? Whether it's in between naps, or in between meetings at the office, we all need it.

If every mom stayed home around the clock, where would you take Little Sue when she needed ballet classes? Who would show Annie that women can be fire fighters, too? Who would read aloud to Jake if library story hour went away?

This is the most feminist I've ever sounded...and I haven't been a feminist since third grade. Ironically enough, I don't have time to read over this and decide if it's worth publishing...because I have to go to work! HA! How's that for funny?

Have you ever felt like you perched on one side of the pendulum? Can there be a balance? Have you felt hit in the head by someone on the other side of the debate?


  1. Having been on both ends of this pendulum swing, I agree! There is beauty and struggle with ANY situation you are in as a parent. I am lucky enough to have been surrounded by people who are supportive and encouraging no matter my choices. When I was a SAHM, I didn't miss a moment of my kids life, but I did mess up a few by being short tempered and tired. Now that I work and only have the kids part time, my heart aches for those lost times, but I appreciate nearly every second with the kids and make the most of it.

    1. "When I was a stay at home mom, I didn't miss a moment of my kids life, but I mess up a few..." Those are great, humbling words! I feel like that sometimes.

      You've transitioned beautifully!

  2. I think, Aerie, you're a perfect example of the one contant in life; it changes. And we can either change with it as positively as we can (like you do) or we can drag our feet and make everybody miserable and watch it go by without us. Because go by it will!
    Women often only have two choices when they become single moms, and when confronted with welfare or work, they have to make the choice they can live with at the time. Not easy and not our business to judge those decisions. Ever.

  3. Great summary,I work part time and I think it helps my boys be more responsible and keeps me more sane!

  4. I was a working mom desperate to be home and fell into situation #1...sorta. We weren't under employed, we were over-mortgaged. I was in a MOPS group of about 45 other women who all stayed at home, I was the only working mom, and though they were gracious, it was still a hard place to be just in my own heart. We finally sold the house at the end of last year, at a loss, and are renting a small place and I am home. It is just as glorious as I was hoping - not perfect or lacking in hard days by any means, but I'm so thrilled to be here and after a few months, I landed a work at home job, among some other sides jobs. So having been a full time working mom, a SAHM, a work from home mom and having just added homeschooling, I try my hardest to be confident in our choices, while allowing for others to make theirs, without judgement. Like you said, some have reasons for not being home that could be painful to explain for a variety of reasons. Some don't have any desire to be home and that's the beauty of choice. Glad to read a balanced perspective!

    1. Yay for glorious days! so glad you are where you love to be!

  5. Hi Melyssa! I've read this post several times now and have been struggling to formulate a coherent comment. But YES, I've certainly found myself hit over the head by women on both sides of this debate. I suppose that's the danger of trying to navigate a middle road, huh?

    I appreciate your thoughtful reflection. Thanks for your efforts to bridge the gap.

  6. There can be a balance. I think there has to be. I think that the women who DO NOT have some piece of themselves existing outside of their home (whether it's a hobby, good friendships, a career, etc.) are the ones who lose themselves, grow bitter and unpleasant for everyone. On the flipside though, the women who work so much and are all about their job, and unavailable to their family- this yields the same results.
    But absolutely, ya'll. Let's stop hating because someone's choice/situation is different.

  7. i appreciate you speaking up on this issue, friend. bravo!

  8. I looked up your blog because I really loved your article "Mommy Wars". I want to share it with all my friends. What you said about loving your kids by putting them in public school, or even giving them away...well I guess I've known a few women who have done that, or should have done that-and that was my estimation of it too. They would make that hard choice if they loved them enough. I've been a SAHMS (Stay At Home MOM Snob) more than once in my life. I've felt superior, and I've neglected my kids while simultaneously living every waking (and sometimes sleeping) hour with them. (Farmville is the devil) I can't wait until we accept other mothers for where they are in their lives. I can't wait until we accept other Christians for where they are...maybe it won't happen on this side of heaven. Thanks for the encouragement, I'll be sharing it.

    1. Aw, thanks, Amanda! Thanks for taking the time to find me; I appreciate your words. :)