As Emily introduced on Monday, this week at MOB is dedicated to speaking some simple truths about life as either a SAHM or WM. This is not intended to fuel a debate, since I have never really understood what there was to debate about. In a debate, someone usually wins, right? So what happens if you “win” the SAHM vs. WM debate – do I take your kids for the weekend? Does someone go home with an IPad? I don’t get it.
No, our intention here is to take a stand against maternal judgment (or any judgment, really), as it is typically rooted in one-dimensional assumptions and personal insecurity. Anytime I have judged another woman, it is because I am momentarily possessed by one of my evil counterparts: Jealous Jane (who wants what you have) or Hector Projector (who blames you for reminding him of his own flaws). The real kicker is, anytime I have judged someone without really knowing them, I have always been wrong. Like, embarrassingly so.
So my Top Five Truths of a SAHM (with a few hours in the ring a week as a WM) pertain to THIS mom only, not because I am self-centered or ignorant, but because I can’t say what is true for anyone else. So, if you don’t like Jessie and are not interested in her life, that is perfectly fine. However, there is probably not much to be gained from reading any further. The EXIT is on your left.
Ok, then! Moving right along…
5 Truths of One SAHM
- Loose Hygiene. As with any job, there are only so many hours in the day, and something has to hit the cutting room floor. Many times, it is something related to my appearance. I wear gym clothes even though I many not ever get there, or worse, I continue to wear them even AFTER I have been there, depending on the “sweat factor.” I apply my Chapstick makeup in the parking lot of Wegman’s, my hair may have mold from being in a wet ponytail, and last week I ripped half my face off with Sally Hansen At-Home Waxing Strips. I think I officially “let myself go” when I reverted back to the beauty regime I used in college: “Who needs to wash your hair when you have baby powder? No money for highlights? They still make Sun-In! Pajama pants are still pants.” No wonder I cry at make-over shows.
- Boredom. There have been days, especially in the infant years, where I have been so bored I thought my brain might atrophy. This, of course, made me feel guilty: what’s wrong with me? Why am I not feeling the joy and excitement of rolling this rubber ball back and forth for hours? This is when I realized that the phone is my friend. When I get to the point of wanting to throw the Dora puzzle recently completed for the 100th time in the garbage, I know it’s time have an adult conversation. Or, at least a five minute chat with someone who speaks in sentences.
- Balance. Ahh, the magical land of Balance…every mother seeks to find it, working outside the home or in it. For me this has meant finding outlets that do not involve children. Mom Groups do not count. The tricky part for me, especially because my husband travels, is not taking on so much that my stress reliever becomes another stress maker. So I have started to aim low in this department. That means no more signing up for marathons and triathlons. If I get to one yoga class a week, I count that as a win. And what I am finding is, it doesn’t take much to recharge your batteries. Sometimes a solo trip to Target is all I need.
- Patience and Presence: There are days when I fear my patience as officially run out. On those boogery, cranky, rainy days when I have tried everything from finger paints to Play-doh to freeze tag in the basement and NO ONE IS HAPPY, I start to wonder if this is how it’s supposed to be, or do I just really suck at it. I have noticed that my tolerance is lower when I am expecting things to be different than they actually are. Staying at home with young children means that everything is cyclical – anything you do is quickly un-done. You wash clothes so they can get dirty. You change a diaper so it can be pooped in. You pick up toys…actually I don’t pick up toys anymore. I learned that this is not a job where you will ever have something to “show” for it at the end of the day – a spotless house is not necessarily the sign of good mothering. Once I learned to embrace this idea, I chilled out A LOT.
- Moments. My mother was a WM at a time when not many women were, and it taught me how to be independent, resourceful, and adaptable. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for my mom’s example – the fact that she worked when it was not a “popular” idea encouraged me to make decisions that are right for me, with or without approval from the haters masses. As a little girl I loved visiting her at her job and seeing her in this completely different world of high heels and shoulder pads. The fact that she worked full time and I do not proves to me that your kids don’t want a WM over a SAHM or vice versa – they want a HAPPY mom. That being said, the moments I truly love being home are those which remind me of the ones my mother missed: eating lunch with Phoebe, delivering forgotten mittens to school, waiting at the bus stop, making Emma popcorn and hot chocolate as she does her homework. I am sure at some point this will become an impediment to their growth, but right now, at ages 2 and 5, I am ok with it. Maybe when they are ready to spread their wings, I will be ready to spread mine too.