Thursday, May 3, 2012

On Being Just a SAHM

Being a stay at home mom is such an interesting role.  I didn't really give it much thought until I became one, of course.  Motherhood has opened my eyes and given me a different perspective on life entirely.  Funny how that happened.

I was out with girlfriends this week and one of them was praising her mother for the work she does outside the home.  She said something to the effect of, "I'm so proud of my mom.  She was just a stay at home mom for 10 years and now she's worked her way up to this really great job."  

The word that made the most impact on me was just.

What does it mean to be just a stay at home mom?  

I know bloggers debate the merits of staying at home with your children vs. working ad nauseum.  That is not my purpose.  I'm more concerned with how society views women who chose to stay home to raise their children.  I'm concerned that my daughter will think less of me for not having a "real" job.  For just raising her.

The truth is, my mama didn't raise no dummy.  I was valedictorian of my class in high school.  I was pre-med and I have a Master's degree in Biology.  But I don't work outside the home.  I could.  I did.  But I chose not to.

So why do I, along with so many others in my shoes, have such a stigma attached to our role?  Like somehow we are less intelligent because we aren't technically employed?

It just struck me I guess.

And honestly, I couldn't care less what society thinks of me.  But I do care about what my daughter thinks.  Perhaps this is just a reminder to myself to show her women are valuable in so many ways.  We have talents and skills and can chose to use them in anyway we desire.  And whatever we chose, it doesn't make us less intelligent.  Or useful.  

Raising children, no matter how you do it, is tough work people.  Breaking down the stereotypes of the world and forming these little minds is not for the faint of heart.  It's the biggest challenge of my life, but one I'm taking head on.  Somehow, my girl will know the job I hold now is no less important than the job I held before.  That my brains did not simply ooze out of my head the day I stopped working.  

Because just being a stay at home mom?  Hardest thing I've ever done.


Shannon Dew said...

Ooh you hit the nail on the head! As a former working mom turned SAHM I know both sides of this issue and can honestly say that staying home is harder than working. It's better too though. It's a struggle either way but I can say being a SAHM is the hardest job I've ever had.

Lucy Marie said...

Nothing irks me more than that "just" word. I don't like to have the SAHM vs WM debate either - both are valuable, both are necessary and sometimes, moms do what they do because they have to, not always because they choose to. No role is greater than the other. Yet at the same time, no role is lesser than the other either. You are doing what is best for your family and your daughter, and that is what rocks. You are right .. your job is to raise her knowing that women are valuable in many many ways ... whether in the home, in the workforce or what have you.

Kristen said...

yeah the word "just" would have struck me wrong as well. For some families it's best for one of the parents to stay home with the kids and the other to work. And seriously, the parent who is left going to work every day is probably pretty envious of the other one! I get to be the lucky one, I work two nights a week and am home with my kids the rest of the time. Financially we can't afford for me to stay home 100% of the time so this is what works for us. I feel completely blessed that I don't have to send my kids to daycare! Keep on doing what you're doing Jenny! :)

Sonya said...

I don't have kids yet, but I never thought I would want to stay home with my kids. I just couldn't imagine it. But the older I get the more I can't imagine not staying home with my kids. Especially after spending over 10 years teaching in schools & preschools I would really rather be home with my kids. I'm not sure if my husband had continued to teach that it would have been a possibility. But now that he is changing careers it is a possibility and what we both want. Also I just don't think I would have the energy to both work and be with my kids.

Jac said...

Interesting topic. I teach 9th grade English and often over the years have had conversations with my students, who are primarily honors students, in which the kids describe there mother as not having a job or being "just" a mom. Although they do not state it directly, the kids seem to not respect their mothers as much becasue they do not work outside the home, irregardless of some of the high levels of education some of these women have. I guess the question is, how can a mother be a stay at home and help her child understand that job is just as important as any job outside of the home? I don't know the answer but I am sure the problem is exacerbated by the immature teenage perspective. Except... this seems to be a perspective that more than just immature teenagers have!

Mary-Sweet Bookshelf said...

I stay at home because I didn't have kids so someone else could raise them. I want to do that.