SAH Lies Your Mother Will Never Tell You
I have now been a SAH mom for over a year. Whew! What an exciting anniversary. To celebrate, I think I will go and do some victory dishes.
My attitude has changed a lot in a year. I remember last year, at almost exactly this same time, I was so pumped about getting to stay home with Abigail. I was starting my new blog, writing (for money, can you believe that?!), hanging out with my daughter every day, totally unscheduled and loving every second. There was such a feeling of freedom and potential. I was a free agent, out from under the thumb of “The Man,” and doing all the things I’d dreamed about.
I find that my attitude has changed dramatically since a year ago. There are a couple of valuable lessons that I’ve learned about being a SAH mom that have given me new perspective on this special job description.
1. SAH Moms Get to Make Their Own Schedule
Uhm…if by “make their own schedule” you mean, “have their life revolve around all the tiny and large people in their lives who need constant attention, love and support,” you would be right.
My husband says this to me all the time – “You shouldn’t complain about how busy you are. You make your own schedule.” I’m in charge of my schedule the way that one reporter dude was in charge of the Hindenburg explosion. I am basically there to report on the schedule while it burns to a fiery husk in the background.
I make plans, yes. But usually they don’t involve an hour of popsicle unsticking, cleaning up dog puke on the carpet or reorganizing the book shelf after Abigail decides to play “library” by pulling them all off the shelves.
2. SAH Moms Shouldn’t Spend So Much Time Online
Listen Mrs. Holier-Than-Me: I HAVE TO BE ONLINE! I have no other adult friends who can keep me entertained silently while I am passing through the veil of tears that is Dora the Explorer.
My daughter is super-cool. A year ago, I was pretty sure she would keep me entertained to no end. We played dress-up all day long, made art projects, swam at the pool. I rode her on my back like a horse so much that I considered patenting a human saddle (For moral reasons, I decided against it. There are a lot of weirdos out there).
Fast forward a year. I have knee scars from my rug burns, the art supplies are gathering dust and I spend more time sitting at the pool and Facebook-ing than swimming.
I just need a thing that is mine. I need a little grown up time to see things that make me laugh and allow me to do it at the same time as I am keeping Abigail safe. I’ll agree that it is not as useful as, say, churning butter or making my own soap from ash and lye, but it keeps me from losing my mind on a daily basis.
3. SAH Moms that Work from Home Make Extra Money with Little Time Investment
I guess, for someone else, this might be true. Someone who is made out of robot-parts.
I have liked working from home, as it gives me freedom to MAKE MY OWN SCHEDULE, RIGHT?! We’ve already discussed this problem. The real problem with this is that I don’t have a job I can go to, so my office is not exactly “sacred space.” Actually, my office is exactly “in the same place where everyone goes to the bathroom.” When you’re working from home, you can’t have meetings in the same way as you would if you were in the office, so virtual meetings become very important. Calls aren’t easy, despite the fantastic software (learn more here), when there are children running around in the background. Plus, it is difficult to channel dynamic writing when you’re entrenched in the unmistakeable sounds and smells of a 5-year-old pooping. I really ought to find a more dedicated space where I can sit down and get some work out of the way. I have seen these sliding partitions (click for info) which I think would be a great idea for my “home office”. I could slide them out when I’m working to shut myself away and then slide them back once I’m finished. A friend has suggested that I could try insulating a detached garage or something along those lines to make use of space that I already have, so there are some options at least. I know it’s never that simple when kids are involved, but it would certainly help. I have been browsing office furniture online, which has given me some ideas of what my dream workspace might look like and I hope that one day I go ahead and make it a reality.
But, I digress.
As far as time commitment goes, when I started, I only worked for 4 hours a day and then stopped. Now, in order to meet all the demands of my family on my time and personal resources, I work for 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours when Abigail’s at school (yes, I am now on summer break, too) and 2-3 hours in the afternoon or evening. That doesn’t include the time I work for myself (usually the first 2 hours of the day). I literally am doing a full day’s of work strategically planned around the unknown plot points of my day. Little time investment? Please. I’m lucky if I find enough time to take a shower every 3 days.
4. SAH Moms are Generally Boring and Only Think About Banal, Lame Crap
When I started my SAH mom project a year ago, one of the first things I did was go to this play group every week. It was a bunch of Mormon ladies who got together and talked about how often their kids had allergic reactions and what they were planning on eating for dinner for the next three weeks. After the first one, I almost cried. After the second one, I did cry.
I just couldn’t figure out how these women could be so comfortable with talking about NOTHING. For hours. I attempted to have adult conversations, but they inevitably ended in awkward silence and some forced transition about how the weather was “getting nice.”
What I realize, after a year of of attending these painful meetings, is that these women are very smart. They are savvy. They care about things that are valuable. But, like most SAH mom’s, they are pooling their resources whenever and wherever they can. It’s not that they ONLY think about whether Johnny ate a box of crayons two days ago and has been leaving a trail of rainbows in the bathroom ever since. It’s just that they are maximizing their time with other adults to brainstorm solutions to the most pressing problems in their world. Gay marriage? Not as important as the Barbie/Ken marriage that was witnessed in the play room. You know. The one where all the clothes have magically disappeared. Abigail calls it a “No-Clothes Party.” Yikes.
My perspective has changed a lot over a year. No, I’m not the best SAH mom in the world. I don’t make art crafts with my daughter every day and I am probably not going to teach her Spanish over the summer. I work when I have to and play when I can. Sometimes she watches TV and lots of times we have cereal and peanut butter for food.
Still, I am making a commitment to be there for her, which is what being a SAH mom is really all about. As long as I remember that this is my priority, I think I can start seeing my year-long SAH mom position as a lifetime career.