Sunday, July 23, 2006

WAHMs – Are we on the wrong track?

Before I even had my children, I made the decision to stay at home with my children, preferably while continuing to write. I have been very lucky in that I’ve done exactly that…until now. I am still at home with the children, working as a freelance writer, but I am wondering to what end. I know the kids won’t appreciate my sacrifices – career, adult time, a quiet cup of coffee before I start my day – until they grow up and have children. Actually, I have two boys, so perhaps they still won’t get it.

As men, they will be expected to earn for their family, even if their wife is also an earner. That will be their main focus aside from their wife and kids. After all, will they notice the towels hanging over chairs by the pool in conjunction with the rain clouds above as they walk into the house? Will they even notice the towels were wet and needed to be hung? Their wives will see all the little things she can do on the way into the house. And usually, these things are things to be done for the greater good of the family, not just for the wife.

Yes, my husband does the laundry and the dishes when I cook. Yes, he bathes the children and is here all weekend when I go out to do errands or on that rare night out with the other SAHMs I know. I am not discounting any of the things husbands do for the family. I just question whether they appreciate what we as work- or stay-at-home-moms do without thanks most of the time. Do they feel that’s what we’ve signed up for so shut up about it? Do they shiver slightly when they think of all the messy diapers we’ve cleaned up when a child has a virus and it just won’t stop? Do they say to themselves, “There but for the grace of God go I” or do they just come home and duck while they deal with a lunatic woman who smells of poop and hope they don’t smell the same as the night wears on? Do they really comprehend our job at home?

I recently found an article on about the salary of a stay-at-home-mother if she got what she was worth. It’s fascinating and, in most cases, true. I was reading this and then wondered why anyone would go to to look up what one gets paid as a SAHM? I guess it’s for those making a career choice. I then discovered an older article about the loneliness of the SAHM from an Australian male writer’s POV. I can definitely see this happening, though luckily it hasn’t happened to me. Most of my friends are either SAHM’s, WAHM’s, or wannabes. It’s difficult trying to hold down a full-time job while raising children. I applaud them for it if it’s necessary. I know I would be stark raving mad should I try to attempt a full-time job while my boys are small. I may have to do it in the future, but I hope that future isn’t anytime soon.

Yet, do these women have it right? They haven’t sacrificed their careers to the extent I have. Should their husbands die or leave them, they could earn a decent paycheck while I would have to rely on some sort of crummy job just to pay the bills. Do they think it’s worth the sacrifice of missing many hours of their child’s childhood? I’m not saying they are wrong, I’ve just started to wonder if I was wrong in staying home with my children. Would they have been more well-rounded growing up with daycare rather than having a doting mommy 24/7? Do they realize women having careers and lives is just as important as men doing the same? In The Price of Motherhood, Ann Crittenden analyzes the professional downfalls of staying home with your children. There was never a question in my mind that this was the right thing to do, but now I’m questioning and I’m not completely sure I was right.

I hope my decision pays off for my boys. That will make it all worth it in the end.

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