SAHM

I never expected to be a stay-at-home mom, or SAHM, as I’ve learned to call it from the mommy blogs.  As a child my vision for myself was of a woman striding down shiny corridors in high-heeled shoes, the sound of which I associated with feminine power.  Instead, I wear this year’s Birkenstock sandals to the playground and wipe the sand and grit off my feet when I get home.

My right to claim SAHM status is limited. I was home full-time with my daughter for the first year of her life and then worked part-time (just twelve hours a week) for the next two. I’ll do the same with my son, born three months ago, and I don’t plan to work full-time until both are in school.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my decision to be primarily at home.  In retrospect, it seems that it wasn’t so much a decision as the path of least resistance; things seemed to flow in that direction and I didn’t do anything stop them.  It helped that I was in graduate school when my daughter was born and so could simply opt out of teaching for two semesters. A big reason I didn’t want to work was nursing-mother laziness; I flat out refuse to pump. Another is my belief that this is what’s best for my children, but I’ve known for some time that this cannot be my sole or even primary reason; this has to be what I want for myself. Likewise, I recognize that I cannot do this in expectation of some sort of future payoff; I cannot expect or hope that my children will be any smarter, kinder, or better adjusted than those who spent less time at home. The experience of this time has to be its own reward. In this regard, parenting has been one more teacher in what I have come to recognize as my personal life’s work: living in the present, staying in the moment.  As a dance instructor once said to me, I could enjoy the process more.

A friend told me recently that she could never stay home full-time and asked me how I do it.  I have asked myself this very question, and I find it difficult to answer because I don’t really feel that I am “doing” anything.  To me it feels similar to being pregnant: a relatively small amount of time devoted to a particular state of being.  Being pregnant, like taking care of small children, is often demanding and exhausting and tedious and frustrating, but we don’t ask ourselves how we “do it.”  We just do.

So I decided to interpret this question literally. 

Mommy's juice

Here, roughly in the order in which I employ them, is my list of things that get me through the day:   

  1. Coffee
  2. Twenty minutes of yoga or Pilates, subject to comments from three-year old and interruptions from baby
  3. NPR
  4. Out of the house from 10-1, preferably with mom friends *
  5. Nap with baby for one hour in the afternoon while non-napping three-year-old watches PBS **
  6. NPR
  7. Assign husband to three-year-old the minute he steps in the door
  8. Get into bed immediately after children are asleep
  9. Read New Yorker or novel for forty-five minutes
  10. Sleep ***

 *          Mom, or Dad, friends are the key to success.
**        Some people, including myself, consider this cheating, or at least bad form.
***     As much as possible with night-nursing baby.

– AC

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    • May
    • September 20th, 2010

    This was a great post. I’m a new mom, and while I work outside the home part-time, I’m struggling to get the hang of being a mostly stay-at-home mom for my 7 week old. Any advice on how to find these “Mom friends”? Most of my friends have kids who are older, or else are single and still living the single life.

    • firstsmilesandtears
    • September 20th, 2010

    Great question, May. I am not a SAHM, but mom friends are needed for everyone! Depending upon your city, I recommend checking out if there are local mommy/baby classes. You can start with area stores and also look at hospitals. For example, a Madison hospital holds a drop-in group where there’s a loose topic, but it’s more for meet-ups, etc. Scout out play groups at local parent organizations and see if there’s a listserv in your community for moms. It takes a bit and it is a little like being in school again – going up to people you think look nice and talking to them at the playground, coffee shops, etc. Good luck and let us know if we can help. Any other recommendations, world?

      • annie
      • September 20th, 2010

      AC here. I second the above recs and would add that for me making new mom/dad friends feels a lot like dating: You run into each other someplace once or maybe twice, strike up a conversation, decide whether you feel brave enough to ask for a playdate or a phone number. It can be a little harrowing! I say this not to discourage you but to encourage you to *not give up* if you feel you get the brush off the first few times. Everyone is busy, and sometimes people just literally don’t have time in their schedule for someone/ something new. But others do!! I moved to a new city two years ago, and had the good luck to get to know someone at a library craft/story hour who invited me to join her playgroup; these are now my closest friends. You could start your own! This group started because a woman stuck up some flyers when her baby was born. It takes time, and it takes some effort, but it will happen and it makes life as a parent *so much better.* They become your co-workers, your entertainment, and your support network. You gotta put yourself out there! I have had my share of brush offs (in the kindest possible way) but you just persevere. Someone out there needs you as much as you need them. Jeez, that DOES sound like dating, doesn’t it?!

      • May
      • September 22nd, 2010

      Thanks–I actually am in Madison, myself (how I found this blog in the first place) and I tried out a mommy group this week at Happy Bambino. I made small inroads towards approaching some moms that seemed friendly…but it does seem a bit artificial. I need to get better at it, though. Any other Madison recs would be much appreciated!

        • firstsmilesandtears
        • September 22nd, 2010

        MD again. Happy Bambino is a great start. The other places I recommend are the drop-in time at Meriter. I think it’s on Tuesdays. I also highly recommend Fun Zone at Family Enhancement. It’s free, and is on MWF from 9-12 and is geared for ages 0-6. It’s a fantastic resource and super awesome in the winter. Check out local library story times and attend even the preschool ones. I went with my baby just to get out of the house.

        In terms of list servs, I read Moms in Madison, a Yahoo group. I would select the daily digest since it’s otherwise a lot of email, along with the Raising Madison blog.

        Some area cafes also have mommy/baby times; I just can’t remember which ones they are.

        Any other recos Madison parents?

  1. I’m a SAHM who is new to having both kids in elementary school. It’s a little jarring. I’m not complaining about all the time (soon, I’ll be busy enough), but it’s so weird. I’m a freelance writer, so I’m fishing around for more work. For the new SAHM, I found a lot of friends by joining the Cooperative Nursery School in the Glenwood Moravian Church on Gilmore Street in the Dudgeon Monroe neighborhood. Lots of down-to-earth moms there with babies and toddlers and it’s a great place to go in the winter when you need to get OUT.

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