On Becoming a SAHM

Today’s post comes from Meggin, who was one of our Featured Moms last summer back when she was a full-time working mom. Now she’s made the transition to SAHM fulfilling a dream she wrote about way back when – and the variety of reactions she’s received since making the change has been surprising. Here’s what she had to say:

In the past 12 months, I’ve gone from working while pregnant to becoming a mom, then working between home and office, to being a full-time work-from-home-mom finally to full-time stay-at-home-mom. Someone hand me a cold adult beverage, because 2013 was a busy freaking year.

I was not expecting to make the WFHM to SAHM transition, but sometimes the chips fall and things turn out differently. The brief low-down is that we were clicking along nicely until my employer informed me that they would no longer extend me the option to work from home. Womp.

At the very least, it was the kick in the pants I needed to finally make the change. I had been hoping for the opportunity to be a SAHM since I learned I was pregnant—here it was! I submitted my notice a few days later with trepidation and maybe just a little glee. As excited as I was, I still had plenty of reservations.

I was absolutely terrified at the thought of eliminating my income, the loss of my company-covered health insurance and the very real lifestyle change we’d have to make as a result. We had been making great progress reducing our debts (credit card, auto loans, student loans…everyone knows that song) and losing my paycheck meant that further progress would be put on hold. It was so gratifying to watch those outstanding balances dwindle!

In addition to that, I was wrestling with the feelings of guilt that I was experiencing. Crazy, I know, but I couldn’t get away from the thought that I would be a financial drag on the family. I hated that I wouldn’t be able to help shoulder the financial responsibility. It didn’t seem like much of a partnership to me.

In both cases, I had to remind myself (more often than I’d like to admit) that I was good for a lot more than financial contribution and that those other contributions were pretty damn valuable…dare I say, priceless. Still, it was a big shift in perspective for me. It’s a tough pill to swallow as a person in a culture that so often measures success with a financial yardstick.

We ended up tightening our budget and bought a health insurance policy privately and then I pulled up my big girl pants and rolled up my mama sleeves. All of that garbage finally aside, I was really looking forward to being able to spend my days with Caroline, who was 6 months old at that time.

My mom was a SAHM, so the idea of staying home with children seemed perfectly normal to me. When I told people that I was no longer working in an office, I was surprised at the variety reactions I received. The people who were married to a SAHP or were themselves a SAHP/product of a SAHP environment were absolutely thrilled for us.

“That’s great!” they’d say, “How wonderful for Caroline!”

On the other hand, people who hadn’t been exposed to such an environment or who had not raised their children as such were much more likely to raise an eyebrow. Most couldn’t fathom what I did all day.

My all-time favorite gem came shortly after my last day of WFHM life.

“So!  You’re a lady of leisure now!”

Um. Wut.

I absolutely bristled. This came from someone who had to work while raising kids—someone I greatly respect but still, a person who had no experience as a SAHP. BE POLITE MEGGIN. Come on though!! Do those ears of yours work, because I’m not sure you heard what you just said! LADY OF LEISURE?!

I’ll tell you what, fellow parents, it was everything I could do to not rudely invite that person to sit on that comment and twist. My unscheduled hours are many but lady of leisure I am not.

“So, do you…clean something…every day?” one of my more industrious and successful relatives dubiously asked, to which I raised my own eyebrow and explained that I cleaned what needed to be cleaned when it needed to be cleaned.

It was hard for me not to snark back in both instances, which is my go-to defense mechanism, I’m sorry to report.  It’s not their fault. When a large portion of life is packed with this meeting or that one for YEARS on end, it probably gets tough to remember what it’s like to have ‘free’ time. I can sympathize with that, I suppose. I had to remember that many people have no frame of reference whatsoever when it comes to this sort of thing.

I’ll admit that I expected I’d have more downtime than I actually have. I thought I could do tons of chores while the baby played in the living room or while she napped. I thought that I’d have lots of time to maintain my blog and to do some contract work for my former employer. I thought I’d go for a good run every morning and work in a strength routine, too. I’d cook every meal from scratch and keep the basement freezer stocked with healthy options.

The reality is that I do have some time to do those things, just not as much as I thought I’d have. Sometimes, any semblance of a schedule/routine/plan I had goes directly into the crapper when Caroline wakes up cutting a tooth and needs to snuggle with me.  But you know what?  I’m completely ok with that. She’s 10 months old, increasingly mobile and curious as all get-out. To miss sharing a new experience with her in favor of cultivating my dishpan hands or culling the dust bunny population under the beds would be completely asinine.

For now, this whole SAHM thing remains a learning experience and I’m sure it will continue to be a learning experience loooong after I expect it to be. I’ve said in the past that my day-to-day hovers somewhere between “my life has zero spontaneity” and “holy crap my life is nothing but spontaneity,” so right now I’m trying to focus on finding something close to equilibrium.

Looking forward, I’m pretty sure 2014 will be just as hectic and messy as 2013. Bring it on, I say! There’s no place I’d rather be.

Check out Meggin’s blog here!

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