WAHM, SAHM, Thank You, Ma’am

In January I had this thought: “I’m so unhappy. Maybe I should get a full-time, out-of-the-house job again.”

I was feeling done with taking care of a baby. Probably because I had been done.

Mothers are supposed to have rainbows shooting out of their hearts when it comes to their babies.

Babies. MomsicleBlog

[Insert rainbows.]

We all know parenthood is hard, but we talk about it being hard in a stoic martyrdom sort of way. It can be hard in a stark and scary way. As I said back in January, “I feel like [the baby] took a vibrant, passionate woman and turned her into a listless baby Sherpa.” (More on babies being adorable and annoying here.)

Things that were becoming more and more within range as the boys grew—professional aspirations, success tied to discrete goals, creative paid work—these things were blown out of reach like a plastic bag on a gust of wind.

“You don’t have to do this baby the same way as the boys,” my therapist said. She was right, of course. But it’s hard to wrap my head around having been a great stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for K-Pants and Boy Woww, and feeling dread about doing the same thing for the baby.

I remember reading parenting books when I was pregnant with K-Pants that gently warned that husbands may not really enjoy parenting until the baby turned five or so—when regular-people activities started to overtake the Savannah-to-the-Sea insanity of infancy and toddlerhood. What about moms? Apparently we love to play peek-a-boo and go to Gymboree and clean up crushed Cheerios—and we just wait for the dads to catch up.

Maternal instincts. Biological clocks. These paints do not produce the same colors on every canvas, and we’re not good at acknowledging that.

So here I was in January, thinking about getting a full-time, out-of-the-house job again.

It didn’t quite feel right for me, but I wasn’t sure why. So I made a list of things in my life that give me purpose and joy and make me feel like I’m living into my values: walking the boys to-and-from school, working with clients on writing and editing projects, writing my blog, meeting my grandma for lunch, planning my permaculture garden, tromping around in nature, volunteering for kindergarten reading, and seeing close friends.

After I made the list, I noticed something: the baby was a very peripheral figure in all of it. I love having a flexible schedule to absorb our family’s bumps and turns, but I’m suffocated by baby care.

I decided a full-time, out-of-the-house job wouldn’t be a good fit. Instead, I needed to maintain and build my freelance work in order to have the professional life I crave and the family time I love. And that means more babysitting time for the Fairy Pig, and less baby care for me. (Shout out here to our babysitter Sue: Thank you.)

I’ve been really excited lately when girlfriends make the choice to go back to full-time, outside-of-the-house work after taking time off. I also love seeing girlfriends who love being SAHMs in all its beauty and grit. There’s no right choice or easy path. Knowing what’s right for you and your family—and being able to act on it—is a gift.

So I’m transitioning from being a SAHM with a writing addiction to a WAHM with a sometime baby sidekick. It’s the right choice for us.


17 responses to “WAHM, SAHM, Thank You, Ma’am

  1. I’m still figuring out the part-time WAHM thing. We can bounce ideas off each other! ❤

  2. I’m a PT WAHM. If you need my unvarnished thoughts, email me!

    Also, I HATED the baby stage – I know we mothers are not supposed to say that. She’s four now and IT IS THE BEST.

  3. Happy mommy. Happy family. Glad you are considering your needs as well as the little ones.

  4. As a WAHM, I can’t say enough how thankful I am to have this kind of freedom!

  5. I love your statement that having the choice and acting on it is a gift – we are lucky that we have options. I went back full-time with my first but have been very happy to be a PT WAHM with the second. I always feel stretched though and like I don’t have any me-time that is not work time. I think I just need to commit to more babysitting and be okay if I am not working every second that the babysitter is here (and maybe go for a run during part of it!). I hope you get to do everything on your happy list!

  6. Good for you friend. I to struggle with the SAHM/WAHM balance. I can’t wait for the day that I actually feel like a WAHM and not a SAHM with a writing hobby and children with a TV sitter. 😳

  7. FIST BUMP. I’m so glad you are taking charge and doing what’s best for you and your family. After my first, I did part time at home and part time in the office. Then I did PT WAHM until my second came. Then I was all SAHM all the time. Now I’m transitioning into WAHM. Thank heavens for choices. I don’t think I’ve ever found the perfect “balance.” Balance is a slippery illusion. BUT, having options (and variety) has kept life interesting and sane. 🙂

  8. Absolutely — as you said, “there is no right choice or easy path.” Although it is almost impossible to find the perfect balance, how wonderful to have the choice. Choice is life’s greatest luxury!

  9. I am so glad you shared this! We have just decided that I will take a step back from teaching and will be a SAHM as well. Your struggle with purpose and self-definition is so similar to my own concerns. Thank you for laying this out for those of us in the same struggle.

  10. I love the idea of working at home while your babies are small. Too often I read about the battle of the working moms & stay at home moms. It is so refreshing to hear about an area in between & someone who sees it as what works best for the family & not a means to judge other moms. Looking forward to following your journey, stay strong mama!

  11. Hi, this is right up my alley. I am on my second baby (first is 5 years old and second is two and a half) I am working out of the house part time (2-3 days a week) and stay at home the rest of the time. I just started my blog about a month ago because of the same reasons here, we all need to be challenged by other than taking care of babies despite biological clocks and the maternal instincts just like you said 🙂 Its a constant battle for me, should I go back to work full time? I don’t feel ready yet, I do want to take care of my kids at home by myself, my husband help a lot, but I still want to be present, be able to take them to and from school, help them with the homework but my career aspirations no longer exist (I was a pharmacist in my “past life” when I was an expert, used to go present at local and national meetings and publish). If you get a chance, please visit my blog topic called Making a choice: a job or a stay at home mom at http://www.careerchickturnedmom.com/?p=126
    I am glad I found your blog, it strikes a cord here.

  12. You go, friend. Part time ha been the best fit for me too, even as my kids are both in school. There’s no illusion of so-called balance — I often feel like I’m half-assing the parenting and the job — but it’s still better than full time at home or full time in the office. Power to you for thinking through it all and arriving at your peace.

  13. Your honesty is inspiring and makes me think about figuring out what is right for me once we have a baby. Thank you Evelyn.

  14. I need a sometime baby sidekick. This WAHM thing is hard, would be nice to have a helper! My husband does what he can, but he works long hours.

    • Yeah, getting support is crucial, and tough. Especially because we feel like we “should” be able to accomplish more. Love your blog name, “I Will Do the Things”! ❤ Fist bump.

  15. Yes – love the balance of being a WAHM too – babysitters are lifesavers. But…do you ever get stir crazy to get out of the house? I NEED to go for a walk/get out every day or I drive myself mad. Sometimes my husband comes home and sees the look in his eye, he helps me pack up the kids and we go for a walk. It seems impossible to win on all fronts as a mommy – although it is definitely worth it!

  16. Pingback: All That Good Stuff Going On #WAHM #freelancelife | momsicle

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