Doin' It Halfway Since 1996

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Tag Archives: stay at home mom

The SAHM Paycheck

I’m a Stay-at-home-mom. While it can be a joy, it’s still a job. The hours are long, the pay is crap, and there’s no such thing as a sick day (which I was reminded of again last week). I don’t get stock options or contribute to a 401K. Paid vacations are non-existent and forget about health insurance. In fact, I haven’t had a real paycheck in a long time.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I get paid in other ways. My “paychecks” have different deductions and bonuses. In the deductions column you’ll find these items: sleep, sanity, a girlish figure, and date nights. The bonus column, however, has many benefits like: two year-old bear hugs, funny five year-old phrases, I love yous, dancing to the end credits from favorite movies, slobbery kisses (of the human variety, not canine).

But my favorite bonus is the one labeled SMILES. I get a lot of those. They come in many forms: during a visit from the tickle monster, when they play nicely enjoying being sisters and friends, while making brownies with Grandma. LOVE the smile. I’ll work harder for the smile. A smile softens the crazed hurry-up-get-your-clothes-on-brush-your-teeth-get-on-your-shoes-why-aren’t-you-moving-faster mama beast and turns her into putty. The kid-smile is SAHM gold.

So, I’m sharing a few of my favorite smile moments with you because I am participating in the Invisalign Teen Bright Smiles Holiday Photo Contest with Dumb Mom at parenting by dummies. Want a chance to win $250 Amazon Gift Code? You gotta do it by midnight tonight.

There are “My mom really is a ROCK STAR!” smiles (Billy Idol, eat your heart out):

There are “At the Park” Smiles:

There are “First Day of School” and “Aren’t our flowers just lovely?” smiles:

There are middle of the night “There’s no way we’re going back to bed anytime soon” smiles:

There are “I just made my first snow man” smiles:

There are “This isn’t a moving box, it’s a boat!” smiles:

There are the “It’s my first birthday and I’ve discovered that I like chocolate cake” smiles:

And finally, there are the “I’m running full-throttle to my mom because I love her” smiles:

These are my pay stubs. I’ve heard that I need to keep these indefinitely because in ten years or so, I may have to report that I was indeed able to make them smile at some point in their lives. I’ve heard that sweet, smiling little girls turn into irrational, unidentifiable, scary creatures after age 11 or 12 (and if my girls are destined to be anything like me, then we’re all in a lot of trouble). But I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow. For now, I’ll let my kids keep thinking I’m a rock star and savor these precious smiles.

And in this corner . . .

I’m wondering about something.

Why are moms battling against each other? It’s like we’ve never left the high school arena. There’s a cattiness out there fitting only to sixteen year-old girls. We’re still battling it out, trying to compete against each other and I’m still trying to figure out what we’re trying to win. Bragging rights? A feeling of superiority? The need to be right? I’m confused.

I’m talking about the stay-at-home versus working mom battle out there. When did we decide that we played for different teams?

I spend most of my time with stay-at-home moms. It’s more convenient that way. We don’t work, so we can meet up during the day at the park or play group or at each others’ homes and spend time together. We talk about our kids incessantly, trade parenting war stories, and ask each other advice on a myriad of issues. It’s what we do. We don’t dress up (usually) because our business is changing diapers, doing laundry, drying tears and raising our family. Our clothes don’t have to be dry cleaned (they’re probably going to get spit up or pooped on anyway), we wear jeans and t-shirts and flip flops.

I’ve never been a working mom, so I can’t speak for what their days are like. But I know that they still have to come home and do a lot of  the same stuff that we stay-at-home moms do. And because my schedule runs on a completely different clock than theirs, I don’t have many friends who are working moms. It’s just the way it is.

However, I recently was put in a situation where I was the only stay-at-home mom in the bunch. And it felt awkward. I was also the only one who had more than one child, but these women were the same age as me. It felt weird.

Maybe I’m making it up in my head, and maybe I’m not. But I felt like I was an unwelcome outsider treading too close to their territory of busy schedules and the art of juggling parenthood with a career. Perhaps they had the impression that because I don’t work, I’m not educated. When they asked how I met my husband and I mentioned that we met at college, and I worked full-time so he could finish college before we had children, they seemed to soften a little.

Maybe I was feeling weird because I didn’t know these women. Maybe I read way more into it than I should have. Maybe they weren’t thinking what I thought they were thinking.

Regardless of the possibilities their misplaced condescension, right then and there I began to question my and my husband’s choice for me to be a stay-at-home mom. Maybe I’m not as good as they are. Maybe they would like me better if I worked like they did. If I could talk about my job and my profession, they would respect me. Maybe if I had chosen to get my advanced degrees before having children, I might be interesting to them.

Whoa. Back up that horse a little bit. How old are you? And why are you asking yourself these questions?

Looking back on it, I’m wondering if I didn’t put off a little “stay-at-home mom superiority complex” myself. Maybe as we conversed, they heard, “I raise my children and don’t expect someone else to do it for me” or “my job is the most important one in the world” or “I choose to stay home because my children are the most important thing to me.” I didn’t say those things to these women. I didn’t even think it. But, maybe it came out?

I am guilty of judging working moms for their choice. I’ll admit it. In the past, I have considered my choice to be the superior one. And I had a big cheer leading section for my choice in other stay-at-home-moms. It’s easy to praise each other for making the same choice.

And what about working moms? Do they not pride themselves on the choices they’ve made too? It has to be easier to keep friends who also work because they can understand the obstacles and hardships working moms face.

My question is when was this invisible battle line drawn? Why the need to justify to the opposite party why we made the choices we made? When did we start allowing ourselves to be offended by the choices that someone else makes for their family?

Am I making all this up? Am I seeing something that’s not there? I don’t think so. The truth is that I think we all want the same result: children, when grown, who are capable and responsible citizens that contribute positively to this world. So why are we so busy condemning one woman for working or staying home, when we should be helping each other reach the end goal?

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that. I believe it because my family has been transient since its inception and I’ve had to find villages wherever we go. I have never lived near my or my husband’s extended family in a way that allows my kids’ grandparents to be constantly and actively involved in the raising of my children. But God has given me many friends and friends who have become family to help me along this crazy journey of parenthood. It’s true that many different types of people are needed to raise a child.

So why? Why are we too busy arguing about what women who are moms should do instead of spending time raising up the next generation – together? Daycare, stay-at-home, work outside the home, work in the home . . . who cares? It’s not what we do that matters when it comes to being a parent, but how we raise our children.

I’m just putting the questions out there. I don’t have an answer. I just know that in the end, my responsibility is to my children, to my family. I have to answer to God for the choices I make concerning them. I have to focus on raising my children the best way I know how, and stop second guessing whether or not I made the right decision.

Should I be given the opportunity, I will consider it a privilege to walk alongside and help other parents (working or staying at home) on this journey as they raise their children. I hope you will too.

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