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Talking with fellow moms, friends and strangers, we seem to be exploring the same topic lately. What are the benefits and drawbacks to being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM),  a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) or a working-mom (WM)? What are the current stigmas attached to each? How have they changed from generation to generation?

In talking with my mother-in-law I hear how she felt slighted being a SAHM in the 70's and 80's. There was liberation of women in the workplace and gosh-darn-it she should have been embracing it. Making a name for herself. Growing as a woman professionally in order to truly have a rich and balanced life. Isn't that inherently coveted regardless of gender? The want to be successful? Whereas my mother starting as a SAHM had to return to being a WM because of circumstance yet absolutely relished the emotional, mental and creative engagement her work brought her, thereby becoming successful in all she did. Of course, the definition of success has, and always should, reside with each individual and moreover with the whole family unit in this case. Yes, it is wonderful that the women of the 60's made momentous change and afforded us with new and desirable opportunities however that doesn't guarantee we are all women who "want it all".

Currently, within my generation, I see a large amount of moms pursuing passionately the SAHM role. This now seems to be the most desired choice, the one with elevated status. If your family is able to have one income and mom privileged to stay home and be the primary care giver, does that option appeal to you as a woman of today? What factor is truly dictating these decisions: circumstance or desire?

For the WMs out there.... applause. I seriously don't know how you do it. I'm certain you are up much earlier than I am, prepping for the day not only for yourself but all the munchkins and your partner too. Planning, planning all the while, morning commute, what's for dinner? Will Dad be able to help with bath-time for Conner while I tackle homework with Darcy? Are they going to bed without a fight tonight? Then on to packing lunches at 10 p.m., making sure there are clean clothes for everyone and the pets are fed. All that physicality I'm stunned by, the logistics. My real question is the emotional toll. I can't speak to what full-time WMs go through, the end of maternity leave and then trading 8 hours a day of interaction with your child to bring home the bacon. I'm sure there are rewards that contribute to a sense of self. Yet I do always wonder if our western society had the capacity to evolve and allow for one income to be enough in each family how many women would gladly embrace staying home again?

There are aspects of a working mom's mentality and life that I do envy. Since the separation of the individual pre-mommyhood is maintained after baby arrives I've noticed it's much more the norm for these women to sustain portions of their lives that are dedicated solely to themselves. Getting out and taking a class, meeting up with a friend after work, even running errands alone. The devision of the work and home version of you is a gift left unacknowledged too often. 

Within the SAHM role I found there is much freedom and joy to having your days malleable and open to whatever last minute notions of fun would pop into my head. Play-dates, run to the park, go to the petting zoo, walk around the galleries downtown... and definitely some me time in there. Yet I did feel like I was in some form of 24/7 day on rewind and repeat. There was no such thing to me as a Saturday vs. a Monday unless I decided to "schedule" something for one day as opposed to the other. 

As a WAHM now, I have many different feelings on this. This is where all the other moms chime in "don't complain" and "how ideal".  I'll be the first to say I give thanks everyday for the job that allows me to contribute to our household income while keeping me with my son. I DO miss just being me however in my professional life, successful and respected. On the note of sanity, I think this in-between model is very beneficial for the family but also very difficult on the individual. For me there is no separation of work and home. Both spill into each other and consequently you are left feeling you never have time off from one or the other it's the 24/7 repeat day syndrome on overdrive. The notion of "balance" in this scenario makes me laugh since I'm never off-duty with either position. Since every moment I'm left squeezing in quality time as a Mom, spouse or employee my personal pursuits of yoga, gardening, just reading a book, fall by the wayside all the more. 

How funny to be a daughter of the trail-blazers only to covet what they railed against. Just a SAHM, yes balancing a lot, but ultimately the captain of one's ship. Crew, cargo, voyage mine to dictate. So after all is said and done the feminist in me is still curious. Feminism really boils down to equal choice in everything. Now that we've had the ability for a couple decades to work, stay home, combine the two what are we most deeply drawn too? Take away all the external needs and asking only what internal needs you have as a Mom and woman, what honestly is your ideal? I'm intrigued to sit back and watch us all try and find the balance between work and home. I'm hopeful for each individual woman that her and her family can accommodate whatever choices give her not only the benefits of Motherhood but also a rewarding sense of self. There is also the odd truth of at least a few sprigs of greener grasses in everyone's pasture. 


Amanda Prince said...

Its good to hear your story and Nice to know Im not alone! :-)

Kate Ogden said...

Thanks chickadee. Yeah it's so crazy as I really thought this not only was the best choice for my kiddo but would be easier...
haha right?


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