Saturday, June 03, 2006

When Does The "Stay at Home" Part of Being a Stay at Home Mom Happen?

SAHM
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
SAHM is an acronym for "Stay at Home Mom." A stay at home mother is a woman who stays at home during the day with her children while her husband or domestic partner earns a regular income. Generally the one adult earns enough money to support the entire family allowing the mother to care for her children personally instead of using childcare.

When Herr and I decided that it would be best if I stayed home full-time after we had Peaches and moved to Cincinnati, I was torn. I liked the idea of "being there" for my girls and being a part of all of their important milestones. But I had been working part-time doing recruiting for a publishing company and felt that it was important to continue making a financial contribution to the family. I had been working since I was 12, so it was impossible for me to fathom not having a place to go most days a week and perform tasks for which I was paid.

Initially, I disliked staying home. I felt that my limited financial contribution (small recruiting projects done at home) wasn't meaningful--I felt a loss of identity. I also disliked it because we had just moved to Ohio, and I knew no one. Some of the neighbors I had met were exactly what I didn't want to be as a SAHM--running around doing dozens of acitvites every week and seeming to live and do for the children, but not themselves. I also hated it because I never had a break from my then-baby who was quite unhappy most days, hours and minutes. Going for walks pissed her off because she didn't like the sun in her eyes. Trips to the store pissed her off for reasons still unknown. Hiking in the woods pissed her off because she didn't like the backpack stroller I had. She HATED the mall. While I didn't want to be running around all day everyday with my kids, I didn't want to be trapped in my house every day either. Because it became harder to predict her irrational behavior, it became easier to stay home.

In the following months, I started to accept being at home more. Sure, I had joined a Mom's Club and became involved in playgroups, but I usually volunteered to host at least one playgroup a month. It was also the only one I would attend. I started this blog, which was greatly therapeutic and a good creative outlet. I started doing all of my mall shopping online. I started to REALLY like my house. It was so comfortable. I stayed on top of the cooking, cleaning and the laundry (except for folding the laundry--God I hate folding laundry!) Baby Girl was starting to really learn to enjoy playing on her own. Perhaps I indulged her with a little too much Noggin, but she seemed so happy. Peaches started crawling and was almost seeming to be happier. Baby Girl would play in the backyard a lot and went to a tumbling class on Saturdays with Herr, so she wasn't being completely sedentary.

Around Christmastime I had this vision that this summer was going to be perfect. By that time Peaches would be walking. NOTE: I wasn't counting on her running and climbing. As a result, Baby Girl and Peaches would happily be each other's constant companions and have lots of adventures in the backyard. In the heat of the summer, they would be just as happy playing inside as we are a pasty-skinned family that no sun screen can truly protect. It had taken awhile, but I was really enjoying the thought of being a SAHM. I was going to work on a book about my family's history. I was going to start reading again in earnest; you know, BOOKS instead of magazines and blogs. I was going to get through the entire Wall Street Journal every morning. I was going to have nicely pedicured feet all summer long as opposed to a couple of times between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I was going to teach my children to be empowered and become independent creatures while I watched Regis & Kelly.

Fast forward to June: I am officially changing my title to NSAHM, or NEVER Stay at Home Mom. It all starts at around 6:45. Peaches starts beating on the front or back doors, demanding to go outside like a puppy that needs to go out and poop. I tell her "No" because, well, I haven't brushed my teeth, showered, or even peed yet. Then Baby Girl chimes in:

"Mommy, where are we going today?"

"Um, I don't think we are going anywhere."

"But MOMMY, I REALLY want to go to [insert Target, the playground, Meijer, Maddie's house, Kroger, Miss Sue's class, Ella's house, KatieAmyJackandMichael's house] today. PUUUULLLLEEEEZE?"

"Well, maybe after Peaches' nap this morning, we'll go somewhere. Why don't you [insert color, play with Play-Do, play with your dolls, paint, go watch Dora. Isn't Dora on right now?]"

"But, but, but, I WANT TO GO SOMEPLACE NOOOOWWWWW! We need to go to Target for I can get some more sand for my sandbox."

"But Honey, you threw all the sand out of your sandbox."

"I knooooow."

And so we go. We drive around A LOT looking for parks with shade. The closest one I have found is 30 minutes away. We go to the grocery store, even if we don't need anything. We go to the bank drive-thru, even if it is to deposit $5 into my checking account because Baby Girl LOVES to watch the money get sucked up the tube and into the bank. I am going to WAAAAY more Mom's Club functions than I ever wanted to attend. I am constantly spraying or slathering the kids with 50 SPF suncreen to go for walks in our neighborhood. That's the curse of living in a newer neighborhood--no mature shade trees. Peaches is way too active and into everything. She'll run into the street faster than you can say, "Peaches." She is much too young to leave to her own devices in the backyard, as is evidenced by the mouthfuls of sand she is ingesting. At least they nap though, right? But then, during their naptime, I am cleaning our house and mopping the kitchen floor every single day because our house is for sale and we have to pretend that our home is a museum and that no one actually lives here. I am beat.

The problem with the tomorrows is that the expectation for non-stop fun is left over from the yesterdays. If there is a day that I attempt to put my foot down on my ottoman so that I can read the paper, the girls completely lose.their.shit. And since all of their inside toys have lost their cache', popping a Dora video into the dvd player is not the answer. It will only get worse after July 9 when Herr goes to New Jersey to start his job, leaving me here alone until mid to late August. And my toes look like shit already.

20 comments:

Stefanie said...

I think you said it better than I did. Please come to Los Angeles and be my neighbor. Please. If you don't I will be forced to get a job. There is no other answer. I was just telling my husband that baby E is like a puppy. She scratches at the door in the morning to go out and you can't eat anything around her without her begging and pulling at you or your snack until you finally give in and give it to her. It's a good diet though.

Kvetch said...

Just found your blog, not sure how. I am originally from the East coast, transplated in the Midwest. Actually grew up in Philly near Cherry Hill. That was fun to read. :-)

kimmyk said...

I always wanted to be a SAHM...but I never got to stay at home either. It only gets worse as they get older Hausfrau. Except, they always bring a friend with 'em.

Susan said...

I think you are in the most difficult mommy window, with your girls the ages they are. I remember how hard that summer my kids were 1 and 3 was; I had to be RIGHT THERE all the time, at the park and the pool and the bookstore, to keep them from winding up in the ER. I never got a break, and it wore me out.

I know that's not what you want to hear, but then there is this: each summer after that, as Charlie got older and steadier, got better. And THIS summer, I can sit on a bench at the park and read a magazine. Yes, really! It's like I've died and gone to heaven, if heaven were really freaking hot.

The best too-late-to-help suggestion that anyone gave me was this: hire a mother's helper to play with your kids while you do something else. See if you can find a middle school student--you won't be leaving here alone at your house with the kids, but she can go outside or be in the playroom with them while you clean. Or blog. I vote for blog.

Andie D. said...

Oh wow do I know how you feel. Our house is on the market right now, and it's near torture to get it "show ready" every single day. Then again, it's a buyer's market here in Phoenix, so we don't exactly have buyers knocking down our doors every day.

In the desert, we have to be very careful about what we're going to do during the summer. We had an open house today, and I had to be out of the home for 4 hours. Couldn't go to the pool, because we'd been there the day before. Ended up at the mall. Yippee.

At least there is an indoor playground. Whew.

The June Cleaver Diaries said...

Actually, the mother's helper idea isn't bad. Laura does that, and it gives her some free time. Why she feels she needs free time when she only has ONE child, who is perfectly content to play alone on the floor, nap, sleep throught the night and never cry is beyond me, but still.

Countdown T minus 5 days!!!!

CroutonBoy said...

Hausfrau, if I were there I'd give you a hug. That sounds exhausting.

I don't have much good advice (Oodgie can vouch for this) but we're lucky in that we have a Grandma and a daytime babysitter who come by regularly and give the poor girl a break. Maybe you can dig up one of those (the babysitter...I don't recommend digging up grandmas). And when you get out to Jersey let me know, 'cause we know lots of friends out there who probably can suggest some people.

Just two months to go....

Kristen said...

Oh man. Susan is right. The biggest issue right now is the ages of your kids. Mine are 4 and 3 now, and while there is still a little of the "must always be on the go" to deal with, it is SO much better than it was when they were 1 and 2 1/2 (god, that sucked). It is completely unhelpful to say "it's just a phase, you just have to get through it"...I know, because people said that to me and I wanted to rip their heads off. Unfortunately, it was true.

Sigh. But being stuck there alone from July to August...man oh man. I like the babysitter idea. My husband (who is home with the kids during the week) did that last summer with a 12-year-old girl who would come over to play with the boys (within his earshot) so he could get some work done for a few hours three days a week. It was a lifesaver...maybe you could find someone like that, too. Good luck, Hausfrau. I know it's not easy AT ALL.

L. said...

We should start a "nasty toenail" posse....

Jenette said...

Misfit, you can come hang out at my house. Our sandbox is shaded for a lot of the day. And the Hethan is driving me nuts too... the problem with being as SAHM of an only child is that you are their constant! playmate. I get exhausted. I'm so glad it isn't just me. :) Drop me an email:)

Mama of 2 said...

Just found your blog and I loved the first entry. You made me smile and nod my head in agreement. While I am a part-time SAHM and part time admin. asst. I can so relate to all you said.

Thanks for reminding me I am in great company.

Her Bad Mother said...

WonderBaby is not even 7 months old and already I can see this beginning to happen. What with mom groups, storytime at library, walks with mom friends, errands, etc, etc, it seems like I'm a stay-out-of-home mom...

wordgirl said...

I think the whole "stay at home" moniker was just an attempt to get away from the horrid "housewife" label...which was (in my mother's day) just another word for "wife" (WIFE: You know...ancient Greek that translated to "woman who cleans,cooks, sews, does what I tell her to do and then later I get to sleep with her")

Nope...the stay at home part is a joke, too. It only gets worse...I promise.

Jennifer said...

UGH--we have a possible move ahead of us, and I'm in complete denial about packing, keeping the house clean for showings, etc.--this is a good reminder to write on my negotiations cheat sheet a request for moving expenses. Let someone else pack!

bubandpie said...

I just found your blog and I love this post. But what's with this part of the Wikipedia definition: "Generally the one adult earns enough money to support the entire family allowing the mother to care for her children personally instead of using childcare." Not one adult earns money while the other stays home, not the father earns money while the mother stays home. No, the ONE ADULT in the family works and all the dependent children and non-adult women stay in the house. Hmmm...

Jennifer said...

Thank you for this. Wow, I can really relate. My daughter will be 2 next month and although she doesn't yet ask to go places, I feel guilty if I don't get her out of the house every day. She is a very fair-skinned redhead and I don't want her outside or at the pool all day like all the other kids in the neighborhood, so we just take short walks or short visits to the playground or park. Also, she is a terror to try to shop with, so I refuse to try to do that with her. I keep telling myself to enjoy this time while she isn't asking to go everywhere because it will end one day, but I still feel like a bad mother for keeping her inside so much. I actually look forward to winter because then I can sometimes use the weather as an excuse to stay in! Anyway, I noticed from a prior entry that you are from Indiana. So am I! Born and raised and still living here! I see we are the same age. Did you happen to go to IU?

Misfit Hausfrau said...

Whew! It's such a relief to know I am not the only one with this dilemna! Yes! I am an IU grad!

Velma said...

I totally agree with what Susan wrote - I swear it gets better as they get older!! I also vote for the mother's helper idea - it isn't just a break for you, it's something new and different for them as well. A new grown-up who is there just to play with them! How novel!

stefanierj said...

Oh yeah--I get you. And my relentless toddler won't. watch. any. TV. ever. Ack. I know every park in this town like the back of my hand, but even that is losing its novelty. Good thing we're moving, so we can find new places to go. And you, too!!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Oh dude. I just wrote a rap on my blog yesterday about SAHMing... sigh...