Opinions and Parenthesis

I worked outside the home before I had kids. It started out part time, and when I just found out that I was pregnant and sicker than a landlubber in a gale force storm at sea, the other secretary in the office quit and the boss asked me to come in full time to fill in until they could hire someone, whom I was then expected to train. I got a raise for compensation, which was sweet, because mostly I got paid to hug the porcelain god in the ladies room. It's more than I got to do the same thing at home. My boss was none too happy with me when I told him I'd be quitting just before I was due.

Around the time our second kiddo was born I decided that raising a family in a dual income world, while living on a single income, was an exercise in frugality. While not opposed to frugality at times, an extra income would be nice to be able to eat out with. Or buy diapers on occasion. (If I'd only known then that it would last 15+ years, every single day without a break. YOI.) I started selling Pampered Chef. I soon realized the error of my ways (hello lousy 20% in commission) and switched up to Home and Garden Party. (Woo-hoo! 40% was double what I was making!) (Incidentally, HGP doesn't exist any longer. They merged with Home Interiors and have a fancy new name now, but I'm not sure what it is.) I made decent money through the home party plan for many years before I just decided that I needed to close that chapter of my life. (I did a party two days before our third child was born. Dedicated is what I was.) I think I hung up that hat right around the time I put the kids in school.

Of course, when I put the kids in school, I dusted off the sewing machine to relieve the boredom. (That's how the story goes at least. I don't ever really remember being bored, and would like to re-experience that so that I can fully appreciate it this time around.) I opened The Rocking Pony on Etsy and have been working from home ever since.

I've told you all this so that you have an appreciation for the fact that I've been in just about every seat there is on the mom-front. I've been a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, and a work-from-home mom. I used to think that being a SAHM was easy. I mean really, all we do is sit with the kids and read books for hours on end, go for nature walks together, and create fun things in the kitchen. (I know, right? And I WAS one. *eyeroll*) I thought that working moms had the worst of the lot because oh my word, how on earth do you keep up with all the housework AND the kids AND a job? You've got my full appreciation and sympathy. I thought work-from-home moms had the best life ever because they had an income and didn't even have to leave their kids. Cake AND icing. Stellar.

I've since changed my opinion on things. I'm giving fair warning now that I'll probably offend a whole lot of people, but just remember that it's my opinion.

Working moms actually have the easiest time of all of us. It took me a long time to realize that if nobody is home through the day, no messes are made. If the dishes are done and the floors are cleaned, they are that way when you come home from work. The kids aren't there to get out every toy they own. The dishes and laundry don't double themselves in your absence. In short, in the little amount of time you've got in the evening to spend with family, you're doing what a SAHM does all day long.

SAHMs do the same thing all day long. Clean up. You clean the living room 15,837,291 times and by the time your husband walks in the door at the end of the day he has not a clue that anything has been picked up since 2006. The same goes for laundry and dishes. (Kids eat non-stop, let me tell you. Even when you're monitoring the food intake.) There are the art projects that you either know about or don't, and they both need cleaned up afterward. Same goes for cooking projects. And don't even get me started on potty training. (God bless daycare for working moms.)

Work-at-home-moms have the stress of work deadlines, and the SAHM fires to put out hourly. (Sometimes those fires are literal ones.) The work-at-home-moms get absolutely nothing done and can't blame a boss or co-worker. In fact, bosses tend to not be very understanding when you tell them that the dog was in the dryer and you couldn't finish the project. I have come to realize that work-at-home moms work fifteen times harder than any other kind of mom out there.

But to all moms, no matter what seat you're sitting in, there is not a one of us who is less important than any other. Raising our kids is a job with incredibly high stakes, and we all do what we can to make that work in our respective families.

Kudos to all the moms out there. It needs to be said more frequently than on Mother's Day.


fuentes said...

I *think* I agree with you. I have been a stay at home mom and a work from home mom and both were non-stop. I am now a working mom and I believe there would be little housework to do in the evening in comparison to when I was stay at home IF the other adults in the house worked full time and were not at home living AND if my daughter and the other adults in the houses kids were at school/child care all day. But I work and come home to a very lived in house and have decided that until I go back to being a stay at home mom (fingers crossed this will happen next week) and everyone else goes back to school/work my house is going to be messy or even gasp dirty. :)

Jennifer said...

I think each scenario comes with different stresses, none of which are more or less than the others. I'm a SAHM/WAHM/WOHM. Yup. ha I stay at home with Maggie (and future Baby Girl) 2 days a week, I work at home 2 days (while she's at daycare) and I work out of the house one day a week. EVERY DAY IS HARD sometimes, no matter which role I'm taking on. I think with working out of the house, the stress comes with having to squeeze quality time AND chore time/laundry time/etc into just a few short hours in the evening. I only do it once a week and when I get home that night, I SWEAR someone broke into the house and messed it up (but no, it's just leftovers from the breakfast rush and getting out the door on time) Then on WAHM days, I'm alone, yes, but it's a MAD SCRAMBLE to get things done during the 7-8 hours I have. And the SAHM days, now that Maggie is older, I do try to get work done if I can (but naps are a thing of the past so *cry*!!) and if I don't have work on my plate, there's a million other things to do, plus spending some quality time with Maggie. And finding ways to entertain her. It can get lonely and isolating, which I think is sometimes the hardest part of SAHM-ness.

I don't think I could do any of my 'roles' full time- I'm blessed to be able to mix it up, even if it IS stressful doing something different each day! But you have it right- ALL Moms deserve credit for balancing all that we do :) :)

Becoming Mommy said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you a bit.
SOME working moms may have the experiance of no messes being made when they aren't home. But they wouldn't be me.
My husband is often home during the day because a teacher's work schedule has a lot of days off. He is a wonderful husband and father, but he does not *see* mess. I have a wonderful brother who also lives with us and he suffers the same affliction. He calls it "Man Eyes."
I've come home after a 12 hour day to dishes in the sink, mud tracked all through the house, pee/poop laundry piled up, and a pile of dog vomit on the couch (crusty, because no one noticed).
I use to LOVE being a work at home mom!!! Yes, it was a lot of work, but I got so much done and I was actually able to swing both jobs easily because I could handle teleconferences while washing a load of laundry or edit a paper while nursing with no trouble. I had the gift of the OPTION to multitask at a whole new level.

Karen said...

You've hit on something that I didn't address. You win for Worst Situation when you work outside the home all day and then come home to a mess that someone living there made. Man Eyes. Very descriptive term. I know exactly what you're talking about.

Roger said...

As an owner of those 'Man Eyes' I am impressed with anyone that has taken the time to become a parent, especially a mom. Mom's are ALWAYS expected to be there for the kids. The kids generally run to mom when they need comfort, be it in the form of hugs, kisses, food, etc. Dads on the other hand, for the most part, are there for the fun, and the whole let's-see-what-dad-will-say-yes-to-even-though-mom-said-no thing going on.

We are very blessed to have just the one income and Jenni staying at home, which is why I really don't mind when she says that she is going out with one of her friends for coffee, food or a movie. She deserves it, after all, she works way harder than I do. Hands down.

Kudos to Moms everywhere!! Y'all rock!!

Anonymous said...

You are so right on Mother's Day needing to be more than once a year! I have done each of the things you listed as well, and also held a job where C.ooper came with me everyday (and was in the office with me - not in daycare), and you are right (as is everyone else . . . the days my husband was home were days I DID NOT come home to a clean house)! Each situation definitely comes with pros and cons. I have always been a little jealous of working moms for a variety of reasons, #1 being that I think they value the time they get to spend with their kids a little bit more than I do. I am VERY lucky to be a SAHM, but I am with my kids 24/7 . . . that sometimes makes it hard for me to really appreciate all of the wonderful things they do inbetween all of the messes and picking on each other and eating.

(And mad props to Roger for admitting to man eyes and for understanding that his wife needs a break! There are days I would literally kill for my husband to 'get it.')

Tara said...

You are a brave, brave woman for tackling this topic! :) As a homeschooling mom of 6 (soon to be 7), I agree with you. These kids make messes upon messes and all I do is put out fires all day long. Actually, I work outside of the home one day per week and leave Daddy in charge just so I can get a break and he can "get it". The best of both worlds!