Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stay at Home Working Mom?

Reading In Praise of Stay at Home Moms has got me thinking about some things. One is the draw for myself to continue making a wage of some sort, even if it is small. Is there more value to my "wifeliness" if I have paycheck of my own? Do I become a better mother when I can buy my kids more things? Why do we put so much concentration on who brings home monetary value and who doesn't? We act as if the only contribution is financial and all others are just bonuses.

I've tried doing things that can work around being a SAHM. I've done Pampered Chef, Shaklee, odd and end jobs for a friend that has a business, babysitting, etc. What I've found with each of these is yes, I very much enjoy having money of my own. Islamically, I do not need to share any income I make, and I am quite frugal with the income my husband brings in, so it feels nice to loosen up a bit. BUT, each time I'm doing something that makes me some money, all I can think of is how I just want to be home with my kids and husband, or be able to concentrate on them and not feel "on the clock."

I worked for years as a mother of one, juggling housework, homework (for both her and I), my job, friendships, relationships, etc. I feel that I have worked very hard to bring myself to this lifestyle that I now have; married SAHM! All for a couple dollars, I am pushing that aside?

With these jobs that I have done to make money, none of them are incredibly personally rewarding. The most rewarding "jobs" I have been involved in have been volunteer work! I go to these things because it feels great to be a part of something worthwhile, whether I get paid or not.

So, I am freeing myself of the guilt I've been harboring about not having my own paycheck. I will allow my husband to carry the complete financial load on his shoulders, as I know he is completely capable of doing. My job? To make sure everything else is in line. I like the title Director of Domestic Affairs, thankyouverymuch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quick knit

There is something utterly satisfying about starting and finishing a knitted item in one day.

Dh and my older daughter LOVE Lord of the Rings and they wanted to watch one of the movies yesterday... The extended version. I was going to wait until I finished the book Green Deen before starting a new knitting project, but reading with a movie playing doesn't work, so out came the needles. Not too bad for a one day knit, huh?
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More In Praise of SAHMs

Some more thoughts regarding this book, In Praise of Stay at Home Moms...

"It seems a tremendous revelation to many women that they can expand their horizon more as a SAHM than as a worker bee on someone else's schedule, using only certain required abilities"

You know, I just realized within the last couple months that I just now, that I stopped working, have hobbies! As a single, working mom, I remember people asking me what I did as a hobby, or for fun. I would typically tell them that I enjoyed reading but remember thinking, "Hobby? Who has time for a hobby?" My life was filled with responsibilities and obligations. I had no time for things that didn't have an express purpose. Even "fun" was scheduled into the week and was included because I knew as a human being that I needed it, so thus I must make time for this thing called fun.

Now, I enjoy knitting and learning new recipes. I want to learn how to sew, but that must wait until my infant is old enough to play on her own for a while and need to nurse less. In any case, knitting can be done in my lap, which works quite well in my current situation. Who knew I could be so domestic?!

 Now what Dr. Laura has to say about our communication and handling harder times:

"Venting every feeling isn't mature. Learning to deal with uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings is an important aspect of maturity. The pop-psych notion that you have to divulge every unpleasantness or you will have gangrene of the soul and spirit is ultimate nonsense. Learning to endure, transform by perspective or action, and be grateful is the fast lane to a good life."

When I read this, I just had to chuckle a little bit. I remember within the last 10 years, I was telling people exactly what I think all the time, thinking that filtering was not acceptable and they should hear everything I'm thinking. The fact is, not all of our thoughts are meaningful to the outside world. The sooner we learn this, the sooner we can grow up and learn to handle tough situations without bringing the world down with us. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book as a pick-me-up in a time of transition for me. (Yes, I'm taking a long time to transition to being a SAHM!) Her arguments were emotionally charged, which doesn't have the ability typically to change my mind in any matter, but it felt nice to have some validation on what I'm doing.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Reading: In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms

Borders is closing their store near me, so a friend and I decided to check out what they had left. We were hoping for books and materials we could use for our kids and their schooling. We found little of what we were looking for, but found some gems nonetheless.

As soon as I got home I started reading In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The last couple weeks have been trying for me. I went from a respectable career in IT to being a homemaker and homeschooling mom. It is a tough transition, especially in this society where little to no respect is given to the women who chooses to stay home.

One area in this book, of what I've read so far, hit dead on.

Another newbie SAHM wrote that I was the only one in the world who supported her and helped her believe she was doing the right thing. At first, she felt like less of a person, leaving her professional life to be "just" a mom. After listening to me day after day reinforce the importance of a mom to a child, she realized that in fact she had been brainwashed to believe that motherhood was beneath the dignity of an intelligent, independent woman. She would watch people's eyes glaze over when she told them she was a SAHM, and she felt like she had to rush in with a "but, before I left I was...," as if to prove her intelligence to them.

I still feel proud to tell people that I used to work in IT, and I hate to admit that I still feel the need to tell people that I used to have a "real" career; one that required education and skill.  Only after I tell people that can I earn their respect, because we all know that being a mom is not worth respect at all. After all, isn't the mother who always messes up her child into the psychiatrist's office? And no, I don't stay home because my paycheck would only pay for daycare. My paycheck would cover much more than daycare thankyouverymuch. I lived as a single mom on my paycheck for 7 years... I think I could help substantially to our family, but we are choosing for me to be home with our kids and build a bond that will inshaAllah stay throughout all of our lives.

Our society looks at SAHM's, or I should say Homemakers, as hovering women who don't know how to let go of an ounce of control. As if it is so horrible that we want to be there for our children each day. Yes, I put my oldest in day care and worked. I needed to, and felt I that I should, at the time. I want to tell people that doesn't give me a redeeming quality that I'm not a pshyco hovering mother. That just means I needed to work and go to school. Period.

With all this said, it still is a struggle to adjust. The repetitive nature of my "job" now gets tedious when there is no feedback and praise, no review every year to measure my progress, and no raise as a reward for a job well done. Given the field I was in, my knowledge is waning and becoming out of date. As each year passes, I need more and more refresher classes to get back into the game if I would need to go back to work.

I love my life and I am so proud of my family and the relationship I have with them. I know that my relationship with my older daughter has become so much more close since I stopped working and that alone makes it worth it. I just need to remember these things when I'm feeling like I need to tell people about my working days in order to bring my status in their eyes a degree higher