In the comments portion of the first Suburban Turmoil post regarding SAHMs someone commented that having two teens in the house should make it a little easier on Suburban Turmoil. "...they are there and can be handed a baby for a minute while you go to the bathroom or make dinner." Verses having "4 children under the age of 6" to deal with day in and day out. Suburban Turmoil took great offence to the comment. Personally I did not seen anything insulting in the other woman's comment as she and I have both had wonderful experiences having teenagers assist in the every day routines. Suburban Turmoil listed all of her reasons for why her teens are not little helpers and add to her daily work as a SAHM. They do clean their rooms and the only "help" she receives from them is babysitting if she pays them. To me it is unbelievable that girls this age could not help out around the house. I wanted to get out the virtual Reality Book and make them sit down for a good reading! Of course none of us know everything that goes on in anyone else's house. After reading how things are in her household and her request "I'd love to hear from some more working moms" I decided to respond.
I really do not get the "Mommy Wars". I do not believe SAHM nor WAHM have anything easy. All Mothers who love their children work hard, be it at the home or elsewhere. Each of us have the same goal resulting in turning our little babies in to healthy and happy well rounded adults. As many have stated before, each of us are in different situations with children who are as unique as snow flakes. No two are the same. No plan, no fix will work for all families or all children.
My eldest two were very emotional when they were little. By the time they were tweens the moodiness went away. My youngest was practicing for PMS from the time she was 3 years old until recently. I think she has perfected her PMS techniques and moving out of this phase. My difficult times were when my children were little. The teen years for ME were a breeze (knocking on wood) compared to the constant attention for every little thing when they were little. Having now said that I am sure to have some sort of nervous breakdown episode following some horrendous teenage behavior in the very near future.
My teens DO help around the house. I have given them household chores since they were big enough to stand on a step stool and reach the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. Now they mow the lawn (Saturday), take out the trash (two days a week), do the laundry (Sat), clean all floors (Fri or Sat), their bathrooms (Sat) and baby-sit for free. They are responsible for picking up after themselves and keeping their rooms clean. I make the meals 90% of the time. I take care of the dog and they take care of the cats. I run the taxi service about 50% of the time due to my older two now have drivers licenses. Taxi service is dependent on the number of vehicles available, who needs to be where and when.
I provide for our needs and wants. My children know the difference between need and want. They appreciate the fact we have everything we need and a most of what we want. We consider ourselves very lucky in that respect. We are a family and we keep house. I am not their personal slave nor are they mine. They are learning to be responsible and will need to do these things for themselves when they are out on their own. It is unbelievable the number of teenagers and college students who do not know how to operate a washer and dryer. Sad but true, really not a laughing matter. Okay, I have laughed once or twice when over hearing a co-worker explain in detail the steps to operating the washing machine.
This has to be said before someone gets their panties in a bunch. I am not a perfect person or a perfect mother. My children are not perfect either. We are human. There have been times when the garbage was not at the curb when the truck came. The grass grew tall in the back of the yard which resulted in bunnies. These are rare occurrences but hey, life happens and no one is perfect.
I have been a SWAHM (Single Work Away from Home Mom) off and on (mostly on) for 19 years. I have raised my children to be polite, helpful, grateful and many other things. They did not come out of the womb this way. It took years to help them become the people they are today. Suburban Turmoil wrote this in her post asking for more input from the WAHMs but said this about SAHMs “the fact that raising our kids ourselves”. If she or anyone else says this face to face to a WAHM who is providing for her family they should make sure to be out of arms reach. Working mothers have that phrase thrown in their faces many times. I hope she did not mean that working mothers do not raise their own children. Yes, children of WAHMs spend time at daycare if they are infants or toddlers and Mom is at the “office”. How is that so different from a SAHMs child who is in school full time and running off to so many activities. The children are spending most of their time with teachers, coaches and other instructors from the sound of it. You cannot think WAHM are not also raising their own children. SAHM and WAHM both raise their own children. Was that statement along with “the hard work has a much greater payoff than receiving a fat check” put in her post as an attempt to ruffle the feathers of the WAHMs?
Yes I have teens now but I did all the chauffeuring duties when they were younger. Trying to fit everyone’s activities into one overall schedule. It is amazing how much you have to cram into one evening - homework, dinner, baths, reading, etc. I started cooking our meals on the weekends and freezing them for week day dinners (still do). I have been lucky enough to find a position which now allows me a 5 minute one way commute. I am so happy to put the one way 2 hour commutes behind me!
I have great respect for SAHM. I have said it time and time again, in person and blog after blog that I admire SAHM. I work because I have to but there were times when my eldest two were toddlers and I did the SAHM gig. At first it was absolutely thrilling! The first few weeks I was Donna Reed, Betty Crocker and Super Nanny all in one! By week 4 I was dragging. I started counting the days until I would return to the office. I hardly spent 20 minutes a day in a full upright standing position. Most of my day was spent near the floor, playing with them, cleaning up mess after mess, separating them, cleaning up mess after mess, preparing meals, more clean up required after each meal. Yes we had some great times too but I found it to be more difficult than my office. It takes a lot of consistent energy to stay at home. I enjoy coming home to a clean house and leaving my work at the office. Having the physical separation of work place and home gives me more time enjoying the company of my children and being Mommy.
The down side of being a WAHM
Separation anxiety from your child is something most of us go through. (You do not need to be a WAHM for this to happen. The children of SAHMs go for visits with relatives or off to summer camps, etc.) I was very fortunate to have my mother as the person looking after each my children until they reached school age. At first I did not want my children in daycare but that soon changed when I became the sole bread winner. My real anxiety came when my son started school. Correction, it was not anxiety it was anger and jealousy that over took me. The thought of the teacher, who was a complete stranger to us, not someone I had the option of picking out personally, was able to spend hours and hours with my son…and I. had. to. work.
As a SWAHM I am on 24/7. I am the one who stays up all night with my children when they are sick. If they are not well enough for school I take a sick day from the office. I am the one and only one who makes sure the other children are taken to school and everything else flows like it should.If they feel “all better” and rested in the morning they are off to school. Tired, worn out Mommy is off to work with no chance at a nap later in the day. There were some mornings I arrived at work after a two hour commute and swore Scotty from Star Trek beamed me there. Having no recollection of the drive in to work. I was on auto pilot and amazed I arrived in one piece without incident.
I get the guilt of “you’re the only mommy who doesn't come” to the __________ school function. I do make it to ALL of the after work hours functions and to a few of the during work hours functions. I am happy to bake a bazillion cup cakes for any fundraiser. Teachers, other faculty and the SAHMs from my daughter’s new school are all amazed that I cannot just drop everything and rush over to the school for every single event. They are equally disgusted to hear me say I cannot take off work one day every week to volunteer in the classroom. I feel the need to wear a large sandwich board sign that says “I AM A SWAHM. I WORK FOR MONEY. I WORK TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY” Even if I wore such a sign they would over look it and still give me those disapproving “looks” and little lectures. I gave up repeating the reason for my lack of attendance after only one month. Bring on the looks. It wont change a thing.
At previous companies I had issues with taking the day off due to a sick child or even when I had a really awful string of the flu. If I came in to the office sick everyone said "Why did you come in?! You are going to get the rest of us sick!" or "That child is going to make us all sick!" If I didn't come in they would say "We need you here! You cannot possibly be that ill" and "Why not leave the sick brat with the daycare, school or your next door neighbor?"
The worst of all was a woman supervisor who said she would only give me 2 weeks maternity leave. Being the bread winner of our little family at the time I tried to fight this with the help of an HR representative who just happened to be pregnant herself. There were 8 of us total who were all working at the company and pregnant. I received the call about a week prior to my due date from my OBGYN saying "Tell your boss today is your last day before your maternity leave. Results from your sonogram are in and we need to do a C-Section tomorrow." I called the HR department only to find out the pregnant woman who was working with me was FIRED! I returned to work 2 weeks after giving birth. I was fired 2 weeks later for being 2 minutes late (traffic) and not calling in. How would I have known I would be 2 mins late?. During my rushed "grab a box for your things" and lets talk about how quick you can get out of here, my single female, child hating boss (not the one I originally started out with) stated her disgust for my using a breast pump in the women's bathroom. In retrospect I am so grateful to be away from that woman and I found a more promising career.
My sick leave is now devoted mostly to sick days for my children and dyer sick days for myself. If I am able to drive I go to work. If anyone says why are you here when you are sick I will just let it roll off my back. In my line of work I am the best at what I do. My boss has a very difficult day if I am not there to answer questions or help him out in person. There seems to be an unspoken rule at this new place. If you are not at work you will not be bothered with any type of phone call from the office. Any sick leave I have left over at the end of the year rolls over to the next year and is added to vacation time...time I would like to spend with my children.
On the other side I have people who instantly feel sorry for me when they find out I am a Single Mom. Ouch! I have been doing this for a long time. I have the hang of it. We live in a nice house, a good neighborhood, I have a great job and we are doing just fine. Please do not give me those great big sad puppy dog eyes. Just because I am single does not mean it is the end of the world. I really do appreciate the neighbors who offer to do physical things I am not strong enough for such as making those darn lug nuts on the flat tire move or helping me with the couch I thought I could move all by myself and got it stuck in the front door. I did manage to get the couch off the roof of the car, over the porch railing and into the front door. he.he.he. I literally did a little happy "touch down style" dance on the front porch when I accomplished that much. However, I ruined the couch by attempting to do the rest all by myself. Okay not totally ruined, just one corner on the bottom front of the coach. Ugh. Maybe this last paragraph is sort of like what Suburban Turmoil meant when she said "Being a stay-at-home mom...is not that hard." Whether you are a SAHM or WAHM - If you have the routine down and are really in sync with all that needs to be done on a daily basis then maybe it isn't that hard for "you" and Me. Remember once you say it is all okay life has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball.
After Suburban Turmoil accepted the apology of the Mom who said it should be a little easier having teens around Suburban Turmoil took another hard stab at her. This other mom is a long time supporter and commenter on Suburban Turmoil. With all said and done by Suburban Turmoil maybe her teen step-daughters are really as awful as she says. Geesh, her harsh words make it sound like every teenager is bad. From Suburban Turmoil :
“...let me tell you, you have got a real treat in store for you in eight to ten years! When you find yourself reminiscing about the good old days when they were small, I promise I won't be snickering off in the distance somewhere.”
No, she wont be snickering. Suburban Turmoil admitted she will be dealing with the teenage years of her