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mommy wars

Don’t Underestimate Me: I May Be a SAHM But I’m Not Silly

With two kids in Elementary School I’d be a liar if I said my life is difficult. Mommy blogging has taken hold due to the enormous physical and emotional tolls taken during the first few years. When our kids head off to school the oppressive loneliness and physical exhaustion wanes. We all take up our hobbies (again) and the sisterhood of playgroups and play-dough is lost.

Those first five years when my kids learned how to separate themselves from me, were intense. There was never a moment when I thought I should have been working. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of moments when I wished I was working outside the home, but never did I waver in my decision to be Their Mother. Never in those early years.

Now the kids are bigger, and they need me a little less. Everyone can tie their own shoes and wipe their own bottoms. My daughter can make herself lunch and my son is on his way. Jane crosses the street herself and, soon, will be crossing Sepulveda Boulevard without me to hold her hand. Truth be told, from 9 to 3, I play a lot of tennis, fuss around the house and prepare elaborate dinners.

Does my family need a Stay at Home Mother any more? You might say, “no”. With the economy today, one could argue that women like me belong in the workplace. I should be supporting our household’s bottom line.

I will unapologetically say that; I’m staying home and that this is where I belong.

I can’t assign a dollars and cents value to what I do. Some websites try, and though I appreciate the thought, there’s so much more to my gainful unemployment than washing windows and roasting chickens.

There’s a calm involved in my decision to stay home. There are a multitude of tiny errands that need to happen in any home. How lovely is it that my kids don’t have to come with me to the bank, the grocery store, the other grocery store, Costco, the hardware store and the beauty salon? Oh yes I did say the beauty salon! I’m entitled.

I’m entitled to enjoy my life. It’s okay for me to relax a little bit each day. In fact, it’s desirable. At 3 pm Monday through Friday I pick the kids up from school and work like a crazy woman. I’m helping them with homework and social issues. I’m preparing dinner and moderating debates. I’m walking the dog and finding the lost hamster, again. I clean the dinner dishes and lock up the house at 8 o’clock each night. If I didn’t do something for myself why ever would I look forward to their homecomings?

I sink into bed each night with my bones aching.

I know that my day has value. I see it in our dinner table conversation. I feel it when my children bring home their friends. I watch my husband hurry home after a long day, and I know he’s in a hurry to be here because he doesn’t feel overwhelmed when he walks in the door.

Recently I read a post written by a working mother and my chest tightened. I literally ached for her. It’s clear that she doesn’t want to be in her office. It’s clear that she’s furious with her husband and I have an inkling that she resents her children.

I want to tell you a secret. Me too. When my kids were four and one and my Grandmother needed me too, I resented them. It was all too much to bear. I would lay on the sofa while they napped knowing that my husband was having the time of his life talking to adults. I would clutch the steering wheel with white knuckles while the kids sang along to Courtney Campbell and wish against wish that NPR would miraculously appeal to them. I won’t even bore you with the details of what gaining and losing 80 pounds does to your body. I didn’t realize how hard it was until it was over. I didn’t know how much I hated being home, because I was too busy for introspection.

So all you working moms? Me too, really. The Mommy Wars are passé. I’m okay with the world at large not seeing my value. I’m okay with enjoying my life. I refuse to believe that my only value comes in the form of martyrdom or in being overworked. The world appreciates the value of a working mother, my goodness, working women are heralded as SuperMom on a daily basis.

Am I setting a bad example for my daughter? I don’t think so. If she wants to be an engineer or a street sweeper I hope and pray and that she’ll be the best one she can. And if she wants to be a Mommy, I hope she gives herself permission to do that too.

With Alexander being just seven, I have 11 more years of gainful unemployment coming my way. Whatever will I do in retirement?