28 June 2013

SAHM guilt

I've always felt that my duty as a full time stay-at-home mom is to be available to my children at all times.  It explains our long history of night nursing and cosleeping.  And it explains why I'm in the classroom so much.  This belief is certainly fortified by a campus culture, as perpetrated by administration, faculty, and parents themselves, of extreme parent participation.

My fellow full timers and I have had many conversations (read: rants) on this topic.  These tirades usually revolve around a self-pitying teacher or an overstressed working parent* who feels entitled to call upon us, the leisure, ample-free-time wielding, infinitely available unemployed folks.  It's such a strange phenomenon!  Demanding that a SAHM share her time because she has it in abundance is as ridiculous as demanding a WOHM to share her paycheck because she has it in equal abundance.

Still, I've historically been surreptitious about my off-campus activities.  That lasted until the day I came upon a friend who's utterly impervious to The Guilt.  "I drop the kids off in my gym clothes and toddle off.  With pride."  What the what?!?  You don't feel the need to stay until the class is settled for the day?  Aren't you afraid that the children will fall through the cracks if you aren't there to run small group discussions?  Don't you have to go shopping for a surprise after-lunch snack for the entire class? 

Nope!  She doesn't.  On any of those counts.

The conclusion to which my little circle has arrived is that sometimes, we NEED to do things like wait for the gas company to drop by during their scheduled interval or do laundry and clean the house (because we don't get paid and can't afford to hire housekeepers like our employed cohorts).  And sometimes, we just WANT to do things.  Like lunch with friends (Yes, I just used "lunch" as a verb.  I'm sorry.) or take a long walk or watch a creepy Hannibal episode in broad daylight lest our pants be scared off watching it after dusk.

As it turns out, ALL of these things are done for our children.  It makes us, as I've always felt necessary, available to them at all times.  My boys don't need to be dragged to the post office and grocery store because I quit my job to run errands during the day so that I could be available to them.  They don't deserved a frazzled, over-scheduled mother who hasn't relaxed or exercised for 5 consecutive days because, yes, you guessed it: I quit my job to be available to them.

In exchange for having the children come home to art projects prearranged on the kitchen table and homemade meals, I have given up a multitude of luxuries that would have otherwise come with an actual paycheck.  I have also relinquished some measure of sanity that I would have derived from working in my chosen profession, the one for which I joyfully and dutifully trained for years and years.  But that's okay.  Life is as I planned it, hurdles and all.

The Guilt can take a long walk off a short pier.  I'm done with The Guilt.

Following is an unrelated photos I was asked to snap by A1. It's not a great image, but he will to the blog looking for it and be disappointed if he doesn't find it.

*I know, I know, all parents have a tough time of it and there's never a reason to pit women, especially mothers, against each other.  Again, I'm sorry.  Some of the most hideous people I know are SAHMs while there are many amazing women I've met have been WOHMs.  I hardly think that employment status dictates personal character.

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