When Kevin and I made the long awaited decision to have kids, we agreed that we both wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom. I was raised by a mom who stayed home with us, and I loved the feelings of closeness and security that came with knowing my mom would always be around to dance with me or paint with me or just cart me around from activity to activity. I wanted that for my kids. I wanted that for myself. Or did I?
After being home with our first born, Alex, for a few months, I started to get antsy. Not antsy to get away from the house. Not antsy to get away from Alex. Simply antsy to explore other venues of myself while being a mom. Slowly but surely I started picking up writing gigs, volunteering opportunities, consulting jobs. Suddenly my noodle in the acronym soup had changed. I was no longer a SAHM. I had become a WAHM without even knowing it.
Part of this transition was simply that I like being busy. I like feeling as though I'm being intellectually challenged and that I'm doing something to better the world. Deep down, I think my greater fear was becoming obsolete as a person. I would soon be able to define myself as a mother, but would shortly not be able to define myself as anything else. This really scared me.
Something about writing "stay-at-home mom" or "homemaker" on my tax returns made me cringe a little bit. If I'm honest with myself, I'll admit that something about those phrases didn't feel good enough to me. In spite of the fact that SAHM was the title I had dreamed of my entire life and a title that I truly believe is the most important one of all in this world.
Here's what I've learned. I have loved being a Work at Home Mom - a lot! I love spending time with my kids and helping them to become better people. I love the picking and choosing that comes with having my writing career and my consulting job be secondary to my primary responsiblity as a mother. Don't like the option that's being presented at work? Don't want to seek out a new gig? Don't want to go to work today? No big deal. My "real" job is being a mom. I can say no to all of those things that I don't want to do in my freelance life.
BUT...and this is a big BUT. I'm not very good at being a WAHM. In trying to combine my two careers - that of a money-earning part of the working world and that of a child-adoration-earning part of the home world - the career that suffers is the one involving my family. There are many times when I find myself saying "One more minute" (which is really 30 more minutes) while I finish up an article or a newsletter layout or a strategic planning agenda. Meanwhile, the dishes sit unfinished, the laundry sits unfolded and the kids sit waiting for mommy's much needed attention.
What I've noticed is on the days that I am fully committed to my SAHM job, my entire family (including myself) is much happier. Things are clean. Things are organized. Mommy has more patience. And life is a lot more fun. So, I'm trying to find a balance. Selfishly, I don't want to give up my WAHM career. But honestly, I want to a more focused mother, a more focused homemaker and a more focused partner. I'm working on ways to divide my time more evenly so that I don't have to stop writing or mothering, but can do each one just a little bit better.
There's no right or wrong answer. And I know there's no panacea in the "Mommy Wars." But I feel like I'm having my Mommy War as a civil war within myself. Any suggestions?