Friday, November 22, 2013

Working Mom: Ashley (on Being a SAHM)

I know, maybe that title was a little bit confusing... Allow me to explain:

This is the last official post of the "Working Mom" series we've been running here for the last month or so.  It has been SUCH a blessing to me and - based on the comments and feedback I've received from many of you - an encouraging and much-needed conversation for LOTS of working mommas out there.  I still really believe that this is an area the blog world is lacking in, and I'm thankful for the voices of so many wonderful mommas telling their stories and sharing tips on how they "make it work" for their families every day.

BUT, more than anything, if I've learned one thing through this series, it is that we are ALL working moms.  Whether we spend our days wearing high heels or yoga pants, sitting at a desk or on the floor, or carrying a briefcase or diaper bag - NONE of us ever get to "clock out" from being momma.  I have learned that we are a STRONG community of moms that love their kids something fierce, will do whatever is best for our families, and our BIGGEST tip/trick/tool is EACH OTHER...

With that said, today, I'm welcoming my dear blog friend Ashley to share some thoughts for "working" mommas from her perspective as a Stay at Home Mom... I hope that those of you that work outside of the home will take to heart some of her words and change your "perception" of the life of a SAHM; and, I hope that those of you that don't work outside the home but have faithfully read this series in support of those that do, will feel loved, respected, and understood here too.  We are ALL in this together!! :)

Ok... let's do this:

Hi friends! 


I'm Ashley, a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mama who blogs her life (and lots of really bad pictures) at The Pollock Potluck. Like many of you, I now define myself as a "mama" before anything else. My children have been the biggest blessing in my life and I feel so fulfilled in my role as a stay-at-home mommy.


When E asked me to write a post on behalf of the stay-at-home moms, I felt both honored and overwhelmed. I love E, and the fact that she asked me to write & share with her readers makes me feel like a million bucks. But speaking on a topic that covers such a HUGE realm of the blog world is very intimidating. Yes, I'm a stay-at-home mom to a toddler and another little lady due any day, but I've only done this gig for a little over two years now. I don't even have tenure! However, I have learned a few thing along the way and wanted to share from my perspective. So here we go...

A Note to a Working Mom from a SAHM

I've got mom friends who work part-time, mom friends who work full-time and other mom friends who have chosen to stay home full-time. Though we all define our "work" differently, we each have the common denominator of mama. Yes, we dress very differently for our jobs. Yes, our daily tasks can be worlds apart. And I'm betting your planner looks far different from mine. But you know what? We're actually not that different at all. Here are some truths I think we can all agree on:

1.) The perfectly clean house is an illusion. You'll never get there, so stop while you're ahead. Unless you & the rest of your family spend your waking hours elsewhere and do nothing more than sleep in your home, you'll never have a *perfectly* clean house. Yes, even moms who "stay at home all day" can't keep up with the housework! GIVE IT UP. The spotless windows and crumbless floors are not worth the stress and missed memories.

2.) Motherhood is hard, regardless of where you spend your time. For those who work outside of the home, I imagine you might feel guilty for leaving your precious littles to actually take some "personal time."  For those of us who spend our days at home, it's a daily struggle to find balance between "mom" and "me." We all struggle to find the balance, even though the weights on either end of our balance might vary. Let's stop trying to argue over who has it harder and just wave the white flag together. This mom thing? It's hard!

3.) Being a stay-at-home mom comes with a huge basket of UNREALISTIC expectations. Whether it's society, history, family, whatever, everyone has a certain stigma of the stay-at-home-mom. They think she can do it all, while still making homemade pies and welcoming guests to a perfectly tidy house at the drop of a hat. I'm here to tell you that if you drop by my house unexpectedly, I'll probably either (a) hide and pretend like nobody's home or (b) open the door to reveal a hot mess of a house. But most likely option (a). We all try to fit the molds set before us but the truth is no one mama perfectly fits those molds. Yes, I stay home with my son all day. No, I don't wear pjs and eat bon bons every day. Just like not everyone who wears a suit to work does the same thing, not all stay-at-home moms fit the same mold. Throw out your expectations of what you think your role "should" look like and begin to craft the one that works best for you.

4.) Not all stay-at-home moms "have it all." I often hear other moms say, "oh I wish I could stay home with my son/daughter/children but we just can't afford it." Newsflash? I'm a stay-at-home mom who "can't afford it." My husband and I have made huge sacrifices to live off just his income and it's not easy. It's hard for me to see so many of my fellow stay-at-home-mom friends building new houses, wearing the latest Target trends and drinking Starbucks every week. I'm not in their shoes but that doesn't mean that I don't "have it all." Know that staying home to raise a family isn't just a choice; it's also a calling. And sometimes that calling trumps all the other voices of circumstance and reason.

5.) God specifically designed each one of us to meet the unique needs of our families. Your family may need you to supply a second income by working outside of the home. My family needs me to be at home to best meet their needs. Regardless of where we "work," we were all created to be mamas, and that is the most important role we will ever fill.
To the working mom, know that those of us in the "stay-at-home mom" category respect you and your decisions. And quite often, if we're really honest, we wish we could switch places with you! There's no judgement on our part as to the kind of mama you are based on where you spend your days. We're all in this mom thing together. 

And now a little Q&A with E because I didn't ramble enough already ;) 

E: What do you think is the biggest misconception that working moms have of SAHMs? 
A: I guess it's the simple notion that what I do isn't "work." Have you seen this ecard that's all over Pinterest and Facebook?  It says "I hear you.  Raising kids and running a house keep me busy, too.  I also have this little gig on the side called a full time job." Ugh. Talk about a slap in the face. I get so angry when I see these little quotes that throw another log onto the  fire we call the 'mommy wars'. To the working mom, I don't doubt that you have a TON on your plate, managing a home, a family and a job outside of the home. Similarly, please don't discredit what I do all day. Staying home is a job that can be ugly & miserable and beautifully wonderful all in the same day.  Yes, my job has the perks of a flexible schedule, occasional naptimes, & an 'anything goes' wardrobe.  But, your job probably has perks as well, including bonuses, vacation time, and healthcare just to name a few.  Staying home to raise a family is most definitely a "job" in and of itself. 

E: What do you wish working moms knew about your role as a SAHM? 
A: That it's hard. For me personally, staying home full-time is the hardest job I'll ever have. Prior to staying home I was an inclusion kindergarten teacher. I taught 45 kindergarteners (two classes, each half-day), many of which were students with special needs. I was used to 11 hours workdays, rarely got more than 15 minutes for a lunch break and saw little recognition for all the time, sweat & tears I invested. But compared with staying home all day? It was cake. Don't get me wrong: I love staying home to raise my children, but I can't quite put into words well enough the challenges of staying home all day. The days are long. There are days on end where I don't have any adult interaction from 7am-6pm. My performance-oriented personality type struggles with the fact that days, and even weeks can go by with little fruit to show for my "work." It's been a humbling experience to stay home the past two years but I've learned so much about myself and my heart.

E:  What words of encouragement do you have for working mommas? 
A: YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB. True, I probably don't know you, but I applaud those of you who manage to keep it all together both inside and outside of the home. I can't even get to the library on time, let alone imagine getting myself and my family out the door on time for a 9-5 job everyday. Stop questioning if you're doing "enough." Stop feeling bad that you don't have the time to make every Pinterest crafts. You were created to be both a coworker and a mom. Embrace it! And remember that nobody can fill the role of mama as well as you. God set you apart specifically for your children. 

E: What insecurities come up in you when you talking to/ spending time with a mom in a different working situation from yours? 
A: I love this question. When I first drafted this post, I sent it to E and asked, "Does this post sound like an apology letter?!" In all honestly, I often feel like I have to defend my role as a stay-at-home mom. I know some of my working mom friends think that I have it so easy and just don't understand the rigors of a working mom. Just last night I read the Facebook status of a friend who posted that she was going crazy with her two-year-old son who was having 'one of those days' and she couldn't believe her husband had left her alone with said son for two whole hours. I couldn't help but laugh. Two hours? Try being left alone with the screaming monster for 11 hours with no relief. I wish there was less of a battle between who has it harder and more of an understanding that we both "work" equally as hard, just in different capacities. 

E: What do you wish a working mom would say to you?  How could she encourage you? 
A: Honestly? A simple "Let's go get coffee" or "Want to hang out?" I'm not looking for sympathy or recognition for the job that I do. Just like you, it's one that I chose and I do it because I love it. Instead, I wish we could toss out  all the different "working" adjectives that preface moms and just be moms.

THANKS GIRL!

Are you a stay at home mom?  
How would you answer those last questions?  
Let's chat...

5 comments:

  1. Ashley, this was a great post! Very well stated and I loved your answers to the Q&A. Let's all just get over our grass-is-greener approach to life or thinking that we each have the hardest hand dealt to us. I am so thankful to be a "working" mom and just to be a MOM. These are the best days, having littles at home, and they'll be over before we know it. Thanks for your great, balanced perspective. I loved your perspective too because it's YOURS. We all have a voice in this and we can all learn so much from each other. Great job on doing your job so well :) Your little guy is adorable. And congratulations on little girl on the way! Or maybe she has been born already? (I should check out your blog to find out!)

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so fabulous! I love it! I am sharing my thoughts on being a SAHM over at www.keepcalmmommyon.com tomorrow and would love for you to check it out. It's a series starting about supporting women's choices whether they work out of the home, or in the home.

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  4. Such a fantastic post! I always try to keep the "grass is greener on the other side" mentality out of my thinking because it's ALL hard!

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  5. this is SUCH an awesome Ash (and E). I love the line, "staying home to raise a family isn't just a choice; it's also a calling" serious goosebumps. Being a mom is no joke. In the last 5 years I've experienced both the pros and cons of both extremes, stay-at-home vs. working. I've learned A LOT about myself in that time - what I need in terms of "me" vs. "mom" time - and I've also learned Theo Roosevelt was exceptionally wise with his, "comparison is the thief of joy" quote.
    xo
    P.S. - welcome to the world baby Georgia!!

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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