Judged for being a SAHM

Disclaimer: This is a touchy subject and these are merely my opinions. What works for my family may not work for yours. We are all individuals with varying outlooks, values and priorities, and I am respectful of that.

I don’t know about you, but in my day, way way back in the dark ages (80’s!) it was considered the norm, in my experience anyway, for the mum of the family to stay at home, take care of the children and run the house. Old fashioned as it may seem, and taking women’s lib out of the equation, it was a set up that worked for many families. My mum was always there to greet us when we got home from school (usually with a plate of fruit shaped into a smiley face!), and this wasn’t because she is intellectually incapable, she has two degrees and is one of the wisest people I know; it was because, for my parents, being a stay at home mum was valued just as highly, if not higher, than my Dad’s very successful property and surveying business. I’ve lost count of the number of times I heard my Dad tell people that Mum had the harder job. I had always envisaged that when the time came for Ste and I to start a family I would finish paid employment and start working at home, investing in my family and helping build my children up into strong, well-rounded, confident members of society. What I hadn’t anticipated was the reaction I often get when I tell people I’m a stay at home mum, and usually from other mum’s no less! Generally preconceptions include but aren’t limited to, that I’m lazy, sponging off the state, intellectually subnormal and therefore incapable of forging a career for myself, I’m selfish etc etc. It got to the point where I’d apologetically say “I’m just a stay at home mum”, when people asked me what I do. Just a stay at home mum. JUST a stay at home mum! I’m a life coach, counselor, nurse, cook, teacher, cleaner, book-keeper, artistic director, personal shopper, gardener, laundry maid, advocate, intercessor, and more. I am not JUST a stay at home mum. I am mad with myself for feeling guilty about doing what I think will give my daughter the best start in life! I am cross that I let society devalue my role as a mother, when society’s opinions are really not that high on the importance scale. I am saddened that us women aren’t more supportive and encouraging of each other’s lifestyle decisions, and more respectful of the fact that what might work for one family might not be right for another.

I realise that these days, with the economy the way it is, house prices, inflation and cost of living rising at a rate that far exceeds the rise in wages, it is far harder for most families to have a parent stay home and look after the kids, however we’re proof it’s not impossible. We do it on less than the average UK wage. In my opinion being financially broke now is far easier to fix in the long run then trying to fix a broken family, and please do not think for a minute that I’m suggesting that all kids whose parents work end up broken, because I’m absolutely not, but it scares me that so many children are spending the first four or five most formative years of their lives learning behaviours and values from caregivers that may not reflect the values of their parents. We have had to make significant cut backs, we are on a strict budget, we rarely holiday anywhere but my parent’s place in Pembrokeshire, I can’t just go shopping like I did when we had a relatively significant disposable income, we seldom eat out any more, but it is totally worth it. We are willing to take that financial hit. My mind just doesn’t compute working 40 hours a week to pay someone else to bring my child up; the child that we prayed for for years, the child that we vowed we would bring up to the best of OUR capabilities, and I am done feeling guilty about trying to do that.

So what is my point in writing (aside from allowing myself a little vent)? I figured I can’t be the only parent out there with ‘guilty SAHM syndrome’. I’m interested to hear your stories and views.


6 thoughts on “Judged for being a SAHM

  1. Well said Hannah, brave decision to go against what for many has become the ‘norm’. I have never regretted the time I spent with my boys, and one of the hardest things for me was returning to work when my youngest was 11.. not being there when he got in from school was very difficult to say the least. Enjoy it while you can, they grow up so fast and you can’t regain those years, ‘when they are gone, they are gone’ Joy xx

  2. Fab bit of writing there Han and to some extent I totally agree. The only bit I hesitate at is the implication of a child being at nursery being brought up by someone else… Jack is at a nursery 4 days per week but I don’t see him being brought up by them. I see it as they are able to give Jack what I can’t always for 8 hours per day which is interaction with others, social skills and if I’m perfectly honest I don’t think I’m a patient enough mother to do that (hard to admit that)… i have a busy brain and struggle to communicate with him at the minute, but my god I love him to the moon and back and he is very much ‘brought up’ by his parents not nursery.

    As you know James’ mum was exactly as your mum was a traditional stay at home wife/mum and my mum was a business woman, mum, wife and housekeeper and as a result a very busy lady Something I can relate to as I too have followed my mum but with a few differences and privileges…
    My cleaning business means I delegate my housekeeping which means Saturdays are mine and jacks whilst daddy works in the morning.
    I will be there to take to school and pick up and only work whilst he’s at school which also means school holidays are fun times. But in order for this privilege of earning good money and working when I want and round jack I have to work now in order to grow my business.
    Not had to significantly suffer financially.

    Phoebe is an absolute credit to you and you are a most amazing mummy and it shows in her every move but do think its down to the child as an individual. Sometimes I do wonder if I do enough. Food for thought maybe?!

    Jack and I are so alike, head strong, stubborn and we can meet like a nasty storm waiting to happen at times!

    Like you say we are all so different but that’s what makes us all interesting isn’t it!? Life would be boring if we were all the same and besides I like looking into others lives, that’s how we learn and become who we are by taking snippets from others as we go along on our journey.

    ‘The race is long and hard and in the end it is only with yourself’ something I’ve learnt this last year x

    • When I say down to a child as an individual I mean you two blend beautifully and some children are easy to nurture and some are not. X

  3. I’ve only just found your blog again after you initially set it up. Having been a SAHM for nearly 15 years the title of that post stood out for me. Thank you for putting into words what I have felt for most of that time. I do it for the same reasons as you, and I have absolutely no regrets at all. I’ve done a few uni papers recently just to check I’m not losing my brain cells, but getting A’s and A+’s shows that’s not the case. I am as capable as the next person of holding down a good job, but I know I can’t be the Mum I want to be while I put my energies into that job. Sometimes I might have a very boring day doing household chores and the ‘groundhog day’ things we do as Mums. And then whilst picking up socks next to my sons bed while he’s practicing guitar he’ll mention something that happened at school, or even burst into tears and ask for a hug because of something he’d been worrying about. That half an hour of quality time in an otherwise straightforward day, gave my son the opportunity to talk through his issue and work out strategies for fixing it. Being a SAHM is a job made up of lots of ‘little’ things like this which are massive in the lives of the children. As the,boys have got older, the things we are dealing with are much more important and actually quite worrying, the thought of going back to full time work ‘when they’re all at high school’ is not on my priority list any more. I’d still rather have our half finished house and camping holidays to enable my boys to have a Mum who’s here for them after school and in the many (and believe me they come around fast) school holidays. I love that my kids don’t have to get up early in the holidays and go off to holiday clubs like all their friends. They’re home making pancakes and playing music and mucking around with the dog. It’s the same here in New Zealand, the pressure to work is huge, and I have felt guilty a lot over the years. It helps to have friends who feel the same and you can support each other. It’s not an easy option by any means, but it’s so worthwhile and you won’t regret it.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Julia. Although sad in many ways, it’s also comforting to know that there are others out there feeling the same way. I think us women can be pretty hard on ourselves in many respects. It’s interesting to hear your perspective on whether to go back to work when they’re in high school or not. I hadn’t thought about it from that angle x

  4. Pingback: Your favourite posts of 2013. | Teacups & Pearls

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