Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WOHMs - Perception Vs. Reality

A post by Katie today got me to thinking about the whole SAHM (stay at home mom) vs. WOHM (work outside the home mom) debate. Are the perceptions/stereotypes of what it means to be a SAHM or WOHM what actually cause the debate? Maybe the reason certain groups are so against SAHMs or WOHMs is because they don't have a good idea what it's like to be one. So while I can't give an accurate picture of what it's like to be a SAHM (although I have a pretty good idea how hard it is), I can tell you what it's like to be a WOHM.

First off, I went back to work after having Caroline when she was about 2 1/2 months old. Contrary to what some people against WOHMs might think, this was NOT an easy thing to do. In fact, I probably cried every night for the first few weeks, but since there was no other option for financial reasons, I had to suck it up and deal. However, we got into a groove and it was obvious, our family life was not suffering. Jason and I made a point to continue to have family come first - we never work later than 4:30 and we never work evenings/weekends. Then I got pregnant with Bryce and I started to look for some ways to work part-time, but unfortunately finding fruitful part-time employment at the same time as finding part-time childcare is nearly impossible. So we had Bryce and I went back to work when he was 3 months old. Again, this was very hard to do, but there weren't really any other options, so we made it work.

However, now that I've been a full time working mom for over 3 years I can honestly say, I'm happy. I have a very strong bond with my children and we get lots of quality time together. I think that if you are a working parent, this is what is key - you have to make the time that you do have together quality time. We eat dinner at our kitchen table all together every evening - a meal that is almost always homemade by either Jay or me. We often do our grocery shopping and errand running together as a family too. But aside from that, the reason that I am happy is that for me, going to work is a creative outlet for me and I feel productive. I know that I would have a very difficult time as a SAHM since I need a lot of interaction and stimulation to feel connected. So for me, the fact that I get out to work everyday makes me a better mom because I am more focused and happy to be with them when I am home. But that's just me....

Another stereotype I feel like people who are against WOHMs need to know is that not all working parents work terrible hours and are more committed to their career then their family. I've made a point to choose a career/job where there is a lot of respect for an employee's family life. No one ever gives me any trouble for taking sick days with kids or for taking time off when daycare is closed. Jason and I have also acknowledged the fact that while we like our jobs that if "getting ahead" or a promotion meant that we'd have to work more hours and take time away from the family, that we wouldn't do it. Maybe when the kids are older and in school doing their own thing, but not right now. Maybe that means we won't be making oodles of money, but really, that is not what it's all about. Sure, we live in a single family home, but we also live in a cheaper area of town. And yeah, we have digital cable and internet (well, usually we do when Comcast isn't sucking) but for the most part, we hardly live like the and famous. I'm content to be able to make a quick run to Target, buy some environmentally safe cleaners and grab a latte while I'm there. I don't need much....

So maybe you learned something about this WOHM and maybe you didn't, but I think it's unfair to stereotype WOHMs or SAHMs based on what you think they're doing. Sure, maybe there are some SAHMs who sit around and watch soap operas all day and barely tend to their kids and maybe there are WOHMs who work ridiculous hours and barely talk their kids. But these are two ends of the parenting spectrum and I believe that most moms fall somewhere in between.

No one said being any kind of mom is easy. I don't think that there is such a thing as easy parenthood. But if you make the choices that are best for you and your family, that is all that matters.

2 comments:

Kelly said...

Amen sistafriend! What a wonderful blog. And although you already know this, you have so many friends and family that support you 100%. You are an amazing mother!! :)

bracken said...

I would have to totally agree with you! You hit it on the head!!