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February 20, 2013

Work-At-Home-Mom Dilemma

The other day someone {I'll do this person a favor and not say who it was} called and asked what I was doing. When I told this person "I'm working" the response was "oh yeah, changing diapers and feeding babies." 

Hmmm. Not only is this grossly undervalue what stay-at-home-moms {SAHM} do, it completely undermines the fact that I'm not really a SAHM. I'm a work-at-home-mom {WAHM}. In between the hours of playdates, classes, cooking, tot school, cleaning stuff, I work. I have a boss, deadlines, invoicing, writing, editing that I need to do. I constantly feel pulled between these two worlds -- unsure of where I really fit. And at that second, I happened to be 150 words into a legal article. 

Lately, I've found myself envying both SAHMs and working moms. Society has clear expectations for these categories. But, I don't find that to be true of WAHMs. In the age of Pinterest, SAHMs are these amazing, busy, crafting machines -- or at least feel the pressure to be. They have organically fed clean children. They work out. Their houses are clean, and organized, and cute. 

Let me say, I understand that's not reality for SAHMs and that they aren't perfect with perfect kids. I'm not trying to define reality, just what society believes is reality. 

Then there are working moms. I'm automatically not a working mom -- cause I spend all day with my kid. The end. I find that people assume all I can talk about is babies. Like I don't have a foot in the legal community, like I couldn't possibly understand -- after all I spend my days changing diapers and feeding babies.

So, where does that leave me? Not the SAHM that can do everything. Not a working mom who is relevant and awesome in her field. I feel like I'm in this gray area where people don't really remember that I work, or know what exactly it is I do. I guess I'm just the one that changes diapers, and feeds babies, but I a little bit more rushed and distracted way?

I'm truly grateful for my job. I hate that I have to work, but the reality is I have to work. My job lets me do that and be home. But, I won't lie, I feel stuck in a really weird place in society and I feel even more unsure about why I care so much about how others classify me.

What do you guys think? Any other WAHMs feel this weird pull too?

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Steph @ The Kat Almanac
Me and A are both dirty. My house is a mess. I haven't worked out in over a year. I would like to meet one of these perfect moms. Are they all on speed? I don't know how they do it!
SAH Attorney
SAH Attorney said…
I hear you, lady! I do sometimes feel like people don't believe me that I actually WORK at home, but what can you do? The people who matter know how I spend my days, and that's good enough for me. :-)
SAH Attorney
SAH Attorney said…
("Work" as in perform tasks for legal clients, not just cleaning and keeping the baby alive... which, as you know, is a full time job in itself!)
The Pajama Mama
The Pajama Mama said…
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!! I found this to be true when I worked at home BEFORE I had a kid! People would just call or ask favors, because "You're around." Yes, I'm around. At my desk. Where I work. Which just happens to be within my house.

And another thing! Your friend who said, "Oh yeah, changing diapers and feeding babies?" Yes. That is hard-ass work. If changing diapers is so much fun, why is it that I never have a line at my front door of people who just can't WAIT to get their hands on a poopy prefold?? So even if you were "just" changing diapers and feeding babies, CONGRATULATIONS!! You are doing the hardest thing you could be doing! You're not just tending to the physical needs of a child - you are slowly, surely turning a feral human being into one worth knowing, one lovingly changed diaper and spoonful of of organic (or not!) peaches at a time.

I find people who are free with comments like those are the same who comment on news stories "Where were the parents? My kids would NEVER..." etc.
Megan said…
I feel weird too since I work part-time. Not quite a SAHM and not quite a working mom either.
the naptown organizer
Dear Pajama Mama,



The Naptown Organizsr
Nicole @ The Kavanaugh Report
*you're -- I swear people pay me to write
Sabrina said…
This is a great perspective. If I ever have a baby I will be in this situation (I'm an accountant). Gives me something more to think about going forward. Thanks for sharing this!
The Maiden Metallurgist
My WAHD husband shares your struggle. And unfortunately he doesn't have an awesome community of SAHM and WAHM to commiserte and relate with. It's a realyl lonely job, and he is really really isolated. Just him and Hen, and whent he do go to story time or playdates he's always a little bit outside. I wish I could do something to change tht for him. But I can't.
Nicole @ The Kavanaugh Report
I can't imagine that kind of isolation. I think I would seriously go crazy without my group of mom friends.
Mom said…
I have heard that work at home moms are one of the most isolated groups. I work part-time, so I share some of your feelings about not quite having enough time. However, as much as I would love to be home all the time with my kiddos, I do feel that it is easier to not have to work and take care of kids at the same time. (I am a PA, so working at home is really not an option.) Nice post; thanks for sharing.
Lauren @ This Life
I'm so jealous that you can be a WAHM. I think that would be ideal, but
I know it must be tough!!
Miranda Jacobs
Miranda Jacobs said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
andreija said…
I just read your article and I do relate to how you feel. I have 2 babies right now, 3 years old and 6 months old. I am a WAHM with 2 online jobs and 1 part time job. I also breastfeed full time my baby. My house is dirty and I don't cook or clean, I'm blessed to have someone do that for us. Even with the help, I do feel as though I am mediocre at everything that I do. I work while breastfeeding. I even work in my pajamas. I work early in the morning until late at night. I am so tired but I feel as though what I do is not enough. I am glad that I am not the only one in this position. Quitting is not an option so just dig in and move on. Cheers to us WAHMs!