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Stay-At-Home-Mom vs. Work-Away from-Home-Mom...

March 27, 2010
124 Comments

When I signed the registration form for being a parent I had no idea what I was getting into. The only disclaimer I’d read in the past 48 hours included something about 99.9% effective and blah, blah, blah. Oh, I knew it would be hard, I’d seen things, I’d heard things, heck I’d even been a kid myself. I knew that when I chose to bring a child into this world my life would change, and that I would permanently be responsible for someone else. I also knew that I’d face people with opinions on everything.

There were people who made sure I knew that a drug free delivery was the only way to go, while others were strongly suggesting I “say YES to drugs”, there were the pro breastfeeding gals, who breastfed their children until they were 30 and figured that was the way everyone should go, and then there were my formula friends, who supported the fact that my boobs and milk just didn’t happen. There was Camp Spanks a Lot, and the Time Out bungalows. The saga has gone on and on as the time as turned. With each stage and development, come a whole new batch of people with a whole new bunch of opinions.

For the most part I was ready for that kind of stuff. I am pretty opinionated myself and so from time to time I’ve shared my views on things with the people around me (although I always include the disclaimer that states clearly, “This is the opinion of the author, please feel free to take, use or discard any and all information spewing forth”). I’ve taken the good with the bad, I’ve let a lot of it go and taken some pretty rockin’ advice to heart. The thing is, there was one debate I was completely and utterly ignorant to. The Stay at Home Mom (SAHM) vs. the Work Away from Home Mom (I don’t know the abbreviation here so let’s call her WAHM).

There are people who say that the only “good parent” is a SAHM (this is not me talking, NOT ME, but others), there are those who are very WAHM, keeps you young, in touch with things you know. There are arguments that it’s harder to be a SAHM than a WAHM. There are accusations of laziness on the part of the SAHM and selfishness on the part of the WAHM. Are you SAHM’d and WAHM’d out yet? Because I sure as heck am!

To most of it I say, whatever and a great big “Pffft” (punctuated with Daffy Duck like spit spray). But the thing is, sometimes it stings. A cousin of mine faced this just recently and brought forth yet again, the fire of emotions that I have on the subject. A comment made to her about Stay at Home Moms, of which she is and a pretty stinkin’ good one at that, is that SAHMs are not as smart as the working Mom. That’s right, SAHMs are S-M-R-T smart. Because the suit they put on in the morning is of the sweat variety not the double-breasted, or pack a diaper bag instead of a briefcase, their intelligence level is far below that of the average working stiff.

Well, that’s just plain brew-ha-ha! Garbage in the first degree. It’s a comment that, when made to someone I love and respect, offended even me, miles away.

I’m a working, stay at home mom. Sound a little contradictory, let me explain. I work 3 days a week in a business office, that happens to be in my parent’s home. It’s a fully functioning business, 24 years in business (WHOOT Mom and Dad!), and I do actual, brain activating work there. I also, have my two girls in tow. They play, “help” and distract us daily, but they are always there. In fact they hold the title of mini office assistants (MOAs, my girls are at 3 and 1, don’t you know) So, while I work I am still parenting my daughters.

I live in both camps, Tuesday – Thursday we’re working girls, of the classy division, Bethany, Audrey and I. Friday – Monday we’re Stay at Home, or shop till we drop ladies, still maintaining our class – unless one of us breaks down sobbing in the middle of IKEA because we can’t have that ridiculously ugly mirror with magnets, then the class disappears for everyone involved.

What I know, is that no matter what I do, being at home, going to work, this gig, being a Momma is hard. It’s rewarding, fulfilling, and wicked awesome, but most days it’s hard. Whether you work at home, work out of the home or stay home, on a minute by minute basis, you are faced with challenges that no schooling could have prepared you for. Haven’t you ever wondered why universities don’t offer degrees in Parenting? Why Parenting 101 isn’t the top of their curriculum? I mean they’d make a killing offering those classes, even if they only charged $25 a person.

It’s because there’s no formula to this being a Mom business. There’s no Holy Grail of Motherhood, a book that has the answer to every question, every problem for every child. Each kid is different, even when spawned from the same 2 parents. Just ask the Duggars, I betcha all 19 of their kids are different and have presented them with different joys and challenges over the past 20 something years. We have our first child, and think we’ve got it all figured and what we don’t know, we’re sure a quick phone call to Mom will fix, I mean, she’s our Mom, she’ll have the answer. And sometimes she does, but most often she doesn’t. She has advice, knowledge and life experience that leads you on the path to making your own decision as a parent.

Being a good parent isn’t contingent on whether or not you are a SAHM, a WAHM or CAHM (crazy at home Mom). It’s not measured on degrees or merits, nobody grades your laundry levels, measures the slime forming in your toilet or documents the fact that in a pinch you wipe your kid’s nose with the back of your hand and wipe in on your pants without even thinking (Oh, come on. Like you haven’t done it!)

It’s not the childless people with too much to say, the old ladies who’ve lost all sense of verbal control or the other competitive Moms who’s opinions matter. And even though you live with your husband/partner, and they had a small part in getting those kidlets here (when you weigh out the pregnancy and delivery part, the putting of the bun in the oven is the smallest part, sorry babe), it’s not even their opinion that matters.

The only ones who matter are the recipients of your parenting. The little buddies who receive all the love and hugs, lectures and scolding, time outs and date nights out. The ones who inspire those moments that you thinking, “Yes! I’ve got this. Maybe I am a good Mom!” and who are also the cause for those many, many times during the day you think, “What am I doing?! I didn’t sign up for THIS, get me outta here!” (Not that you want out of being a parent but out of the moment, absolutely)

They are also the ones who give you hugs that actually make you feel like your insides are warm, who make you laugh until milk comes out of your nose and who’s daily development leaves you astounded. They’re the ones who matter and if they are happy, healthy and content, then you’re doing your job, and your pay check, the one with your kids’ happy faces all over it, is well deserved.

So, whether you’re fortunate enough to be a SAHM or if being WAHM is what your life entails (and if that’s your choice there’s nothing wrong with it either! I just say fortunate because I’d love to not have to work), or if you’re like me and while you can’t not work, God and your parents have laid out the best of both worlds for you, if you’re having a good day or a bad. Take a moment, look at your kids (or a picture of them when they weren’t driving you to edge of insanity) and know you’re a good Mom! No, I take it back, you’re a GREAT Mom! You’re making life work for you and your family, you’re floundering sometimes and flourishing others, you love your kids and they love you.

In their eyes you’re a hero, a warrior, a doctor and a genius (unless they are teenagers and then no matter what you do you’re they’re still "smarter"). And to them you’re the best you can be, and that, my Mommy friends is all, that matters.

Ashley Stone, is a SAHM, WAHM and a blogger on the side. She has 2 beautiful little girls who fill her life with love, joy and exhaustion!

124 Comments

I stumbled across this today- thank you for a nicely written and heartfelt blog! I struggle with my feelings about this "debate" DAILY!! The debate is all in my own head- and includes feelings of guilt, jealously, gratefulness, being proud, being overwhelmed, being stressed, being annoyed, being happy...I could go on!! I am a full time working mom-(WAHM lol), and have two great kids- son is 6, daughter is 4...

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This is a fantatic post that puts this debate (debacle) in it's place. Each of us choose our own path, the one that is right for us. And that just doesn't make the other paths wrong, just different.

High five!

That was awesome to read! SOOO true! I could be the mom rushing her baby off to daycare everyday, but WHY?? Like you, I knew even before I had my son that I wanted to stay home with him each and every day. There is absolutely NO amount of money that can even compare to the experiences our time together has given us. I love being a SAHM/WAHM!!!! And as you said, even sometimes a CAHM! Thanks for a great read!

Darylann

http://www.HappyMommyAtHome.com

Wow. Thanks! Cool! So funny, so helpful, so true! And I come in on station KMWC with eight kids married, working, and in college! I like the abbreviations so I am trying it! 4 married, 2 working one teaching here one in China, 3 in college. Some overlapping here. God bless you! And I also fit as both a SAHM and WAHM. Our world is education so I could work some of the time right where our kids were! Majorly at home and loving it.

I have been on both sides of the debate. The grass is always greener on the other side. But as for a WAHM being smarter than a SAHM, there is no comment to justify such stupidity.

Appreciated this article- Especially CAHM. I've been both stay at home and working, and with my son almost 11, believe it or not- Still trying to sort it out! I did just want to affirm Nadine's post. It's great relief for someone to express all of their annoyances...

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thank you for this article. I am a full time SHAM in college part time and will be a WAHM by this time next year. knowing that I wont have as much time with my son (1 almost 2) as I did with my daughter (4 almost 5) is making me a CAHM. lol. I love staying home with my kids MOST days and hate that I have to go to work but I want them to have opportunities that I did not have while in school.

I really loved this...I am a WAHM mom of 4, not only do i work full time, i'm also going to college online and taking very good care of my 4 kids. age range from 2 to 11. I would love to have the opportunity to stay home with them but i also love the work force also...(sometimes we need that adult conversation...can't talk about Elmo all day lol) so i support either choice. I'm glad someone did not make me feel bad about my choice.

Good post! Ashley, you did a great job at staying neutral so no one gets offended. Most of us do have very strong opinions on the subject, often feeling like we have to defend our choices. We really should be supporting each other more, because whether working, staying home or working at home, motherhood is the most rewarding yet challenging job there is.
Thanks for the encouragement!

Kimi
www.celebrate-motherhood.com

Nadine, I think we all run on annoyed sometimes, sometimes I also think that we kind of confuse envy with annoyed. I envy my SAHM's who can do all the things you mentioned, at this time in life I don't get to do that. And it annoys me that I'm envious, I get to take them to work when others don't, I have them when others have lost their kids, I shouldn't feel envy, but I do and that, annoys me...

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Thanks back Ashley and others! Who knew it would feel good to comment and vent to strangers!

I am a WAHM, not out of choice but out of neccesity. I am a single WAHM,( that's a bit like a double whammy)! So unlike Darylann (no offence intended) who obviously has the support of income provided by someone else... The only money that comes into our home is from the money that I make while I'm at work and wishing evryday that I had the opportunity to be a SAHM...

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Very well said! I have been a SAHM for almost 10 years now and it is something my husband and I planned for. I am an "older" mom and had my career before having kids. I always knew I wanted to stay home with my children and I realize how very lucky I am to be able to do so because some people just don't have the choice. But we make sacrifices and choices too and go without some (material) things to be able to do so also...

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Thank you so much for posting this! I think it is fabulous, and your posts are so funny- I love your sense of humor. Like others who've commented, I have this debate in my head EVERY DAY. It is impossible for me not to work full-time, but I still find myself "defending" this in my own head every day. I come to the same conclusion- There are benefits and drawbacks to ANY situation. In the end, I appreciate very much what you said about the kids being the judge...

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Beautifully written! I hope you'll write more! (btw, I'm a Stay at Home SINGLE Mom with 3 teenagers, go figure!)

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