10.28.2004

WOHM, WAHM, SAHM: Why Can't We Just Be "M"s?

I don't want to debate the pros and cons of stay-at-home-moms versus work-out-of-the-home-moms versus work-at-home-moms. I really don't see the value in that debate. What works for you, won't work for me, and vice versa.

What's on my mind today is simply the dilemmas we all face as moms in making our decisions. I, for one, have always believed I would be a WOHM. There was no question in my mind. Even after Buddy Boo was born, even as we bonded from that very moment he was placed on my chest, even as I watched him grow and develop in absolute amazement during my maternity leave and as I grew as a person more in that short period of time than I've grown in all my years. I knew, I wanted to continue working. I had to. I didn't know how not to work.

Then the doubt began creeping in. How can I work and take care of my baby? How on earth can I deal with sending him to daycare? How can I schedule in at least three pumping sessions at work when I rarely am able to schedule in breakfast or lunch? How can I schedule in two feedings in the morning, get his bottles ready, make sure he has enough diapers, wipes and burp cloths for the day, make sure all of my pump parts were ready to go for the day, and get myself ready too?

Then the guilt. I'm allowing strangers to raise my child. I'm not going to be able to pump enough milk after returning to work and will have to (gasp) supplement with formula. I'm going to miss his most precious developmental moments. (All guilt I have let go of now, by the way).

So yes, eventually, there were times -many times- when suddenly I found myself wondering what the hell I was doing going back to work. Could we live with me as a SAHM? Could I live with myself as a SAHM?

Pre-Boo, I worked my share of 60, even 70 hour weeks. Now I no longer work more than 40/45 hours per week. I just can't do it. I won't. I'm lucky in that the majority of my work involves writing, which I can do from home. But do I want to continue, or is it time for something new?

So back to the WAHM, WOHM, SAHM deal. I have a GREAT respect for SAHMs. I don't know how you do it. Because that comes with its own challenges, not just financially for some, but mentally, physically and emotionally for all SAHMs I know. Some people have this idyllic image of what it is like to be a SAHM, and perhaps it is those folks who have more trouble once the reality of staying home really kicks in. Those who have a more realistic picture of what it means to stay at home seem to have a better time dealing with its challenges, and enjoying its rewards. WAHMs almost have the best and the worst of both worlds, from what I've heard. WOHMs, I know we're all just trying to keep our heads above water. We have awesome days where we feel organized like we're Super Mom, and then we have days when we can't believe we actually have clean, matching socks on and managed to vacuum the floors even once in the last month. (Note to all: the best advice every mom has given me is to accept the fact that you have to let the housework go. It's ok. And I've come to realize, it really is ok. Dirty dishes are less important than time with my son). And single moms - good Lord! How I have great respect and admiration for you single moms out there. Single moms are all Super Moms in my eyes. I seriously bow down to your amazing abilities. If awards were to be given out, I would personally give them out to every single mom out there.

We're all Moms. Whether I eventually decide to work in a job that is less demanding with less hours, or whether I eventually decide to stay home and start my own business, or whether I decide someday to take a break from my career and stay at home, I know it will be a decision that will benefit my family. Because it will be a decision I believe in, and stand behind, and will make me happy. My son needs me to be happy with my place in life, so I can set a good example for him, and so he senses happiness in me and my husband.

WAHM, SAHM, WOHM - I say Bravo to you all. Bond together and end the debates. You are all heroes in my eyes. Now if only the decision were easy to make...

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