SAHM: The Quandary, The Reality, The Payoff?

There is a thought provoking post on Stirrup Queens about being a SAHM, with fascinating comments from readers about why they chose to be a SAHM (or why they didn’t). I am a SAHM, and recently have been asked by a number of friends – who are either expecting their first child or thinking about getting pregnant – what is it like? And do I enjoy it?

Being a SAHM of twins is a unique proposition, and I don’t know whether I would have opted to be a SAHM to one child. The necessities, the logistics and the expenses of childcare are unique (for example, a twins nanny or daycare for twins is a more expensive option than having two children of separate ages enrolled in such a program). It’s also hard to find childcare for twins…few want to do it. My husband, when the children were born, was working long hours while also getting a masters degree in his “spare time”. My career demands long hours too, investment banking hours without the investment banking dollars. Something had to give, the math didn’t add up for childcare, and since my career paid less than his, we opted to opt me out of the workforce.

All those practicalities aside, my feelings on the matter waver. My mother was a SAHM for me until I was 8, when she began working part-time. I did love our time together, and remember it fondly. Then she began working full-time, had my brother and put him in daycare. My brother resents the fact that he was in daycare. He often tells my mother that he wishes she had been a SAHM when he was a child. “You were always working,” he says. “I never saw you.” I should add that he is a very successful person now, so I don’t think he was permanently damaged by daycare, although that’s for him to say, not me.

Am I being a strong role model for my daughter and son? Honestly, I have no idea. My daughter is fascinated with being a doctor right now (granted, she’s two). Am I weakening my daughter’s dreams by not being in the workforce? My MIL thinks I am. She is constantly pointing out examples of twins moms she knows who are lawyers, doctors, or businesspeople, but almost without exception, they make much more money than I would on a full-time basis, so again, they can cover childcare expenses. So I’m in a bit of a quandary.

As for whether being a SAHM is fulfilling, everyone’s answer is going to be different. This is the hardest work I’ve ever done – it’s exhausting from a physical standpoint, and with two two year olds, it can be mentally tiring as well. I do get satisfaction out of knowing that my kids are getting quality care that I control, and that they are being raised exactly as I would want. Most of all, I love being with them most of the hours of the day. Hopefully, they get a lot out of the experience, but who knows? Maybe years from now, my daughter will be saying, “You were always home. I saw you too much!”

But: I would never judge someone for not making the choice I did. And how wonderful it is, of course, that we get a choice at all?

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1 Comment

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One response to “SAHM: The Quandary, The Reality, The Payoff?

  1. I am a working mom; my DH will soon be the stay-at-home parent. I think that there is no one right way or wrong way. It’s about teaching your child to accept all scenarios, and not about actually living out all scenarios. My mother stayed at home and worked at various times throughout my childhood, and it’s not something I’ve ever fixated on, frankly. Your daughter will be just fine, as will your son, as long as they learn to value both SAHM parents and working ones. It’s quality, not quantity, too, by the way.

    I went to a CLE seminar last year that really opened my eyes to the choice about being active in my field vs. a SAHM. Very successful older women in my field revealed that they had done all sorts of things across their children’s lives to make things work for them both professionally and personally. For most women, they were a combination of being a SAHM, part-time and full-time at various points in their careers (and often found fabulous daycare when they were full time). I was surprised to learn that successful older women in my field had been SAHM’s or part time at points, because there is that conventional wisdom that you lose out if you do that. So, keep that in mind–being a SAHM mom may be the right decision for you now, but it’s one that you can change at any point you feel ready/able/willing to do so. Best of luck to you with the twins–I’ve constantly heard it gets so much easier as they get older.

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