Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Having a SAHM wobble

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This weekend we were driving through the city centre and went past the building I used to work in. It suddenly occurred to me that it was five years almost to the day since I walked out of that building, not knowing at the time that I wouldn't ever go back to that job.

Five years. Half a decade of not being an employee.

I've written before about how I feel awkward about being a stay at home mum and, nearly three years on from that post, it's even worse. I suppose because I've had another baby people are now assuming I'm on maternity leave. So I'm having to explain all over again that, no, I'm 'just a mum'.

I've tried working from home, first selling children's books and then, when that scheme closed its UK operations, I turned to freelance writing. Which went well, it turns out I have a natural flair for writing and I got a fair bit of work, but once Ezra was born I just didn't have the time or energy for it and so had to put it on hold.

When people ask what I do I don't know what to say. Do I say I'm a writer, even though at the moment my paid writing work is on hold indefinitely? Do I say I'm a stay at home mum, with all the negative connotations that may hold in people's minds? I'm not immune to the widespread talk about 'hard-working families' and the implication that carries that I'm, essentially, a layabout. Even though if I were looking after someone else's baby and school age child then I'd be a childminder and therefore hard-working again. Sigh.

And more than my worry about what to say to people and what they think of me, I am concerned about what will happen when I am ready to re-enter the world of employment. I want to give Ezra the same early childhood Eleanor had, which means staying at home with him until he goes to school. That's four years off. By then I'll have a nine year chasm in my CV, filled only by the occasional stint of self-employment. Nine years is longer than I worked before having kids.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't even know what I want to do when I go back to employment. I love to write, but I also feel passionate about supporting families and young children and so would quite like to do something related to that too. But what?

Then, if I'm honest, there's my avaricious side that just wants nice things. A bigger house, holidays abroad, clothes that aren't dangerously close to being classed as 'vintage' (and not in a good way). We have enough money to muddle along, but I know if I worked we'd have more little luxuries. But equally, there will always be big houses to buy and planes to hop on. My baby won't be a baby much longer, soon he'll be a toddler then he'll be a preschooler and then, in the blink of an eye, he'll be the one walking into class without a backwards glance. So perhaps the finer things in life can wait till then?

Do any other SAHMs feel like this? Has anyone been through this stage and still managed to have a decent career afterwards? I'd love to hear some words of reassurance, or simply solidarity!

4 comments:

  1. Argh it's so tricky isn't it. We moved during both maternity leaves leaving me unable to go back to my previous job both times. I say 'I'm staying at home at the moment,' which is a bit of a cop out I guess.

    I don't feel judged particularly- but I guess that's because I mainly know other stay at home mums from the older one's school so we're all in it together.

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    1. I suppose 'I'm staying at home at the moment' is the most honest answer you can give! It's good that you have other SAHM friends, I probably know more than I realise and the mums who know me probably don't judge me as harshly as I think, but I still feel like I almost have to apologise for wanting to spend this time with my children.

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  2. My wife decided to quit her job at a national bank last July with kids for the main reason. After trying to be a WAHM for couple of months, now she just went back to work for a local bank. The good news is she succeeded to negotiate the work hours only up to 2 pm, so she can pick up our kids from school, since she was offered for the job indeed, not applied.
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    I understand it's not so easy to be a SAHM and even a WAHM. And going back to work is a choice. The principle reason is quantity and quality of time for the kids. As we got the chance, we thank God for that.
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    Nice to share with you Bec, Happiness to your family always :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your family's experience, it sounds like everything worked out well for your wife! Hopefully when the time comes for me to return to work things will go as smoothly!

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