Monday, July 25, 2016

Mothering Monday: The Pros and Cons of Being a SAHM

My oldest son was born six months after I graduated from university. My husband was still in college at the time and working part-time. I had worked part-time every summer since I turned 14. With the exception of my freshman year in college, I also worked 20 hours a week while going to school. I earned just enough money to cover my few expenses: rent, food, and gas. My husband and I attended BYU in Provo, Utah so thankfully, our tuition was very low and we were able to cover it with Pell grants, money earned from jobs, and scholarships.

After our first baby was born, we discussed what we were going to do. Could we make it on one income while Brent was still in school and would be in school for many more years to come? Would it be better for me to work to bring in additional income? As we pondered our options, it became clear that there weren't enough financial benefits to justify me going to work a low-paying job--something I would likely get, given my degree in English Literature that I wasn't certified to teach in. I decided to stay home and take care of our baby.

After making that decision, my husband was promoted at work, working the same hours but receiving a substantial pay raise. He also received scholarships. During his years as a student, we only took out a couple small student loans. Financially, things have always seemed to work out for us, often miraculously. I have been a SAHM for 17 years which has its pros and cons.

I recently read a personal essay by a woman who had also chosen to stay at home with her kids. She expressed regret that doing so gave her little say in how her life turned out as a wife to a corporate expat who has moved frequently around the world. I felt puzzled and saddened by her regret as I'm sure, given my own experiences, that she has likely led a life that many would envy. Perhaps she wrote the piece on a particularly bad day dealing with challenges or maybe she has carried her what-ifs and regret throughout the entirety of her time as a mother. I don't know. It can be easy to make up fantasies of an unrealized ideal when you are dealing with the very real challenges of being a SAHM.

I think each woman has to craft life as a mother to her circumstances, relationships, financial situation, and personal strengths and weaknesses. The way my life looks isn't going to be the same for anyone. My list of pros and cons of being a SAHM are very personal. Your list will probably look very different.

So here is my list of pros and cons of being a SAHM:


  • Being so intimately involved with my kids' lives--and every aspect of their firsts.
  • Being the stable force that grounds the family. There have been times with my husband's travel schedule that I am the one constant for my kids.
  • Having time to develop my creative pursuits and talents. I don't think I could blog as often as I do if I were working full-time and raising my kids on top of that.
  • Having time to volunteer and help with school.
  • Having time to volunteer at church.
  • Having flexibility in my schedule to deal with problems or challenges. For example, if one of my kids gets sick, I have the time and ability to take care of them.
  • Spending significant amounts of time with my children, in a group, and as individuals. 
  • Working with my kids. 
  • With my health sometimes being a challenge, I have the leeway to rest and take care of my health needs.
  • Having time to help with homework--this is also a con.
  • Lots of unstructured and fun time during the summer.
  • Time to cultivate friendships with other women. 
  • Having flexibility to move with my husband's job.
  • I get to cultivate qualities such as patience and diplomatic skills worthy of negiotiating peace in the Middle East but sadly don't seem to always work at home.

  • The housework seriously never ends.
  • The mess never seems to end and I haven't been very successful at training my children to really pitch in and help.
  • At times the budget is tight without a second income. We mostly meet our needs, but there are many wants that often go unfulfilled such as dance and music classes.
  • You are never, ever done with your job. Breaks are minimal and the work is really hard.
  • A lot of the work I do often gets messed up and that makes me feel very frustrated.
  • Because of the flexibility of my schedule, often important things fall through the cracks.
  • Getting distracted from jobs because you tend to have to put out fires with everyone.
  • Being a chauffeur.
  • Cooking over and over again. Every. Single. Day.
  • Staying up all night with a cranky or sick child and then having to function the next day with your kids.
  • Feel guilt all the time about what you are doing or not doing. 
  • Criticism from society about everything you are doing wrong as a parent.
  • Dealing with assumptions that you aren't a productive or intelligent member of society as a SAHM.
  • Being so tired you can't even read a book. 

What pros and cons of being a SAHM would make your list?


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