Is Becoming A SAHM A Sacrafice Or A Reward?
The reality of at-home mothering
Over the weekend, I was channel checking. I briefly paused to view a discussion regarding at-home mothers. One woman made the point that we should be more valued because of the "sacrifice" we make. She believed that in choosing to run the home and care for the children, women forsake their education and intellectual potential. Now, in terms of finances, I can't argue her point. The pay for being an at-home mother is paltry, at best. Wages are paid in the form of an occasional "thank you," a messy ketchup-covered kiss or a gap-toothed smile. All are warming to the heart, but not something to include on a bank deposit slip.
By the same token, the choice to stay at home and raise children lacks the feedback of a paying job. There are no yearly reviews, no promotions, no incentives. One certainly hears about mistakes, "Mama, you put MY socks in HIS dresser!" but rarely is there a concrete celebration of one's mothering strengths.
With this said, however, viewing at-home moms as sacrificial that does not sit well with me. It perpetuates two disturbing stereotypes. On the one hand, this implies that moms who work out of the home are giving less to their children. I really can't see any merit to this belief. The only difference between an at-home and working-outside-the-home mom is the location of their office. Either way, they carry the workload of several people.
Secondly, using the word "sacrifice" for at-home moms, perpetuates the notion that mothering and running a house is brainless work. The stereotypical mom is a scatter-brained, disorganized woman with no intellectual stimulation or responsibilities in her life. The greatest challenge faced by this poor woman is whether to make hot dogs or macaroni and cheese for lunch.
The reality of at-home mothering, is far from brainless and lacking in stimulation. At-home moms may not have a degree in medicine, but I've yet to meet a mom who doesn't know when her child's behavior/coloring/appetite/glands/etc are not right.
This job also requires the ability to multi-task and schedule with flexibility daunting to most logistical engineers. Show me an at-home mom, and I'll show you a woman who can feed her family, wash two loads of linens and get the kids to soccer practice within the space of one hour. They possess financial know-how and creativity rivaling Allen Greenspan. Watch an at-home mom critically peruse the newspaper for coupons or compare prices between markets. Wall Street longs for such business savvy.
I think the issue is not that at-home motherhood should be valued because it is a sacrifice, all motherhood should be valued simply because it is
important. Staying at home does not mean a woman is brain-dead. We nurture, educate and nurse the next generation of the human race. We run our home with the efficiency of any small business. It may not be glamorous, but running a home and raising children is a choice reflecting our values, not a sacrifice.