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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

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I don't think it's so much that you had shame over what you do, it's more of the feeling of apprehension that others will judge it not to have value. I think if you lead with a positive emotion (pride, pleasure, gratitude) in these discussions with new people you meet, it sets the tone.

Being a SAHM is a great thing. I'm a WOHM and once in kindergarten, my daughter very quickly became aware that there was such a thing as a SAHM and she wanted it. Fiercely. I can't give her that, but I'm happy for anyone who can do it for her children. It's a gift for sure.

As much as I long to be a stay-at-home mom (as you very well know!), I will admit that I've had fears on occasion that I'll feel the way you say you sometimes do. D.C. is very much a city where the question "So, what do you do?" is one of the first things out of a new acquaintance's mouth. D.c. is a city of enormous power, and it often feels like people are angling to figure out whether you hold enough power to be worth their time and efforts.

I'm so proud right now to tell people what I do, and there's a piece of me that's afraid of losing that. Will anyone want to talk to me when D and I go out to parties if I'm "just" a stay-at-home wife or mother? Will I feel guilty that I'm not contributing enough as D heads off to work each day to bill a gazillion hours?

You're so right, though, about homemaking and motherhood being a vocation-- and a path to sanctification. All the seemingly little things you do are such a blessing to your husband and your daughter. And, you really are GOOD at what you do. Truly, Arwen, I hope to be even half as good when my time comes.

Hugs to you!

Well said.

Nice post. I get a lot of satisfaction out of taking care of the house and family. I have somewhat the opposite problem. When I tell people I am a writer, they are impressed, and it creates a lot of awkwardness. I wish I could get people to understand that what I do is what I do--it's not glamorous, but I love it because I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing, not because it's better than any other kind of work. My career as a writer follows many disappointments and failed vocations that I had to pass through before I settled on something that was right for me. It really feels like a job of last resort for someone who just didn't fit in in the real world. LOL. We have to hold ourselves apart from what other people think of us. Now, I'm neglecting dinner, so I'd better go get on it!

Hi! I've been a lurker of your blog for a few years! I know, far too long. I've often wanted to comment, but haven't, so today's the day! I've been a SAHM for going on 5 years now. I have 2 daughters, one soon to turn 5, and one 2 1/2 years old. I'm an older mom (I'll be 43 this year) and had to wait MANY years to be a mom. Being a SAHM is the hardest job I've ever had, but it's also the most rewarding! And there's no "only" about it! Today, I have worn so many hats--short order cook, nurse, sanitation department worker, gardener, biologist, librarian, costume designer, party coordinator, photographer, videographer, storyteller, professional organizer, etc. Motherhood is no easy task! But I love it! Besides, I have the rest of my life to work outside the home! And that's what I tell others. I left a 10 year military career when I got married. I went back to school to finish my bachelor's, then master's degrees, then after only one year of working, I quit to be home with my daughter. No regrets. Like I said, I can go back to work when they're older. I can never get these precious moments with my daughters back! Never! Right now they're both dressed up like ladybugs (c/o Halloween clearance) and running around pretending to eat aphids! Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for the world!!! (Wow, it's great to be out of Lurker-ville!!)

Hi! Me again! The ex-Lurker! One thing that keeps me going when I have a bad day, is the song "This is Your Life" by Switchfoot. They play it all the time on our local Christian radio station. It keeps me grounded and reminds me that this IS who I want to be.

Incidentally, when I tell people what I do, people often say they admire me, that they don't have the patience/tolerance/creativity/whatever to stay at home with their children. Too many families I know pawn their children out to daycare (or other places) simply because they can't or don't want to deal with them. It's really sad. So, around here, I am somewhat of a heroine for speding the whooooooooole entiiiiiiiiiiire day with my kids! Yay for me! And Yay for YOU!

There is always going to be someone to dump on you for the choices you make (my MIL is still waiting for me to quit my job, send the kids to private school, and move closer to them). One of the things that does get easier as your children get older is learning to ignore the outsiders and look at how well your family is functioning. The hypocritical caveat that I always listen to the outsiders who tell me what a great job I'm doing, how they could never do what I'm doing, blah blah blah. Because yes indeed to what KandAsMommy said, and what you said about paying other mothers compliments: Yay for me! Yay for YOU! (That's a general you, BTW.) Being a good mommy is a gift to your child no matter what your employment status is.

What a thought-provoking post. I've often felt the same way. My spiritual walk involved more wrestling with God pre-baby. I still don't know the whole reason behind my continued infertility, but after we adopted Olivia, it didn't seem to matter much anymore. We began to see God's wonderful plan in the midst of it all. If it weren't for infertility, we wouldn't be parenting this breathtakingly beautiful, happy little girl. That fact is never lost on me, and whenever I get frustrated with the day-to-day chores of staying home full time with a pre-mobile but very active child, I just look at her happy face and can't help but thank God for the blessing that she is to us.

Thanks for another great post. As someone who longs desperately to be a stay-at-home mom but for whom it is not financially possible, I know that the grass is always greener. I have often wondered whether I would have the feelings you describe if I were able to stay home. Our culture does have an unfortunate obsession with paid work, something I have thought about at great length and discussed several times on my blog. It's something that I philosophically oppose and can't really wrap my head around, but at the same time certainly know is there. Now that I have an incredible shrinking career, there's the additional thought that I am "wasting" the education for which I will be paying for the next 25 years. But I am finding myself drawn to humble, honest, low-paying, low-status work. That society does not value caretaking, building, making, cooking, cleaning, and the like is, as far as I'm concerned, society's problem.

Lovely post, Arwen. It's always great to hear about your family but I really like to read your spiritual reflections. I have a busy life mothering 3 small children and I just recently realized that it's not up to me to create a perfect relationship with God. That with God, I get to be the child-- the recipient of boundless, undeserved care and love. As women, we work so hard to take care of our families and relationships-- it's easy to forget that we don't have to do all the work with God. That His grace finds us despite ourselves, as we go about His work.

On being a mom/homemaker, if I remember correctly, weren't you at home (not working outside the home) before Camilla was born? I imagine that situation to be even more challenging, since our society (minimally) recognizes the work of raising children, but "just" being a homemaker.... not at all. I would have thought that having Camilla would have eased any pressure/judgement from society that you felt, since you added mom to your job title.

I have to admit, in that regard I'm very lucky to be living in Utah; staying at home is absolutely normal here and I meet other SAHMs all the time (of course there are, shall we say, other issues, but that isn't one of them). I've never felt particularly low-status about it, *however* - and this is actually funny to me in retrospect - I had a very hard time when I realized that what I really wanted to do once my son was older was to go to work as an ultrasonographer. This does not involve a four-year degree; it's a two-year degree that you can get at a good community college. Hooray, less tuition! But since I have a four-year degree from a fairly pricey college, my inner snob was devastated at this educational comedown. I'm really, really not proud of this reaction, and eventually I got over myself and came to the same conclusion as Star - if this kind of job is seen as "lesser", well, that's society's problem and not mine. (Besides, what breathtaking arrogance to think that I'm in any way "above" this particular job - even if it wasn't something I really want to do?)

I do occasionally take a wistful look at college friends who are getting advanced degrees and working as museum curators etc - but the thing is, they also talk about their fantasies of running off and homeschooling four children somewhere. So yes, definitely some greener grass on both sides!

Did you read that article Et-Tu Jen linked to about "domestic monasteries"?

I, too, would be devastated if I couldn't be a sahm, but I wonder if I'll still feel like this when my kids are in school. Is 'mom' my only vocation? I think it's the most important one I'll have, by far, but I don't feel done with wondering what I want to be when I grow up.

My friend, Stephanie, directed me over here. I am a stay-at-home-mom again, after a brief journey into the career-mom world. This is a wonderful post and so true. The weekly study I do with a fellow mom-friend was on Vocation yesterday so this is especially timely. Reminds me fo Practicing the Presence by Father Lawrence.

Thank you for sharing your heart and your thoughts.

It's a great journey, life, and so many wonderful lessons ahead - many of them, I find, are taught to us / about us by our kids. ::thrive!

I sometimes get that self conscious feeling when I tell others I'm a SAHM. Especially in my husband's work environment (holiday parties or other work socials). But it is a frame of mind and heart. No one else needs to understand the importance and value of your vocation except you and your spouse.

Great post... now, off to laundry and dishes! Come, Holy Spirit!!

Great post.
Like Heather, I've cycled thru SAHM and WOHM. The last few years I've worked pt at two at very understanding houses of worship. You would think it would be a great "compromise" but I really just feel like I'm trying to do too many things, none of them well. I admire those of you who hear your call clearly - I feel like my ears are jammed. Say a little prayer for me this week please Arwen!

It isn't easy being couter-culteral. Find comfort in the women who have the same vocation--we find strength in each other.

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