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September 07, 2005





Yay! I can comment here still!!!! (re the "testing") Loved this entry. this is such an issue for moms (and sometimes for dads, but usually moms). I myself hope to do the stay at home mom stuff, which is why I chose to do children's illustration out of my home. But I already have so little time. Maybe I can get an in-house childhelper while I work and I am still here? But those things you mention, gardening, making your own food, recycling etc. I totally try always to do those things even when bogged down in contracts. And since I work at home it is possible to put homemade quiches to bake in the oven while I scan in images for a client. For fast food I make and freeze TONS of homemade soups, quiches, pesto etc in the fall from my garden and the market when veggies are cheap. And then I microwave. hehe. So I try to have the best of both worlds. Cook when I can, microwave homecooked food when i can't. I have no idea what it will be like with a kid. Maybe I'll be just overwhelmed and not be able to work. What will I do? No idea. Being a homeowner they wouldn't let me go on welfare. Being self-employed I don't have any employee maternity benefits or paid sick days or unemployment insurance. Hopefully it will work out. I totally think you're doing the best thing for your kids and you now. Did you read Shannon's recent entry about her education and career at St Peter's Cross??


Really nice post! You've summed up a lot of thoughts I've had since becoming a parent.

Working outside the home is definitely better for some parents. I work from home, while arranging a patchwork of childcare for my toddler.

You touched on a lot of things about working outside the home that I'd like to avoid: the stress, extra busy-ness... my kid is only going to be pre-school age once, too, and I'd like to be around for it! Plus, when you add up childcare, the expenses of eating out, commuting, etc., you often end up bringing in a lot less than you think.

We really need to get our act together to support families better - whether parents work in or outside the home... things like stipends, or better vacation pay, would be a start. Instead, most two-parent families have both parents working full-time just to make ends meet. We've got to get off this crazy exercise wheel, and appreciate the *work* of parenting... the whole country would gain socially and economically if we did.

One thing that has helped our family a lot, and worked well with me being an at-home contractor - we joined a babysitting co-op with five other families. The co-op hires a nanny collectively, and runs 5 hrs/day 4 days/week. For every 5 hours that I host co-op (4 toddlers with the help of a nanny is really quite fun) I get 15 hours of super low-cost childcare.

Not only does it fit with my budget, the kids LOVE playing with their friends, going to each others' homes, etc., and I get a community of other parents for advice, support, babysitting swaps, picnics, etc.

A supportive community can often be the difference in keeping things together... just imagine if our federal government was supportive, too! I can see it now: parenting Utopia... oh wait, no, it's called Sweden. ;)


A thoughtful post and a refreshing one.
Now brain is ticking thinking about doing one on this subject.


A list of random "yeah, me-too's":

I had a very similar conversation about health insurance with a British friend. He couldn't believe that homeless people would be discharged from ER onto the street with hastily treated open wounds, for example, just because they had no insurance.

I had a really similar childhood to yours except my mother WAS a secretary (and a receptionist and a secretarty again, etc.--always the first down-sized in a merger). We were latchkey kids from about 8 or 9. No consistent babysitter--lots of teen turn-overs, because my parents couldn't afford more.

I agree, too, that doing this work (the SAHM stuff) is more than I thought it would be--it requires more of my skill and brain than I thought it would and I take my skill and brain for granted until I see someone else try to do it and fail miserably, or do a crappy job and I realize they don't have the same skill (I don't mean other SAHMs, I mean people unused to caring for children).

Iv'e also become much, much more nutrition and diet and earth-conscious since we started heading towards parenthood. If I had a yard, I'd definitely be growing some food. As it is, I've become a local co-op regular...


Thank you for having the guts to admit it. I think one of the biggest things that make full-time mothering hard is the lack of respect. It's a drain to put so much time and energy into something that earns no bonuses, has no coffee breaks, gets no promotions or awards or honors, has a questionable outcome no matter how well you do it, and for which you are either on duty or on call 24/7.

I was a reluctant SAHM, but did it because in my subculture it is strongly considered to be the best thing for children. Nearly 18 years later, I believe in that view the way I should have then. Now my youngest is in first grade and I'm having to recall some of my own judgements--the ones I made about women whose kids were in school or even grown who still weren't working. Didn't they feel any resonsibility to contribute, now that their mothering job was part-time or nearly over?

Then I got there myself and discovered a few things:

1. It's very hard to build a resume around what I've been doing for the past two decades. No matter how valuable it is, full-time mothering and homemaking is not valued. Jobs are so specialized, nearly every listing insists on either demonstrable experience or documentation of a skill. Every time I read "Must have one year experience in a data-entry position" or the like, I want to scream. It's _data entry_! I am not an idiot!
2. My kids still need me before 9 and after 3--but part-time work with decent pay and workable hours is hard to find, even with an education. Maybe especially with an education.
3. There is still the summer, when my eldest will be working full-time, my second will want a job but still can't drive (taxi duty for me), and my two youngest can't be left alone for long periods of time.
4. After 20 years on the job with the same agency, my husband has 4 weeks of paid vacation annually and the freedom to arrange his time somewhat creatively (flex time, flex place, credit hours, etc.) We've become accustomed to two-week summer vacations, another week at Christmas, and occasional long weekends. Does it make sense to tie my family down to one vacation week a year so that I can work a part time, small potatoes job for a third his hourly pay (if I'm lucky!)?

He and I had a discussion about this this week and it amazes me how different our views of this are.

So thanks for validating the importance of what I'm (still!) doing and the challenge there is in doing it.

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