Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The SAHM debate

I am off for a couple of weeks visiting family. I have not been posting regularly - but felt like I should say bye to the people who might visit my blog till the end of the month - just to let them know I will be gone for a bit.

I thought my next post will be about KG. That draft is still in my head. Her third birthday is on June 17 - hope to post at least by then - exclusively about KG!

MM's latest post on SAHM is flooding her comments box. Understandably so. When the celebrity blogger (meant positively) writes on the hot topic, people want to pour their heart out in response. And I feel like writing a whole long post in response! No time though. Pretty late in the night as it is.

Different strokes for different folks - that's how I have come to view it now. And to some extent it boils down to what you get used to, what you need to do to raise your children. Some women don't have a choice, they have to work to earn money. Others are blessed with the choice. Neither choice is easy. Being a SAHM mom takes a little more conviction since you are subtly or blatantly looked down often by other working women and even by other SAHMs who have a low opinion of themselves. And if you happen to have educated yourself beyond UG level, forget it, they look down on you like you should be digging a grave for yourself. Like who would educate themselves so much only to "sit" at home! I have so much as heard outbursts like, "What?! WHY would you stay at home?!!" And then politely (not) follow it up with, "well, hats off to you, I couldn't do that".

When I toured preschools for KB when he was 2.5, I saw some little children in the full day day care and I just could not, absolutely could not get myself to do it. A nanny may have been OK provided I had some one at home to just oversee the nanny. Either way I did not want my baby to be spending whole days in a day care or away from me. Part time options would be OK but those jobs are scarce to nil and in my field that would require being in the lab, it is very rare. The money simply didn't make it worthwhile to send two kids to day care or have a nanny at home. I have zero family support here for contingencies and I just did not want to deal with the stress of it all. I felt like some of those children looked so worn out having to wander around in that same room with a whole bunch of other kids and only so much attention paid to them. My friend who has to work to be able to keep up their mortgage etc tells me such stories of how the child looks/feels at the end of the day. My father-in-law lives with us and I have to cook a full meal in the morning and go to drop off and pick up KB - so the mornings are pretty busy. So I do end up not being able to pay attention to KG at those times. But I keep talking to her while cooking and if she needs me to sit with her for a few minutes while she eats her grapes or comes to feed me her toy food, I am right there. Yes, I am not able to give her my 100% at all times even as a SAHM, but I am there for her when she needs me. And she can hang loose and be a child and not have to follow strict rules all the time. And if she is sleepy at 11.00 a.m. instead of at 2.00 p.m. on some days, she can sleep in a cozy bed with her favorite music playing in the room. I do feel upset and sad at times when I think of how my career didn't take off and may never really, but I don't see a better choice. I am glad I am able to do this and that my husband is able to support us in this choice. I want to be able to cherish these childhood years with them. The only real negative and very real one I see to this choice is what if...I shudder to even complete that sentence. In this economy it is a huge risk. I don't know how to get around that.

I see some working women who finally quit their jobs because the stress was too much. I only hear them say how much their children love the fact that they are not constantly rushed or that they don't have to spend the whole day away from home. And yet I find some of them so defensive of their SAHM status.

Women do it to each other. The viciousness with which they attack each other is so shocking that you wonder if they ever got past second grade. I just don't see why both sides can't just try and understand why certain choices were made and stop themselves from spewing out nonsensical comments and hurt each other. If someone is ambitious and really cannot see themselves not working, so be it. If someone wants to take a few years off and only have a low key career and be there more for the children, so be it too. It is only that woman and her family who have to deal with those choices. What is it to any one else?! You can have your own strong opinions on the topic but why attack an individual who is not asking anything of you in the process? One woman asked me with this self righteous tone, "Soow, do you plan to start looking for jobs?". I wonder how she would have felt if in that same tone I had asked, "Soo, do you have any plan of quitting your job?".

I do see merit to working - but sometimes the work/life balance just doesn't happen and you have to find ways to balance it. In the process, you do loose the confidence that took years to gain during the process of educating yourself. And you do get older and loose out in that sense too. But there is always plenty of need for volunteers in so many fields and eventually one of those will lead to some kind of job that might both be meaningful and give room for raising kids. You make the choices that will keep the family intact and allow you to keep your sanity. And in the end you do hope you have done the best for your children and your family.

OK blog pals, will see you in two weeks! Absolutely no time to even read what I have written here let alone edit it. Forgive the typos and ramblings! Wish us a safe trip!

I just read about the killings of KG children in China. My heart just bleeds for the children and their parents. What is the world coming to? We watch "Criminal minds" and think this can happen only in TV shows. But the news each day is so gut wrenching that if you stop to think about it, it is hard to even get out of the house. Anyway - sadly, I am thinking now about how I have to pack for my trip tomorrow! Life goes on.