Tuesday, June 28, 2011

STAHM-"I don't just STAY"

Lisa Bloom: How to Talk to Little Girls

 I have soo many thoughts on this topic lately..(I am writing in rough draft journal form---if I had time to edit, I would have time to blog more often...and I am lucky to have time to blog at all..)

On the Article above
First of all this article above talks about how girls can be impacted by how we praise them..if we praise them for being pretty..they may associate their value with how they look..  why not simply recognize what they are doing and thinking about rather than "giving them praise"...The praise comes from paying attention to them and verbally acknowledging what they are doing...We do not even need to give them an overt praise at all.  Simply stating, "looks like you are working really hard on that drawing. I can see you used vivid colors, etc" is often enough without saying, they look cute or pretty..etc..

Another thought I've been having is over the term Stay At Home Mom...UG!  I am realizing that I HATE that term.  It does NOTHING to describe what I DO at all.  Think about it, what comes into YOUR mind when you hear that term??

At Home

Stay--I'm just staying somewhere..not doing anything, but staying..

at home--sounds like I'm not GOING anywhere..

at home mom...to me that sounds lazy...just a mom who stays at home..

Ok, that does NOT describe what I do AT ALL!

Here is what I do:

Feed my kids 3 meals, plus snack
tend to my family's intellectual, emotional, and physical well being..keeping up with hygience--laundry, baths, keeping the kitchen sanitary.

Help my kids with homework (which began at kindergarten in our school)
Transport my kids to and from school.  (for the past year, that means 2-3 trips to the school a day) dependending on whether my husband brought them to school, because my dauther had half day kindergarten..And before that: it meant juggling 2 schools and transportation to preschool and elementary schools..up to 3-4 trips a day.

Gathering food-grocery shopping, trips to farm, co-op, gardening.Endless laundry and dishes and clean-up.

Playing with my kids-listening to them.

Conflict management of my children.
Planning play dates with other children.
Outings with my children and other children.
Helping out in schools, volunteering
Planning neighborhood childrens classes
Taking on the bulk of planned birthday parties, packing for trips,
holding down the fort when my husband goes on business trips for a week or more.

I am lucky to be able to be HOME with my children.  I cannot deny that.  But my husband is also lucky too.  Because I am home with the children he does not have to miss work when the kids are sick.  He does not have to prepare a meal when he comes home from work and I also do 85 percent of the dishes.  He does not have to accommodate my job with his work schedule.  Or have to juggle his job with childcare.  We do not have to pay for childcare which I hear can cost in the ranges of $1000/month per child (which would cost our family $3000/month during the summer months if I was working.

Staying at home keeps our lives a little less "harried"  and there is more "give"..

But, with that "privilege" I sometimes feel "guilty"..like I should take on "more"...because I'm "lucky"..And I do take on more...because I am "available".  When we have guests, I show them hospitality and give them the "sight-seeing tour" as much as I can.  I would not be able to even do this if I was working outside the home.

Sometimes people ask me, "are you going back to work" or "when are you going back to work?"

After all, I am a professional too..  I have my "masters in counseling" and loans to pay back to prove it.

That is a loaded question..

when I am asked this question, it feels like there are assumptions behind it..  To be fair, often the question is out of caring..

But, the assumptions seem to be that a STAHM cannot possibly feel fulfilled by her role...
And that she has a greater obligation to make $$ and if she is not, she is avoiding responsibility to the greater community and to bring in $$ for her family..She is "living off of her husband" rather than sharing in the responsibility of providing income to the family.  She is not improving herself by challenging her professional skills...  She is a slacker... (( I read a book that even went so far to say that she "makes up value in what she is doing"---She creates the value...finds things to do to rationalize her choice!  (couldn't this also be said about many "jobs" out there too??)  What an unfair way to attack the choice!  )))

because what is she doing all day, but STAYING AT HOME..

and watching soap operas, I guess... LOL!  Although, I'd love to watch Star Trek..if I had the luxury of being able to sit down long enough.  (-;

Perhaps some do that..  I do not.

Am I lazy.  No, I work ALL day!!  and not just the 8 hour work day.   Somtimes that "work goes into deep into the night" when the baby wakes at 2am..or one child is sick during the night, or  has a nighmare..And often those dishes and laundry are done into the late hours of night..

Is that work fun.  Yes, sometimes it is great fun..sometimes we go to the zoo and have a blast, but other times, it is challenging too...like when the kids are fighting or complaining..sometimes it can be very hard physically and emotionally.  And sometimes I do get breaks too.,.some days are restful on occasion..when the kids are in a good groove..It depends on the day or the routine, or the outside needs...  Because there are many other needs outside of our home that come our way as well..

Am I fulfilled.  Sometimes I am very happy and fulfilled.  Sometimes I am not.  Sometimes, it is a huge challenge to fit in some intellectually enriching things into my life..  (sometimes it can be weeks I long to write on this blog and just can't get to it)  And want to garden and find every obstacle in my way and having to meet everyone's needs before my own...and weeks pass before I get a "turn"..  But is every person "fulfilled and challenged" by their jobs?

What about contributing $$ for the family..  (need I repeat how much childcare costs?)  if I were paid $3000 a month instead of paying it for childcare, that would not be too bad a salary!  And what about how much it costs to "work"

If I were working, we'd have to go out to eat/buy processed food/take out much much more than we do not..Our food bill would go up astronomically..  I would need professional clothes for my job too..and we'd need 2 cars and insurance for those cars.  My husband would have to work fewer hours and take more days off for sick childcare..

Need I legitimize my choice more than this?

but STAHM...I do so much more than "STAY"

I also garden, and am learning every day...not only about children and how to love and care for them, but also the "homemaking" arts..  I have actually learned how to be a pretty good cook.  (I used to live off of ramen and spaghetti and microwave potatoes in college)  I've come a long way from those days.  I am also learning other things-preserving food, knitting, violin, sewing..

Those things make me feel very much fulfilled..I have LEARNED so much in the past 8 years!  I can DO so much more than I ever knew how to do.  (and none of that involves the very non-action verb of "stay"

On another note; is supermomism

Sometimes, the guilt and the need to "legitimize" the choice...leads to the need to present myself as more of a supermom..  And I use the word "present" not to say I have been unauthentic in anything I have shared about what I've done, but I realize I do not often present the bad days...or the times I may lose my temper, or my husband and I fight.

I have recently been complimented(?) by two different people.  One friend asked me if my husband and I ever fought...(do we really present ourselves as above that??)  We certainly are not above that...We certainly are not perfect..  I do not mean to represent myself or our family as "the perfect family/marriage, etc)  We are not. We are not. We are not...  And I am not a supermom either and hope that I am not coming across that way..

I am driven towards trying to be the best I can be...and do that best I can..I am also very excited about learning.. especially new things.  I think I am an artist at heart, because I latch onto the "art of cooking, the art of gardening...heck..I used to paint..  and write poetry..and certainly I've always been "writing"..So, with that inspiration and being able to be on that track I am full of enthusiasm for what I am doing right now!  (especially when my little 5 month old looks into my eyes with such sweetness..my heart bursts!)

I  LOVE LOVE LOVE my children..and BEING a mom.

I was an only child...who DREAMED of having siblings...dreamed of a large family.  I came from a mom who adored being my mom..

It rubbed off..that LOVE...and dream of kids..  I really am one of those moms who just always wanted to be a MOM ever since I was a child.

That truly is who I am..  And is by no means what every woman should be..  or even try to be.  It is my greatest longing and joy...

but even so, I do need to "write" to "garden" to "create"..I do not "parent" allll the time..  I do zone out and ignore the kids on occasion. (-;

Feminism is about women having the "choice" to be able to do what they need to do..want to do and not to be stopped by ideas of what women can or cannot do, or should or should not do..  to be able to self-actualize and not have someone putting them in a box and controlling them..

The suppression of women is still happening...sometimes I think it is worse than it used to be..

Girls are taught at a very very young age that they have to be "everything" to "everyone"...and it can lead into supermom-ism as well..  I do not wish to perpetrate this in my blog.  I am not a supporter of supermom-ism..  Women should not feel they have to be "everything"

Sometimes, it takes on the form of being a career woman and a mom..and skinny, and beautiful, and a good cook, and the nurturer, and available to the family..  And if a girl or woman is not one of those things somehow she has "failed"..  (MYTH) MYTH MYTH!!!!!  A female does not have to be EVERYTHING...to be something.  She does not have to be beautiful/anorexic to be "something" either..(link back to the above article)

In my case, I am not balancing my career right now..  But part of the question: When are you going back to work, implies, I should be fitting that in too..

But, it would for our family, be at a cost, at this point...

Perhaps, not as much later, but while my husband's job takes on so much of his day...and the kids are home a good part of the day even during school year, and I have an infant to also care for...  It would be at a great cost to us..  (or so it seems at this point)

That is a cost, I wish to not have our family have to pay right now.

It is not the case with every family...  I know many families where both parents work and it works for them..  Every situation is different and I do not profess superiority for being a STAHM at this time.. I do not know if my children are being their best by my "staying at home" rather than sending them to daycare??  I think there are pros and cons to both choices depending on the situation.  It is the choice I am currently making, and it is what currently works for US...but for other families it is better the other way..  or for the father to stay at home..  or for both parents to work and work different shifts, or use day care, or have a nanny, etc..  There are countless combinations and scenarios.  Again, I repeat, I do not claim superiority..this choice in NOT for everyone..and may not even be a choice for many..

I emphasize that women should not have to be "supermom"...It is unrealistic..  and how ironic that the supermom expectation can come with it a term called  "Stay" at home mom...(if she does not work outside the home)..what a LAME title..  and how unfair.. and how inaccurate..  She really can't win.  If she works, she is criticized for putting her carer and self before her children, but if she stays at home, she is criticized for being lazy and not contributing financially or being entitled..


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