Let’s Set the Record Straight: SAHMs


July 13, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

Sometimes my job is frustrating. I chose it, I know it, but it’s hard to feel enthusiastic when you do the same thing, day in and day out and the only fluctuation is the amount of mess your family makes.  Yesterday was no exception. Bugaboo actually slept for eight hours (WOOOO!) which means I had energy to vac the whole house (and empty the canister after every room, because that is how dirty it was), do several loads of laundry, straighten every room in the house, get dishes done, grocery shop and even take the kids to the pool. WHEW!  I’m exhausted just thinking about it. By the time I went to bed last night? Just about everything I accomplished yesterday was undone. To say I was frustrated and felt defeated is an understatement. I went to bed thinking, “Oh well.  I’ll just do it all again tomorrow.”

I’ve had friends tell me I have the easiest job on the planet. That they’d like to stay home and “do nothing.”  That they wish they could nap all afternoon and watch their soaps. I’m here to set the record straight because apparently, these friends have never been to my house. They don’t see the piles of stuff I have to get to, the stacks of paperwork I must fill out for special services and insurance purposes and they apparently have never MET BUGABOO.

Folks, I realize that full-time employment outside the home ain’t no walk in the park. You still have to do all the stuff I have to do (housework) and most of you have to do it on weekends,which is your only free time. I get that and I respect it. What I cannot get behind is folks thinking that my staying home IS EASY. It is not easy. It is boring and tedious and lonely and frustrating. And, for the ten out of eleven years I babysat WHILE I STAYED HOME, I still “worked” all day long, was lucky to get a load of laundry or dishes done with kids around and still had to squeeze in housework at night or on the weekend.

Let’s not forget the whole Bugaboo factor. BUGABOO DOES NOT SLEEP. As in, I’m lucky if he gets consistent sleep three out of seven days a week, even on elephant doses of sleep meds and melatonin. Which means I am up all night with him. Which means, the second his head hits the pillow at night, I rush to get a few chores done and then hop in bed myself because I know he will be awake in two or three hours for the first round. I also know there is a chance he’ll be up several times that night. And luckily for us, he has “year round” school, which means his ESY (extended school year) over the summer is at his usual school with his usual schedule and he only has three well-placed one-week breaks throughout the summer. Lucky, because if I don’t sleep in the afternoon? I’m a zombie. Now, I realize I should never, ever be prejudiced against zombies but it’s just not a lifestyle I care to live, mmkay? So don’t call me a zombiest.

When Bugaboo goes to school Monday through Friday? I get an afternoon nap, usually about an hour or so. If you add that to the two hours I get before Bugaboo wakes up and the two hours I get after Bugaboo wakes up in the middle of the night, that’s about five hours TOTAL, for those of you not good at math. Five hours of disjointed, interrupted, crappy-quality sleep. Barely enough time to get REM sleep. People wonder why I’m crabby and crazy and I’ve lost my mind?  While you might be able to survive on that little sleep, I’ve been doing it for almost eleven years. Eleven years of crappy, sh*tty, disjointed sleep.  You expect me to be able to hold down a job? DOODS. I’d doze off mid sentence or button my shirt wrong or wear slippers to work (not that I don’t do that now). Prolly not in my best interest at this point.

What I look like when I get up in the morning. Soooo pleasant. Four hours of sleep FTW!

And the one that really gets my goat? When folks tell my husband “it must be nice” that I can stay home. They allude to the fact that he must make oodles of money because we can afford it. Wanna know why we can afford it? We only charge what we can afford to pay off each month. I get freebies wherever I can grab ’em. I schedule errands to use the least amount of gas. I buy most of the boys’ clothes second-hand, get hand-me-downs and do the same for myself. I shop at discount stores for food and items. I’m a total cheap-skate. If I have to buy things brand new I buy them ON SALE ONLY. We drive two used cars and have no car payments. We bought a house WELL BELOW what the mortgage company qualified us for so our payments were cheap. And I take in kids and dogs when I can to make ends meet, so our kids can participate in soccer or music or swim at the pool (which, if you add it up, is cheaper than therapy. Just sayin’.).

We are not rich.

We don’t have oodles of money.

We struggle like everyone else.

We’re just super frugal and cheap and tightwads and it’s painful for us to spend money (unless we have a good Taxmas and then we can buy A BED)

But I stay home because it’s logistically what is possible and necessary right now.  Not because I’m some spoiled housewife. I don’t watch soaps (hate them). I don’t eat bon bons (don’t even know what those are). I don’t get to sleep all day, I am lucky to catch up on an hour of the several I missed.

I realize I do not have to justify my lifestyle to folks I’ve never met, but I had to explain our position and our particular circumstances because I don’t want folks to get the wrong idea. We live comfortably, true, but only because we are thrifty and have little debt other than our mortgage. We work very hard at it.

So haters, stop thinking I’m a lazy, good-for-nothing-housewife.  It’s DOMESTIC GODDESS, I’ll have you know.


21 thoughts on “Let’s Set the Record Straight: SAHMs

  1. Yes! Honestly, my life was MUCH easier when I worked outside the home. Logistically, I don’t know how I’d work outside the home now. Juggling 3 therapists + specialist appts x2 kids = insanity.

  2. I tend to think of ‘hard’ as along some kind of scale. I realize that being a SAHM isn’t ‘riding a Humvee to Fallujah and hoping you don’t hit an IED’ hard. I realize that this ‘hard’ is a lucky kind of hard. (Shit, I keep typing ‘hard’ and I’m feeling rather perverted.) But yeah, I find it definitely tedious sometimes, definitely frustrating. I tend to steal time alone, and even then, I’m found. Keeping the kids active means my house is still a mess!

    I’ll let you know in a few years what it’s like being a nurse with a husband, 10 year old and an 8 year old. It’ll still be crazy, just a different kind of crazy.

  3. hgspot says:

    You know I hear you. And the lack of sleep thing. I always found people underestimated the sleep deprivation layer.

  4. She Started It says:

    DG, your job is way too hard. Seriously. It’s harder than if you worked two full time jobs outside the home. There’s no comparison between what you do to mother, and what most people to do mother.

    But now that my kids are older, and the youngest is 3, I find staying at home to be much easier. It’s boring, tedious, and hard work, but still easier. I worked outside the home 25 hours a week when my first and then-only child was 11 months old. I thought it was so, so difficult, and harder than having 3 kids at home. Just having the luxury of being able to determine my own schedule, not have to arrange child care, and stay home with sick kids/kids off from school is just less stressful for me.

    But what you do? Damn near impossible.

  5. kathy says:

    I don’t know who ever told you that YOUR life is easier, but they should be smacked! My friend who stays home? Now her life is easier, because all three of her kids are in school full time during the school year (youngest is going into 4th grade and oldest is going into 9th), so sometimes I want to smack her when she whines, but you are in a class by yourself with what you have to deal with. Hell, my job as a working mom is a piece of cake compared to your job.

    And daytime naps? The BEST thing in the world!

  6. IvyD says:

    It annoys me when people are so quick to assume that the role of a mother, whether you are a stay at home or work outside the home mom is ‘so easy’ when either way it is challenging, especially throwing into the mix circumstances like illness and disability. It’s such a cookie cutter mentality. Isn’t it hilarious when someone who obvisouly doesn’t know you assumes how your life is like when there is no way they have a clue?

    I have two boys on the spectrum, and a dad with Alzheimers. My family is my universe.

    I work outside the home (which doesn’t mean I don’t have work waiting for me when I get home… who came up with that crappy phrase anyway!) I stay positive, but I’m also a realist, and let me tell you, there are times that it simply SUCKS. I am spent.

    My husband and I have gone through the numbers to see if we could afford quitting my job, and guess what? We’re stuck. I have no illusions for the government to help us out (not for lack of trying), so that’s how things are right now. I am blessed with a boss that understands my circumstances, and a mom who is retired and can help me with the kids after school, but the only way to afford what my kids need and what my dad needs, my salary has to be in. And we do things just like other budget minded people do. We don’t live beyond our means.

    I don’t think there is any parent out there dealing with the same set of circumstances that would think that it’s easy, whether you ‘stay at home’ or ‘work outside’ … whatever. You know what I mean. Mothers do what needs to be done.

  7. Lori says:

    Ok ok ok…I know it’s wrong…but, mostly what I’m focusing on is HOW THE HELL CAN YOUR HAIR LOOK LIKE THAT AFTER YOU’VE SLEPT ON IT??

    Because yes, I AM a shallow twit.

    And I hate you for vacuuming. Yes, I do. I can’t even summon the willpower to swiffer.

  8. Love this. So true. I get the whole “Must be nice” too. And the “what do you DO all day?” Really? Because I have a 6 month old. And it’s really hard. A 6 month old who only sleeps if I hold her otherwise she screams and screams. And she was colicky the first 14 weeks of her life. It’s no picnic people. But she’s my kid. I’m committed to raising a human being.

  9. I think people who complain or make snide remarks about SAHM have never actually seen one in real life. TV SAHM are not the same. My mom stayed home with us, never really ‘worked’ outside of the home. And I know how hard she worked. And I think rational people know how HARD you work.

    I’m not a SAHM mom, I work full time, go to grad school part time and still do ALL the housework, cooking, cleaning, shopping AND all my son’s autism stuff. There are days when I’m sick and tired and should stay home but guess what? I go to work – so I can REST!

    I would love to quit but I need to work – financially, we have no other choice.

    So keep spot cleaning my PA Domestic Goddess 🙂
    I will not judge you!

  10. When people ask my dh if I work, he always answers, “Harder than I do!”

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