Being a SAHM is like being on vacation

(SAHM= Stay At Home Mom)

I can wait while you grab your pitchforks and torches….

Got them?  Good.

So, now that you’re riled up by the title of this post, hear me out.  I am jealous of SAHMs because, to me, being a SAHM is like being on vacation.  Is being a SAHM mom like a tropical vacation or a cruise or a romantic get-away to Paris?  No, well, not unless you have to cook your own meals, clean your own toilet, and clean someone’s poopy heiny when you’re there.

However, as a mom who works full time, my weekends and days off look like the typical day of a SAHM.  Thus, for me, being a SAHM is like being on vacation.

Typical Saturday Morning

I loved my maternity leave with Mabel.  Recovering from the C-section was tough, but once that was over, and we settled into a little routine, I relished going to the sing-a-long at the library and meeting my college friend and her kids for lunch, etc.  I would LOVE to be a SAHM.  Have I mentioned I’m jealous of SAHMs?

A few months ago, a friend of mine from high school with a baby boy announced she was taking a year off from work.  She’s a teacher by trade and she and her husband can afford, in every sense of the word, for her to stay home with their son for a year.

As soon as I heard, I felt a pang of jealousy.  There’s no way my husband and I could afford for me to stay home for more than the allotted FMLA/short-term disability allowance.  I’m the primary breadwinner in our family.  We would have to tap into our savings, which isn’t the end of the world.  What would be the end of the world would be leaving my job, paying for COBRA, and trying to get a new job, as a scientist, with a gap in my CV.

Scientist moms everywhere face a choice of staying home and abandoning or dramatically altering career plans or going back to work.  In my field, keeping current with new techniques/theories/findings/assays/etc is paramount.  How could one do that as a SAHM?  Or perhaps, more importantly, how could one convince a potential employer that he/she had done that, and thus is a good job candidate?

I am lucky that my chosen career and job allows my household to be, primarily, a one-income household (although my husband does contribute a notable sum with contract/freelance work he manages to cram in during naptimes and late at night).  This means my husband can stay home with our daughter.  He gets to go to story time at all the local libraries, he gets to push Mabel on the swings, he gets to do everything while I’m at work.  I’m jealous of him too!

Tangent aside, and back to my friend, I told her that I was jealous of her and that she’ll enjoy the year because, “Being a SAHM is like being on vacation!  You’re so lucky!”  Well, she was pissed (as were a lot of other friends who saw that Facebook comment)- she flat out said she was insulted and launched into all the work that goes into being a SAHM (as did a lot of other friends who saw that Facebook comment).

I explained to her that as a mom who works full time, my weekends and days off look like the typical day of a SAHM.  Thus, for me, being a SAHM is like being on vacation- not a spa retreat-type vacation, but at least time away from work.  And imagine trying to cram in all the chores, parenting, and quality time into the hours between getting home from work and leaving for work again the next day!  She had it made!

She didn’t really buy it.  She forgave my ‘insult’ and we moved on.

A few months passed.  Her son was no longer a newborn, she had gotten into the swing of things (naps, breastfeeding, etc) and she sent me a message.  It said something along the lines of, “I was out walking with [my son] today.  It was a beautiful day.  I was really enjoying myself and feeling relaxed.  I thought of your comment about being a SAHM being like a vacation.  I see your point, it is like a vacation.  I’m so glad I’m not working right now.”

Thusly I was vindicated!  I stand by my assertion that being a SAHM, for me, is like a vacation.  Maybe the grass is always greener, but in this case I doubt it.  I was on that side of the fence, and most days, despite loving my job, I’d trade working for all that extra time with my daughter- even if it meant another C-section.

So, SAHMs, appreciate your predicament and enjoy your kid(s).

Moms that work outside the home- how do you cram everything into the hours you’re not at work?

Scientist moms- how did you handle the time off dilemma?

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13 Comments

Filed under Mother, Scientist

13 responses to “Being a SAHM is like being on vacation

  1. Joy

    I see your point…well, points, really. First about being a scientist…I came from the academe, taught Sociology for 7years and the last time I worked as an Asst. Prof. was in early 2004. You need to be in touch with the field to know what you’re talking about, possess the competence and confidence. Now I find myself struggling sometimes to remember the concepts, theories and all the jargon that used to come so naturally to me. It’s sad. However, as you said, I don’t regret staying home to care for my child. I can’t imagine doing it any other way (especially given my culture, though I’m here in the US) and yes, I do feel fortunate that I am able to do this. The problem is, I haven’t a clue what to do when it’s time to go back to paid employment. *sigh*

  2. I’m so glad that I found you on the Alexa HOP! I completely understand your comment, you weren’t trying to throw SAHMs under the bus, you were just thinking of what it would be life relative to your current life. I’m a PhD grad student (almost done, wahoo!!!) and have had very similar feelings about this topic. I dream about what it would be like to be SAHM but then I think I would miss my job, and oh that silly CV thing too. For me I can’t even find a “good” time to have children. Is there a good time to try to conceive between grad school, post doc’ing, and then finally arriving in the “real world”? I’m liking your posts so far, I’m a new follower 🙂

    • Darby- so glad we can relate. I had my daughter as a post-doc, I have friends who had kids as grad students, post-docs, and new faculty. Now I’m in industry- so conceiving any future children would impact my position here. My husband and I want at least one more child, but there are considerations like- how long do I have to work here before I can take maternity leave? Should I wait so I wouldn’t be out until after the year’s performance review- which could impact my bonus? Can we cover the mortgage on what I’ll get from short-term disability? etc.

      I’m not sure that there’s a “good” time- there are pros and cons to all. My advice- check out what your school offers grad students for maternity leave. Lots of programs have money set aside to pay grad students during a maternity leave. Perhaps you could take a semester off if you have other means of support or health coverage. When you start looking at post-docs, consider the maternity leave policy- much of which you can find online (just watch out- rules are different if you are paid with school funds (and thus considered an employee entitled to all the benefits thereof) versus an outside fellowship where you’re usually on your own). Also, don’t be afraid to ask if there are any new moms in the lab- and then ask them how it worked for them.

      I chose to have my daughter towards the end of my postdoc. When I met with my advisor to tell her I was expecting, I laid out my plan for the year. Submit paper before taking maternity leave at the end of December, come back in April, complete revisions and resubmit, begin job search, move on in the summer. She took it well and I held up my end of the bargain. I think the timing worked really well for us. Good luck!

  3. Stopping by from the Alexa hop! Would love a visit back 🙂

    Kristen from http://wishfulthinking247.blogspot.com/

  4. Visiting from the Alexa Hop from http://practicalfrugality.blogspot.com/. I stumbled this post and followed you;)

  5. Sometimes there is too much of a good thing!
    I’m a new follower and I’m visiting you from the Alexa Blog Hop, stop by when you get a chance 🙂
    Brenda
    http://www.piggygiggles.com

  6. I clicked the link to your blog from the comment you left me, and this post REALLY resonated with me! I work full time September – June as a high school counselor and my weekends and summers with my son are truly like blissful vacations and I never want them to end! I can see how some people would be annoyed over the term “vacation” because being a mom is a lot of work no matter how you slice it, but I totally get where you are coming from. Great job on the blog, I’ll be following you!

  7. Pingback: Happiness is… not missing out. | mommacommaphd

  8. Pingback: “Working from home” | mommacommaphd

  9. Linda

    Perhaps for you it is like a vacation. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that for many others, it is hell. Not every SAHM is there by choice. And many SAHM do not have the same resources as others. I for one, am not home because I want to be. I had to be. I have no family in the area. I had to give up my job and we had to drastically change our lifestyle. I never have any money for anything extra. We don’t go out anywhere without the kids. I can’t afford a babysitter and don’t have friends that offer to do it for free. So my days are the same everyday. My husband is a shift worker and takes all the overtime he can get, so I am pretty much a single parent. It is lonely and frustrating. Imagine yourself at YOUR JOB 24/7. See how much you would like that. How about you move in where you work and work seven days a week without ever having a day or even a few hours off. That is what it is like for many SAHM. So, perhaps you can understand why some of us would get a little peeved at someone like you that says you are jealous of us. I used to be you, I worked with my first child and I was a single mother on top of it. Now 15 years later an unplanned baby comes along and I have to stay home. So trust me, I know what it is like to do both. Working was easier for me. That was my vacation.

    • Linda- I’m sorry you are so unhappy in your life. I think anytime a person is in a situation by necessity and not by choice it can be hard. I hope something changes for you so you can be happier.

  10. Kat

    I realize this is old, but I think what you miss is that its working in child and you are alone all the time. I take my 3 kids to the dr with me, the bathroom, every grocery trip, the mechanic…
    Imagine holding the baby with the 7 and 10yo boys at the OBGYN. Changing your maxi pad while nursing and worrying about the boys standing outside the bathroom at a rest area. Getting an eye exam done with all of them in the tiny room, and you cant see. The logistics of going to the pool, and only 1 kid swims well and the baby needs a diaper change. Baby has croup and the older kids are coming home early on the bus because of a snowstorm…
    I also take my 3 kids to fun places and enjoy my life…but think of it this way: would you ever tell a nanny or daycare worker that are on vacation at work? I work in child care…they just happen to be my own kids!

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