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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live the Present and the Future

Someone said something to me online the other day that was meant as support, but it stuck in my craw. I'd written a piece about being a stay at home mom, and how finally, after a few years of it, I've finally accepted what the role is and what it means to me. And I feel good about it. And I feel successful. You know, the same old drill you get here every gd day. Anyway, she left a long comment, and in it was this:

"I found that I needed and wanted the middle-ground of doing a little of both. My younger sister was happy being a SAH mom, but I realized that she was always more of a "living in the now" person than "living toward a goal" person. THAT probably makes the biggest difference of all."



So, I really like this person, and I don't want to be a jerk, but I am a living toward a goal person. That's the point. That's why, at first, I had a hard time with this staying home thing. Because I felt like I no longer had any aim, and that the aim I once had would disappear on me, and I'd have to start all over.

For shame, me.

I had to learn that first and foremost, getting these kids to grow up healthy and happy is a goal, a worthy and important one. And it's not as selfless as it sounds. My kids' happiness has everything to do with me, and they'll outlast me (God willing), so, really, they're the most futuristic goal I could achieve.

Secondly, SAHMs still have other goals. One of the reasons I have been able to accept myself as I am is that I changed my course, I made revisions, I made new goals, and I'm working toward them. I assume all SAHMs do this to some extent, and whether their goals are to write novels, host an online shop, do photography, or just keep the damn house clean--they're still goals.

Third and related, how does working at a job, in and of itself, make one goal-oriented? Most of the people I know that are forced to do the nine-to-five, whether they're cashiers or executives, are just trading time for money. Yes, there are some that are ambitiously pushing for more (usually for more money in less time), and I thought I would be one of those, but when I look back on my "career" I see that I was fooling myself. The hours I was spending at work were exactly that. Hours spent at work.

In fact, I have more and better goals now than I did when I was working. And better still, I have a plan to get there. Why? Because I have the time to think of a plan. I have the energy (some days) to organize the steps and to do the detail work. Because when I'm not working for someone else's dollar, I am free to work on myself and on my kids.

Now, she's not all wrong. One of the greatest things being a SAHM has taught me is how to live in the now. When I'm at the library, reading books to my kids, I can't be bothered with worrying over who's following me on twitter or what I have to do to increase my author following. I have to be there for them, in the moment. And if I'm not, it ruins the time for them and for me without furthering anything.

So, as a SAHM, I get the benefit of the now and of the future, too.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm damn lucky, and I'm damn thankful. This is a really good life, and while I know it will change, I'm happy to be able to live in the now and still be a goal-oriented person. Being a SAHM has allowed me to do that. Being a stay at home mom has allowed me to grow up.

It's not for everyone. It's not the best thing for everyone. It's not the best for every child or every parent. And to those working, I salute you. I, personally, having done both, think it's harder to be a WOHM. It's different, almost incomparable, but for me, it was harder.

I feel truly blessed that I have been afforded the opportunity to go on this journey, and that I have found what's right for me at this particular time. Goals and time and online comments notwithstanding.

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  1. I was totally with you until this:
    "Most of the people I know that are forced to do the nine-to-five, whether they're cashiers or executives, are just trading time for money."

    You can get your (totally valid) point across without adding fuel to the SAHM v WM fire.

    I am personally fulfilled by time with my children. I am also fulfilled, in a different way, by my career, which is continually offering me the ability to grow. They don't need to be mutually exclusive.

    1. Yes, you are! But that doesn't mean that some people (with or without children at home) are not. The point of that section is this:

      You can be a SAHM and be an "in the now" type person.
      You can be a SAHM and be a "working toward a goal" type person.
      You can work out of the home and be an "in the now" type person.
      You can work out of the home and be a "working toward a goal" type person.

      It's meant to say that neither choice, imo, implies or dictates personality type and visa versa. (Man, when was the last time I used visa versa? IDEK.)



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