Friday, June 11, 2010

friday forte: SAHM, the myth vs reality

domestic bliss
contemplating the reality fun that is The Toilet

It has come to my attention that some of you gentle readers may not fully understand what the life of a SAHM is actually like, with some myths and confusion muddying your minds.
Fear not - I can dispel these untruths and make all clear again. Read on!

Myth no. 1: being a SAHM is a complete luxury
Reality: No, the real luxury is being able to survive on one income and not have to go out to earn extra thus being available to parent and housekeep. There's not much about what a SAHM does that could be seen as luxurious living.

back to school
educate, dammit!

Myth no. 2: you are a waste of your education
Reality: True enough. I don't think there is anywhere in the world where you can get a certificate, let alone a higher degree, in de-crusting a toilet. My PhD, BVM&S, school diplomas, music certificates, Girl Guide badges, etc are of no practical use for the tedium of running a household but they do come in handy for inspiring my child who is the real reason why I am currently at home 24/7.

Myth no. 3: SAHMs have it easy and have nothing to complain about
Reality: I guess I hung up my right to hold opinions at the door when I put on my pinny then? Or if I do hold opinions on my world then I should keep them to myself? OK so my world has contracted sharply and is maybe more focused on child rearing and housework than someone with outside aka salaried/non-child interests but it doesn't mean that I should put up or shut up.

crafting al fresco
luxurious poolside living, earning some pin money during the Wee Guy's swim lesson

Myth no. 4: SAHMs are 'kept women'
Reality: Yes, I'm being 'kept' by my husband,  the breadwinner who also pays for the living expenses of his other leeches offspring too. What he does not pay for is housekeeping, childcare, prepared dinners, delivery services, sex, after-school care, a personal assistant, counseling, accountancy services, domestic services, laundry, a concierge, a gardener, .... and so on. I do all this 'voluntarily'.... or 'in return for my keep' ....... sheeesh!

new shoes: what else is a mall for?
Myth no. 5: Isn't it just one long round of coffee with the girls, shopping sprees and gazing at the pool boy?
Reality: (we don't have a pool) If I wasn't also responsible for the family budget maybe I would fritter away more time in coffee shops .... in reality other mummies are dealing with their home responsibilities or grabbing some peace and quiet while the kids are out at school. Housework does take some time (all day if you're bored) but mostly I'm working on my own projects while in the house by myself. It's my way of staying sane among the tedium (and making some pin money).

Myth no.6: Must be nice to have the house to yourself all day, easy to potter about doing the housework and relaxing.
Reality: Firstly may I state that I usually do not do my housework during the week while everyone is out. Why should I give my son the illusion that housework is done mysteriously with no sweat or toil and not by himself. It's like saying that the brownies will do it all for you? I pity the poor girl who ends up with him if that's what he ends up believing! I also firmly believe in making sure my husband is not totally clueless about domestic matters either! Secondly, I don't usually relax. OK I took a week off  but that was Unusual. I work ... on my own business, not family housework stuff! Thirdly having the house to myself means that some days I don't see another living being from school drop off to afternoon pick up, and then my only conversation is with a 7 year old. Very relaxing.

Plean House
just about got the hang of this housework thing

Myth no. 7: Don't you just sit around painting your toe nails all day?
Reality: Hmmmm ... I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer, cretin!

Myth no. 8: It's a cushy old life!
Reality: Absolutely! For being a kept woman, relying totally on my husband and staying home with the kid I'm not losing out at all re: career, pension or future earning potential. All the skills I'm building up while staying at home will be totally meaningless when/if I do get out into the job market to resume a career so I probably will end up dead-heading dahlias into my dotage.Oh yes, I can keep the economy afloat by volunteering ...... hoo bloody ray. I feel so worthy.

Myth no. 9: You must have oodles of quality time with your child(ren)/family
Reality: We live together - we don't need to artificially schedule "nice times" with each other. We interact, warts and all - it's called being a family.

Myth no 10:  SAHMs should be totally devoted to their children and family, to the exclusion of all else. After all it's a choice that they've made so they should live with it.
Reality: I'm tempted to call in answer no. 7 to this one or direct you to no. 3 above. All I can say is that this statement most commonly comes out of the mouths of other women, either "working" mothers or those who are childless "career women", and it's usually meant as a complete put-down when they discover that SAHMs are active in so many other areas than just "kinder, kirche, kuche". Somehow a SAHM is meant to function within the small realm of home, husband and child and, wait for it, be satisfied! The implication is that, since many have made the choice to 'withdraw' from the 'world of work' then they should be happy with their lot. Bull.shit. Some have no choice in the face of inadequate childcare or have done the maths and realise that pouring money into contracting out the parenting makes poor economic sense for the family. For others, a chosen career does not fit in with the rigours (yes, you heard me - it's hard work) of raising a family so returning to the career world is either delayed or regretfully shelved. Many strongly believe in raising their own child in an age-appropriate way, which often means being there as a parent when the child needs them. Sadly (and this might be news) society still doesn't value raising a family which, in translation, means that it is darned difficult to be on an almost-equal footing with the childless working population. Whatever the choice (or lack of) expecting a SAHM to forsake everything else just because she is at home all day is as bat shit crazy as expecting 'working' people not to run errands during a lunch hour or pick up groceries on the way home from 'work' or even not do any 'work' over a weekend or perhaps (gasp) not blog (yes, inspired by the old "if you're blogging you must be neglecting your child" chestnut). SAHM hours and work location are poorly defined at the best of times without imposing extra workplace practices from an uninformed viewpoint. Sure, I'm here for my child when he needs me but sometimes he doesn't want anything to do with me, playing quietly by himself (self-directed) or working on some solo project (developing his concentration). Likewise, running a household cannot/should not be done in isolation of childcare so I do the domestic stuff while he is around too (gasp. neglect, neglect!). In translation, there are times during the day when I don't need to be ironing gussets, pretending to be a spaceman, cooking, cleaning, wiping, tidying, whoring, titivating/titillating, adding, subtracting, provisioning ...... and I don't just go into stand-by mode, sometimes I do indeed blog! As I've explained, I consider it important that a child knows that housework is not done by a  mysterious sect of little people, that parenting is important, that parents regardless of employment status are people too, and that being the stay-at-home is not all fun fun and coffee mornings as exemplified in myths 1 - 10 above.

PS: I can paint my toenails and do the housework - multitasking = easy peasy


Post a Comment

ebb and flo by pomo mama design click to shop pomo mama design online!