Written by Barbara Mountjoy
Some time ago, I noticed a new term in the e-lists and blogs I was reading regularly: SAHM. Frustrated, I looked up the term (I love Wikipedia!) and discovered its meaning: Stay At Home Mom.
Wait. What does that make me? A WOOHM? Work Out of Home Mom?
Or a MHDMAMAYM? (My Husband Doesn’t Make As Much As Yours Mom)? Or an IDMJTCHADWYDADM? (I Do My Job Then Come Home And Do What You Do All Day Mom)?
I have to admit, the term annoyed me. Made me a little jealous, too. Though I’ve raised three different sets of children, one with each marriage, I’ve worked out in the world most of that time. I never had the luxury to stay home and make the special cookies for birthday parties at school and cook the hot breakfasts for the kids. And when I was a single mom? Forget it. Those years I was lucky to keep everything moving forward, the light bill paid and make sure the kids at least had socks on. Hopefully, they even matched.
And what about the dads? My husband went to school part time over a couple of years and stayed home with our kids, then toddlers. He was a great dad at a time when they needed a lot of care, had multiple therapies, etc. Was he a SAHD? No. He was “unemployed.”
“Parent” as a job, is a difficult one. You have huge responsibility for these small folk, and you’re expected through some kind of unspoken magic formula to turn them into worthy people. C. Everett Koop, MD, said, “Life affords no greater opportunity, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.”
Those whose children have “issues,” like ours with autism, often spend a larger percentage of time with hands-on parenting; we have to. At the same time, I see many blogs where parents define themselves by their children’s shortcomings. I exchanged emails this week with a mom who had a beautiful singing voice; she liked to perform jazz songs professionally but said she wasn’t doing it any more. I urged her not to give it up just because she had a child. She wrote back and said she gave it up not because she had a child, but because she had an autistic child.
Is that all we are as people? Should we illustrate ourselves to others only as our relationship to our children or our house or our jobs? Do we have to sacrifice everything that we are for the children?
I don’t introduce myself to people as a lawyer. Or a mother. Or a quilter. Or a writer. I’m still me. I’m all those other things, too, but I start with who I am.
And that makes me wonder about the woman who uses the title SAHM. Is she trying to convince me of her worth and status? Or herself?