It’s certainly how I’ve thought of myself for the past three years, ever since I was laid off from my Finance position at a Fortune 500 company. I haven’t done any “traditional” or “full-time” work since.
Sure, there’s the argument that staying home with the kids is work. Which it most definitely is. And I’m certainly busy. In fact, most days I wonder how I ever used to work at all. But even without a full-time job, my list of domestic failings is so long that I often wonder:
“What am I doing wrong?!”
It’s pretty typical that I compare my shortcomings to other mothers’ accomplishments. One day my husband was describing in full detail watching his grandmother make pies from scratch, painstakingly crafting and rolling out the pie crust by hand. I listened intently as he reminisced about the unbelievable buttery taste, superior to any store-bought creation that passes as dessert today. To which I remarked, “I don’t know how mothers used to have time to do that.” I have NEVER EVER made any pie crust by hand. It simply would take too much time (and require more patience and skill than I currently possess). But it’s not just the baking, it’s the stories of mothers who sewed clothes for their children, ironed their husband’s shirts, grew their own fruits and vegetables, made every meal from scratch, and on and on.
When I voiced my inadequacy, my husband put it simply, “You’re not really a stay at home mom.”
I’m not? It certainly feels that way most days. I handle the kids 100% during the day while my husband works and we share the responsibilities at night. I feed the family their meals, including my husband when he is working from home. I do never-ending laundry and try to keep the mess from overtaking all of our spaces. I handle groceries and supplies. I cart the kids to and fro. That’s all stay at home mom material.
It’s only reinforced by the fact that I can see that my Facebook posts are primarily about our children and family. My husband will be talking about business with me (one of my favorite topics, seriously!), and my mind will wander to wondering when I can take the kids apple picking. Where the children are at developmentally is one of my go-to conversations. And our friends and family are so used to the idea that I am home with the kids, that no one ever bothers to ask me what I might be doing beyond homemaking.
Yet my husband is right, I actually do so much more.
I am an investor.
I spend a minimum of 1-2 hours per weekday reading business news related to my investments. I am running several different investment strategies across 5 brokerage accounts, which takes time to manage. In addition, I have also been teaching my husband about the stock market and helping him develop his own strategies according to his risk tolerance. At this time, my taxable portfolio is my largest source of income, between $15-20k per year.
I help my husband with his business.
I don’t have as much time to devote as I used to, but I jump in to cover the office while he is away. Because I worked with him for many years and am familiar with the business, I often am his sounding board for problems he encounters.
I am a writer.
For one, I run this blog. Second, I am freelance writing for other sites. Third, I did copy-writing for a company that needed Amazon product pages rewritten. These jobs haven’t added up to a whole lot of income this year, but it was WORK.
When I consider these and other jobs I maintain, it’s easier to see why I am ALWAYS feeling behind on my domestic tasks. I mean, there’s also the fact that I don’t particularly like cleaning and organizing. But when I add up all the hours spent on traditionally non-SAHM tasks, I can see where my husband is coming from.
And I am not the only one. I know many, many other mothers who might appear from the outside to be Stay at Home Moms, but they are all doing more than just the mom thing. I know people who volunteer, do photography, teach or tutor, freelance in various capacities, or do creative work like making jewelry or art. In fact, I know more of these types of hybrid moms than the more traditional ones.
This post is not intended to devalue anyone who is solely a Stay at Home Mom. I sometimes wish that I could just manage the kids and the household and do nothing else. And then I come back to the reality that I am not particularly well suited for that kind of work and devotion. Keeping my mind occupied with the other things I do really helps to keep me sane.
What about you? Are you a SAHM? What else do you do that doesn’t typically fall under that description?