The following is a guest post from Salma and her struggles sounds all too familiar: Working mom? Stay-at-home mom? Working from home mom… Who am I? What defines me? How do I and others value my contributions? There are positives and negatives for every situation and Salma describes what many of us struggle with. Thank you inviting us into your efforts to navigate the best situation for you and your family, Salma!
I have always loved my job and looked forward to going to work every day. Up until earlier this year, that job was as a T.V. producer for Breakfast Television, Winnipeg. It was a place for me to be creative. I got to help plan a live show, go out with camera people and shoot stories, write scripts, work in the control room and sometimes I would report stories in front of the camera. Each day was an adventure, something new and different. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I respected them tremendously, (my mom was a SAHM) but it was just not for me. Or so I thought.
After baby number two, when I went back to work at the end of my maternity leave, I started having thoughts about the things I was missing with the kids while I was at work. A big transition also happened. We had to move from Winnipeg to Vancouver. I said goodbye to my home for six years, left my job and came back to my hometown. I started looking for new jobs in my field of work and had meetings with different people in the industry. While I was doing that, I had family watching my kids.
The funny thing is, the more people I had around wanting to take care of the kids, the more I realized that I wanted to be the one taking care of my own children. I wanted to be the one waking up with them in the middle of the night, giving them breakfast, reading books with them, taking them to the library for story time and wiping their tears.
I finally made the decision that I would NOT look for a job and that I would stay home with the kids. I still wanted a creative outlet, so decided to pursue a freelance writing and blogging career; a work-at-home mom! I was excited to start this new journey in my life. But the reality of it was a lot different than I imagined.
With a two-year old and four-year old, time to focus on writing was limited to short nap times and at night after the kids were asleep.
My real struggle came internally, something that I couldn’t really voice or explain. It came down to the fact that once I was at home, I didn’t feel like an equal in my marriage, I didn’t feel good enough. Yes, I was making a little money from my writing, but only enough to buy the groceries and go for outings. Not enough to pay the rent, to put money towards our debt or pay any significant bills.
The reason it bothered me so much was that all my life I grew up wanting to be an independent woman. I always wanted to be able to support myself and any future family I had. I never wanted to count solely on someone else for my livelihood. Yet, here I was, completely dependent on my husband’s income for everything and I couldn’t handle it.
I know that being a stay-at-home parent is a really important job and it’s a pretty darn tough job. Equal, if not harder, than the job of the parent working outside of the home. (I’m pretty sure that my husband couldn’t do what I do all day.) But I didn’t feel like an equal. It affected my self-confidence, my relationship with my husband and my attitude.
I didn’t know what to do. I wanted it all; to stay home with my kids, to be creative, to be a significant financial contributor to our family and an equal partner in our relationship. It seemed like too much to ask.
Finally after months of feeling like this and keeping everything bottled up, I knew something had to change. I talked to my husband, who was very supportive. I also realized that this was my own decision and if I wanted to stay home with my kids, which I did, there were some sacrifices I would have to make and I would have to overcome the feelings of negativity and inequity. Realistically, I realized, the sacrifices I felt like I was making were only temporary. In a few years, both my kids would be in school full time and the whole day would be mine to work, be creative and make as much money as I wanted. The proverbial cake would be mine to have and to eat.
Until then, I would have to accept that even though I wasn’t a financially equal contributor to our family, what I was contributing had as much impact as money. I was not the primary earner but I was the primary caregiver. In their vital years, I would be the ones teaching the kids about life, love, morals and anything else that came along the way and really, there is no monetary value to put on that.
Salma is a freelance writer, television producer and host. She is married and has two kids under four. She recently moved back home from Winnipeg to Vancouver and is learning the ropes as a WAHM. She’s a bargain shopaholic and loves to read, if there’s ever any time.
You can find her at www.TheWriteBalance.ca where she writes a parenting and lifestyle blog.
~ Read more about working mom guilt. ~
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