Finding My Self-Worth as a Stay-At-Home-Mom

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.

WAHM2

 

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.

15 thoughts on “Finding My Self-Worth as a Stay-At-Home-Mom

  1. Hi, I’m a bit in the same boat as you…. well, maybe not entirely.

    When my daughter was born last year, (I’m an older mom) I knew I would be a semi-stay at home mom, and yes, you are absolutely right. There’s no price tag on these years. Yet, as a memoirist, writer and teacher as well as radio show host, I knew I needed a few hours each day for my own writing. I’m currently writing my memoir about serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Since I’m teaching part-time, I can afford to shell out a few hours each day to work on my own writing projects. I also teach online. when I come back, I’m refreshed and energized ready to be a mom again.

    Thanks for sharing your vulnerability and authenticity about your situation.
    Dorit Sasson
    Giving a Voice to Your Story
    http://www.GivingaVoicetotheVoicelessBook.com

  2. I am 61 years old. I grew up in the “no one should work once they have children” 1950’s. I came of age in the “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan” supermom 70’s. I had my child in the “women battling each other to determine who had more worth – stay at home Moms or Moms working” 90’s” (whatever choice you made, it was somehow wrong). And now, in 2014, we women still feel like we need to do it all to be supermoms, and if we can’t be superwomen, there is something wrong with us. There is nothing wrong with us if we can’t do it all. If you’ve made the right decision, you will know it. If you haven’t made the right decision, you aren’t locked in. I hope your friends and family will support you in whatever your final decision (and this may not be your final decision) ends up being.

  3. I loved this post when I first read it. Well done Salma. Women who are stay at home moms really do need to realize that they are contributing something significant and something that other people can’t do. It’s really priceless when you think about it.

    Agi:)

    vodkainfusedlemonade.com

  4. Thank you for sharing this piece again

    “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.”

    That passage really resonates with me. It was so hard for me to redefine my sense of self worth outside tangible outcomes (promotions etc) and a steady pay check. I still really miss the income and have my darker days as I would like to call them. It is immensely comforting to hear that “better, stronger, and more at peace” could be down the road 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing Salma, I have felt many of the same feelings. It’s true though, as a society, we put way too much importance on money. Being there to teach your kids how to be happy, healthy and moral is priceless.

  6. I found this a real struggle, especially having our first when I turned 30. I had 12 solid years of building a career and being important ‘out there’ that it was a real mind shift to value what I do ‘in here’. Love this post.

  7. Oh I can relate to this!! I often feel unequal because I don’t contribute very much financially. I feel like what I do isn’t enough or isn’t as important. But for the past 2 months hubby and I have switched roles. He took 2 months of parental leave and I have been working (self-employed) full-time. It was nice at first. I liked being able to focus on my career. But now, I can’t wait til he goes back to work next week and I get to do the play-dates and trips to the library, make forts and cook dinner. I do find though that I need some focused work time and so we will have both of our boys in daycare 2 days a week starting in June. I will use those days to focus on my business and have some degree of balance in my life.

  8. Loved your post! Only if we could get paid for 24 hour shift we pull every day. Some days we don’t even get a quite bathroom break let alone a proper break. But , time goes by so fast, it is end of may already ! Next thing you know both your kids be in school. To be honest, I am not looking forward for the day, when my kids don’t want to hold my hand anymore… In a blink of an eye you will be back at work, and I am sure then you will not feel bad for missing work at all.

  9. Yes indeed, going from an exciting job such as the one you had to staying at home is quite the transition! I have always grappled with the self-worth and wanting to do more outside the home. I have realized that there is a time for me to step out into that world again (and gradually I think, taking small steps presently). But it is so great that you have built something to put your energies (what’s left of them anyways! 😉 into that you find fulfillment in. I think it is so important to do that for ourselves as mothers. I appreciate your honesty!

  10. Love this post 🙂 thank you for sharing. being a stay at home parent is no easy feat it is such an important job.

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