- I’m sure you could work if you really wanted to….
- The military must be good money if most wives don’t work.
- You don’t do anything all day.
- I wish I had your life.
- Your life is so easy
These are some things I have heard since I became a stay at home home mom 7 years ago. None of them bother me. In fact, I’m sure I probably say similar things about moms with other family dynamics. Since being a stay at home mom is something I know a lot about… let’s examine some of these frequently said claims, as they pertain to ME.
1. Could I work if I really wanted to?
-Well, yes and no. My life the past 7 years has always been….unstable (and no, I’m not talking about my mental health lol.) Being a military family, we have moved more times than I can even count. I generally don’t stay in a place long enough to hold a decent job. Before Eli started school, he did 20 hours of ABA therapy a week and an hour of speech and occupational therapy a week, then moved on to a 3-hour a day preschool. To hold a full time, or even a part time job for that matter, I would need to hire a full time nanny to be home for therapies and be able to get my son to and from school.
Now that my son is in school full time, I was left at home with my daughter. Could I have worked then? Yes. And I did apply to jobs, unfortunately I didn’t get them. Currently, Eli is in school full time and Camille just started special ed preschool that is 3 hours T-F. So here I am again with more time constraints. I bring my son to school at 8, head back to school to drop my daughter off at 1130, then go back to pick both kids up at 230. Are there any jobs hiring Tuesday- Thursday between the hours of 12-2:30pm??
Furthermore, if I did get a job at any point in the last few years, without a Bachelor’s Degree, any entry level job I could would probably pay pretty closely to what my cost for childcare would be. At that point, is it worth it?
2. So how good IS military pay?
-To put this as vaguely, yet informatively, as possible… no, military pay doesn’t live up to the hype. Listen… if you were to look at the numbers before healthcare, rent, and taxes are taken out, sure, it would look pretty damn good. Then again, that’s true for everyone’s paychecks! I think two of the biggest misconceptions of military pay are: (1) we get free healthcare and rent (2) Military members get paid very well. Both of these are false.
Healthcare, for the member and their family, is taken out before the money reaches the member. Same is said for rent. If you are living in military housing, the rent is taken out of your paycheck before it reaches the service member. I’m assuming this is where the idea comes from that these things are all free? Healthcare coverage depends what plan you’re on and your location. Sometimes everything can be covered 100% with no copays and no deductibles. Currently for my location and the plan that I am on, I pay both.
In all, the military pays decently- not horrible, not fantastic. My husband makes enough to support his family, but the sad truth is… there are a lot more stable and safer careers out there that make far more money. The military definitely doesn’t pay enough for the work and the sacrifices made for the job. Of course, the higher you go, the higher the pay. likewise, if you enter the military with a college degree, you start out with a much higher salary than lower enlisted, and rightfully so.
So if military pay isn’t all that, why are so many wives stay at home moms (or just stay at home wives)? Well… it’s hard. Realistically, service members generally move every four years and can deploy during that four year time too. Having a lot of short lived jobs on your resume doesn’t look the best, nor does having long gaps either. A lot of military towns are saturated with people, making job prospects minimal and hard to come by. A lot of wives probably choose not to work for convenience, and some probably do it because they don’t have any other options!
3. What do I do all day?
-Depends on the day. Back when we lived in San Diego, a typical day for me would be 4 hours of ABA therapy, pick up and drop off at a 3 hour special ed preschool, cooking, cleaning, evening speech and occupational therapy appointments, laundry, homework, blogging, and bedtimes. Lately, an average day for me has been: bring my son to school at 8, come home and work out, bring my daughter to school at 11:30, clean the house and run errands, pick both kids up at 2:30, snacks, blog, computer work, dinner time, homework time, bedtime, then reclean the house. Is anything I do physically demanding? No. Do I have it easier than most people? Yes. Am I at the complete mercy of my children 24 hours a day and am slowly losing my mind? Also, yes.
4. I wish I had YOUR life.
-Well, I wish I had YOUR life. The grass is always greener folks… If your hair is short, you have the urge to cut it. When you cut your hair short, you impatiently wait for it to grow back out. There are obviously a lot of appealing parts of being a stay at home mom: seeing your kids more, being there for all of the firsts, yadda yadda. I think a big part of being a stay at home mom that often gets overlooked is that- when being a SAHM becomes a part of your identity, different parts of your identity get forced out. I’ve given up a career, my independence, my freedom. I am at the complete mercy of my children and their lives, so much so that I struggle just to find my purpose and passion in life beyond my kids. I often feel like just a shell of a person, with nothing in my life at all outside of raising children. Don’t get me wrong, I’d make the same choice again and again if given the opportunity. Just know, when you choose to stay home or work, there will always be a little part of you that yearns for the other choice.
5. My life is anything BUT easy
-Am I chopping lumber every day or performing lifesaving CPR on a patient? No, but my life is pretty mentally and emotionally challenging. My routines are repetitive, my freedom is nonexistent, my social life is limited. I am surrounded by kids nearly 24 hours a day. I struggle to finish a single task without being interrupted by a child. Trying to find time to work on my computer, clean an entire room, or even take a shower is a struggle. So sure, being a stay at home mom seems like a pretty easy gig, and it is in a lot of ways… but it is a lot more draining than people give it credit for.
This blog isn’t to try and say how hard working I am or make my life seem harder than it is. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I work harder than a working mom, another SAHM, or anyone at all for that matter.
A lot of people tend to have this perception that stay at home moms just sit on the couch all day watching real housewives all day eating snacks…don’t get me wrong… WE DO THAT.. we just don’t get to do that ALL THE TIME. There’s a lot more to this life than people think. There is a lot more mental exhaustion and loneliness than people think.
My favorite times of the day as a stay at home mom is the first thing in the morning when it’s dark and quiet and I enjoy my first cup of coffee in uninterrupted silence and at night after my kids have gone to bed when I enjoy a bedtime snack and do some yoga. Those two times are the only times during my day that are all mine. I still may not be able to do anything that I want to do, but at least I get that peace and quiet!
One thought on “Common Misconceptions of a SAHM”
You are doing a fantastic job, I can tell, but then again my expectations are more realistic.
I would really encourage Mums who can afford to not work; emotionally, mentally and financially, who have an Autistic child to not work. The school is going to need your help, randomly and urgently.
At the moment autism and the real world don’t mix easily. Trying to fit a round (beautifully spherical) peg into a square (equally beautiful) hole is incredibly exhausting. 7 to 11 is often I hate to say it a reprieve. Your teens will need you.
But Neurodiversity will bring untold Wisdom and Beauty to the whole world, so your job as Mum is so important. The great innovations of your children and all their descendants are thanks to you.
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