SAHM Guilt — Anyone else?

February 27, 2006

Okay, there is no other forum in which I would even think about posting this subject. But in the very short time I’ve been posting at this site, I’ve found you to be a group of forward thinking, progressive chicks who will hear me out and not pile on with half baked judgments. I just need to air this out and see if I’m nuts. Criticisms are welcome, but if I posted this on a big box “mom site” I’d be incinerated.

I have Stay At Home Mom Guilt.

What is that, you may ask? Why, the baby is Job #1 and you have a JOB in staying home with him. And yes, you are correct, I do. It is a job and a half, and it stretches my mind and creativity in ways for which I wasn’t prepared and which challenge me every day. However……
my parents paid to put me through college and law school. I worked as a trial lawyer and then as a corporate vice president. My career spanned 20 years. I met my husband when I was speaking at a legal conference, and he too is a lawyer. We spent years working working working and traveling traveling traveling and had the time of our lives.

And then I got pregnant.

It wasn’t something we weren’t trying to do, and it wasn’t something we didn’t want. We just figured maybe it wasn’t going to happen for us, and for our own reasons decided not to go the fertility route. I was 39, had had two miscarriages, and had no reason to believe that this one wasn’t going to go the way of the first two. But he stuck. And suddenly we had to make a decision. We debated it thoroughly. Should he stay home? Should I stay home? Daycare? Nanny? We hadn’t thought it through before age 40 because we honestly never believed we’d be parents.

Cutting to the chase, I “retired.” Husband goes to work every day and keeps a roof over our heads. And suddenly I have this weird life I never thought I’d have. I’ve been getting up at 5, working out, putting on makeup and Adult Clothes and going into an office since I was 18 years old. And now? Nope. There are days I don’t shower. Sometimes I’m in the floor playing with dry macaroni and mixing bowls with my toddler and realize that maybe I haven’t read anything in a week. I’m on this multi-year vacation from what was supposed to be my permanent professional life.

And I love it. I really really love my life. I don’t miss the corporate politics, the backbiting, the posers, the climbers. But my husband still has to deal with that every day, and when he comes home and talks about his day, that’s when I get Stay At Home Mom Guilt. He still has to deal with all of that. We both know I’m having much more fun than he’s having. He wants to spend more time with the baby, but he has to work.

So, what to do? We’ve always valued equity in our marriage. In a few years, when the baby transfers from being so mommy-centric to more daddy-centric (boy scouts, camping, surfing, etc) perhaps we should switch roles. I can practice law again. But that requires planning on my part — keeping up my certifications, education, and connections. I’m thinking of making a plan along those lines, so that I can enjoy this time and know I’ll pay my husband back for these years.

Thoughts, comments? I know there can be flames from both sides: those who are offended by the thought that being a SAHM is a ‘vacation’ from other work, and those who are offended by the thought that I’d ‘owe’ my husband anything for performing his ‘role.’ Oh, and those who are offended by me giving up my career. Opine away!