Reasons Why I Don't Like Being a SAHM

I understand that there are mothers who have to work because they have no other choice.  I also understand that there are mothers who struggle between their desire for a career and a desire to raise their babies.  But what I used to find difficult to understand are the mothers who would rather work than stay at home.

Once upon a time, I thought that I would rather work than be stuck at home.  However, the arrival of Gavin changed all of that.  How could I possibly run off to work and pull the kind of hours I used to back when I had a career and still feel okay about it?  The fear of becoming estranged from my son is far too great for me to accept it – especially not when I have a child.

However, as my son grows older and becomes a more challenging person to interact with, I begin to understand some of the feelings that those mothers have.  Being a stay-at-home-Mum (SAHM) is often a thankless job.  You don’t get paid for it, you don’t get a pat on the back for a job well done, you spend a lot of time on OT, people rarely appreciate you for what you are and no one ever remembers that you need a break, too.

To top it off, you get screamed at – by your child and sometimes by other people – and are often criticised when your child plays up, throws a tantrum, hurts himself or refuses to eat. At times like these you almost have to wonder whether it is worth it.

People look down on you because of that dreadful stigma associated with being a housewife.  It doesn’t matter what you used to do because nobody remembers any of it.  Even hubby challenged me the other day on the number of primary teeth a child should have.  I said it was twenty and he argued that it was twenty-four.  Hello?  I used to be a dentist?  I studied this subject for 5 years and you wonder if I can remember how many deciduous teeth a child should have?  Please!  I know my brain shrank a little when I got pregnant but I haven’t completely lost all function of my brain cells!

What probably makes it all worse is that because you’re so busy being a SAHM, most of your daily activities involve your child.  The subjects you talk about usually revolved around your child and child rearing.  Yet these subjects are often considered boring and tedious.  Most other people talk about work or the lives they have outside of work, but since raising your child is your work and your life, you really don’t have much else to talk about.

Nobody really wants to hear about your child’s development (save the relatives and perhaps the friends with children).  Let’s be honest.  I used to be like that – before I had a child.  If a mother came and told me about the little milestones her son had been achieving, I would think, “Good grief!  Get over it already.”  And now, I can think of nothing more fascinating.

If you talk about parenting practices and philosophies, you’re the preachy, know-it-all mother trying to convert the world to her way of thinking.  Yes, the subject of parenting can be as sensitive as religion.  A few times when I’ve gotten over-excited talking to friends about interesting ideas, facts, styles of parenting, hubby tells me I’ve been preaching.

Don’t get me wrong.  It is an enormous joy to be a mother and to be able to witness your child’s developments on a daily basis and know that you were a part of it.  However, when you are a SAHM, the chance to have an outlet for yourself as a person is rather limited.

Hence the reason why I blog – it offers me the opportunity to validate myself as someone with something worth listening to (or rather reading).

Are you a SAHM?  Do you sometimes feel this way too?  Perhaps you might like to share something in the comments below.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

5 thoughts on “Reasons Why I Don't Like Being a SAHM

  1. You’ve just written exactly what I think. Why is it that when I say I’m a SAHM, people stop asking me for my opinions? Is it my imagination or do people actually speak slower and use single-syllable words when speaking to me? My ex-boss used to trust me to make decisions involving money and now… I’m *just* a… mom? Is that it?

    Oh well. I forget it all when my little boy smiles at me and holds his arms out to me.

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  2. Word.

    The respect and professional esteem I built from working over 10 years dashed the moment I handed in my resignation letter to be a stay-home mom.

    Most friends decline to invite us out cos they know I have to bring the kids. Only my other stay-home mom friends get it and understand. It almost feels like a special club no one else seems to want to join, especially in a materialistic society like ours.

    Most of my friends choose to work because they believe they cannot survive on one income. Same belief that new mothers cannot survive without a maid.

    Like a lady I met with 4 kids who lives in the US says, when you need to do it, you’ll find a way.

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  3. Mrs Top Monkey – I dislike those forms where they ask you what your occupation is. It isn’t that I’m not proud to be a stay-at-home-Mum. I just hate being talked down to and it seems that admitting to being a SAHM is an instant ticket to being talked down to.

    But yes, I wouldn’t trade the hugs and kisses I get from my son for all the respect and esteem in the world.

    Mephala – that is so true. I know there are families that survive on an income of RM800 a month and some of them can have as many as four kids – or more! Sometimes I think it is more a matter of not wanting to give up the comforts we have become accustomed to having.

    There are some claims that the extra income buys a better life for the children, yet, children have shown time and time again that they would rather have the attention of their parents than all the toys in the world.

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  4. I do agree that it seems like a thankless task! My main gripe is the limited opportunity to socialise with non existent colleagues… and the absence of medical leave!!

    However, the fact that one is forgotten the minute the resignation letter is handed in is a telling sign that a regular job isn’t worth it anyway. I am quite certain I have been forgotten at my previous job!

    I do know a relatives whose mum stayed at home for them, all their young lives and I do notice how happy they are as adults. They remenisce how they loved watching their mum do things for them and have memories of times spent with mum, and not with some maid. The bond between this mother and her children is remarkable. At the end of the day it is the job you did that your child (the end customer) will remember for the whole of his life.

    The decision to be a SAHM is definitely most challenging – especially given society’s views on what a mother should or should not be doing with her life/ family. Having said that, the most challenging part, I find is in changing my own deeply ingrained views towards the choice I have made (to be SAHM); in dealing with the lost of self esteem (from the loss an identity or position I once thought I had) and the so called (perceived) prejudices I receive from others. It should not be a decision we should be ashamed of… at any level. But reality is still quite different…

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  5. Ah yes! That’s true. The toughest part is handling a child when you’re sick!

    It’s funny that so many people acknowledge what an important job it is for a mother to raise her children properly and yet there is still so little respect given to the mother who chooses to devote her time doing so. Although I have never regretted the decision I made to stay home with Gavin, I do agree with you – reality is so different. Coming to terms with the way I am perceived and treated because of my status in life has not been easy especially when I am so used to commanding respect in my previous life.

    Thankfully, I have learned to accept it and feel a lot better about myself now.

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