Manic Momday

I'm sure you've heard about The Study that was just released that evaluated a stay at home mom's workload and what these duties would be worth in the real world of employable skills.

$134,000 a year.

That would be your salary if you were doing all the things you do already (you know, those things no one ever notices unless they don't get done?) for a stranger instead of for those little people you birthed.

However, this study only looked at the menial labor.

For me, the hardest part of leaving a successful career and staying home was not the diapers, nursing, and cleaning.

It was the sobbing, loneliness, and sobriety.

I chose to have a baby at the worst possible time in my life - a period of two years where I had next to no friends. I quickly realized after four weeks of being home all day that my "friends" had all been work-related. This hadn't always been the case, but alot had recently changed in my life and my old friendships were practically non-existent and my work friends were, well, working.

To this day I'm not sure if I had post partum depression or not. I never had visions of harming my baby, but I did feel utterly despondent. Completely alone. Isolated.

I would fight tears from the moment I woke up in the morning until I went to bed at night. For. Two. Years.

My house was mostly clean. Dinner was always on the table. My baby was happy. See? Even if her mom was a bit manic.

Me, I was broken. I felt like I was screaming inside and no one could hear me. I would go to playgroups and the other moms sounded like Peanuts' parents. Wah-wah-wah. I was in a thick fog of confusion and sadness.

How much was that worth? How much was my sanity worth? My joy? My laughter?

How much would I have paid in those hours to get up, put on a suit, and walk out the door with my husband in the morning?

See, what sociologists will never get is that the physical tasks of mothering are not what make it so difficult and precious. It's not what we're doing. It's what we're not doing. And how we feel about that.

The "jobs" we perform pale in comparison to the heartache, guilt, and joy our pendulum swings between. And that's just before breakfast.

Here are the things you get a steady dose of at home that you cannot possibly compare to the office:

Guilt - When was the last time you cried yourself to sleep because you thought that spreadsheet didn't get enough attention today?

Loneliness - Could you ever go entire days at the office without talking to or even being seen by a single adult? Even when you wanted to?

Self Image - Did you ever detect smirks at a dinner party when you said you were Director of Operations or Manager of Sales? Probably not. You probably also didn't get this response: "All day? I don't know how you do it."

Thankless - How unexpected would it have been for you to go to the office every two hours throughout the night? Think that would've gotten you noticed?

Body Image - A long day at the office never produced vomit on your shirt and ginormous leaky breasts. And you probably never went into your boss' office and asked "Do you still find me attractive? Can you hold me?"

Pride - There's no promotions and no raises. You're sure to get fired in 18 years with no pension (unless he's going Ivy League). Yet, there is no greater responsibility than the one we have as mom.

There's so much more at stake with this new job. And we know it. That's our value.

Sweeping, mopping, dusting, coloring, vacuuming, cooking, scheduling, scrubbing, wiping, creating, driving, shopping, bathing, playing, tickling, talking, yelling, laughing, singing, reading, threatening, weeping, hugging, dancing : $134,000

Knowing you've gotten through another day without giving up: priceless

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


OHHkay Lena, this post was fantastic. Like most SAHM's I can appreciate the study that shows our "worth" but your right it doesn't show case the most important stuff.Can I just say your list was PERFECT. I too hate the stupid lines people give me and the looks when I tell them I'm a stay at home mom. This is one of those posts where you scream out, "YOU ARE SO RIGHT!" I wish I could say more Lena but this post was so perfect, explained it just right that there is nothing left to say.Great job Lena, great job.

Posted by: Virenda | 05/05/2006 at 04:22 PM

I loved this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you.I just don't know what else to say. Just perfect.

Posted by: Heather | 05/05/2006 at 04:55 PM

Oh Lena, your post scares me so much! Because I know I'm going to have PPD (because I've had serious D before), and I know I'm going to be sad about the loneliness and sobriety. BUT. At the same time, posts like yours let me know that I'm not alone. That I can still find fabulous friends who will come to a playdate with a martini shaker. That someone's gone through what I'll go through.And. I see those beautiful pictures of your daughter, and I know it's all worth it.

Posted by: Marcia | 05/05/2006 at 04:57 PM


Posted by: Chris | 05/05/2006 at 05:07 PM

Every word. Exactly right.

Posted by: Piece of Work | 05/05/2006 at 05:26 PM

AMEN!!! Great post. I felt the same way after my first son was born. I *know* it was PPD, mild, but still PPD. You don't have to drive your car into a lake with your kids in it to have PPD. Anyways, your post hit the nail on the head in so many ways. I should print it out and hang it up on my fridge. Thanks!

Posted by: shizzknits | 05/05/2006 at 05:58 PM

Yeah, honey - that's depression. You don't have to Want to kill the baby (god knows - I did, but I was near psychotic by the time I was diagnosed).There is a reason humans were meant to live in "family groups" - and some of it was to relieve new mothers of the CONSTANTNESS of mothering. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and do it to a woman long enough, she's gonna crack.

Posted by: Dawn | 05/05/2006 at 06:53 PM

WOW. An absolutely fantastic post. And very enlightening to on who hasn't yet had children. This should be published somewhere so even more people can see it.

Posted by: Caryn | 05/05/2006 at 08:05 PM

I heard about that study, too. But your post puts it even more into perspective. I never suffered any PPD, but have found having a second child tests me everyday. How to find a balance for both my kids.I cried at your eloquence....

Posted by: Chelle | 05/05/2006 at 11:11 PM

What a wonderful post. And so true. I am a new mom, and I am overwhelmed at how much harder the emotional side of parenting is than the actual "parenting". You spent all day with your little one and as soon as your hubby walks through the door you want to talk because you haven't talked to an adult all day. But he has. And he just wants to relax. Then I think, isn't talking to me the same thing as relaxing? But he has been talking all day and he just wants some quiet. I think that is the hardest part for me... I think I feel a new post coming on :)

Posted by: Mommy@Home | 05/05/2006 at 11:26 PM

Once again...nail hit on the head. You rock!

Posted by: Smom | 05/06/2006 at 01:26 AM

brilliant!! after being 'fired' by my husband at the outset and still trying to earn money and being a full time mum i know all that!though, i think you must have had pp.depression. many many do, and its just not recognised.i thankfully didn't as i was just too busy and knew i would have to get out and find new friends or fail at the first hurdle.but although its not always easy, we need to support ourselves and each other. and we need to also be positive about how, if we help ourselves and help eacxh other we can make it much more enjoyable, easier and more rewarding.

Posted by: keda | 05/06/2006 at 10:06 AM

Great post!Can you tell my husband that I would make more than him if I got payed for saying home;)

Posted by: mommyof4 | 05/06/2006 at 10:32 AM

Great post!Can you tell my husband that I would make more than him if I got payed for saying home;)

Posted by: mommyof4 | 05/06/2006 at 10:33 AM

I was so depresed when I read that article. Like so what. I'll never see a cent of the money. I'm worth all that, and won't ever get paid, get overtime, get...whatever.Damn. At least, like Marcia said, it shows I'm not alone.

Posted by: Sam | 05/06/2006 at 11:03 AM

You are priceless, Lena.

Posted by: Auntie Ania | 05/06/2006 at 01:50 PM

Nice post.

Posted by: Reverberate58 | 05/06/2006 at 02:19 PM

Such truths you speak.

Posted by: Teri M. | 05/07/2006 at 01:22 AM

I can see I wasn't just speaking for myself. And after reading your comments, I am convinced that I DID have PPD. It's just hard to admit sometimes. Because of, you know, the JUDGEMENTS.

Posted by: Lena | 05/07/2006 at 11:04 PM

LOVE this post, Lena. I have been feeling for the past two weeks and I couldn't have said this better even if I spent all night trying. Thank you. :) *hug* I know there's other moms out there like me, who feel worthless, unattractive, just bleh..I just needed to hear it. I've been watching my ClubMom emails anxiously, waiting for the announcement of your arrival! :)

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Posted by: Anonymous | 05/09/2006 at 04:35 PM

Though I agree, I see it from a different angle. My husband and I did such a good job getting into debt that when both of my kids were born, I never had the choice-or the chance to stay at home full time. Would I have experienced what you did, staying at home? Probably. Would I have chosen that versus sitting in my office, head in my hands, crying in that silent way, trying not to let the tears ruin my mascara? Any day. Would I have traded days of isolation and loneliness for the days when I left the house at five a.m. only to return twelve hours later, too exhausted to enjoy the coos and slobber and spit and vomit? Yep.
I have missed a lot, and all because I- we - didn't have the forsight to anticipate a one-income family. I think the main theme here is that we are moms- we get to enjoy the guilt on either side of the fence.

Posted by: christa | 07/21/2006 at 02:00 PM

I know what you mean. After being home for 2 1/2 years with my first daughter, I was more than ready to go back to work. I needed the vacation! LOL! I'm lucky that my job allows me to work just 2 days a week. It's the perfect break from all the chaos at home!

Thanks for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life.

Posted by: local girl | 01/08/2007 at 01:25 AM

I loved reading this post... I can't tell you how many times I have seen the luster go out of someone's eyes when I say I am a SAHM. But you know what? I know my decision (though insane as it seems sometimes , LOL), was the right decision for us. I didn't want my daughter growing up with strangers for most of her waking hours.

Here from the CFL.

Posted by: Mary (Mert) | 01/08/2007 at 11:16 AM

Thanks for that post. I am working on getting pregnant with my first child and plan on staying home for at least a couple of years so I can just be a mom. Your post has been very helpful.

Here via the carnival of family life.

Posted by: Lisa | 01/08/2007 at 09:17 PM

Even after almost 11 years of being a SAHM, there are times I feel like this.

Well said.

Here via CoFL.

Posted by: Desert Songbird | 01/08/2007 at 11:57 PM

I am not a SAHM, but I'm married to one. This past year I took a new job that allows me to work from home, and I have a WHOLE NEW perspective on Michelle's work at home taking care of our 4 girls.

I have always appreciated her domestic contributions to our family, and have never once doubted that it is a full-time job, but seeing it everyday has given me a new perspective. Thanks for your post- that added to my understanding as well :)

Here via Carnival of Family Life

Posted by: DigitalRich | 01/09/2007 at 01:33 PM

wow :)

Posted by: tanyetta | 10/03/2007 at 09:10 PM

Today a girlfriend of mine (with no children) showed me a button she picked up that she thought was funny. It read "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life." She shows this to me (a mother of two) as I am cleaning out the trunk of my car - the final task on a long list of things that I cleaned that day. I have a list for every day. It's the only thing that makes me feel that I have accomplished something- a clean and peaceful home at the end of the day. I put in a full day because I suspect that it means something - not because I enjoy putting my doctorate on hold and watching my husband go to work every day as I feel I am getting dumber and dumber, just to wipe noses and bottoms and counter tops. I got online tonight because I needed someone to tell me that it all meant something today. That my clean house that smells of fresh baked bread (because Thursday is baking day) is not a sign of a wasted life. And I found this blog and I cried ... and I felt that is was worth it. :)

Posted by: PStilwell | 01/11/

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