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Is SAHM/W no longer a valid life choice?


Moxie
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We quit homeschooling this year and I'm moving outside that bubble. Turns out, DH was right, there are no more SAHMs.

 

I know many woman who are taking a break and will go back to work when their youngest goes to school. Most of them still work in some capacity (part-time, from home, etc.).

 

I know several families with 4+ kids and mom works.

 

My youngest will go to K in 2 years and I'm actively looking for something to do to bring in money. I always thought SAHM was my career. Guess not.

 

My own mother, in her 50's, has gone back to work after a lifetime of being a SAHM so they could have health insurance.

 

Is SAHM/W going the way of the dodo bird??

 

First, Ellie is correct. Your lifestyle choice is YOUR choice and nobody else can invalidate it. It is a valid choice.

 

Second, I think there is a huge difference between SAHM and SAHW.

 

The SAHM is working. Once the children are school-age, most of her work is between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. but she is providing her kids with an invaluable experience. She is providing her family with an incontrovertible economic benefit: child care. She is improving the kids' quality of life in quantitative and qualitative ways. Presumably they are eating better as she has more time to shop for bargains, more time to prep, etc.

 

For that reason I think you will find that MANY women (myself included!) and families will take off significant time when the kids are babies and then try to work it so that a parent or step-parent is at home from school bus drop off until school bus pick up every day. True, I work outside the home, but I made a serious effort to stay available for the kids until school, and I took a lot of time off when they were under 2 and kept house, cooked bread from scratch, etc.

 

And as for the homeschooling mom I wouldn't even put that in the SAHM category. She's really running a private school of sorts. Like all working women, she actually has two jobs.

 

SAHW, on the other hand, is really uncommon here. Even people who really are SAHWs are actually philanthropists with their husband's money, if they are SAH because they are rich, or, they would like to work but can't because they don't have the right visas. 

 

I don't meet many SAHWs, though, not in my income bracket. Everyone needs to work to live around here, and if they don't they are making sacrifices. I know some SAHMs and homeschooling moms though.

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Honestly I feel like the biggest pansy ever when comparing all our grandmothers did. It's mind boggling. But none of them ever were doing mostly housecleaning and jam making.

 

My grandmother was probably the only woman in my family, back like ten generations, who was mainly doing housecleaning. She didn't even COOK. It was the 50s. Better living through chemistry. She had seven kids, youngest out of the home when she was merely 53. Her husband died and she has lived the next 35 years just... living. I can't fathom it. Her mom, my other grandma, all her daughters, worked outside the home (with kids).

 

I feel like my white, middle-class, incredibly privileged when you think about it, economically-speaking, grandma is the model for what it means to be a SAHM. Except she's the exception, not the rule.

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I think you were more asking if it's still seen as a valid choice societally?? I think this is one of those things that is going to really vary regionally. My experiences have varied. When we were military, it was pretty common and was widely accepted to be a SAHM. We were seen in a positive light among each other (IME) b/c we were there to keep things running and smooth during, before, and after transitions. It was hard to gain employment too as a mil spouse which I think makes acceptance easier to come by as the assumption is that you would work if you could (whether that's accurate or not). When I lived in a very wealthy area, non-military wife, it was seen as surprising but generally accepted. It was more a status thing to even have the means to do so, frankly. Which can be really sad when it's really so you can be with your kids and not to keep up with the Joneses. Now, on a mil base in Japan, it's back to being normal and the Japanese tend to value it and seem nicer to me once they know I'm a SAHM (homeschooling, on the other hand, tends to isolate here but that's not your question ;) .

 

I think it's still accepted overall. I have heard some judgmental stuff from other hsers stateside about why a mom would even need to stay home if her kids are in school.  :001_rolleyes: And I know I catch flak from my Mom for not taking part in the opportunity to work *and* mother that she feels was so hard- fought in the 70s and 80s. Like, akin to not voting as a woman or something.  :001_huh:  But, I digress.

 

I hope no one is making you feel less than for being a SAHM. 

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I think it's valid but generally not possible. I have a lot of friends who stay at home although I did notice a big drop off of SAHM when all their kids reached school age. I never really had all my kids in school. My kids went to public school but I had my twins a month after my younger dd started school and my 1 month of freedom was spent on bedrest. Then I pulled them out 2 years later. I had not planned on returning to work even when I thought they would all go to public school. Honestly the better off we are financially the more I realized how dependent we are in dh. My salary if I were to go back to work wouldn't even be half of his. I wouldn't say we couldn't use more money (can anyone say that?) . We vacation yearly but I would love to have yearly Europe vacations, we are all clothed but it would be nice to shop at Nordstroms rather than Marshalls but ultimately that's not a reason for me to work. I feel what I can provide being home with my children can't be bought. If our financially situation changed of course we would reevaluate. I've often though it's funny how as woman we fought so hard for the right to work and now we have to fight if we want to stay home.

Edited by Momto4inSoCal
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We vacation yearly but I would love to have yearly Europe vacations, we are all clothed but it would be nice to shop at Nordstroms rather than Marshalls but ultimately that's not a reason for me to work. 

 

:o

 

For us, my working means we can eventually own a home, pay mostly for college, and work less than 45 minutes from our jobs. Certainly, we are very lucky and grateful for that.

 

European vacations! I know dual working couples here in Seattle. The most well-off among them go to Mexico or Hawaii. We've considered a once-in-a-childhood European vacation for teens, but only because my partner has free housing, and he's only taking the big kids. Little ones can wait. I will take mine to Asia when they are older, or Europe, but only to stay with family.

 

This just highlights how much SAHMing is a valid choice that requires significant sacrifices or resources.

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You have one and half careers going in your family at present, and another adult in the household.  You have considerable margin for this kind of thing that would not necessarily be so for a two full career family, particularly in the US where overtime and poor public transportation and longish commutes are more common than they tend to be in Western Europe.  And I'm very happy for you that that is the case.

 

I agree that my situation is not typical (although Husband travels one week a month, and my 91yo mother takes time rather than giving margin).  I was only responding to how very categorical the assertions were.

 

I'm not anti staying at home - I did that for many years.  I just wanted to question the 'invariably' in the post.

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I don't know anyone without any preschoolers or special needs kids who doesn't work outside the home at least part time.  If you are a nurse or something you have to keep working at least part time or you have to do a retraining course (NZ) and a lot of jobs change so quickly you can fall behind too badly.  And relying on a marriage surviving isn't a very secure long term plan unless you and your husband have a lot of assets to split.

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I think people are generalizing past generations. My paternal grandmother worked full time as a teacher. My material grandmother was at home, but they let 3 roooms in their house and she provided meals and laundry to the renters. My mother worked full time. Dh mother worked full time. All of those women had masters degrees, one also had a law degree.

 

I'm white. It is my understanding that housewife or SAHM was mostly middle class and white and 20th century culturally. I don't have references, but I've seen that in more than one source. That's a limited group and time.

 

By her own admission, my mother would have been a bad SAHM. I never talked to MIL but she defined herself by pretty heavy academic pursuits. I think she would have been stifled as SAHM. For these women, working made them better mothers.

 

I don't think you have to stay home to be a good mother. You have to have the ability to meet your child's needs physically and emotionally to be a good mother.

 

At the same time, if being home is possible and a person feels s/he provides best when staying home then it's the best choice for that person.

 

This question could be posted with homeschooling--is it a valid choice. And the answer is the same. Validity is based on the needs of the family and family members .

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Of course it's a *valid* choice. That doesn't have to translate to being popular.

 

I think I've only known one non-homeschooling SAHM beyond the preschool years.  I don't know why others make the choices they make, I just assume it's what works for them.  If not for homeschooling, I would probably look into working next year.  BECAUSE OF homeschooling, I feel like I think outside of the box more than I used to, and I'm considering many more options for the future than I would have otherwise.  Maybe work, maybe not.  

 

But I'm also in a fortunate position where I don't feel like I have to make money.  If I decide to anyway, I can't imagine having to justify that choice.

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We humans are social people, which means we do look to others to see what we are supposed to do (or not do).

 

I don't think there is a way to unwire that tendency.

 

I could say nothing, impose no judgmental consequence, listen patiently to all the woes of a mom with a career, be the perfect SAHM friend, but just my existence of doing what I'm doing is a message. People "hear" it and it makes them reflect on their own choices, to defend those choices or regret them.  

 

And it works just the same for me when my dear career-mom friends participate in life with me.  Their choices make me reflect on my choice.  

 

I agree that being around people, seeing the choices they've made, can lead us to reflect on our own choices.  There is nothing wrong with that. 

 

The trouble comes when people judge others harshly for their choices, or end up discontented with their own lives because of the choices they've made.

 

Sure, everything we do sends a message.  How people receive the message is up to them.  It's not up to me to live my life in a way that doesn't ever make anyone else uncomfortable about their own life.

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Historically a housewife could save a great deal of money by growing and preserving food, by cooking from scratch, by sewing well at home (earlier even by spinning and weaving), by cooking and cleaning (disease prevention and freeing up others for hard physical labor), by keeping the fires going and the place warm, and by decorating 'on the cheap'.  Along the way, the home was a place of refuge because of all of this but partly just because she was there, able to converse, to teach along the way, to recite, to be an audience, to sing.  Now, a lot of those money saving techniques are reversed.  It is cheaper to shop in thrift stores or shop sales than to sew clothes, for instance.  But the creation of the home as a refuge, whether it is perfect or not, is not easily delegated.  

 

Beautifully said!  

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I was a live in nanny before I got married. To me that is a stay at home mom that a family pays for. I continued to work for the first 15 months of our marriage, then I stopped. We were trying to have a baby and we knew once I got pregnant I would have to stop working, so when my husband finished his post doc, it made sense. My oldest living child is 7.5 and I have been married for 12 years. So you can do the math. Over the years I was VERY glad I was a stay at home wife and mom. When the triplets were born and even the month prior, it was hard enough for us to do everything with DH working, I can't imagine the stress of me working too during that time. Also is true with when I had cancer. It hasn't always been easy for me to stay at home, but I am glad we made this choice.

 

You know it is funny, I always thought I would have lots of time to do this or that when I stopped working but I have really never stopped doing things in the last 11 years. I have no plans to go back to work. My mother in law stopped working when my husband was in high school I think. She stopped mainly because she has an autistic child and he wasn't getting the services that he needed back then (different time for sure), so she stopped working to focus more on him. She never went back to working. 

 

Around here it is fairly uncommon to be a SAHW. The homeschooling community is rather large though. I do look at the $500,000+ single family homes (VERY common around here) and wonder how people afford them, but then I remember they don't really live in them. They just sleep in them. I can't see the value in that. I know every inch of my house and while it isn't perfect, I can't think of a better place for me to be. 

 

I am going to encourage my boys, should the eventually want children (my oldest says he wants children already, my youngest is enjoying being a baby himself), to set themselves up to be the sole breadwinner of the family. I believe that is what my husband did. When I met him, he was looking for someone that would either homeschool or put children in private school, and was prepared to be a sole breadwinner. I want that for my children and more importantly my grandchildren. 

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my standards for home cleanliness are lowwww

 

:laugh:

 

Same here and no regrets.  It wasn't any better when I wasn't working either.

 

I just don't like cleaning house and rarely do things I don't enjoy.  Dust bunnies are friendly little critters... 

 

Our dishes and clothes are cleaned regularly.  Anything else?  Not so much.

 

Well, I draw the line on things growing in the toilet or any smears on the outside too come to think of it.

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Well, I think homemaker, or possibly housewife (or househusband) is probably a better word than SAHM, unless the context is apecific.  Childcare is only one aspect of what I would call the domestic economy.  To me, a homemaker is a person whose main work is within the domestic economy.  (I would tend to think of it that way even if that produced income, though that could be confusing in some ways.)  If I weren't homeschooling or spending a lot of time in childcare. I would just be spending more time in other aspects of that work - I might or might not look for some outside income though I doubt it would be enough to consider it "an income."

 

 

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I just wonder how people pull off having two full time working spouses.  How do you even do stuff like doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, summer vacation with daycare rates nearly at $300 a week?  I actually wondered HOW I was going to remain working.  And I couldn't justify part time because I couldn't earn enough to pay for day care.  I have almost no family on top of that.  So no calling up grandma when I've got a problem.  That obviously gets easier and more affordable when they go to school, but there are still sick days, holidays, vacation days, shelping to appointments, helping with homework, etc.  Again, how would I have done all that and remained employed?  Obviously some people do it, but how do they remain sane? 

 

Sure I would have had more money so I would have had to hire people to do those things I couldn't.  And that would have negated a good chunk of the reason I might have considered staying employed (for the money).  Certainly it would not have been for the love of the job because I hated the job. 

 

 

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And to add, DH is finally in a position after about 15 years of working where he is at a company who offers some flexibility and doesn't give one a hard time about stuff like doctor's appointments.  There were times in the past where he was asked to work from 8 in the morning until 8 at night.  How does one take care of their kids or spend time with family with that kind of crap?  This IS what it is like with a lot of employers. It felt to me that we had the best chance of making stuff work if one of us could take care of all the stuff that comes up because neither one of us had flexibility with our jobs.

 

 

 

 

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I just wonder how people pull off having two full time working spouses.  How do you even do stuff like doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, summer vacation with daycare rates nearly at $300 a week?  I actually wondered HOW I was going to remain working.  And I couldn't justify part time because I couldn't earn enough to pay for day care.  I have almost no family on top of that.  So no calling up grandma when I've got a problem.  That obviously gets easier and more affordable when they go to school, but there are still sick days, holidays, vacation days, shelping to appointments, helping with homework, etc.  Again, how would I have done all that and remained employed?  Obviously some people do it, but how do they remain sane? 

 

Sure I would have had more money so I would have had to hire people to do those things I couldn't.  And that would have negated a good chunk of the reason I might have considered staying employed (for the money).  Certainly it would not have been for the love of the job because I hated the job. 

 

Most of the people my husband works with are two-professional families.  He is a scientist in the civil service.  Interestingly there are a lot of women compared to many other science jobs, and I suspect that it is because compared to other types of employment, it is fairly family friendly - good vacation and sick benefits, and even some family days.  I think maybe they get 5 of those per year - my dh uses them on the rare occasion I am really sick, or if I have a doctors appointment that I can't take kids to.

 

I've also noticed that among my lawyer friends, the women are more plentiful in the positions that have more flexibility and fewer hours, but less pay - particularly government jobs.

 

That being said, I those families seem to spend a lot of time scrambling.  Other families I know use vacation time, and honestly most of the ones with two professionals (two doctors say) have full or part time nannies.

Edited by Bluegoat
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I don't remember why exactly the term SAHM was considered better than the other options, but I'm sure it had something to do with respecting the importance of what a SAHM does.  So it's funny to see now how folks view it as belittling.

 

I would rather not get hung up on a name that doesn't actually tell anything about one's home or one's kids.

 

I wonder why women don't answer the "what do you do" question with what they do, e.g., "I like to garden / paint / knit" or "I'm a girl scout leader" or "right now I'm focusing on raising our kids / managing our house remodel."  It would be helpful to mention a specific thing one does so that the conversation can go in that direction vs. the other person trying to think of another question that is in safe territory.

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Most of the people my husband works with are two-professional families.  He is a scientist in the civil service.  Interestingly there are a lot of women compared to many other science jobs, and I suspect that it is because compared to other types of employment, it is fairly family friendly - good vacation and sick benefits, and even some family days.  I think maybe they get 5 of those per year - my dh uses them on the rare occasion I am really sick, or if I have a doctors appointment that I can't take kids to.

 

I've also noticed that among my lawyer friends, the women are more plentiful in the positions that have more flexibility and fewer hours, but less pay - particularly government jobs.

 

That being said, I those families seem to spend a lot of time scrambling.  Other families I know use vacation time, and honestly most of the ones with two professionals (two doctors say) have full or part time nannies.

 

Yeah as I just mentioned DH is finally in a place that is family friendly.  He can also work from home if he wants or needs to.  That is often what he does on appointment days.  He can easily make up the bit of missed time doing it that way.  They don't even count that sort of thing against sick time. 

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I wonder why women don't answer the "what do you do" question with what they do, e.g., "I like to garden / paint / knit" or "I'm a girl scout leader" or "right now I'm focusing on raising our kids / managing our house remodel."  It would be helpful to mention a specific thing one does so that the conversation can go in that direction vs. the other person trying to think of another question that is in safe territory.

 

I have answered it along those lines.  Or I say I lead the life of leisure.  Depends on my mood.

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Almost all the moms I know have gone back to work when their children started in school. Two full time working parents is the norm in my area. I've found in many cases, grandma does a significant amount of the child care for these families or they are wealthy enough to afford a full time nanny. I even know of a family who moved to another state only because the wife's mom (and free childcare provider) decided to move. My husband has been told that I'm "wasting my degrees" by staying home and homeschooling our children. It really annoys me because if I were a teacher, childcare provider, or housekeeper, I would be considered employed, but when I do the same for my children I'm considered lazy. It took me a long time to have my children and I consider homeschooling to be using my education in the best way possible.

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I wonder why women don't answer the "what do you do" question with what they do, e.g., "I like to garden / paint / knit" or "I'm a girl scout leader" or "right now I'm focusing on raising our kids / managing our house remodel."  It would be helpful to mention a specific thing one does so that the conversation can go in that direction vs. the other person trying to think of another question that is in safe territory.

 

When kids at school ask me why I don't go full time (a super common question actually) I tell them the truth (Creekland Style - meaning there are some laughs):

 

a)  I'm too lazy to work 5 days per week - every week - for a full school year!

b)  I enjoy travel too much and schools tend to frown upon teachers taking 2 - 4 weeks off at a time during the school year, plus a few additional small trips.

c)  My other job is raising English show ponies and when would I do that if I were in school for most of my time?

 

That question pretty much always ends with oodles of the students (and teachers if they ask) telling me they wished they could have my life.  A couple of teachers have said they prefer having their own classes to the mishmash I have, but that's ok too.  As stated before, we all have our niche in life.

 

I just wonder how people pull off having two full time working spouses.  How do you even do stuff like doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, summer vacation with daycare rates nearly at $300 a week?   

 

When I started working after we had kids, I had an overnight job as a combo of stocking and cashiering at a grocery store.  This meant I was tired during the day, but no child care expenses.

 

Once hubby started his own engineering business he could adjust and do far more with the boys when I worked (at school at that point) during the day.  Owning your own business really has decent perks when it comes to hours and appointments - and travel.  There are cons too, of course (finances are not always steady), but for us, the flexibility has been awesome both for family needs and travel.

 

We switched to homeschooling partially because we wanted/needed more flexibility with our kids.  Taking them out of school for a month before high school worked out fine.  Doing it once they reached high school would have been impossible.  When youngest returned for high school, it put quite a crimp on our traveling lifestyle for those 4 years.  It matched our paying for college years, so I guess it wasn't all bad, but... I like it much better now that we're back to our normal.

 

I can't work full time teaching and keep our flexibility.  Therefore, I have no desire to do full time teaching even if I love it in general.

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I just wonder how people pull off having two full time working spouses.  How do you even do stuff like doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, summer vacation with daycare rates nearly at $300 a week?  I actually wondered HOW I was going to remain working.  And I couldn't justify part time because I couldn't earn enough to pay for day care.  I have almost no family on top of that.  So no calling up grandma when I've got a problem.  That obviously gets easier and more affordable when they go to school, but there are still sick days, holidays, vacation days, shelping to appointments, helping with homework, etc.  Again, how would I have done all that and remained employed?  Obviously some people do it, but how do they remain sane? 

 

Sure I would have had more money so I would have had to hire people to do those things I couldn't.  And that would have negated a good chunk of the reason I might have considered staying employed (for the money).  Certainly it would not have been for the love of the job because I hated the job. 

 

First, the above isn't that much different from other people telling you they can't afford to stay home.  Of course it is possible, you just don't see yourself making the sacrifices involved.

 

My kids have never had a doctor or similar appointment during school hours.  Professions dealing with children have office hours that accommodate school and usually work hours too.

 

There have been times I've had to take off work for a kid, but it is rare.  Yes, I send my kids to school when their health is not perfect, more because the consequences to the kid of missing a school day are dire.  I have brought my kids to work when they were sick and I had out-of-state clients flying in to meet with me.  Mostly I work at home, which was also the case in my previous job before kids.  Laptops are wonderful.

 

Communities have various solutions for kids when schools are off.  None are free, but some are relatively low-cost.  If none of that works, you could get with another parent who does have a solution or stays home with younger kids.  You could swap care out for a Saturday or do a sleepover in exchange.

 

Although I do pay for monthly maid service, I don't believe that is the norm for most WOHMs.  My case is a bit different as a single parent, since I have nobody to share responsibilities with.  I think most WOHMs just do their best and release the rest.  A little dirt doesn't hurt.

 

Maybe it's my age, but I feel like parenthood is just a season - a season which is already half over for me.  Yes, my responsibilities pretty much take up my whole brain and body, but in 8 short years I'll be preparing to send my kids to college.  I can put in the extra effort for a finite period of time.

 

As far as having a peaceful vs. hectic home, I can't say my kids are suffering.  Yes, mornings are a bit rushed, but that's because we aren't morning people.  Most days they get to the bus stop without anyone having yelled.  :p  Evenings are pretty calm around here.  They come home, check in, and do their work / play while I'm finishing up my work.  Most days I have time to help with tough homework or go over concepts they need to practice.  We eat together, though it usually isn't home-cooked gourmet food.  We go to an activity together, take care of the pets, and do some light chores.  We talk about important stuff.  Most days I read aloud before tucking them into bed.  It could be worse.

Edited by SKL
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And to add, DH is finally in a position after about 15 years of working where he is at a company who offers some flexibility and doesn't give one a hard time about stuff like doctor's appointments.  There were times in the past where he was asked to work from 8 in the morning until 8 at night.  How does one take care of their kids or spend time with family with that kind of crap?  This IS what it is like with a lot of employers. It felt to me that we had the best chance of making stuff work if one of us could take care of all the stuff that comes up because neither one of us had flexibility with our jobs.

 

I agree that 12-hour days away from home would make it hard.  That's why most families have at least one parent whose schedule is more flexible than that.  I did quit my high-travel job when I became a parent, because I wasn't willing to delegate that much of parenting to a nanny.  I do know some moms who have more hands-on husbands and can therefore devote more time to their work.  Whatever works.

 

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Oh for sure I don't see myself making the sacrifices involved.  Even the idea of swapping with another parent.  When would I have time to meet people?  As it is now I really don't have the sorts of friendships where I can ask favors of people.  When I did work I was working 12 hour days.  There were no doctor offices who had appointments that work around that. 

 

Someone else mentioned family helping.  I have no family.  I would have to hire people to help (and hope they are reliable). 

 

But yes it is getting easier as my kids get older.  I could see working more so now.  For one thing I could at least leave my older kid home alone. 

 

Although really, I still don't want to work right now unless I found something that I enjoyed doing.  The little bit of money wouldn't be worth it to me. 

 

First, the above isn't that much different from other people telling you they can't afford to stay home.  Of course it is possible, you just don't see yourself making the sacrifices involved.

 

My kids have never had a doctor or similar appointment during school hours.  Professions dealing with children have office hours that accommodate school and usually work hours too.

 

There have been times I've had to take off work for a kid, but it is rare.  Yes, I send my kids to school when their health is not perfect, more because the consequences to the kid of missing a school day are dire.  I have brought my kids to work when they were sick and I had out-of-state clients flying in to meet with me.  Mostly I work at home, which was also the case in my previous job before kids.  Laptops are wonderful.

 

Communities have various solutions for kids when schools are off.  None are free, but some are relatively low-cost.  If none of that works, you could get with another parent who does have a solution or stays home with younger kids.  You could swap care out for a Saturday or do a sleepover in exchange.

 

Although I do pay for monthly maid service, I don't believe that is the norm for most WOHMs.  My case is a bit different as a single parent, since I have nobody to share responsibilities with.  I think most WOHMs just do their best and release the rest.  A little dirt doesn't hurt.

 

Maybe it's my age, but I feel like parenthood is just a season - a season which is already half over for me.  Yes, my responsibilities pretty much take up my whole brain and body, but in 8 short years I'll be preparing to send my kids to college.  I can put in a the extra effort for a finite period of time.

 

As far as having a peaceful vs. hectic home, I can't say my kids are suffering.  Yes, mornings are a bit rushed, but that's because we aren't morning people.  Most days they get to the bus stop without anyone having yelled.  :p  Evenings are pretty calm around here.  They come home, check in, and do their work / play while I'm finishing up my work.  Most days I have time to help with tough homework or go over concepts they need to practice.  We eat together, though it usually isn't home-cooked gourmet food.  We go to an activity together, take care of the pets, and do some light chores.  We talk about important stuff.  Most days I read aloud before tucking them into bed.  It could be worse.

 

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Same here and no regrets.  It wasn't any better when I wasn't working either.

 

I just don't like cleaning house and rarely do things I don't enjoy.  Dust bunnies are friendly little critters... 

 

Our dishes and clothes are cleaned regularly.  Anything else?  Not so much.

 

Well, I draw the line on things growing in the toilet or any smears on the outside too come to think of it.

Yup, this is me.

 

I clean the bathroom or supervise a male teen doing this once per week. (Seems like if I leave them unsupervised, no matter how many times I go over it, their standards for cleanliness are not MY standards, LOL.) Dishes, countertops, and kitchen floor are kept current. I sweep our hardwood floors or they do when it is obvious that we should put the science project down and do it. I attack Mt. Laundry on a regular basis and sometimes manage to make it to the summit.

 

But keeping it neat and prim? Doesn't happen. Getting rid of dust bunnies? Oh about once every three months. Washing windows? When I can hire a 4-H kid who is trying to earn money for project, then it gets done otherwise NOPE. Make the beds? Make my own when I feel like it, and the boys keep their bedroom doors closed so my guess is that the blankets are in a general pile on the bed after they get up in the morning.

 

I'd be happiest living out a backpack, passport in hand.

 

Flexibility. That is what we are looking for too. I really need to get back into the workforce in the fall due to two in college and no financial aid this fall plus paying for one more licensing class for dd, a class that is very expensive but will allow her to get very flexible work evenings and weekends when her hubby can be home with baby which will keep her from throwing a significant portion of her earnings into daycare. They just simply do not live in a low enough COL area to be a single earner household, at least not until he gets some significant pay raises, and he can't find work in his field in a lower COL but at the same salary level so that they can get ahead.

 

Youngest ds (a junior in the fall) is a very independent worker. We are looking at dh taking over all of the math by teaching in the evenings, placing him in DE online for a couple of classes, leaving me physics and labs, fine arts, and French. This would allow me to go back to work part-time. I am trying to negotiate going back to the quilt store all day Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and two Saturdays per month. Not happy about having to work Saturdays, but they need someone badly enough that if I agree to it, they'll work with my homeschool and 4-H schedule during the week. It is not great money, but it is enough that combined with dh's pay raise, we can meet our EFC for both boys.

 

After ds graduates, I may need to work full time for four years until we get him through and then after that, I'm going to drop back to either a bunch of paid tutoring, or something similar so we have the extra income for traveling but the flexibility for me to be off when dh can take vacation.

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I'd be happiest living out a backpack, passport in hand.

 

We are really similar...

 

We're camping now.  I'm watching pelicans dive for their breakfast while typing this.  There are woodpeckers and assorted other birds providing music in the background.  We've met others escaping colder climates - all ages, infants to retirees - plenty of educated people too - birders, etc.

 

Very little cleaning involved.  Tons of relaxation and stress relief.  Who could ask for anything more?

 

Ok, so maybe the Moon Pie I ate for breakfast wasn't the most healthy option, but it came straight from the factory store in Chattanooga, so there have to be some bonus points involved.  Then too... cleanup was super simple!  Not enough can be said about that!  :coolgleamA:

 

I love camping in a nice campground... I don't need fancy. I love nature, so being in with with similar minded travelers is ideal.

 

Have backpack and vehicle - will travel.  (Don't need passports for this one.)

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I know there are some low cost options around here.  The low cost options are also low quality though.  Better than leaving a young kid home alone, but I find the way they roll upsetting.  When I see these groups at the park the counselors are very young and they scream at the kids the entire time.  The thought of my kids being treated like that is a pretty awful one for me (the thought any kid is treated this way is an awful thought).

 

I tried the Boys and Girls club a few times for the kids hoping this would just be an affordable fun thing for them.  It wasn't good.  Kids are screamed at.  Supervision is shoddy so there was a lot of bullying going on.  It was rough.  Activities were also not so great.  Lot of time spent doing stuff that resembled military basic training more than the "fun activities" they claimed to offer. 

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I don't think my house would be cleaner if I were home full time. Dishes and clothes are clean. Counters are usually clean. Mopping and vacuuming happen. Dh cleans bathrooms when people come (more than once a week). Every few months I declutter a closet or something. But my house is messy and I really hate housework so I won't do more than I have to.

 

My mom is the same way. So we kids kept the house clean. We were expected to keep it very clean when I moved out I made mynown decisions about whether cleaning was important. I'd like the house cleaner, dh won't clean at all and won't make kids clean so we are at this level where public areas are mildly presentable. And it's OK.

 

I get personal satisfaction from providing things other than a clean house.

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I just wonder how people pull off having two full time working spouses.  How do you even do stuff like doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, summer vacation with daycare rates nearly at $300 a week?  I actually wondered HOW I was going to remain working.  And I couldn't justify part time because I couldn't earn enough to pay for day care.  I have almost no family on top of that.  So no calling up grandma when I've got a problem.  That obviously gets easier and more affordable when they go to school, but there are still sick days, holidays, vacation days, shelping to appointments, helping with homework, etc.  Again, how would I have done all that and remained employed?  Obviously some people do it, but how do they remain sane? 

 

Sure I would have had more money so I would have had to hire people to do those things I couldn't.  And that would have negated a good chunk of the reason I might have considered staying employed (for the money).  Certainly it would not have been for the love of the job because I hated the job. 

 

 

These are some of the reasons I decided not to go back to work after having children. We had nobody in the area to help with childcare, and DH worked in the kind of job where he wouldn't be able to take off for doctors' appointments, school events, etc.  We would not have been able to share these duties -- it would all have been on me.  Which means I would have had to take on a different kind of job than I was used to.  My job up until babies involved working late and working weekends, as well as domestic and international travel.  My husband's job was similar, but he was making twice as much as me, so it would have been me who would have had to make the career change, and I wasn't willing to do it.   It was far more desirable to me to become a SAHM than to take on the kind of job that would allow me the flexibility that I would have needed.

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I have a mom friend who is a dental hygienist.  She takes the summers off and schedules her work so she can do all her (school-aged) kids' stuff.  As far as I can tell, it works well for her.

 

 

Dental hygiene is a hot field right now.  They can pretty much write there own ticket as to hours, etc.  

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These are some of the reasons I decided not to go back to work after having children. We had nobody in the area to help with childcare, and DH worked in the kind of job where he wouldn't be able to take off for doctors' appointments, school events, etc.  We would not have been able to share these duties -- it would all have been on me.  Which means I would have had to take on a different kind of job than I was used to.  My job up until babies involved working late and working weekends, as well as domestic and international travel.  My husband's job was similar, but he was making twice as much as me, so it would have been me who would have had to make the career change, and I wasn't willing to do it.   It was far more desirable to me to become a SAHM than to take on the kind of job that would allow me the flexibility that I would have needed.

 

Yep very much my situation minus travel.  My job did not require that.  But there wasn't flexibility.  My husband made 2x as much money so I did feel compelled to protect his job more than my own.  I just didn't want to have that kind of life.  I do feel glad I had the choice.  I know others do not.  Even now if something happened, I would not think twice about doing what I had to do.  But I admit that at this point I am pretty happy with the way things are.  And I feel appreciated by my family.  My husband treats what I do with all the seriousness and respect in the world.  What more could I ask for?

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  My husband treats what I do with all the seriousness and respect in the world.  What more could I ask for?

 

 

I bet this is a significant factor in whether or not married moms feel happy at home.  I have total respect from my husband, and he really appreciates what I do with homeschooling, especially since even if I worked, we still wouldn't be able to send our kids to a quality private school.   My husband never makes me feel like less of a person because I work at home as a homeschooling mom.  He considers that job just as valid as any other.

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So much of this depends on individual circumstances (CoL, education, personal needs or health) that I cannot fathom why anyone would judge another.

 

My individual story:

 

We moved shortly before I became pregnant with my one and only.  I taught a class during my middle trimester then happily took time off from my career.  I had been offered a position when my son was an infant but the pay was so paltry it would barely cover daycare. Plus I wanted to be with my son so we lived on one income by watching our pennies.

 

When The Boy was three, I was offered an ideal position.  I taught at night and was paid twice what the community college paid.  There was a certain intellectual fulfillment that I needed and an income stream that was appreciated at the time.

 

What was once ideal became problematic as my husband's work life began including travel. Teaching at night required a sitter--someone with a car, not a teen.  Again I made it work but the situation began posing some scheduling problems.

 

The night teaching gig came to an end after about six or seven years.  I was offered a position on campus but found that I did not enjoy it.  Further, it limited my life.  My husband was doing things like going off to San Francisco for a couple of weeks at a time and I couldn't join him. Well pfui on that.  So I quit working for pay.

 

In my husband's workplace, it is not unusual to find stay at home spouses.  He and his colleagues work long hours (which might include nights or weekends) and are paid well. A number of families have one parent at home to manage the domestic life and kids' extracurriculars.  Or they persuade grandma and grandpa to move to the area to help manage the grandkid's lives. That said, I also know a number of women who have gone back to work once their kids get a driver's license to earn income to pay for college expenses.

 

Our life has been enabled by a number of things, the first being our degrees.  My husband is a professional engineer with an MS. Secondly, while we did not have family in the area to help with childcare, we did inherit money from family that helped with unforeseen expenses as well as travel opportunities to be with family in the summer months for example.

 

When people at a party or event ask me what I do, I say that I am a professional volunteer, in my son's words, "a rabblerouser".  I live in an area with many retirees including youngish retirees so this is not unusual.

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When people at a party or event ask me what I do, I say that I am a professional volunteer, in my son's words, "a rabblerouser".  I live in an area with many retirees including youngish retirees so this is not unusual.

Jane, I love this! Professional rabble-rouser! :D

 

Once I get these boys through school, I'd love to either be a professional volunteer for 4-H or work for paltry pay for them just because I love being involved in the program, and working with young people, especially teens.

 

Is there such a thing as "professional rocket mom" because that's one role I've got down to a science! ;)

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I bet this is a significant factor in whether or not married moms feel happy at home.  I have total respect from my husband, and he really appreciates what I do with homeschooling, especially since even if I worked, we still wouldn't be able to send our kids to a quality private school.   My husband never makes me feel like less of a person because I work at home as a homeschooling mom.  He considers that job just as valid as any other.

 

:iagree:  Before we were married my hubby flat out told me he was ok with any working or staying at home decision I made.  The choice was 100% up to me.  He's never wavered from that.  He supported me when I worked full time (prior to kids) and when I took off after having the boys.  He supported my choice to work in the grocery store and my switch to working at school.  He even supports my day to day decisions at school - if I want to go in for any specific position or not.  I tell him reasons, but he doesn't need any.  It's just conversation.  When I opt to take the handful of long term positions, he supports that too.  (Really supports all of these - as in - he does the extra critter chores and assorted other things when I'm working at school, and he came home and took over a good part of the youngster care when I stayed home - he wanted to give me a break.)

 

It's not just words with him.  I really, really, really appreciate that.  I could never write a post that would tell how much I appreciate him and all he does for our relationship - this being one small part of it.

 

I definitely try to do the same with him, but I'm not sure I'm as good at it as he is.

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Is there such a thing as "professional rocket mom" because that's one role I've got down to a science! ;)

 

Hey, the rockets will scare the birds!  But there's a college very nearby (say, where youngest is studying).  You could play with your rockets there.  ;)

 

Yesterday youngest met with some retiree mentors that volunteer with this college and they all came up with a plan for him to expand his gardening there.  They even told him to write up a "wish list" of supplies to give to them and they'd see what they could do!

 

It's very likely they'd love a mentor for rockets too.

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I don't know what generation some of your grandmothers are from, or where they lived. I'm old enough to be mother to many here on WTM. My stepson will be 39 in a few months and I'm old enough to be his bio mother. My grandmother was born in 1911 and both of her parents were immigrants from Italy (both came here as teenagers with their parents and siblings).

 

She did not can anything. She did not bake bread. She bought it at the Italian bakery. She did not sew. She was born and raised in The Bronx. She thought anything modern was desirable and if you could buy it in the store she tried to do so. They were poor, and I think the idea of making your own at that time in that place would prove you were poor. She would scrimp and save and sacrifice so she could buy ready made things in the store to convince herself they weren't poor (at least that was my mother's take on it). My mother was required to quit school at 14 and get her working papers. As the oldest she was required to help support the family. My grandmother took in ironing from people for pay. I guess that made her a wahm. 

 

My Irish-American grandmother wasn't poor, but she also didn't can, or bake, or sew her own clothes. The Irish side of my family has been in the U.S. longer than the Italian side. This grandmother was born and raised in a city near Newark, NJ. 

 

Some of you say "our grandmothers" and those grandmothers of yours are from my mother's generation. She was born in 1934. I don't know anyone from her generation who did all of those things either. 

 

Dh's grandmothers were born in 1905 and 1906. They lived in a tiny mountain town in Tennessee. They canned food. They baked. They did not sew either people clothes or doll clothes. One was a sahm/sahw all of her life. The other was a teacher in a one-room school house and when she retired she taught piano lessons in her home. She was college educated, which was 1. unusual for her day, and 2. not actually required of teachers at that time in that place.

 

Dh's mother was born in 1927 in a small town in Tennessee. She was a sahm/sahw all of her married life. She could sew and knit and bake, but though her mother canned food and she probably knew how, she chose not to. The sewing she chose to do was limited to repairing her kids clothes and making costumes. Knitting was reserved for baby blankets, hats, and booties.

 

Where some of these grandmothers and great-grandmothers grew up absolutely influenced what they made, what they bought, and whether they stayed at home, worked at home, or went out to work. 

Edited by Lady Florida
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Nope, I know lots of SAHMs. Most homeschool or homeschooled. A few never homeschooled (but have large families). I don't know any women who don't work who NEVER had kids, but I do know some whose kids are grown. Some of the SAHMs I know work a LITTLE bit (like probably <40hrs/month and <5% of household income) for fun or to keep their license current or for some special interest or reason, but I would still consider them SAHMs since their work is not substantial nor imperative for the family.

 

The SAHMs I know are mostly in higher income brackets, (with wives who either gave up their professional careers decades ago to focus on kids or never seriously pursued a career because they started a family relatively early on). IIME, if the working spouse is paid at a rate that dramatically dwarfs what the other spouse could earn if s/he picked up a job, it's often just not worth the hassle (for BOTH spouses) for the family for the wife to work. In a family where each spouse's earning power is at least comparable, then it makes it harder to not take advantage of the opportunity for both spouses to contribute financially.  

 

FWIW, I think an at home spouse can still contribute financially to the family, even after kids are mostly grown  . . . I know I add a lot of value to our family financially in ways that aren't measured easily. 

 

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The cleanliness of my home is not where I place the highest value on being a SAHM.  It's not even at the top of the list really but it needs to be done and I'm the one here to do it so it is part of the job.  It's not where the satisfaction lies for me though. 

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I worked when my Oldest son was very little... and started staying at home when Muppet Boy was little. Was SAHM through all of Little Guy's pre-school years. When they were all in school I started to work again in a very part time way (7 hours a week at the church and some miscellaneous substitute teaching). But primarily focused on being a SAHM. My ability to stay at home (Well, I was working very part time) allows my husband to maintain his high-travel, very demanding job. He cannot be called to come get a sick kid from school (literally cannot, he works in high security areas where he can't be reached) or to deal with an appointment. I've had to cajole him to make time for cancer related appointments for himself.

 

For our family's stability, stress and comfort -- my availability was important. Any job I had was required to be low priority. And when it came to the time where Muppet Boy desperately needed a change in schooling, I was able to say "OK, let's homeschool" with very little consequence to our lifestyle (Called my boss at the church and explained, didn't even need to work out my notice). Which was a real gift for our family.

 

It's been a very long time since I first read it but  - Are any of you familiar with the book "The Two Income Trap" -- there's a lot to it but one of the basic premises is that double incomes make most families LESS financially stable, because they become dependent on both incomes. In a situation where your finances are based only on one income (Even if there is a second income but that income goes only to saving/playing) -- if the primary breadwinner loses their job, then both partners have the ability to get lower paying jobs and come close to replacing that income in an emergency. If you are dependent on both incomes and someone loses their job, the financial consequences are staggering. I found it a very interesting, and thought-provoking premise.

 

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Speaking of finances, it was a goal of mine to pay off all debts (including mortgage) and save money so that finances would not create stress in the future.  If a second income helped to do that, then I think that is a good reason to have one if it otherwise works for the family.  With discipline, it isn't necessarily the case that a second income simply increases the family's cost of living.

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Speaking of finances, it was a goal of mine to pay off all debts (including mortgage) and save money so that finances would not create stress in the future.  If a second income helped to do that, then I think that is a good reason to have one if it otherwise works for the family.  With discipline, it isn't necessarily the case that a second income simply increases the family's cost of living.

 

Absolutely, but truth be told if I were stuck doing a job I hated and it was cutting into my quality of life, I would feel justified in spending more money.  And I would have to spend money on at least some things I don't have to spend money on now (like child care, like housekeeping, like taxi service for my kids, more on clothing, etc.).

 

We live below our means especially in terms of housing.  Our mortgage including insurance, taxes, garbage, and water is a bit over $700 a month.  We'd never get a rent for that price and this is FAR less than I know many of his coworkers spend on housing given that they live in areas where the average housing cost is three times or more than it is where we live.

 

Money is not everything.  It was never my goal to always have more than enough money above all else. 

Edited by SparklyUnicorn
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I just wonder how people pull off having two full time working spouses. How do you even do stuff like doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, summer vacation with daycare rates nearly at $300 a week?

I have a few never stop working girlfriends in the tech sector with firstborns the same age as mine.

 

- their take home pay is in the same range as their husband and some may earn more if you add in performance bonus and stock options

 

- infantcare (3 months to 1yr) was $2k which would be less than two weeks of their take home pay. Most have grandparents fly in from out of country to help for two years. Each grandparent stays 6 months on the B visa.

 

- childcare (2-5years old, no academics) was $1.5k

 

- private preschool with afterschool care varies but is around the $2k range on the higher end.

 

- afterschool care for a child in public school ranges from $600/mth to more for academic enrichment afterschool care which includes homework help, chinese, piano, abacus ...

 

- doctors and dentists opens on weekends. Also most companies here do not need employees to take time off or annual leave for taking kids to doctors or dentist or opticians, and for taking their wives to obgyn. There are divorcees in the workforce and employers don't want to look bad being calculative on things like doctor visits.

 

- annual leave of 11 days and more are common here so vacation isn't a problem. If you mean the kids summer school break, the afterschool care centers would do full daycare during school breaks like winter break, spring break, summer break. Some would fly their kids out of country to the grandparents for summer vacation and language immersion.

 

- cleaning is usually done by hiring cleaners once or twice a week.

 

- dinner is just simple meals and they purposely cook more to bring leftovers as lunch to work

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Yep and if they don't make that kind of money, they simply don't have a clean house or childcare.  They leave their kids at home all summer to fend for themselves.  At least that is what our neighbor upstairs did.  If I had to I'd have to.  It would not be ideal though. 

 

 

I have a few never stop working girlfriends in the tech sector with firstborns the same age as mine.

- their take home pay is in the same range as their husband and some may earn more if you add in performance bonus and stock options

- infantcare (3 months to 1yr) was $2k which would be less than two weeks of their take home pay. Most have grandparents fly in from out of country to help for two years. Each grandparent stays 6 months on the B visa.

- childcare (2-5years old, no academics) was $1.5k

- private preschool with afterschool care varies but is around the $2k range on the higher end.

- afterschool care for a child in public school ranges from $600/mth to more for academic enrichment afterschool care which includes homework help, chinese, piano, abacus ...

- doctors and dentists opens on weekends. Also most companies here do not need employees to take time off or annual leave for taking kids to doctors or dentist or opticians, and for taking their wives to obgyn. There are divorcees in the workforce and employers don't want to look bad being calculative on things like doctor visits.

- annual leave of 11 days and more are common here so vacation isn't a problem. If you mean the kids summer school break, the afterschool care centers would do full daycare during school breaks like winter break, spring break, summer break. Some would fly their kids out of country to the grandparents for summer vacation and language immersion.

- cleaning is usually done by hiring cleaners once or twice a week.

- dinner is just simple meals and they purposely cook more to bring leftovers as lunch to work

 

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I would be interested in a possible spinoff from this. I wonder how many of us are first or second generation SAHMs or working outside the home Moms.

 

I am a first generation SAHM. My mom briefly, and begrudgingly stayed home for short periods when she was with my dad. After she left him when I was 8, she was a working full time single mom, and the way that she was doesn't do any favors for any negative stereotypes about kids in single mom households. I came home to an empty apartment and watched TV for hours. Dinner was often non-existent. I often went many days without so much as exchanging a few words with my mom (her choice... too occupied with the boyfriends). So I guess it's not hard to connect those dots. That's at least one big part of my choices with regard to this subject today.

Edited by pinkmint
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I'm a first generation Stay At Home Mom -- my mother worked, primarily for the power company and then the Boy Scouts -other misc jobs - throughout my childhood. Both of my grandmothers worked in the school cafeterias in our home district. My stepgrandmother was a nurse. Not sure about the great grandmothers, though.

 

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