“I was at brunch slurping up a delectable chai with a girlfriend when I confessed all my help. She, a full-time working mom and the task master wizard of her busy family, listened to me intently as I listed out the employees on my dole. ‘So, I have this gal who does our house’s big deep cleans and then another gal who does light tidying and takes care of all the laundry a couple times a week and this other gal who babysits one day a week during the afterschool hours to give me a break from, well, the after school hours.’
P.S. I’m a stay-at-home mom.
P.P.S. I’m a stay-at-home mom with no job and thereby one who earns right around nada per year (to the nearest dollar).
P.P.P.S. I’m a stay-at-home mom who makes no money yet shells bookoo of it out to do the stuff that conventionally falls under the purview of a stay-at-home mom
I took a breather at this point in my breakfast date to say what I’m sure sounds like the obligatory see-I’m-not-a-snot snotty thing to say. But, truly, if you knew me, you’d know I mean it in a big way.
‘I am actively grateful that I can gift myself with this help. These women save me.’
And, since I was on a vulnerability roll – at least three confessions deep – and since she was nodding and smiling encouragingly instead of grimacing at all I’d said so far, I laid on my final one:
‘My therapist suggested the other day that it might be a good idea to hire a ‘personal assistant,’ someone to manage my emails and school communications and papers and finances and RSVPs and birthday-gift-purchasing and all things administrative. Basically, this person would keep me on track. I can’t believe the support I already have, when there are millions of moms who would kill for it, but I really can’t believe how much it excites me to think of the possibility of a personal assistant, too. Do you think I’m crazy, as a stay at home mom, to consider it?’
She looked at me square in the eyes and said, ‘No. No, are you kidding? Not at all. Because the smartest individuals I know have a solid handle on which things take away from their sparkle, find ways to get all that covered, and are then that much more available to sparkle at what they sparkle at.’
I’m pretty sure she didn’t use sparkle that many times, but my memory and vocabulary aren’t as good as hers, and I think you get the gist.
I believe her. I really, really believe her. I can even hear myself coaching someone else who might be boggled by aspects of their job with the same sensible speak. But, for reasons I actually think I understand, I need to hear it said over and over again to me, in my job.
And those are the reasons:
1) Because it’s me, and I know you would probably raise your hand high if I asked you if you were harder on yourself than everybody else in the world the way I am with myself. That’s chicken sh*t, and I know it. I just need a chai and a pal to occasionally remind me of the stench of the lie that I don’t get the same grace I give [most] everyone else (cuz I ought to) and
2) Because my job is such a tricky one. I know its value and I want to be in this SAH profession, but the fact that it doesn’t bare money screws with me, since everything I off put (the stuff that takes away from my sparkle) requires output (cold, hard cash). It feels hard to justify. Especially since right now my actual sparkle looks like: reading, writing, running, painting, meditating, socializing, volunteering, and playing. It’s not like in my free time I’m teaching illiterate kids to read or fixing the world’s problems.
WAIT. I KID YOU NOT. I JUST DID A FUNNY LITTLE THING.
As I was writing the very, very first draft of this article, I spun out the last sentence of that previous paragraph, the one in italics, as a bonified joke. As in: It would be different if with all the extra time spared from doing mundane domestic tasks, I was somehow educating children or making my surroundings a better place in a global sense.
Are you seeing what I’m seeing?
That IS what I do as a SAHM. With the help of my husband, I – among other things – teach my kids to read and am rearing them to be the type of humans that pay attention to the world’s problems, hopefully putting some elbow grease into helping solve them.
That’s where I sparkle.
[Except on the days when I don’t feel like reading to them and the days when I don’t feel like making everything a teachable moment. Those are usually the days I am teaching my kids a whole different lesson: how to cuss. But – on all the other days – I sparkle.]
As for the math issue (my input and output charts not making business-sense), I work on choosing gratefulness instead of guilt that our family has the resources for my SAH budget to be persistently in the red. And what I’ll say to you out there who don’t have this luxury: Creativity is a powerful thing, and there are so many different iterations of my particular framework for farming out stuff. I outsource, but you could trade services (you offer interior design expertise and they plant your flowers, you cut their kids’ hair and they give your house a deep clean) or maybe you do pick up a little work that pays or maybe there’s a neighborhood Grandma/Grandpa who, when asked, could be a source of much volunteerism. The key is to get outside any thinking that says you have no choice. Creativity can be just as much a lucrative source as money.
So – back to the story – I think I’m going to get myself a Personal Assistant, my fourth employee, while I serve in a job that brings in lots of value but no cash. And I’ll have another piece of my peace back to go do all that sparkling.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tricia Arthur, 40, of Denver, Colorado. Follow Tricia on Instagram here and her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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