I learned the meaning of a new acronym. Anna at In Honor Of Design used it in one of her posts.
SAHWM means “stay at home working mother.” I have three in my family–two daughters and a daughter-in-law; and they seem to have it no easier than I did. All three either have businesses that they operate out of their homes, or they are bloggers. One is both. All three struggle to balance their child rearing, work, and housekeeping.
My Daughters and Daughter-in-Law
By the way I was not a SAHWM most of my child rearing days; though, I did do it for three years with my first child, Jamie. She is in the picture above on top. I owned a florist, and she was there day in and day out. During the first years, the florist was downtown; but I finally moved it into my home for the last year and a half.
My days were at least ten hour days, as florist work is long and demanding. I finally sold the florist and took a full time job just to get back to regular hours and to make more money. We wanted to vacation and belong to the country club and play golf and tennis, so I felt I had to go to work.
I worked at the end of a 30-minute commute one way. The hours were 7.5 a day, but I made a good salary. I had sick leave and vacation leave and other good benefits. I made enough to keep the kids in day care and to enjoy those precious kid-free hours. Back home it had been lots of arguing, crying, and general house wrecking. I picked up the kids and cooked dinner as soon as I walked in the door. I did my cleaning at night after the kids went to bed and got up an hour before anyone else to exercise and have a few minutes of peace to enjoy my breakfast. I lived on about six to seven hours of sleep a night for many years.
Me and My Girls
My commute was almost a meditation. I remember the solitude of my car. There was a road halfway that held significance. If I was going from work to home, I realized that I had left the hassles of work behind by the time I reached this road. The opposite was the same. The pressures of home seemed to melt away going the opposite direction.
Finally, my kids entered those special years of teenage puberty; and I decided that I needed to be home more, so I began working jobs that allowed me to work from home. I was again a SAHWM. As they got older and began driving I went back to college, eventually getting my Ph.D.
So as you can see, I was the flip side of the SAHWM for most of my kids’ years at home, I was a AFHWM, an “away from home working mother.”
Our commonality is that all of us are still WMs. Working mothers.
I believe, though, that my mother may have had it the best. I grew up next to my grandmother, who was a wonderful role model and provider. My mom went to work full-time when I was about 3-4 years old, but I never went to day care. I had my grandmother to watch after me.
My Grandmother and me
She home schooled me. I can still remember the blackboard on her sleeping porch. She taught me my numbers, my abc’s, and how to tie my shoes before I ever got to kindergarten. She taught me etiquette and how to play in a dress without ever showing my panties. I’m sure I slipped up, but not without embarrassment if I knew it.
Yes, she even taught me guilt, something that I resented when I was younger because I thought it held me back. Now, though, I welcome it as a comfortable barometer–a good part of growing old.
I never resented Mom’s work. We grew up knowing that her salary paid for vacations, dancing and piano lessons, cheerleading uniforms, 4-H camp, and much more.
So you see, I had the best of both worlds–two moms. Grandmother was my SAHWM, and mom was my AFHWM. Still, both of them were simply working mothers.