I learned the meaning of a new acronym SAHWM. A blogger named 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 don’t have it any easier than I did, though I was a mostly an AFHWM “away from home working mother”. All three of my daughters either have businesses that they operate out of their homes, or they are bloggers. One does both. All three struggle to balance their child-rearing, work, and housekeeping.
I Was a AFHWM
By the way, I was not a SAHWM most of my child-rearing days; though, I did it for three years with my first child Jamie, who is in the top photo. I owned a florist, and she was there day in and day out as a toddler. 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 go on vacations and belong to the country club and play golf and tennis, so I felt I had to go to work.
At my new job I worked at the end of a 30-minute commute each 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 kept the kids in daycare and enjoyed those precious kid-free hours away from arguing, crying, and general house wrecking.
Dinner was cooked as soon as I walked in the door. I house cleaned 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 and quiet while I enjoyed my breakfast. I lived on about six to seven hours of sleep a night for many years.
Me and my girls, Tracy & Jamie
My commute was almost a meditation. I remember the solitude of my car. There was a point in the road halfway between Monticello and Tallahassee that held significance. On my way from work to home, I realized that I left the hassles of work behind by the time I reached that point. 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 needed to be home more, so I worked jobs that allowed me to work from home. I was then 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.”
We Are All WMs
Our commonality is that all of us are still WMs. We are all working mothers.
I believe, though, that my mother had it the best. I grew up next to my grandmother, 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 daycare. My grandmother watched after me.
Me and my Grandmother Roe
She home preschooled 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. I wish she had lived long enough to see me get my Ph.D.
She was super old fashioned having been born in the 1890s. 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 older I guess.
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.
Pam, Mom & Me
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.
What kind of mother did you have, a SAHWM or an AFHWM? What role if any did your grandmother(s) play in your raising? What kind of mother are you today?