I attempt to balance the SAHM-WOHM scale several times a day, and for the most part, the apples on one side cancel the oranges on the other e.g.
Finances: SAHMing could pose a financial burden. Sure, the loss of a second, sizable income will hurt, but with some lifestyle changes (no eating out, scanning coupons, giving up cable, giving up intern-Naaaah!…Ok,ok, at the very least, the deduction of commute and childcare expenses will help.
Responsiblity: I always felt I owe it to my family and myself to contribute to household income. I don’t know how I’ll deal with being financially dependent on someone again (to speak nothing of the vulnerability towards awful life events – but hey, an overpriced education can’t leave me on the streets…can it?). Big Byte tried to put in a word:
BB: “I get it, you want to be a housewife”.
NP: “Noooo! Don’t say that. Stay-at-home-mom.”
BB: “SAHM, housewife, same diff” (cowers under NP’s vicious glare) “okaaay…homemaker?”
NP: (pictures self nose-deep in dishes sprouting multiple appendages to tackle dusty floors, stained carpets, gazillion loads of laundry while simultaneously preparing a yumm-o meal a la Rachel Ray as Nibbles explores the varied tastes+textures in the shoe closet) “uh-no. Not homemaker. Stay-at-home-mom”.
BB: “I don’t get it”.
NP: “STAY-AT-HOME MOM“.
BB: “Oh” (confused pause) “Ok”.
Validation: This one’s a biggie. The one thing I do love about work is acknowledgement and kudos for a job well done. At home, I could spend all day shining the bathroom tiles till I can see my own reflection, but the only thing that’ll get noticed is the toothpaste splotches on the mirror (apparently, grooming oneself on all fours is not an option, no matter how squeaky clean and mirrory the floor is. bah!). But if a slobbery giggle from a well-fed Nibbles is not validation, heck I don’t know what is.
Adult Conversation: Overrated. Once you filter the insipid conference calls/meetings, bitching and politics, there’s the much-awaited lunch hour, when ranting becomes an art form and barely post-pubescent geeks discuss the death penalty, flirt with number theory and share their favorite moments from last night’s Entourage episode. Of course, now that lunch/coffee/restroom contemplation breaks are replaced by pumping, I can’t wait to get home and coooo with my Nibbles.
Flexibility: Quitting would mean no more career experimentation for not just me, but Big Byte. And *poof* goes the decent insurance plan. And it means ignoring dropping interest rates and swimming in mortgage. And no more planning that vacation to emerald Ireland. But it means lots of walks by the river, lots of finger-painting, numerous iterations of peekaboo and secret escapes into magical fairytales of the Grimm brothers (what do kids read these days?)
Alright, I know, the balance is rather skewed in favor of SAHMing, but that’s because of the greener grass on that side of the fence. But still, if I were to be fair, there is one thing I can’t get my head (no, my heart) around – leaving my Nibbles in someone else’s care.
Childcare: Yes, I still leave him with Big Byte and the ILs when I go to work, but Big Byte is not “someone else” and the ILs are family. It is important for Nibbles to have them in his life – but I must confess I get insanely jealous and possessive all the time. So I can’t imagine what horrid thoughts will cross my mind when we get a nanny. This nanny who needs to be paid to take spend time with my wonderful Nibbles. What if she turns around as Nibbles rolls over on the changing table? What if she discards leftover expressed milk – there’s enough formula anyway? What if she tries home remedies of brandy on the gums for teething? What if she lets him cry it out or carries him around too much? What if she forgets to tell Nibbles about the wheels of the bus that go round and round? What if Nibbles looks at her and says his first word, “Mamma”?