I am the first to admit that I judge other mothers. It is a horrible quality, I know, but I do it. And I am sure you do too, you just don't want to admit it.
Most of this judging occurs in my head of course - how could that mother feed that to her child? Why isn't that mother reprimanding her brat of a child? I can't believe she turned her car seat around already! What kind of mother lets her child run around by himself like that in public! She is still breastfeeding that kid?! Look who is going out again and leaving her kids with another sitter!
And the judgement of all judgements that brings me to the topic of this post - how could they have hired help if she chose to stay at home and raise the kids herself!?
I first want to apologize to all my friends who are reading this who are SAHMs with hired help. Yes, I judged you (notice the past tense). Yes, I thought it was kind of absurd that you are/were paying someone to help with your kids, when you chose to stay at home and be the primary care giver of your children. I considered choosing to be a SAHM as your "job." And I was (again, the past tense) of the mindset that if you were hiring help, you weren't success at your "job."
I can do everything and anything myself. That is how I have always thought when approaching any obstacle. Let me do it, I know what I am doing (even if I don't really, I like to think I do), and I can probably do it better than you can. Lost your keys? I will find them, even if you haven't found them after an hour of looking. Of course I can lift that 100 pound box - step back. Are you kidding me? Of course I can fit into that parking spot. I used to be an awesome tennis player, but haven't played in about 15 years, but of course I am still awesome (this proved not to be true.)
Fast forward to present day. I now have two children, a husband is going back to working crazy hours and will be traveling a fair amount for work, and parents who will be heading down south back to their real lives in a couple weeks. And the cherry on top to all that is our dog who needs at least a 45 minute walk every morning, or else madness ensues.
I never questioned my ability to do it all - raise my kids, take care of my dog, maintain the household - on my own. M is in school 3 mornings a week, Val is just a baby who sleeps most of the day (unfortunately not at night - yikes) - I will have plenty of time for myself and to regain my sanity. I will find time to walk the dog as a means of getting back into shape. It was going to be a crazy busy life, but it is the life I chose. I accept that the next few years of my life will be devoted to my children, my family and dog, and I, myself, will take a backseat. I can do it all myself...can't I?
Then my husband turned to me the other day and said, "I think you should think about hiring someone to help out with the kids a couple days a week." ERRRHHHHHCCCHHH!! (that is the sound of slamming on the breaks, or a record scratching - you pick.) What did you just say buddy? I immediately took offense. Did he think that I couldn't do this all on my own? Did he think that just because he was going back to work that everything would crumble and I would be a mess of a mother? Of course he didn't think these things, but this is exactly where my mind went as soon as he suggested I hire help.
Not only did my husband say this, but my parents have mentioned it a few times, and of course each time I took offense with them too. Just because they were going back to their normal lives in Florida didn't mean that my family dynamic would go to shit and I wouldn't be able to take care of my kids on my own.
After talking it out with my husband though he made me realize that he just wants my job as Mom to be as stress free as possible, and since we could afford it, why not get someone in to take over once in a while so that I could have some "me" time. I could go grocery shopping alone...I could get a pedicure...I could get back in the gym without worrying about a child hating the daycare...I could get back to designing jewelry...I could finally cross some projects off my list...I could get my hair cut during the week and not miss out on family stuff on the weekends...me time sounds awesome. Ok, he has a point.
I still wasn't 100% sold on the idea, as I immediately thought that I would be judged by my friends just like I had judged them in the past. So the first thing I did was put a post up on GardenMoms to see if and how other SAHMs out handled hiring a part-time nanny or sitter. I could not believe the wonderful heartfelt responses I got. I had expected people to be all "you chose to SAHM, suck it up" but it was the total opposite! There was an outpouring of support and encouragement from the Moms unlike I had ever expected.
One of my favorite comments to my post on GM was one woman explaining how feeling guilty for having help raising kids and judging other women who have help is totally a cultural thing in the US. In most other countries you have generations of families living together, all helping to raise the babies or communities gathering together to help families with newborns. It is just recently that women who chose to stay home are expected to be the primary care giver and looked down upon if they need to hire someone to help them.
A common theme among the comments was happy mom = happy family (see Mama T's post below). As we all know being a mother is the most demanding, and rewarding, job on the planet, but it forces you to put yourself on the back burner, many times leading to regret and guilt. If hiring someone to watch your kids for a few hours a week allows me to do things that I love to do, therefore making me a happier person in general, why the hell wouldn't I do it?
I think I just needed this validation from my fellow Mamas out there. I needed to feel support and acceptance from women in the same position that I am in. I needed to hear that it is ok to not be with your children 24/7 as a SAHM...it is ok to take some time for yourself, for your own sanity. But it is not ok to judge those who make this decision, whether in my head or out loud to friends.