The Great WOHM vs. SAHM Debate

Posted 11-4-2010 at 05:25 PM by ParamedicMama

I began my mothering career by being at home full time for the first six weeks of my daughter’s life. Six weeks and five days after her birth, I returned to my full time weekday and part time Saturday job with breast pump and tissues in tow. I continued this journey for the next 17 months until I was pregnant with my second child and taken off of work at 32 weeks gestation due to pregnancy complications. My daughter was 18-months-old at that time and I felt as though I had missed all of her infancy. We spent the next 8 weeks cuddling and playing to make up for the time spent apart, finally with me as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).

After my son was born, I began working part time when he was five-weeks-old. With two babies in tow, I am ever so thankful that my husband was able to finally find a job after a two year search. While I still have to work to make ends meet, I am now a work-out-of-home-mom (WOHM) two days a week, a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) one day a week, and a SAHM for the other four days. Having experienced all of these different mothering styles has allowed me some insight into the challenges and rewards of each one, and I can now say that I think the enjoyment and difficulty level of each one just depends on the mother and the circumstances surrounding why she is one of these three things.

When I was a WOHM, I would often receive snide comments from sometimes well meaning and sometimes not so well meaning individuals. They were from all three types of mothers—not just from SAHM’s which many people assumed. The interesting thing, though, is that as a SAHM and now part time WOHM, I’m still receiving comments—they’re just of a different sort! It seems as though the dreaded “mommy wars” hound mothers for their titles of WOHM/SAHM/WAHM. It’s too bad, because being a mother is hard enough without being judged and criticized for your work status.

Here’s a secret that a lot of moms seem to forget: we don’t all like the status we’re currently in. I despised being a full time WOHM and I still hold true to that even after being a full time SAHM (contrary to the ever popular “so do you still want to be home?” question I’m asked after experiencing the life of a SAHM…like I’m supposed to start dreading it after two weeks or something)! However, I know women who hate being SAHM’s and prefer to work away from the home. And guess what: it’s okay to be different.

Remember that the mothers in your situation and those in a different situation may not be there because they want to be. Be careful what you say, because your innocent comment may strike the dagger into the heart of the mom who would do anything to be in your shoes. Having now seen both sides of the story, I can attest to wanting to pull my hair out from being home with two babies for three days straight and not even having had time to pee. But I can also attest to crying all day at work because someone else is watching my daughter roll over for the first time. Motherhood isn’t about which role is more difficult, and if we’re honest, the martyrdom of having the “toughest” work status (whichever we determine that to be on any given day) doesn’t actually make us a better mother than the one who we think has it “easier.”

A woman’s work status doesn’t determine her intelligence level, talent, or capabilities. It shouldn’t determine her character, either, so let’s stop warring over the great WOHM vs. SAHM debate. Instead, next time we’re about to say something or be offended by something someone else said, let’s remember that we’re all different. Sometimes, a mama just needs to vent. It isn’t a jab at someone else for the SAHM to say that she’s ready to ship her kids to Taiwan or for the WOHM to say that she would be fine if the only people she ever spoke to again were her kids. Sometimes, a mama just needs encouragement, and sometimes, a mama just needs to know that it’s okay to dislike or even to like her status.

So the next time you’re about to be offended by something someone said, or when you’re about to say something in regards to working in the home, at home, or away from home, stop and remember. Remember that what makes us mothers isn’t our work statuses. It is the fact that we love our children, want what’s best for them, and are going to do whatever we have to do to make that happen. Love, not work, is what makes the world go ’round.

Filed Under: General


19 Responses to “The Great WOHM vs. SAHM Debate”

  1. Jill on November 4th, 2010 6:57 pm

    I really can’t believe that people are this crappy to each other. I only had one person ask WHEN I was going back to work, and that’s when I was pregnant. The person looked shocked that I ‘wasn’t going to work’, but I just smiled and went on. I knew, like all the other advice I was being given, that I could take it or leave it. I always ask if people work outside the home. My usual answer to that question myself is that I am lucky that my husband has a job where I can AFFORD to stay at home. Also that my working wouldn’t even pay for day care. Or if it did, it wouldn’t pay for both day care AND gas to go to work. Since I’m at the break even point, I do my own ‘work’ around the house, plus I do what I can to save on our budget, pay the bills, clip coupons, shop end of season sales, keep an eye on department stores for best times to buy, and continue to provide clean laundry, something for lunch (usually leftovers), and a hug and a kiss for my hubby when he comes home. I cloth diaper, I nursed my girl til she was 17 months, made food for her to eat instead of buying jarred food, and ahead of time, saved money back to pay for delivery expenses, paid off my vehicle, and my student loan. That’s why I can *smile*. I know I more than held up my end of the bargain, so now I get the ‘cushy’ stay at home job. And all the dirty diapers. Lol. I still LOVE my job, even if other people don’t consider it ‘valuable’. I know that myself and my husband do, and that’s what counts to us. I neither envy nor despise working moms, we just have different jobs, that’s all. I wouldn’t have issue with a banker if I was a lawyer or vice versa, and that’s pretty much the difference. We all put on a suit in the morning, we just do different things in it.

  2. jwjbbrown on November 5th, 2010 3:27 am

    My DH and I get comments ALL the time because I am a WOHM and he is a SAHD. We are happy with how our lives are but people sure feel like they can judge us and our choices.

  3. mpfanny on November 5th, 2010 3:49 am

    ^exactly :smile:

  4. MeCo7707 on November 5th, 2010 10:03 am

    I loved this blog – your approach to the different aspects of the three different roles so honestly. Good job :)

  5. Noymira on November 5th, 2010 1:06 pm

    Thank you! I am sick of hearing about the “mommy wars” too! I work full time, my husband works part time and stays home with our daughter 3 days a week and she goes to daycare 2 days a week, I’m home with her on the weekends. We do what we can to provide for our daughter and ourselves, and we don’t have the time, energy or money to get too worried about how it looks to others. Our daughter gets time with both of us, is well taken care of and knows she is loved. What more can we do as parents?

    I choose to have friends and people in my life who share my values, even if they do things differently when it works for their family. I don’t have time or space in my life for people who want to judge others for things like this.

  6. lisaluvsfritz on November 5th, 2010 7:01 pm

    This comment has nothing to do with the article, which was great. What ticks me off is that everytime you use a stock photo depicting babywearing, it’s not correct. Last time it was a forward-facing out crotch-dangler, this time it’s a baby not being supported to the back of their knees with their bum below knee level. I.guess I expect more from a site that advocates good (like cloth diapering and babywearing) for babies.

  7. momofcutebutts on November 5th, 2010 7:17 pm

    Great article!!!

  8. Superblonde Mom on November 6th, 2010 1:08 pm

    Thank for the reminder to everyone! @ Jill – sounds like we have the same life, and the same perspective on it. “I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am.”

  9. Bearmommy on November 6th, 2010 11:45 pm

    Great article!! I would give my right arm to be a SAHM (granted, I’m left-handed), and actually was for a while when I was job-hunting. I loved being with my dd all day. There were days when I badly needed a break, but they were few and far between. I’m a WOHM mom now because I have no choice. When you’re trying to do the best you can for your child, you don’t need to be criticized by others!

  10. Lisa921 on November 7th, 2010 5:35 pm

    This is a great article, thanks! I would have preferred to stay home part-time and work out of the home part-time, but that has not become a possibility for me until very recently (my dd is almost 14 months old). soon I will be able to work 4 days a week with my dd going to one grandma once a week, the other grandma once a week, and daycare 2 days a week. Even though my mother was the one who saw my daughter roll over the first time, and her cousin was the one who saw it the second time, I feel lucky that my daughter is growing up to love her grandparents and cousins so much. We should never judge other moms and dads for their choices, because sometimes they aren’t really choices. We all have to deal with the cards that we are dealt and try to make the best decision that we can for our children.

  11. twogirlsmama on November 8th, 2010 4:43 pm

    Thank you. I write this as I sit sobbing at my computer during lunch at work because I miss my girls so much. I hate work because I am away from my kids, but it is just not an option for me to stay home. I chose the profession that allows me the most time with them (I’m a teacher), but it is still SO hurtful when people make rude comments about “someone else raising my child,” etc. I have learned to be respectful of all choices and lifestyles and definitely recognize that not everyone loves the situation they are in. Thanks for a great article.

  12. AM on November 8th, 2010 4:51 pm

    I agree with the point of this article. I think it’s funny how many people have so much to say about others’ choices in this regard. The thing I really can’t stand is that some people think I absolutely should not be a SAHM because I have an engineering degree. What? I can only be a SAHM if I only gave up a career in a field with less education required in order to do it? I think it’s weird. Nobody questions my friend who worked retail before leaving to be a SAHM, but since I was an engineer, it’s somehow different to some people. I find that incredibly strange.

  13. mamaler0y on November 8th, 2010 7:02 pm

    I’m a SAHM and I don’t feel pressure from the mommy wars…I feel pressure from people who have never been parents and my in laws. Ugh, it drives me nuts! Whenever they ask me “so when are you going back to work?” I just blanky look at them and say “why should I?”

  14. Computermama on November 8th, 2010 9:22 pm

    People, women especially can be so mean to each other. I never thought I could hack being a SAHM, but now that I am (not by choice) I love it. Sadly, a single income is stretched a little too thin, so if the job I’m interviewing for tomorrow pans out I’m going to take it. With rare exception, we all love our kids and want to give them what’s best. Part of giving them what’s best is giving them a happy, healthy mommy and daddy, which may mean that mommy needs to stay home, or that daddy does, or that both need to work. There’s no one right answer.

  15. Andrea on November 11th, 2010 12:05 am

    Nicely written article. I so need this reminder. I have really only gotten nice comments about being a SAHM. People asked (as I was working while pregnant) and the overwhelming response was “What a blessing that you can stay home with your baby.” Very true. I am blessed that my husband has a job that supports us in a dependable field. They do think I’m a little nuts that when I say I am going to SAH with my kids until they go off to college and HOME SCHOOL them! :) But that question doesn’t come up quite as much.

  16. AQW on November 11th, 2010 4:04 am

    This is all so true. Why do people think it is there business to know our personal business anyway? It is between me and my partner what we do. Here’s my hell in this area- I am an out of work mom who recently graduated college. So I have the pressure that all college grads have of finding that first job AND the whole SAHM/WOHM debate. And NO ONE seems to understand how hard it is to find that first big break when you are home with a baby and have an 8 year old who gets off the bus at 3! I love how everyone acts like you have so much free time because you are home. Please!

  17. cali4niachef on November 17th, 2010 5:12 am

    All I can think about is that picture of the mom walking with her baby in that crappy crotch dangler carrier makes my skin crawl!!!

  18. skyler189 on November 17th, 2010 2:41 pm

    I get the opposite. I have been heavily (negatively) judged because I don’t want to be a SAHM and I choose to work. Comments like “but I figured your husband makes enough $$ that you don’t have to work”. Also gotten plenty of negative comments because I chose not to breastfeed. People really need to keep their opinions to themselves.

  19. Allie on November 22nd, 2010 3:21 pm

    If I wanted to stay home, I could have my husband had a job that I would be able to, but I like having my independence and own “nest egg” esp for the holidays, but I work for my Dad so I was fortunate enough that he said I could take my baby with me to work. I get the other end, I get alot of women jelous and envious of me for taking him to work. He does go with his godmother 1 day a week and grandma another day, some days are better than others, cause its hard somedays when hes cranky trying to get work done and catering to him.

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