Misplaced Mom

HKutscher photobucket

 

I have been misplaced by a weak economy – trapped in a small house with three children, stripped of my self-worth and blind folded to any clear direction. Though I have been a stay-at-home mom for nine years, five of them have been spent trying to build a career. Unlike most moms I didn’t choose to be a stay-at-homer; I was cast into the role when the $800 a month daycare bill was pushing us toward the poorhouse. Since landing this role I have been fighting to eke out a career while balancing the identity stealing motherly duties. I always find it necessary to add how I do love my children; however, I want to be able to stand on my own two feet if my husband’s paycheck was no longer available. I also want to contribute financially but daycare and gas would consume the already measly paycheck and I would be on the road back to the poorhouse. It is a vicious cycle created by a recession.  

I thought I was the only SAHM misplaced by the economy and left yearning for success, until I visited some parenting forums. Seems I am not the only one the poor economy has trapped behind the doors of our home.  Maybe this explains the explosion of mom bloggers and at-home businesses. Misplaced moms have had to invent creative ways to keep their identity and re-establish self-worth. When economists look back on this recession it should be referred to as the “Entrapment Era”. The time when the economy made for a different type of SAHM and the role was redefined. We are no longer the women who stay at home for fear of others raising our children but the women who stay at home because we can’t afford others to raise them.  

I don’t want to get stuck behind the SAHM label, where I am expected to pull out a tiny magazine and talk my victim into buying their perfect shade of foundation. The economy is scary enough but to know I may wake up an empty nester peddling makeup samples is terrifying. Though the economy is weak it still has the power to choose my quality of life and slap an unwanted assumption to my name. How do you fight something that even at its weakest is strong enough to back you in a corner?  

I may have to be in this corner but I refuse to cower in it. As long as the economy continues to try to beat me down I will continue to throw punches until one of them delivers a KO, allowing me to gain the advantage and go from misplaced misfit to a moneymaking matriarch.

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37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. marina delvecchio
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 01:29:23

    Torie,

    I loved this post, especially the “I didn’t choose to be a SAHM” part. I quit my job to write my book and then 3 years later became a mom. I feel like I never chose to stay home with the kids like most moms do. Most work until they get pregnant and then choose to stay home. I fell into the stay at home thing, and I don’t really do too well with it. Since being a SAHM, I have written two books, 7 mag articles, earned 30 credits towards a PhD and began teaching part-time on the college level. I’ve been doing this for 7 years and am done, but of course, I will never make a lot of money as a college instuctor, but I want to work outside of the home. I commend you for calling this what it is — and entrapment era — we’re feeling trapped and dislocated and wasting away in laundry, house cleaning, diaper- changing, and good old self-denying. But what makes it worse is that people still think that this is what we are built for — and if we don’t, we are not “natural” or “nurturing” mothers.

    Thank you for giving voice to such an important issue!

    Marina at Marinagraphy

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 27, 2010 @ 17:06:27

      Marina,

      Thanks. I wish I could be as productive in my writing as you have been. The labels that come with being a SAHM makes things so much harder. No matter how hard I try to be a career mom, no one takes it seriously unless you are at an office outside your home. It is a tough spot to be in but hopefully we can redifine the role and SAHM’s will be looked at differently. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  2. Hott Mama
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 08:23:00

    The economy did not land this SAHM in a cowering corner! Rather, this not-so-Hott-Mama chose to remain here after a career and three MORE kids in the first half of this decade! When she came to the crossroads “to work or not to work?”, I remained where I was with the oldest about to graduate with an MBA and the youngest just starting kindergarten! I guess you would find this to be a strange choice… and, no, I don’t sell cosmetics. No way! But believe me, I’ve never felt stuck in the corner! Just life delt out some other circumstances…
    Love your writing!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 27, 2010 @ 16:48:28

      Hott Mama,

      I have visited your blog and loved it. Staying at home works for some mothers and I don’t think it strange at all to make that choice but I have a strong passion to launch my career before my children grow up. Hopefully, I will reach this goal. Thanks.

      Reply

  3. Lindsay @ Just My Blog
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 12:36:37

    It really is a shame that all SAHMs kind of get lumped into this sterotype that they’re all at home because they want to be. There’s always the vision of the Susie Homemaker at home doing crafts and homeschooling her children…when in reality she is barely keeping her head above water and just trying to make it through another day. I honestly don’t know how SAHMs do all that they (you) do…I would never make it out alive. Keep your chin up…the economy is bound to turn around sometime….right?

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 27, 2010 @ 16:43:49

      Lindsay,

      I do hate the SAHM label. It brings to mind so many assumptions and we are usually written off as helicopter parents or scrapbooking, bon bon eating Martha Stewarts. I hope the economy turns around soon if not I will just have to come up with another way to beat it. Thanks.

      Reply

  4. Karyn Climans
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 14:06:14

    This economy is having devastating effects on so many families! Thank goodness your husband is still employed but I can appreciate how frustrating it must be for you … wanting to work and contribute financially but crippled by the cost of day care etc. I know some families where the grandparents are looking after the kids but I wasn’t so lucky. I stayed at home for 15 years with 2 special needs kids … finally setting up my own business when they were teenagers. Hang in there … and keep venting your frustration as much as possible. Hopefully, the economy will turn around sometime soon!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 27, 2010 @ 16:40:33

      Karyn,

      I am thankful for my husbands income during times like these. I am hoping to find a way around this little set back and hope the economy turns around soon. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  5. Torie Combest
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 16:37:12

    Brae,

    I will be stopping by your blog. I know there are probably more moms who want to stay home than who have been forced by daycare costs but I am on the opposite side of the majority. I do like the being able to pick them up for school and not having to answer to a boss when they are sick but I would love to be able to support them financially as well. Seems I want my cake and eat it too. Thanks for commenting.

    Reply

  6. Travis McClain
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 21:45:13

    I’ve said for ages now that mainstream society has completely misunderstood the value of child care, and the economic impact of being a stay-at-home parent. It used to be thought of as a sign that someone was little more than a trophy wife, whose husband was one of the so-called “masters of the universe.” What more people have come to understand–especially this last decade–is how the needs of a family can often be best served not by finding a way to pay bills, but in finding a way not to have those bills.

    Child care is, to put it nicely, insane. Finding a facility that you trust, is located somewhere that allows you to get there to and from your job, that you can afford, that your child(ren) respond to well…it’s a crazy world unto itself. My wife and I do not have children, but I took some child care services classes in high school and saw things from that side of it, and of course I’ve made an effort to be involved with the lives of my friends who have gone on to have kids. (I’ll never understand why so many friendships dissipate once one friend has a kid.)

    As for myself, I didn’t choose to be a stay-at-home husband; my guts chose that for me when I developed Crohn’s disease in 2005. Believe me, I can relate to the varying shades of guilt and frustration that a “SAHM” navigate when asked, “What do you do?” The only response I can suggest to you SAHMs is what I remind my Crohnies whenever the topic arises: “I contribute to my family the best way I can right now.” Anyone who doesn’t think much of that response is probably too judgmental to be worth your time.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 27, 2010 @ 22:17:39

      Travis,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I love that you have brought this perspective to the blog. I guess when you are forced to stay at home, for whatever reason, you will always have those feelings of being stripped of your self-worth.

      Hope you keep reading, I could use your perspective more often.

      Reply

  7. Mom's Me Time
    Sep 27, 2010 @ 22:49:29

    visiting from bloggy mom’s group SAHM. I really enjoyed reading your post on being a stay at home mom and appreciate your perspective.

    I was shocked to find out that I had a bun in the oven (so to speak); I just fell into the role of stay at home mom. I was even more shocked, terrified, freaked out and scared, when our daughter was born at 23 weeks gestational. I will forever be grateful to my husband for doing what needed to be done financially so that I could be with our daughter. Early on it put a terrible strain on us financially and emotionally but we trudged along. Now, 6 years later (she is doing remarkably well), a second daughter, cupcake the crazy cat, a house and a hubby; I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve done some independent contract work over the years, just to stay up to date on my skills but I love being home! I relate to “balancing the identity stealing motherly duties”… thank GOD for my friends and a husband who supports me having some me time (hence my blog name mommetime) – because you are right child care is outrageously expensive. Good luck to ya!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 27, 2010 @ 23:18:09

      Thank you so much. Sounds like you have found a great balance between the mom world and me time. Hopefully I will find that balance soon. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  8. Serene
    Sep 28, 2010 @ 02:50:25

    Yeah, you’re definitely not alone.

    Reply

  9. JDaniel4's Mom
    Sep 28, 2010 @ 08:44:52

    I love being home and chose to be. I do understand that for many it may not be their choice. I hope that while they are home they can do as you have. You seem to have found a way to make it work for you and find balance. Great post!

    Stopping from SITS!

    Reply

  10. BLR Graham
    Sep 28, 2010 @ 18:07:33

    I ended my career after I got married. I thought being SAHM would be wonderful. Now I wish to go back on track, but moms who work away from home would say how lucky I am being SAHM.

    Stumbled on your lovely blog.

    If you could take a moment, I am also inviting you to add your blog and/or business domain at http://olahmomma.com/mylounge – a directory of blogs and businesses by moms/parents with rate and review tools.

    Reply

  11. Belle's Butterfly
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 08:55:12

    Our monthly daycare bill is pushing us to the poor house as well, but for me to stay at home would immediately put us in the poor house. Were basically at a lose/lose situation. The Hubs has picked up a second job in retail and I have contemplated making bows and things to sell. It’s so tough right now and then last week when reports came out claiming the recession ended back in June of 09 I couldn’t believe. How is it over? People are still unemployed and losing jobs. People are still struggling to stay a float. Our plans were to start TTC again next summer, but right now it’s just not possible. There is no way we could afford day care for 2.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 29, 2010 @ 22:18:02

      Belle’s Butterfly,

      The recession has not ended for us and there are a lot of people around me struggling as well. Maybe these people who say it ended should come out of from behind their desk and step into the real world. Our situation seems to be common. Can’t afford to work, can’t afford not to work. It is sad but hopefully we will come up with something that works. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

      • Travis McClain
        Sep 29, 2010 @ 22:32:35

        The problem is that economics deals with numbers and not people. Since 2000, the Haves have been having more, and the Have Nots have had less. Just because more Haves have more doesn’t mean more people have improved their circumstances.

        The wealthy may pay a disproportionate amount of taxes, but the money has clearly been rolling their way and they’ve invented ways to basically just circulate money amongst themselves through investment wizardry. I believe they should either start putting that money back into circulation for other people in the form of well-paying jobs, or they should lose enough in taxes to support everyone that they don’t want to put to work. But it’s absolutely ridiculous that the top 2% have all the resources to actually employ everyone else and want to stockpile money by not putting people to work and then have the audacity to disparage the unemployed as being unmotivated leeches.

        Sorry. Had to rant for a moment.

      • Torie Combest
        Sep 29, 2010 @ 22:45:45

        Travis,

        That explains why they think the recession is over. The numbers lie – the recession may be getting better but it’s not over. Ohhh, the corruption.

  12. Rhonda Burkhalter
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:40:57

    I would have to say I am 50/50 on this. I think the yearning to be at home with our youngest came after watching her through the webcam at her daycare each and every day. I would get to see her playing and being loved on by someone else. It was almost torture. I decided that I wanted to be the one who played and laughed and hugged her. The $800 expense was also a contributing factor. I also grew tired of seeing the disappointment in my twins faces when they would ask if I was coming to this or that function at school and my answer was always No. I can’t take off work. The only thing I set out to do was make up the difference of what I was actually bringing home. Thus I find myself watching another family’s newborn so they can continue their careers. Now I am able to be a part of the twins activities, have our baby with me and still make money. Is it a career? No way. I have full plans of continuing my dreams and passion once our youngest hits the school yard. Doesn’t mean I’ll go back to “work” right away, but I will foster the education needed to gain that career. Having a husband with a terminal illness brings the need for self sufficiency into high demand.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 30, 2010 @ 12:56:22

      Rhonda,

      There were times when I was working outside the home that I felt guilty about leaving them in daycare for so long. Even though I knew they were doing fun activities and getting to play with children their age, I knew that it was a long day for them. I guess now it is different with my youngest in preschool four days a week – I now have a little more time to work on a career and I am going to try my best to take advantage of it. I know you have special circumstances and it sounds like you are doing what is best for your family right now. As always thanks for commenting and I hope everything is going well for you.

      Reply

  13. ryoko861
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 11:00:12

    It’s ashame that in these times we just can’t stay at home and be mommies. Gone are the 1960’s.

    I, too, do my best to help supplement the husband’s income. Ya do what ya gotta do to keep the wolf from the door. Don’t give up, soldier on!

    Reply

  14. Sarah
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 08:50:55

    Great post Torie! I am not a mom ~ yet ~ and it is cool to read mommy blogs because I think many of us non-mommies have a preconceived notion of the “SAHM”. Yet another one of those pesky stereotypes! Have you considered going back to school? I am an adult student myself and I find a lot of satisfaction there. Good luck on your journey!

    Stopping by from SITS~

    Sarah

    Reply

  15. Andrea
    Oct 02, 2010 @ 18:46:12

    I totally understand the desire for financial stability. I would love to have a paycheck again. But I don’t feel that I have surrendered my brain because I became a SAHM.
    There is a saying that I’m sure you have heard, “Grow where you are planted.” The universe (or economy) is giving you an opportunity to take a different road then you expected. I would say maybe embrace it for a while without giving up on your dreams.
    I was a school teacher before becoming a SAHM, and imagine I will someday go back into some sort of similar field. But for now I am finding other ways to use my skills and talents. Maybe some day I’ll even get paid for it. Who knows!
    My mom always told me, “you are as happy as you make your mind up to be.”

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 03, 2010 @ 23:20:38

      Andrea,

      I guess I am finding new ways to use my skills and make the most out of my situation – blogging. You have a great outlook though and I love the saying “Grow where you are planted.” Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  16. Margaret Almon
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 08:15:04

    Torie,
    There is something about the expression “stay at home” that troubles me–maybe it’s all the connotations you mention. I don’t have children, but I recently lost my job, and I am “at home” a lot, but I’m an artist, and working on my art and promoting it. If I had children, then suddenly I’d be a “stay at home Mom” and it seems a heavy load of stereotypes would appear as well. All the best to you as you figure out your career passions.

    Reply

  17. Heather
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 13:23:40

    Torie~ What a treat to stumble upon your site! Your writing is excellent, clean and thought-provoking. You really struck a cord with me about a life peddling cosmetics. It’s a real danger when Mothers do not have control over their financial future and resources. My blog deals with the complexity of the many issues that directly affect Moms that mopping the house and buying lipstick fail to fix. Please check it out. I think “Mommy bloggers” like you and I are scratching the surface of a new movement that could be huge!

    By the way, I recently was searching craigslist and found companies are looking for content writers. Looks like an avenue to make a little cash. You write very well. Consider it!

    I’ll continue to check in on your site!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 16, 2010 @ 14:05:28

      Heather,

      Thank you so much. I have been looking for a blog that was similar to mine. Can’t wait to check it out. I agree, I think we are hitting on something that could be a third wave feminist movement. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  18. Heather
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 13:58:14

    Torie,

    Just thought I would send you this link because it’s buried on my blog and speaks to the heart of what we both talk about:

    “The Invisibles”
    http://ultimateoutcasts.com/?p=3

    Reply

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