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Friday Advice Column for Wacky Mothers & Others

January 13th, 2006

Dear Wacky Mommy:

What’s the secret to maintaining self-esteem while maintaining a home? I provide childcare, and I am a stay-at-home mom. I know this is what I am best at doing, but it is hard in a society that doesn’t really value this as “real work” or especially “smart work.” Really hits on any insecurities that one may have about their intelligence and purpose anyway. Kind of like your story about visiting your old work — “Uh, yea, it’s all I’m doing.” Just doesn’t seem to be enough. And it doesn’t sound great at cocktail parties. These damn gray days don’t help either. geezus.



Dear SAHM:

Do art, do art, do art. This is the secret to a happy life. And yes, you found this out at wackymommy.org. Write, garden, paint, bellydance, learn to play the piano or fiddle. Do yoga, sculpt, take photos, start a blog… There are lots of things that count as art and you can brag about them all. And it makes you not crazy! And it makes the gray days fly by. I’m going to do a cookbook with my Wacky Granny this winter — one of those self-published things, like church ladies do? I am so psyched about it. They’ll include pictures of her in it, and recipes from all of our friends and family.

Art is like a hobby, only people take it more seriously.

Then when someone calls, or you’re at a party, getting cross-examined, you can say, “My pottery has been going so well! It’s amazing. I love having the extra hours to…” blah blah blah.

Golf? Hell, yes. If you can afford it, take up golf. I write (duh), edit and blog (my favorite), and swim, plus we all four ice skate and garden. So when the conversation is getting heated (I was asked, “Do you think you’ll go back to work soon?” this week. Blech) I say, “Wacky Daddy is still playing hockey a few times a week, and we’ve been going to a lot of Winterhawks games.” Or I brag about how much gardening we’ve been doing. I tell you, those Worker Bees hate hate hate hearing about anyone having free time. Cuz they don’t. And we do. Even if we’re attached at the hip to a three-year-old and carrying a baby. I could make chocolate mousse right now if I wanted, or write a letter, or take a bath.

People can be such jerks to mommies, especially those of us who have gained a few pounds (yeah, I’m reconsidering the chocolate mousse, alright?). Or don’t have immediate plans to go back to work. Or maybe weren’t super goal-oriented to begin with! “You’re not on a clear career path,” as a former editor said to me. (Sweet, no?)

“You’ve let yourself go.” “You should just get a sitter!” Well, what does the sitter do? And a lot of us who are SAHMs, or part-time working outside the home moms, aren’t living in the lap of luxury. Maybe we can’t afford to hire a part-time sitter or nanny. Respite care for yourself is critical, so if you can afford to have a teenager come in and help, or give you a short break, go for it. Craig’s List has been a big help to me, and it’s great if you can find another mommy, whose schedule meshes with yours, for swaps.

It’s real work. It counts. It’s the hardest work in life.




  1. HH says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This helped so much. And it’s about something I momentarily
    become unclear about– appreciation. And I do appreciate it all– the beautiful kids, a roof over my
    head, and a little bit of time to explore. It’s really not a grind, and I don’t have to let my self-esteem suffer. Oh yea, I paint (amateur kids’ room murals), I write (e-mails, birthday cards, thank you notes and Christmas letters) and I hmmmm, verbally critique… the new restaurants around the block (and it’s supporting local businesses, right?). Thank you for reminding me of all I have going. And I do have my own “business”– I get tax write-offs for all the kids crap, home remodeling, and mileage I spend money on along with the best of ’em. And I have time to train for a 1/2 marathon, something I haven’t done since I was 21. And I have time to have nice home-cooked dinners with friends. I think I’ll go sit with my kids right now, sip my PBR and watch “Cinderella.” Life is grand. Seriously. Thank you.

    January 13th, 2006 | #

  2. HH says

    P.S. The cookbook sounds like a helluva fun time, and I’m sure it will have some fabulous recipes.

    January 13th, 2006 | #

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