the value of a SAHM

a back to school dinner when our three girls were young

My SAHM role is getting less and less intensive. It began on March 4, 2002. My second of three daughters just graduated high school and will be moving away this August. (She is off to college!) Danny and I decided together that I would take on this role, well before any of our girls entered this world. It has been hard-but in the greatest, most soul stretching ways. Days when they were little and needed so much from me, were long and exhausting, but terribly sweet too. As their independence grew, my freedom did too.

Most of these past 20 years, I have found endeavors that were creative outlets. I loved rearranging the house, hosting bookclubs for all three of them, and preparing meals (I did see that as a creative endeavor too). I worked as a family portrait photographer, editing late into the night when they were young, sneaking away on Saturday mornings and evenings to meet clients. I taught photography to enthusiasts and those wanting to become photographers. I loved teaching. I loved getting to know and celebrating milestones with clients. All of this work supported and made my main gig (SAHM) more enjoyable…survivable.

Now, I work part time to support our real estate endeavors from home. I am also working on my interior design certification to take our mutual professional and personal endeavors to the next phase.

Although, I am so grateful to have been a SAHM, I recognize the downsides. It has been tough. Although Danny never made me feel this way, I sometimes struggled to see myself as an equal financial partner in our marriage and family. On big financial decisions, I would give his opinion more weight because “he made the money.” Again, this was fed by my own thoughts. Logically I could debate this both ways but in my heart of hearts it has been a struggle.

This weekend we were able to have a getaway with all three of our girls to Park City, UT. After leaving a restaurant, all three of our girls gratefully said “thank you Dad.” He did take out a card from his wallet and pay for the meal from our joint account. This happens 90% of the time. I don’t need the recognition and validation, although that is nice. But just in case these girls of mine want to someday be a SAHM, I want them to recognize their value in that role. Maybe recognizing their mom’s value will be the first start.

I know amazing moms that work full time and others that have chosen to forgo careers and take on motherhood full time. My mom often had to work full time to help our family financially survive. She is valued as a mother just as much as her friend at church who chose to be home. I am learning that seeing our own value, regardless of our vocational choices, will help our children and spouses see it too.

Here are some ways to make that shift if you have struggled the way I have:

COUNT YOUR WINS: take time to write down your WINS every day. Even small wins, growth and accomplishments add up to an amazing life. I sometimes back-fill my to-do list…write everything I did accomplish in the day.

ENJOY THE MUNDANE: put effort into being present and enjoying the monotony-turn on music, make preparing a meal a family affair, go to lunch with friends on grocery day…

TEAMWORK: meet regularly with your partner on goals, plans and work that you want to accomplish together. Talk about the needs of each individual in your family, including your own needs. Support each other- respecting both of your daily efforts.

SOUL CARE: a friend of mine pointed out the difference between self-care and soul-care to me recently and I really liked the perspective. I believe that every human on the planet needs to be intentional about SOUL CARE…finding quiet time to meditate and study, prayer, a walk outside and outlets for creativity and growth are crucial for all of us.

Danny tells me frequently that he couldn’t do what he does in his life without my support, and truly, I couldn’t accomplish what I have, without his. Regardless of our roles in a family-if we are caring for ourselves, working together, enjoying the mundane, celebrating all of our wins…I think we have found a pretty sweet spot.

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