For all intents and purposes, I am a Stay-at-home-mom.
A SAHM, if you like acronyms.
On some days, I get to add "/WAHM" to that title, which doesn't necessarily change what I do, but just adds another complicated layer of challenges. And lack of sleep.
The longer I parent under this amorphous title that really just ends up leaving me exhausted and pulled in about fourteen different directions, the more I find myself taking cues from my friends who are working mothers.
You know, ones who "leave" in the morning and come home in the afternoons or evenings. The ones who I (the neophyte mom) have judged, the ones who are often called "selfish."
That's worse than being called a "whore" if you're a mother these days.
But as I read the posts and Twitter updates from Amanda, as I observe (albeit briefly) the daily goings-on of Whitney, and I enjoy the company of Liz's amazing children, I'm gleaning valuable parenting wisdom.
Because as someone who is always around her children, I can learn from parents who are not.
Sure, these are generalizations based on my own observations. There are shitty parents all around, working or not. And I know they probably feel the same way as I do -- juggling way too many balls, wishing desperately for more hours in the day.
They're not perfect. No one is.
Maybe these choices are fueled by guilt. Who knows? Who cares?
These women, as well as others that I've seen (like neighbors and friends), are doing something right. And I'm indebted to them for teaching me how to be a better parent and person.
1.They value the time with their children
As I'm trying to bolt out the door that my sitter arrives just to give myself some breathing room, I find that working mothers are much more vocal about spending time with their children because they don't have that much of it. That bedtime story they read every single night. That short conversation over dinner. Those little moments of their day are magnanimously important.
2. They spend quality time with their kids
While I'm around my kids most of the day (and night), I rarely spend time actually playing with them. I've observed many working mothers spend much more actual quality time with their kids, whether it's a trip to the playground, baking cookies, or a coloring marathon. They're attentive and focused on them, even if it's only for fifteen or twenty minutes here and there.
3. They take time for themselves
It only took me four kids to understand that personal time isn't being selfish, which is a common theme I've long seen with working mom friends. Maybe it's because they actually need to look presentable for meetings and presentations, or because they've got regular, consistent child care that allows them to get to the hair salon more than a few times a year. But they value it. And they do it.
4. They ask for help
I used to think that asking for help was some sort of parenting flaw, when really, it's the smartest thing you can do. Maybe working moms have the extra finances to be able to outsource some of the housekeeping, child care, even small errands, but the overriding lesson I've learned from them is that they ask for a hand (or more) if they need it.
5. They turn off
One of the challenges of being an online entrepreneur is that the Internet never sleeps. I'm only just starting the habit of turning off during the time I'm with my kids in the mornings and evenings. My working mom friends are much more diligent about dialing down the technology and powering off in the evenings (and early mornings). Their jobs might lend themselves to being more conducive to that, of course, but it's a habit I need to establish for myself regardless.
So what have you learned from parents who have different situations than your own?