Stray At Home Mom

Ah the Stay At Home Mother. Rosy cheeked children in clean clothes. Happy husband greeted at the door with a fresh application of lipstick and the smell of dinner. I admit it, I want that, sounds wonderful. But just like a Disney vacation it’s for most of us just a pleasant fantasy experience rather than something you can actually afford.
Back in the 1950s it was possible for a regular guy to hold a job that could support a family alone, and there was enough physical labor in the home to require a “full time employee” doing the stuff in the house. As women entered the workforce in greater and greater numbers, it actually flooded the labor market with an oversupply of labor and devalued the average workers paycheck. Loosely speaking the same sort of job in 1950 that would have supported a family, supports about half a family today. So back in the 1960s and 1970s and even 1980s, a woman entering the workforce was all about “choice for women”, but by 2010 there is no real choice for women anymore as if they don’t get a freaking job and work it the same way a man has to, the family will go…
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Comments

  1. LIL says:

    I hate you Atholk for not writing this post 20 years ago when it could have saved my friggin life.
    As someone who has lived the "SAHM experience" read what is before you and learn my brothers…learn or burn. LIL

  2. Wicked Shawn says:

    So, you feel better having your wife at work where she is around men who are probably much hotter and appealing than you, than at home. Interesting. Are women at home more likely to be bored? sure. But the women in the workforce are surrounded by temptation constantly. No secret that a married woman is the top prize for a married man seeking an affair, she is the least likely to ever blow things out of the water, for she has as much to lose as he does. Women who stay at home, meanwhile, chatting online to ex-boyfriends? Sending NC-17 pix to guys online? There are people on the planet still using mySpace??
    Are you saying that these electronic communications are, in effect cheating? Or is this emotional cheating? Or are we assuming that this is leading to the eventual hookup for live sex?

  3. Salut says:

    Interesting take on it. A couple additional points:

    1. A woman focused on home and kids isn't likely going to advance in her ability to carry on an adult dialogue, she's going to regress. There needs to be a source(s) of grown-up mental stimulation.
    2. Interesting to hear you say that one or two kids and looking after the house doesn't take all day. You're actually speaking from experience, here, it appears.

    And to the previous poster, "much hotter and appealing than you"? Seriously, you're presuming quite a bit aren't you? If you're doing it right, a little dose of market dynamics keeps everyone on their game.

  4. Athol Kay says:

    Sorry LIL. 20 years ago to the day I was exactly one week into bawling my eyes out over dumping my first serious girlfriend. I was failing all her shit tests and she was stomping all over me, so I quit the relationship in frustration and pain.

    Shawn: Temptation is everywhere if you look for it. However the vast bulk of my case is that the SAHM can simply fail to contribute to the marriage by being a productive adult at the expense of the husband having to carry the load. Then after the divorce the husband still has to continue supporting wife via alimony.

    I spend a lot of time on the Talk About Marriage forums, you'd be surprised how many husbands lose their wives into emotional or physical affairs started online. Facebook is now cited as a critical factor in 20% of all divorces.

    Salut: Yes staying at home can reduce your mind to mush dealing with the little ones. And yes indeed I did a lot of the toddler years at home myself while my wife worked her job days. I did find my nursing and group home experience very helpful in running structured child care and keeping house. There was in fact a legendary one sided argument between my wife and I after her and the kids "wrecked my nice clean house again" while I was at work one weekend lol.

  5. LIL says:

    Warning the following is pure unadulterated truth. It is not recommended for the viewing of those that are squeemish, faint of heart, or prone to seizure disorder…

    "If a SAHM is lazy, stupid and careless at her job… the husband isn't truly her employer, and termination for lack of job performance is basically divorce. Which is an appalling option to have to choose. Furthermore thanks to alimony, the husband will have to continue to "pay her" for the job she wasn't doing during the marriage after the divorce is final. So there is a serious moral hazard for the wife in that she can continue to fail at her job of SAHM and still get paid."

    I would only add to that brilliantly phrased paragraph, serious moral and financial hazard Atholk.

    One thing that I have learned observing people in this life is that the less they do, the more difficult it becomes for them to do things. This in essence is today's SAHM.

    I run a clinic, which is in essentially a household. My day begins at 4:00 am and often ends around 11:00 pm. During the course of the day, I am forced to make decisions that have significant consequences in people's lives.

    Meanwhile, my wife's biggest choice is whether or not to have the kids eat friggin frozen waffles for breakfast or open a box of Cocoa Puffs. Nice.

    For the record, I would happily stay home with my kids if it were even remotely possible for my wife to generate a livable income for our family. Not only would I do it, I am far better equipped to do it for the following reasons:

    1) Even though she was a teacher, I am better prepared to handle our kids learning needs. I hold three degrees to her one, and I actually understand math and science.

    2) I can and do frequently fix crap around the home. She just makes lists, although she writes much neater than I do.

    3) I bring order, and my kids like and crave structure. Things get done in my presence on all sides. The house stays clean.

    4) I make much healthier food and activity choices then she does. My kids play with me. She never plays with them. It's quite sad actually.

    5) I have command presence. The kids do not fight with each other when I am around.

    6) I am attentive to them, and I'm not facebooking my @ss off when I'm around them.

    7) I am medically capable and qualified to provide emergency as well as ancillary care in the event the need should arise.

    8) I am the safer choice in the event of a natural emergency, or in the presence of an intruder. I am very proficient in hand to hand combat as well as in the use of small arms. She can just scream really loud.

    8) Morally, I am a better role model.

    9) Last, even though I am incapable of lactation, my youngest child is 5 so the one thing that she could do well that I cannot is no longer relevant.

    Despite all of these sterling "qualifications" the courts of CA will inevitably "give" her custody of my kids in our pending divorce as I am "not around enough". I friggin wonder why? Oh, now I remember, because I have to pay for everything, and isn't that all Dad's are good for?

    Finally, as for worrying about her "trading up" with all of those hot guys while I am sequestered away at home with the kidlets, this "trophy" husband is more than willing to take the risk. At least then I wouldn't have to pay alimony.

    LIL

  6. LIL says:

    I doubled up on 8) as it may or may not be true that morally I am a better role model than she is. In retrospect, God will have to decide that one, and there is likely much "game" left to be played. So forgive me for hedging my bet and doubling up my entry.

    LIL

  7. coyote says:

    Don't knock the SAHM arrangement if you haven't tried it in earnest. When my wife went SAHM a dozen years ago it felt totally counterculture (counter to our culture anyway), but we made adjustments in our lifestyle to accommodate it, hoping we would like it more than the hectic two-working-parents grind. We love it. She homeschools the kids, knits, bakes a cake for every special occasion (my favorite for my birthday too) and still has a high energy level since she's not overworked and stressed all day. Meanwhile, I'm off on the hunt with the guys, closing a deal or building a new line of business.

    She couldn't stay home if I didn't bring home the income that I do. I couldn't bring home the income that I do if she didn't stay home. (Not with kids, anyway, and that's what triggered this whole arrangement.)

    Guys: I recommend setting this up, even if it involves some extra risk-taking in your business career. In my experience, it doesn't require a ton of extra hours as a "worker drone" to do this. You have to be savvy and willing to break out of your wage-based mentality. The results are beyond compare.

  8. Athol Kay says:

    Oh don't get me wrong the SAHM thing can really home… but only if she works at it. If your wife suddenly decided to become lazy about it, would could you do about it?

    The issue is choice of wife as much as anytihng. Yours sounds great.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So much LTR “game” would be covered if men just stuck to traditional sex roles instead of knuckling under to feminism. When we first started dating I made my wife understand that I was a traditional kind of guy. A traditional marriage is a division of labor the benefits everyone. She embraced that almost immediately. Now we both benefit. I eat a home cooked meal every night, the house is in order, my two older kids were taught to read before they turned three. Granted, I make 300K a year and live in a part of the country where that’s still a good income. I always thought that it wouldn’t make any sense to work so hard to make money if my kids were going to be raised by a stranger in a daycare center. That’s just an economic fact of life for a lot of people but I’m surprised when people do it by choice. I think of it as a big DHV if you demand a traditional role from your wife and you can brink home the cash to support the arrangement. When my kids get older then some return to work will likely be in order.

    I don’t agree that taking care of kids is not hard work. I have three kids under the age of 6 and if I have to take care of them for an afternoon I’m exhausted. I’m looking at ways I can reduce my wife’s work load so that she can have more energy for the gym and the bedroom.

  10. :) says:

    I would mention that the 50s havent died but then i dont just run the house and the kids as a SAHM I run an 80% sustaining farm as well :) i love the fact that my husband goes to the office after i dish him some breakfast and then comes home to a hot meal, clean kids and no worries. he helps. mostly because he gets that on anygiven day the farm AND the kids can toss a serious spanner in the works and herding wayward sheep through a hedge with a baby on one hip and dinner burning is not an ideal day. Truely… he keeps the roof over our heads and I make sure its a nice place to be!However… i know a butt-load of women who sit on their rears and DRINK/chat/shop and then whine about how hard it is… perhaps i could have them come over… i have a spare shovel!

  11. Athol Kay says:

    You sound wonderful :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow. A real eye opener. I'm gonna gave to digest this one. Never considered the moral hazard. This will be required reading for my newlywed friends. Thanks., bro.

  13. TDD says:

    this is so noxious!! being a SAHM/W does not mean you will cheat.

    being a LAZY SAHM/W with lots of idle time does not mean you will cheat

    BEING a person of low moral character and having no virtues means you WILL CHEAT.

    plenty of women hold down full time jobs and yet still find time cheat on their husbands–usually on their lunch breaks, or tell their boss they have an "appointment"…and btw..they often cheat with a *hot* co-worker…

    likewise there are plenty of really lazy and/or domestically incompetence housewives who adore their husbands, and see their husbands as heros–to be respected–not cuckholded…and are completely true to their men–though they may accomplish little else.

  14. TDD says:

    I guess you could say that a working woman has the "moral hazards" of bumping into hot/willing/available and morally lacking men in the subway, at the lunch break and at the office, then, eh?

    opportunities abound for working women and sahm…one may have more time on her hands…while the other has more exposure to "eligible" men, and more believable excuses (honey, I had to work late)

    If a woman wants to cheat she will find a way.
    a full time job is not a cure for bad morals.

    and if a woman doesnt want to cheat, being a sahm is not going to provide her with some sort of "epiphany" or inspiration to cheat

    Virtuous women find other things to do with their extra time

  15. TrophyWife says:

    Just stumbled on this blog looking for SAHM things. Funny post.

    My two cents: Let's not forget those of us SAHMs that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum! ;) I worked full-time before kids, and lemme tell ya… raising two young ones is harder. I miss the mental and social stimulation of a workplace, and mommy groups just don't cut it.

    That said, I try not to let it get me down. I'm a lousy cook, but I do my best, and I actually do bake homemade bread and homemade cakes and such. I actively develop skills (cake decorating, sewing, origami, juggling, balloon animals) that I think will either enhance my husband's life or my kids' life. My kids are still toddlers, but we have "school" every day, and at this point I plan to homeschool. I listen to my husband talk about his job every night before telling him about my day, and I don't give him slack if he needs to work late or study for a certification exam. He makes a decent salary but we don't live in the lap of luxury, so I make "money saving" part of my SAHM job–this means clipping coupons, shopping sales, repairing things I can instead of buying new, etc.

    On the flip side, though, I'd be lying if I didn't say that some days aren't frustrating. There are some days when Hubby walks through the door and I immediately ask him to take over caring for the kids, because they've been crazy all day and I need a break. There are some days when I ask him to change the baby's poopy diaper, because if I see another load of crap I'm gonna lose my mind. Those days… those rough days… he pulls out his Beta side and does what he can to make my life a little easier.

    It's all about balance. Not every SAHM is June Cleaver, nor is she ignoring the kids for a Facebook fling. Most of us are probably somewhere in-between.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I really liked this post, and would like to add that in the 1960's Betty Friedan wrote "The Feminine Mystique" regarding this SAHM farce. It was groundbreaking research about how women were incredibly bored and depressed and unfulfilled. Sure, some had affairs, others drank, and many popped "Mother's Little Helper."

    Friedan interviewed both uneducated and college degreed women. By leaps and bounds, the educated women were the most miserable in their role of SAHM.

    IMO, the men who want this setup are not going to respect their wives in the long run…

  17. Athol Kay says:

    Huh.. interesting. I'll have to read that book.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I hope my husband does not feel this way about me. I am a sahm and I make sure my house, and 2 yr old is clean and he also comes home to a meal every night. I do not have a college education but I can crochet, sew, and do small repairs to our house. In the summer I also keep a garden. My child is only 2 so her education ( besides the basics) are being taught by me. My husband works a swing shift and he is off two days a week. I have considered going back to work but I would have to make over $12 dollars an hour to make a profit after expenses. We make it work and I try to ask if we are ok financially. He has never ask me to go back to work. And another thing if you have an affair on your husband while you have the pleasure of staying at home to raise your children you have no respect for your husband and even yourself there is a chance that you could do harm to your children by not providing for them after a divorce. Just a ladies point of view.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is refreshing I do the exact same thing couponing, watching sales, keeping a budget. But you have two children which makes what you do double and some days triple lol. I have one child and feel very strained some days and I am VERY blessed to have an understanding husband. Good luck homeschooling.

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