The acronym “SAHM” seems omnipresent nowadays. It’s more common to use this derivative than its parent term, its backronym if you will, “stay-at-home-mom.” But back in 2012, when I was carrying princess #1, I had no earthly idea what those 4 letters stood for. I would frequently lurk the Babycenter boards, anxious and excited about twinges in my boobs or gas bubble “kicks” in my belly. I loved looking at pictures of the other mommies-in-training, comparing everyone’s beautiful bumbs and general preggo experiences. In order to rake through all of the posts, in which every other word was an abbreviation, I had to search the interwebs for a glossary of those oh-so-popular abridgments. I discovered that a stay-at-home-mom is a position so lofty it gets its own acronym! And now, 4 years later, following the birth of Princess #2, that once-elusive term defines me. The thing is, I’m not at all resentful about it.
In between R and K, I was an almost-SAHM, but I still worked part-time, teaching a couple of courses in art history at a community college and writing for a newspaper (a monthly commitment I’ve managed to keep up). Even though I spent most of my time with R, I still had lots of lesson planning, paper grading and PowerPoint building to complete. I loved that I could be both a professor and a mom, that when people asked me what I did, I could say that I spent many of my days with R, but also taught and wrote and researched. When K was born and I was suddenly responsible for two energy-sucking angels, I decided to take a semester or two off from teaching. Six months later, that decision has evolved to mean that I might not go back to work at all — at least not in the near future. This is partly because part-time college instructing is far from financially lucrative, and it does indeed demand a great deal of time. But mostly, I want to be with my littles while they’re little. Somehow, after every (nearly) sleepless night, I find myself feeling quite blessed that I can spend these days, months, years with them (although this morning that gratitude was muddied by rage and profanities when K decided that 4 hours of interrupted sleep was quite enough for her).
Like most mommies, I had NO idea how intensive and demanding parenting is until I lived it. Boy is Karma (masked as Kora?) coming back to nibble my little behind after all those times, years back, when I quietly assumed that women who were “just” moms had it easy. Having an infant and a 4-year-old is, by far, the hardest work I’ve ever done. Yeah, the demand is of a different nature than the academic reading, writing and speaking I used to be accountable for, but it.is.constant. I spent years in grad school considering the concept of Self from a theoretical perspective, and now my own self is being ordered around, prodded at and fed upon (literally and figuratively) by two miniature energizer bunnies.
Sometimes my husband jokes that I, as an individual, don’t exist anymore. This is both true and not. Many aspects of pre-kid me are pretty dormant most days, but my self continues to grow and grow in order to fuel my children’s insatiable curiosity and desire to learn about and experience this world. It’s an incredible job! One that is going to lead me somewhere that I can’t yet see. A job that is far from thankless, even if those “thank-yous” are few and far between.