A new acronym has entered our societal lexicon, joining YUPPIE
(Young Urban Professional) and other demographic designations.
It’s SAHM — Stay At Home Mom. I found the acronym when I Googled “stay at home mother” in an effort to update myself on what has happened in that world since I left it years ago. I was amazed.
When I was a SAHM, long before it had its own acronym, there was no Internet. Sure, I could talk to other moms at the sandbox and swings about the joys and trials of being a mom. It made me feel less alone. But now — wow. Companionship, lots of it, is but a click away.
Far from the neighborhood, in 10 languages if you’d like, there are people to talk to. Go to babycenter.com, athomemothers.com, bizymoms.com — on and on — and you have so much child care advice Dr. Spock would be overwhelmed. In the chat rooms, you have an instant support group.
Read the chat room messages (“My mother says being a working mom is harder on me than on the baby,” “I’d rather live in a one-room shack than miss out on my number-one priority, my child”), and you quickly find the age-old tugs and pulls that accompany the difficult decision about whether to be a SAHM or a WM (working mom).
Also evident is tension between SAHMs and WMs, tension so high it’s picked up the term “mommy wars.” There is a correlation, it seems, between the increase in tension and the increase in the number of SAHMs. Census figures show that, for the first time in 25 years, the number of working moms has decreased. It’s now just about 50-50 (as it seems most everything in this country is), and the two groups are shouting across a cultural divide.
There was one chat room message that made me want to take up arms in the mommy wars: “Staying at home would be great. However, what would we be teaching our children concerning values? If we quit our job just to stay home with them, then we are showing them that we have nothing ‘important’ to do.”
I don’t quibble with mothers who work because they have to, or because they want to. I have done both. But I do quibble with this chat room mom, and I think most people would find common ground here. By staying home with our children we show them we have nothing “important” to do? It may be hard to determine the rights and wrongs of mothers and work, but there is one thing I know for sure: If you choose to have children, there is absolutely nothing more “important” than raising and loving your child — whether you work or not. NH
This article appears in the May 2004 issue of New Hampshire Magazine