My “Work” and “Work-Life” Struggles as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

My “Work” and “Work-Life” Struggles as a Stay-at-Home-Mom

The other day when I dropped my son off to daycare, the husband of the lady who runs the daycare asked me, “So, did you get a job yet?” I may have mentioned to him a couple weeks ago that I did not have a job when he kept trying to indirectly tell me I should send my kids to daycare full time (to his benefit, of course). I could have smacked him right there! The audacity! Like there is a job for the taking or that I am getting offers left, right, and center and have decided to get all choosy or as if I like not having a job so I can luxuriate in this oh-so-easy  stay-at-home-mom life I lead!

That is why I hate, really do hate, pesky interfering Indians who know nothing about boundaries and respecting the worth of individuals regardless of the work they do or for whom they work and who think everybody’s business is their own goddamn gossip field.

Insistent on not letting it go, he suggested I get a work-from-home job…AARRGHH! Like, seriously, SHUT UP!

By definition, as a SAHM, I work from at home. I don’t get paid for it but there are numerous stats online that tell you exactly how much a SAHM should get paid so I’ll leave you to Google it. A few of us may have hustles on the side but by and large, our workplace is our home. Since this is the case, our work is simply an extension of our lives and consequently the lives we live pour into aspects of our work too.

I could have told that man that I do a whole lot of everything but he would not have understood. I could have told him that in addition to being a full-time mother to my two kids, I also maintain a blog, run a business (sort of), and recently founded a website. Would he have cared? Probably not….unless it meant I was making enough money to send my kids to full-time day care and since that isn’t happening, clearly, he would have been dismissive and I didn’t care to waste my breathe explaining my creative engagements to him.

There are three things I do that I consider “work” in addition to working as a SAHM. Clearly I am more than “just a housewife“.

  1. My blog – ThePhdMama
  2. My “Store” – Essaberry
  3. My Website – theParentVoice,

ThePhdMama 

I write this blog for myself. And, for my kids. I sincerely appreciate my readers, my subscribers, and especially those who leave me comments of love, support, or general observation; really, comments of any kind.

Still, this is work. I am constantly approached by marketers and promotional agents about reviewing/sampling items in exchange for an honest review post. Whether they are just fishing to know my prices, spam mailers who send generic emails to every blogger, or serious enquiries, I always respond. I call it professionalism. It does take time but that is a personal value and I can’t compromise on that. Even the emails like the one I got recently where someone wrote to me gushing over my “brilliant” blog and how much they enjoyed reading it and because I write about homes and construction (I don’t!) would I like to promote their real estate website on my blog? Umm….no, thank you – this was not an offer for advertising on the blog. I would have to review their website.

I always turn down all the ones that do not bring my readers value and more recently, I have turned down free products in exchange for reviews since the products did not interest me and would not be of use to me or my family. (Sponsored Posts are different). My point is, whether I accept, reject, or stay neutral, I still respond to 99% of my emails and that takes time and yes, work.

The most important work related to my blog is my content. If I don’t update my blog often, I feel like I am losing out on archiving memories of my kids who are growing up really, really fast. While I don’t always mind that growth, I do wish I had more time to catalog all the changes they are going through.

Essaberry

 For the first time ever, I attended a Festival over two days where I shared a vendor booth with a person I had never met until the day of, and sold stuff. I invested a decent amount of money into this business and felt really proud about turning my passion for stationery and t-shirts into a selling opportunity. I was gone the entire weekend.

I left home at 8:00 a.m. and returned home at 7:30 p.m. on both days. The days were really long and extremely exhausting. I probably sat only about 10 minutes in that entire 11 and a half hours, excluding driving time. At the end of the day, both days, I was tired to the bone. I even contemplated not going the second day but that kind of insincerity does not become me so I dragged myself all the way, a city half an hour away from where we live.

In the end, I did not even recover the cost of the amount I paid for the booth I shared. Thankfully, I live a privileged enough life where I can say that it was the experience and lessons I learned that mattered more. I did have a good time selling things I loved myself. My favorite clients were kids, understandably.

I loved watching the excitement in the eyes of kids as they came into my booth. More than a few of them gushed over everything and said things like, “This is my favorite booth in the whole festival”, “Thank you for selling these things”, “I love this store”, “This is the best store ever!” Social norms aside, I just wanted to hug or high five those kids and thank them for their supportive words and votes of confidence. I did do the latter. While the kids loved the stationery part of my booth, grown-ups liked the t-shirts. Some even stood next to one of my display t-shirts and took pictures (because of what it said). Odd but funny! I had great conversations with random people and interestingly, all of those who stopped by and chatted were non-Indians.

For months and weeks leading up to the festival, there was a tremendous amount of work involved in getting everything ready. From reviewing to designing to purchasing to sorting to labeling to organizing to organizing some more…it took a lot of time.

Again, the point of writing all this is the fact that everything involved in this business takes a lot of time. Mind you, I really enjoy the reviewing, purchasing, labeling and such aspects of the job. I only wish that for all the work I put in and all the time it takes me away from my family, I at least broke even.

theParentVoice,

Now this is my true labor of love. I love all the work associated with tPV,. Most types of work have certain aspects to them that you don’t really like but put up with because you have to. Not with tPV,. I honestly like everything about it – from contacting people and inviting them to write for us, to reading and writing to random people I have never met but with whom I would love to work or feature in the Magazine, to editing, designing, placement of contact, to just about everything. I truly enjoy it.

I only wish we had funds so we could pay our writers and I am so grateful to those who already work with us voluntarily and in full awareness of the fact that we cannot pay them.

While I love what I do with tPV, again, it is work. As far as my son is concerned, it doesn’t matter what I do. If it is something that is taking me away from him, keeping me distracted and not allowing me to focus on his latest creative acts, it is work.

The months leading up to our August launch, I was constantly on my phone or laptop before, between, after, and sometimes during every meal. Whether it was during cooking, playing with the kids, even reading to them, I had one eye on my phone or laptop. Kids were neglected or ignored, meals were left unfinished so Aaron could finish making them, my patience levels were in the negative double digits, my stress levels were high even though I did not realize it at the time, and to top it all off, Aaron was gone for two weeks including the week of the launch (even though he was right there at India time ready to click in and support the launch).

So, in response to that man, I may not have a job but I am not without jobs. I am certainly not without work. I work and I work pretty damn hard at everything I do. I just do not get compensated. I wish I did but well…if wishes were cakes, I would eat…

Like most people, I struggle with a work-life balance. Like most moms, I struggle with wanting to spend more quality time with my kids versus needing to spend time working non-mom stuff. They have me in quantity but if I continue to stay distracted when I am with them, what good is that?

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2 thoughts on “My “Work” and “Work-Life” Struggles as a Stay-at-Home-Mom”

  • Hey Suchi,
    I completely understand what you said, yes, some Indians (specially abroad); feel more entitled to comment on your life choices, in spite of knowing that it is none of their business. Its just an Indian-ism we hate; but they also need to be given a clever, witty Puneri reply so that they stay put and stop. Stay awesome !! More power to you 🙂 cheers !!

    • It is unfortunate that, that is the case. After living in the US for so long, one really learns to appreciate personal space and boundaries and the stark contrast you get to experience in the company of some Indians who just don’t seem to get it, no matter where they live, is inexcusable. Ah..I wish I was quick with comebacks, Puneri or otherwise 🙂 I wish I had that kind of wit. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Beena.

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