Being a SAHM

“What’s that again?” you ask. A SAHM – Stay-At-Home-Mom. In other words, a homemaker, a housewife, a house manager, whatever you call it.

Before I even go on, I know that this article is going to be long. So bear with me as this is a topic quite close to my heart. And I have decided not to be apologetic about being a SAHM, or what I believe in regarding being a SAHM.

On the other hand, I do not condemn women who choose to balance work and home. It is not an easy job and in a way, I do think that I have taken the ‘easy way out’ sometimes.

How I became one

Quite by accident, really, although nothing is really an accident in life as ‘all things work together for good to them that love God…’ The long and the short of it is that I was jobless when I became pregnant with Dominic, and well, things simply progressed naturally from there.

Why a SAHM? (My personal conviction)

Because I believe that it is important for a mother to be there for her child. And I do mean physically being there. One of the fondest memory I have of my childhood is my mother’s physical presence throughout my childhood. Especially when I needed the comforting presence of mommy when I was sick.

Because I believe that children are blessings from the Lord and we are to be ‘good steward’ over them. It is a privilege to be a parent. It is a special privilege to be a mother. It is not a task to be taken lightly as a soul, a life, a person (or more) is entrusted to us, to mold, to build up, to nurture, to love, to care for, to bring up, etc. To me, it’s a sacred task that warrants more time and dedication than a 8-9 hours paid job outside.

Because I believe that when you entrust the care of your children to someone else, you are giving up part of your parental authority to that someone. Like it or not, you are giving up the extent of your influence over your children’s lives.

Because I cannot bear it whenever I see a child crying in distress, NOT for the mother or the father, but for ‘aunty’ (maid). I cannot imagine how my heart will break if that child is mine and in time of his distress, his first source of help and comfort is not me nor his father.

Because I don’t believe in ‘quality time’. I don’t believe that it is within my human ability to slog 8-9 hours at work (not counting over time and travelling time) and come home completely drained and physically exhausted after a whole day of trying to please bosses that cannot be pleased no matter what, and still spend ‘quality time’ with my children. No, I cannot fool myself to believe that such time spent can be qualified as ‘quality time’. My boss probably had my ‘quality time’ quota sucked dry already. Believe me, I have been-there-done-that).

Because I believe that it is out of sufficient ‘quantity time’ that you will get enough ‘quality time’. Things in small quantity is not necessary of good quality. But things of good quality need not be in large quantity, although it would be good to have the large quantity as well. I hope you get the logic.

Because I believe that relationship needs investment in time and attention. And if I have not been investing during my children’s childhood, I cannot expect to enjoy good relationship with them during their turbulent teenage years, or the more distant adult years.

Because I am a ‘control freak’ who is ‘highly possessive’ of my children wants to be involved in every aspect of their lives – what they eat, what they watch on TV, what makes them happy, what makes them sad, etc.

Because I want to be there when my children achieve their milestones. I want to be the first to know, and not receive 2nd hand news from someone else.

Because I want to be there for them when my children cry, when they laugh, when good things happen to them, when bad things happen to them, when they are happy, when they are sad, when they succeed at something, when they suffer a failure…..

Because I believe that one parent at home provides the stability and security necessary for the healthy growth and development of the children. Usually that ‘one parent’ is the mother.

Because I believe that by staying at home to take care of the house and take care of the children, I can give my husband the peace of mind to concentrate on his work outside. I believe in teamwork. I believe that a woman’s role is being the man’s helpmate. I am certainly no bra-burning feminist.

Because I believe that being a SAHM does not make me inferior to a man. I may not bring home the bread and butter but my work is no less important.

Because I believe that mothers play a very important role in establishing the family culture, setting family traditions, things that brings the family together, will be remembered and, hopefully, carried on.

Those are just some of the reasons why I believe in being a SAHM.

I shall now address some of the common questions people ask me:

What a waste of your education!

I graduated with Honours in Business Administration. And I was making very decent money working in the retail line. Yes, even my mother frowned when I became a SAHM. But I see it rather differently from how ‘normal people’ see it. Being a graduate basically makes me a more educated mom and give me greater ability to learn more things about parenting instead of simply following norms and old wives’ tales without thinking. And a good education is a plus when it comes to educating my children.

Why does everything have to translate into dollars and cents? That an education has to, eventually, translated into a paycheck (which may not even be fat)? Shouldn’t we seek knowledge and education for self improvement instead of simply for the financial benefit it brings? Turn it the other way around : if you know that your daughter will eventually become a SAHM, will you then not give her the opportunity to be educated, and think that it’s a waste of money?

Somebody said that being a mom, one has to be a resident psychologist, physician, theologian, educator, nurse, chef, taxi driver, fire marshal, and occassional police officer. And that’s just being a mom. At the same time, the mom, who is also a wife, probably has to be a financial planner, a nutritionist, a household manager, and a secretary. With this all-in-one job description, why do people think that you only need a person with no educational qualification to fill it? If you are like me, and believe that being a mother is a sacred work ordained by God, you would surely not think that the ‘cream of the crop’ should be left to the ‘world’ while the ‘non-achievers’ be left to fill this post?

How to cope financially?

Ah! This is the most important stumbling block in the Singaporean context. How to finance the maid, the house, the car and the yearly holiday and endless tuition and enrichment lessons without 2 incomes?

I believe that it can be done. Seriously, countless families have survived on less. It’s a matter of whether one is willing to live simply and do away with a lot of frills. It is not easy, but it is not impossible.  Someone said to me : Children are not expensive, lifestyle is.  How true.

When I don’t work, I actually spend a lot less money. I spend less on clothes and makeup (as I don’t need to prim myself everyday), social costs (weddings, treats, baby gifts, birthday presents, etc), food and travelling expenses, and a lot less impulse buying because I am not out there in the market to see the merchandise. When I don’t earn a lot, the money I earn every month is hardly enough to cover all these expenses plus maid cost. Even when I earn a lot to have leftovers, somehow, things will pop up to swallow up the leftovers and in the end, I end up with less.

You may not believe me but Richard and I both feel that we are a lot more blessed when we live on one income than when we had two. Life is less complicated and we can have time to smell the roses. The issue is that you can have lots of money but low quality of life, and vice versa. We choose to have less but gain more!

Most importantly, I believe that this is where God wants me to be and He will never fail to provide and multiply whatever we have.

For those who are serious about being a SAHM but hesitate at the pile of bills, here’s my advice:

For us, thank God He first guided us to live on one income as a couple first before the baby came. It made an easier transition than to suddenly be starved of one income with a full nest. So for those without kids yet, you can start first as a couple, which is much easier to adapt and adjust if you have the determination.

For those who already have a family to support, if it is possible, try taking a few months of no-pay leave and see how you cope. Of course, you must be prepared to cut the fats where necessary. And you have to re-think your necessities list because a lot of necessities are actually not necessary. If you can cope well or if you find that the fulfillment and rewards of being a SAHM is worth the shot, you can proceed to quit your job after your leave. If not, you still have a job to go back to. This is less stressful than to have to decide on quitting your job straight away.

Above all, trust God, the Lord who provides for His sheeps. He blesses us with children; He will give us the means to provide for them.

Would it be boring?

Ask any SAHM and they will tell you that they are too busy to be bored! Do not be mistaken. Being a SAHM is no easy job. Your attention is needed 24/7. Whereas at a job, you can steal time off for tea breaks, or (less obviously) turn your mind blank. As a SAHM, like it or not, you have to be alert all the time, you can’t afford to fall sick, and you are constantly short of time. When your children nap (if they do!), you will probably take the opportunity to do chores that cannot be done while they are awake. Many of us wake up earlier and sleep later than a regular salaried worker.

But it’s all boring work

To me, it is not boring work because it is work done for those I love most. Also, I believe that God will give you the grace to enjoy what you do, just as He gave me the grace to do what I do. Before I became a SAHM, I have no idea I could be one. I never stepped into the kitchen and cooked a meal. Now I love to cook, but unfortunately often don’t have the time to cook up a storm.

Also, there is a great sense of empowerment, when you can basically run your life the way you want, do things the way you want. Whereas at a job, you tend to have less say in things (unless it’s your own company) and have to deal with endless office politics.

You risk being out-dated and boring

In other words, you will become the typical ‘yellow face woman’ whom every woman fears to become. Your conversation will be boring and you know nothing outside your own front door.

I believe that a lot depends on the individual. At this day and age, there is less reason for women at home to become dull. They have the internet, the TV, the newspapers, the books and media to keep them informed of what is happening around the world, if only they are interested enough to go and find out.

Of course, it takes self-motivation and discipline to stay out of the ‘dull mode’. But it is much easier these days than a generation ago. If one has the determination and interest, there is no lack of information and knowledge to be gain. Just parenting information alone is an ocean out there for you to explore! And SAHMs should pursue their interests in non-home related stuff to balance up their lives!

Anyway, this is the same for everyone and not just SAHM. What’s so interesting about, say, a stock brokering job? Your regular stock broker is probably just as boring as your ‘yellow face woman’ because all he does is to talk about stocks and shares the whole day and at the end of the day, go to some pub to guzzle beer and talk more about stocks and shares. No offence to stock brokers! The same applies for any vocation. The variable is only the ‘topic’.

I am not the SAHM type

Maybe. I can’t say everybody is cut out to be the same. Each of us has our own calling in life. But I personally believe that it is biblical that a woman’s priority should be her home and her children. But that does not rule out doing enterprising thing. Just check out that Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31. I think she is one super woman.

I believe that God will give us the desire and the ability to do His will, if only we submit and seek His guidance. You may think that you are not the SAHM type. But if you really want to, see, that is already a seed of desire planted by God inside you. Now He will give you the ability to fulfill that desire.

Husband does not agree.

It is true that some guys do think that way and they expect their wives to also chip in as far as the family finance is concerned. (Question : Do they chip in when it comes to housework and children matters?)

Like any family decision, becoming a SAHM is a joint decision between husband and wife. It is important to have your husband’s support in this matter and I must say that I am blessed in this area.

As in any family decision that both husband and wife have different views, well, it takes time and persuasion, and lots of prayer.

*Gasp* Women should be financially independent and not rely on their husbands (just in case…)

My answer has always been, and will always be this : if you cannot trust the man with money, how can you trust the man with your life?! You are better off not marrying the guy because I am sure, as a modern and intelligent woman, you are fully capable of supporting yourself without this man and without having to live under the constant fear of him cheating on you.

I believe that a Christian marriage is not meant to be one where each partner constantly have to ‘buy insurance’ against the other cheating on him/her. We are made one in the Lord and will live as one in the Lord. That includes everything including financially. In fact, this should be so in any marriage. The basic foundation of marriage, besides love, is trust.

Such things do happen, I must agree. But personally, I feel that I have to do things right myself. If I do not trust my husband, it would not be right in the Lord’s eye. So if my husband cheats on me and walks away with my money, leaving me penniless, at least my conscience is clear before the Lord. Stupid, you may say. But I will say that this is also trusting the Lord in your marriage and He never fails.