I had a ball reading this on Babble last night, “10 Stupid Perceptions About Work-at-Home Moms,” mainly because many of the perceptions were glaringly true. For those who dream of the WAHMderful life, let me be the first to tell you: It’s not easy being a work at home mom. Sure, it’s fun to think that we can work in our boxers and tank tops (or sweats and yoga pants — your preference!), and that we have the luxury of a flexible work schedule. But the truth is, that’s just a smidgen of the real picture. Being a WAHM is often harder to hack than a clearly defined office based job outside the home. In fact, the life of a WAHM is a two-edged sword, in many ways — and that’s not because of the chores and kid responsibilities that get all muddled together throughout the day!
More than the minor setbacks of homemaking, child-rearing and making sure we work on our businesses, what makes this lifestyle challenging are often the negative perceptions — stupid, even — of those who don’t believe in or understand this lifestyle setup.
Ciaran Blumenfeld of Momfluential states it poignantly:
Our culture comes with a set of infuriatingly outdated ideas and expectations that get applied liberally by the most surprising people. — Ciaran Blumenfeld, aka “Momfluential,”
Can I get an “amen” to that?
How many of us have been asked if we “really work”?
How many of us get invited to go out in the evenings, with comments like, “But you can check emails on your phone or iPad,” and expect to club it out because we can “work wherever”?
How many of us have been asked if we make any real money?
I could go on.
Believe me, I’ve had my share of shrugging shoulders, top-to-toe glances and raised eyebrows flung my way from all the times I’ve said, “I’m a work-at-home mom.”
But you know what? I don’t give a damn. As a woman, as a mother — yes, as one who works, takes clients, is trying to build a business of my own — I am sure about this lifestyle choice I’ve made. I know I can do this, and I make sure that I can hack it. If I can’t, then it’s my business how I make my life work out. The point is that I’ve made a decision: I want to actively run my home, raise my kid, and rock at work, so I choose to be homebased.
Own your WAHM-ness
My good friend Denise Bernardo, one of the two yummy mummies behind INDIGO Baby, likes to use the term “WAHM-ness” when she talks about this home-based work lifestyle. She has an amazing story of how her attachment parenting philosophy married with the idea of a lifestyle based business, one that began with her decision to work out of the house. Today, she’s one of the most well-known WAHMs here locally in Manila. Her life has made an impact, just as her business has. What’s key is this: The work-at-home setup supported and empowered her to live out her parenting philosophy.
It should be the same for all WAHMs.
Thought Break: What’s your WAHM-ness? What’s that unique story you have to tell, about why you became a WAHM in the first place? Your story is what is going to speak to others about this life you’ve chosen to live. Your story will make you feel confident that what you have chosen to do as a WAHM is the right thing for you and your family.
If we’re going to really own this vocation, this life purpose that many of us have claimed as work at home mothers, we have to go back to our intentions for being WAHMs. My friend Jayme of Optimommy (another fab WAHM) calls it finding your life purpose. Once you can identify your “why” as a work-at-home mom, you can embrace this life with a sense of dignity, of empowerment. You can start embracing the fact that you have a different skill set and work style, one that’s not for the office-based setup that many working moms are able to successfully pull off. (And honestly, I salute all there working moms out there who go to the office every single day and still rock at raising their families and managing their homes.)
For those who are, like me, doing the WAHM dance, remember this: What matters is not the home office you keep, the label you think you’ve given yourself (whether VA, online writer, developer, or whatever). You’re just as effective, just as talented, just as necessary as anyone else out there. What matters is that you own your life, and stand confidently in your decision to live intentionally, with a purpose for why you’ve chosen the WAHMderful life.