I Am A Domesticator

*Note: I shamelessly am using the term domesticator after seeing it on my friend, Lindsay’s, blog last week.  If you aren’t reading her blog, you NEED to!!

About a month ago, I ran into a college classmate who I hadn’t seen since our 2003 graduation.  We chatted for a while about random things before the topic of our careers came up.  When I told him that I am a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM, aka domesticator), he started laughing and said, I can’t believe that the girl who used to tutor math to all of us is now a housewife.

I know he didn’t mean to be condescending or hurtful with his comment, but I immediately felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that my life consisted of raising my children, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry and not business attire and corporate events.

Then I was angry.  Angry with myself for being embarrassed with the career choice I have made.

But to be honest, if you would have asked me ten, even five years ago if I ever imagined I’d be a SAHM, I would have had the same reaction he did.  Truth be told, for most of my life, I had ZERO aspiration to be a housewife.  From as far back as I can remember, I had visions of becoming a successful, powerful NYC businesswoman.

These career visions carried me through my four years at an all-girls high school that was designed to prepare us for college, four years at West Point and then my six years in the Army.  When I left the Army, I was anxious to begin the new stage of my life – a life that I was certain would involve designer labels, an expensive car, fancy dinners, foreign travel, and a beautiful apartment in NYC.

Soon after leaving the Army, I had the life I had imagined.  I was President of a small business with an office on 6th Avenue – a bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.

My sister and I shared a spacious apartment on the Upper West Side – only two blocks from one of my favorite places in the world – Central Park.  My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I started traveling the world – in just nine months, we went to Italy, Jamaica, Alaska, Mexico, and Malta.

Beautiful Malta

It seemed like everything was falling into place.

I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant with our first child in May 2010.  During my whole pregnancy, my plan was to take some time off and return to work when my son was a few months old.  Although I was excited about becoming a mom, I didn’t have any intentions of being home 24/7.  We would get a babysitter and cleaning woman and I would return to work.

Our son was born Jan 2011 and my whole world got turned upside down.  It was amazing how quickly my priorities shifted.  Everything that had mattered to me only months before now seemed superficial and pointless.  And things that I couldn’t fathom doing, now brought me pleasure.

I never returned to work.

My work is now my family and my home.  I know it sounds so old-fashioned.  Just like all the other SAHMs out there, my days consist of cooking, cleaning, laundry, food shopping, bills, changing diapers, playing trains, coloring, crafts, and teaching my son everything from manners to colors to numbers.  It may sound easy, but it’s not.  It is MUCH harder than anything I have done before – going through bootcamp, deploying to Iraq, starting my own company all seem like a breeze compared to what I do now.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me feels like my college education and real-world experiences are being wasted.  I can’t exactly say that my Engineering degree is being utilized most days.  And there are often times when I feel like my brain is starting to deteriorate because most of my conversations are with a 4 week and 21 month old.  And, there are many times when I miss having a career, making money, and having a reason to get dressed and get out of the house each day.

But then I take a step back and think about 20, 30, 40 years down the road.  Will it really matter if I had a great job?  Or made a lot of money that allowed our family a little more financial freedom?  (Note: I’m definitely blessed that I don’t have to work – my husband is able to support us on his salary.  So my working would be extra money for us.)  

What matters to me is that I am the one who they wake up to each morning, who they kiss goodnight at bedtime and who is there with them for all the hours in between.

In my opinion, I have the most important job in the world at the moment.  And I’m okay with sacrificing my college education, experience, and career dreams to fulfill this job first.

**I am not going to argue that being a SAHM harder than being a working mom OR that being a SAHM is more important than having a career – for anyone other than ME.  This is just my opinion and is based on my circumstances and experiences.**

Are you a domesticator?  Did you always know you were going to stay at home? 

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    49 thoughts on “I Am A Domesticator

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    2. I would love to be able to be a SAHM/WAHM. I’m due in October and feel so stressed from my current career choice. Like you, I did the military path and ended up in a corporate position post-military. However, I’ve never considered the idea of staying at home a waste. For one, I don’t intend on NOT making an income andf two we are sooo young (and still experienced and savvy) that a break from the working world won’t quite affect me so much. Kudos to you and great post!

    3. HI there, I just found your blog. This post is just perfect! After I had my son, I went through the same thing, and although it is tough staying home, it is also the best job ever!

    4. I love this post. I must admit that I mocked the term “domestic engineer” in a recent post, but I love this idea of a “domesticator” because it really captures what we SAHM do, what our “careers” really are–we make homes for a living. We make homes that are happy and clean and nutritious and fun.

      I have always planned on being a SAHM, and I’m so grateful that with my husband’s hard work and (I must admit) some help from both our mothers, I am able to be one.

    5. I’m a working mom but we’re in Canada and you get a whole year off here with your job being safe, and that makes a huge difference. I stayed home 1 year, and then my hubby 3 months, and we got pregnant with #2 before our oldest was a year old. So in June I went back to work after a 2nd year off. We figured out our oldest was only in daycare for 5 of her first 32 months of life! So now I’m back at work since June and both of them LOVE their daycare, but we arrange our schedules so they spend the least amount of time there, and always have one of us in the morning, and evening. They get homemade food and thanks to my cleaning lady a clean house too. We focus on doing things with them and not buying things for them, like you said. The library and park are our favourite places to visit and they will have many memories of time with us.

      I have so much respect for SAHM because with my temper my kids are better off when I get to work because I go stir crazy when I’m home all day. Never feel ashamed for being a SAHM and remember they will be in school one day and there is nothing to stop you going back to work at that time if you want!
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    8. My husband and I are trying to have a baby right now. If my work does not let me work from home, I will become a SAHM and I want that. I want to be able to raise my own child and not have someone else do it. My parents and my husbands parents did not have someone else raise us. I love my job, but I look forward to my future as a Mother.

    9. I am in the exact same position. I had my son in August 2011 and never went back to work either (I was a Jr. High Theatre/English/Humanities teacher). I too sometimes wonder what my two BA degrees and years of teaching were for, now that I’m home, but then I remember that in the years down the road, I would rather be at home teaching and spending time with my own son than other people’s children. It works for me anyway. Great post, thank you for sharing! Your son is very cute too! :)

    10. I think being a SAHM is one of the hardest jobs you can do. I am a working mother, but I question my choices many days, especially when I realize the things I am missing, the moments I can’t share.

      Wear the title of domestictor proudly and work it girl.
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    12. I love this story!!! I feel similar, I never really felt like the baby thing, but I think the older get the more family oriented I am. Now I am 32 and really want kids, never thought I would think that way. I believe priorities in life change and that is a good thing.
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    13. Awww, good post! I think almost every single one of us moms can relate to this post. We all go through these feelings and thoughts too! I went back to work out of the house after my 12 weeks of maternity leave, and then spent the year breast pumping, frantically driving back home through big city traffic to get my child from worn-out Grandma, to all of a sudden hubby getting deployed to Iraq. At that point, I’d had enough and left the out of house workforce. I always thought I would go back to working out of the home eventually, but hubby and I adapted to our new way of living and we realized what was most important to us was that we were all happy and that our stress levels were lowered. Our child was the most important! I am lucky in that I can work from home now, but I have always believed that we as a society need to make sure all of us moms understand that being a mom is a JOB. We need more benefits and societal support – we need to be recognized as a vital facet of a well-functioning society! :)
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    14. Hi Michelle! I would say I’m sort of in the same boat with you — I went to college when I was 16, then the Naval Academy when I was 18, you know, classic overachiever, got a BS in Math, blah blah blah. I had aspirations of being an astronaut – and at some point getting married and having kids, and of course going back to my stellar job (pun intended!) But about 3/4 of the way through the Naval Academy my priorities changed when I came to my faith, and I started to question what my goals were in life. It probably helped as well that I was hanging out with some wonderful families full of kids :) Glad I came to my new perspective BEFORE graduation, though, because I was able to make a career choice based on my new personality – and based on the fact that I was now engaged to my future husband and would like to get married, etc, once he would graduate two years later. I ended up deciding to switch my career preference from “Marine Aviator” (I had already done all the flight physicals and summer training with the Marines and with a Squadron) to “Surface Warfare Officer – Nuclear” because it meant fewer years that I owed in service (only 5 instead of 7-8) and also because I don’t think I’d want to step into the USMC with the attitude that I wanted to get out in five years. I still continued to work hard and excel in my career field, but I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant 9 months before I was eligible to leave the Navy, and then thrilled after my first child’s birth to get to stay home because I had fulfilled my commitment. So I didn’t go into college, etc, planning to stay home, but by the time the “time” came, I was happy to do it. I think continuing to find fulfilling things just for me has really helped me to enjoy these years — playing the bagpipes came along when my oldest was 4, and it pretty much changed my life since I started making time for me and my musical pursuits. Once I started running about 3 years ago, that meant even more time to focus on my own health and hobbies, and I really can’t say that I miss working “outside” the home at all. Granted, I still have a husband in the Navy, so I think that if we weren’t around the Navy at all I might miss the military, so I feel like I have the best of both worlds :)
      Coreyanne Armstrong recently posted..Tuesday Trip Report and Any excuse for some quality “me” timeMy Profile

    15. Love this post! Similar story. Sold my business to start family. Always thought I’d go back and do “some” work but honestly my world was tipped upside down too. I have picked up one morning to keep my skill set and qualifications current and to ensure I have a few hours off from the busiest and most demanding role of my life. But I have decided that I won’t be doing anymore until I feel “right” about it and that may be a decade away. All my energy is for my family now.

      It is such a luxury to be home with your children. Although it is hard not to be embarrassed but really we should just feel honoured and proud. No matter what anyone thinks or even what we may think of ourselves at times there are moments each day that make it all ok!

      I love the term Domesticator. Permission to flog it too??? :=)
      Jenelle @ Mummylovestorun recently posted..The stars finally alignedMy Profile

      • Jenelle, thanks for sharing your experience!!I could not agree more with what you said… Ideally, I could work part time or even something from home
        And of course!! It’s my new favorite word!!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..I Am A DomesticatorMy Profile

    16. Im aware Im sooo lucky.
      before our daughter I worked from home writing.
      now I work from home writing.
      nothing changed except the fact I now get up at the …uh…arse crack of dawn :-)
      Miz recently posted..I’m so N.E.A.T.My Profile

    17. Thanks Michele for posting this! I have been struggling with some of these very same things. But, when I think about how my Mom stayed home with me and my bro, I am reminded of how amazing that was for us. I only hope Caleb will feel the same when he is big and grown up! Keep workin’ hard 😉

    18. I am not a woman, a mom, or even a parent, and I still freakin’ love this post. You don’t answer to that guy or even any of us commenting here. But all these fans of yours, your wonderful family, and the smile you seem to always sport as you go about everything are their own testaments to the fact that you are doing it right. Keep on keepin’ on, Michele.
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    19. Great points all around Michele! I work part time so I like to say I have the best of both worlds. However, I do sometimes feel guilty for only working a few hours a week on a Masters degree. And I, too, always imagined with all of my education that I would work full time no matter what. The truth is, I didn’t really have the choice to work full time. We could certainly use the money, but child care is limited. My mother can only watch him a couple days a week since she watches my niece full time already. and my mother in law is not well and can only watch James for a few hours at a time. All things aside, I cant imagine it any other way and am really happy it has worked out!

    20. I totally understand where you are coming from. I felt and expected very much the same – I expected to go back to work after having my 1st child but I ended up staying home with him for almost 3 years. It was hard and not what I was expecting and I constantly went back and forth. I would never give back those years for anything but I did feel guilty about “wasting” my education and degrees. But I knew that I couldn’t stay at home full-time. I wasn’t the best at it. However, even though I’m back to work now, I work from home and freelance so that I have more control over my schedule so that I can be around my kids more. But that also means that I’m made some trade-offs with my career.
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    21. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -Steve Jobs

    22. I love this post and your proud proclamation. I DO think being a SAHM mom is an extremely demanding job in itself and is easily brushed aside far too often. If I am ever blessed enough to be able to do the very same when I have kids, I will embrace it with open arms. Beautiful post!
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    23. There is nothing “old fashioned” sounding about it at all!! You are doing EXACTLY what you were created to do as a mother! While at times it may feel like your education is being wasted, this is a season. As the boys get older, the same smarts and go-get-it that carried you before kids will carry you through the teenage years so you can stay one step ahead of them. 😉
      All of the wisdom and experience you had before kids will be poured into them {blessed boys!!} and you are raising the next generation of leaders!
      You are a great example of what it is for a woman to have it all!!!
      Melissa @ The Melissa Chronicles recently posted..San Fran, Baby!!My Profile

    24. These are such important words of encouragement for sahm’s… as many others have commented, it’s easy to feel like we’re ‘wasting’ our degrees and careers, which is just so silly! I realize now everyone has the option to stay home, but those who do should not be put down for it. It is a demanding yet rewarding job.
      I didn’t really know if I wanted to stay home or not… I worked about ten hours a week during my daughter’s first year of life, and then stopped working when me moved. Now I’m at a point where I’m ready to pick up a few hours on the side (teaching spin, health coach) but am happy to consider raising my daughter my full time job.
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Space City Ten Miler- Race recapMy Profile

    25. I completely agree with you. I’m now a SAHM and plan to be once my one-year maternity leave is finished. I went back to work after my first son because I needed to financially and also so I could accumulate my hours for my maternity leave with our second (in Canada who are super fortunate to have one-year mat leave that is paid by the government). I won’t be going back this one though because I want to be the one who raises my kids. My old job was just a job and not a career so I don’t feel like I am missing anything. Besides, the money I would make would go directly to daycare for two kids so not only would I not be home with them but I would essentially be working for free. Once they are both in school thing may change but for now I’m happy to be knee-deep in laundry, and covered in fingerprint :)
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    26. Thank you for this! I totally agree. I have a masters degree and sometimes I feel bad that I’m “wasting” it. But being home with my 3 kids is what I’ve always wanted to do!

    27. This post almost made me cry! I so wish I could be a SAHM. I can see the difference in my son when he’s with us over the weekend vs. when he comes home from school – he’s a much happier kid with us. Don’t get me wrong, I love his school, but its just not the same. We’ve been kicking the idea around…and sometimes I think, “I can’t stay home. We NEED the money!” But we can finds ways to make it work, right? Thank you for the post. It got me thinking…
      ‘Ama Runs recently posted..Freedomʻs Run Marathon Recap: The Gritty Details, Part 1My Profile

    28. My mother stayed home with my sister and I until I was about 7 and she doesn’t ever regret her decision that she was a SAHM. My husband’s parents rotated day and night shift for a long time so it was like he had a SAHM as well. I understand the “wasting a career or education” but I think it worth it in that you’re able to raise your child instead of someone else/daycare/TV/etc. It’s also about doing what is best for your family at the time as I know not everyone can “afford” to be a SAHM.

      My husband and I do not have any children as of yet but we are thinking about starting a family of our own in the near future. I’m happy we both feel the same way about child care and prefer a parent stays at home. We won’t know what we’ll do until the time comes, but I hope I can do the same as our parents did for us!

    29. This resounded with me. I never pictured myself being a SAHM, but after the birth of our first child everything changed. I cried when I had to leave her and my priorities totally changed. Now, 5 years later I am not only a SAHM to 3 little ones, but a homeschooling mom as well!

      We recently adopted a little girl and at the adoption hearing the judge (in Eastern Europe) told me that I ‘wasted my degrees’. I replied ‘No sir. If I worked we wouldn’t be here adopting this precious girl.’ I wouldn’t change a thing about my ‘career choice’!
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    30. This very much resounded with me. I never planned on being a SAHM, but after our first child everything changed. I cried the first time I had to leave her. 5 years later, not only am I a SAHM to 3 little ones, but now a homeschooling mom too!

      We recently adopted a little girl and at our adoption hearing the judge (in Eastern Europe) actually told me that I have ‘wasted my degrees’. I said ‘No sir. If I worked, we wouldn’t be here adopting this precious girl.’

    31. I think it’s fantastic and a great set of priorities. I have the best of both worlds–working from home for myself–but I cannot imagine having NOT been here with my kids. Even now that they are older, my first priority is being here with them. I’d give up my writing if I had to for that.

      I truly think you are right–when you look back, you’ll never regret not having the career (for now) but you could regret not having this time with/for your kids. Well done!
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    32. Love this post Michele! I felt similarly after I got out of the Army and started OT school. You’re a great mom and that’s what will truly matter in the long run. Domesticate away! :)

    33. YOU are amazing and I 100% agree with you in every way! Being a mom is the hardest job in the world!

      I had my son at 17, it was so hard when I had to go back to school and put him in daycare, but I am happy I graduated! It was hard being a single mom, I worked, lived on my own, and Anthony had to go to daycare every day. It sucked. I wish I could of stayed home with him every day. It has been 3 years now since I left my job due to moving out of state with my now husband Mike, I never went back to work since then. I feel SO grateful and SO blessed I can stay at home! I know my son is in school and is 12, but being able to be here for him any day he needs drove to practice for sports, a game, when he is sick, spending time with him on his days off school and summer, and more… I am SO SO grateful! I am making up for those times I wasn’t able to be there like that.

      Thank you for this post! <3

    34. this post gave me chills. really beautiful michelle. This is why i want to be a SAHM. Because it’s far more than $$$ to raise your kids and see them grow. TO nurture them each day, to love them, to feed them, to clean up after them. I hope you save this post and read it when you need something to show for. Some day your kids will look back and be thankful for YOU BEING there. Ahh, much love. Thank you for setting an example!
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    35. By the way, who won the contest for guessing the sex,birthday, and time of the birth of your new little man? I guessed boy and September 19th so I should be pretty close. 😉 LOL

    36. Oh my gosh. I totally could have used this post yesterday when I looked around at the end of the day and thought: I have nothing to show for my time. Even though I cleaned the house looked messy: Sophia had dropped raisins all over the newly vacuumed living room floor. And even though I can fit into my pre preggo jeans there’s a lovely muffin top of saggy skin at the waist. I couldn’t help but think, what happened to me?? What about the honor roll in High School? What about those all nighters I pulled in college? What about how hard I worked as a teacher to make my classroom an inspiring learning experience for High Schoolers who hated reading and writing? And now I just change diapers and clean up pee of the floor when my daughter doesn’t make it to the potty in time. My poor husband came home to this. And of course when I stop and think about it I’m very happy with my choice and believe it is the right thing. I think it’s getting to me because I haven’t been able to run! I need to run! It makes me a much nicer person:-)
      Thanks for the encouragement today!
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      • Go Sarah! You are awesome and I totally know the feeling – looking around and wondering what you got done that day….I recently posted about it in such a way that my parents got a little freaked out wondering if I was okay. I was just venting 😉 I do seriously wonder, though — how DID I used to do so much?? Eve with 5 kids I did a ton!!! But it’s this newborn phase of life – when nursing takes up a ton of time (and energy) that just makes you feel like time is slipping through your fingers and you’re always tired, etc, and have nothing to show for it. Keep it up – you’ll be able to run soon!! I just got back from my best 6 miles ever, and probably one of my best runs ever. And it was just a random day and time – skipping out for the last hours of the movers depositing all our things while my husband stayed behind to supervise (I’ve been the one in charge of moving us in and out almost every one of the last 9 times we moved, so he didn’t mind doing it just this once :)) It will come soon, and you’ll be off and running, and appreciating each run THAT MUCH MORE, even if they’re not as good as you hope in time and distance – they’ll still be better than running 9 months pregnant!!! :)
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    37. I absolutely LOVE this post! I am a proud SAHM. I’ve always known I wanted to do this. Although I have some days where I just want to scream and go somewhere BY MYSELF, I understand how important my role in our family is. It’s a HUGE sacrifice….we live check to check. I’m blessed that my husband is all for me staying home to raise our legacy. We have three daughters (13,8, and 2 1/2) They are in very different stages of their lives. It’s a balancing act to getting it all done. Sometimes it’s chaos, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! Thank you for writing this post!!

    38. I would do it in a minute. I believe in it for all the right reasons. If my wife could stay home, She would, if I was the one to stay home. I would… I say good for you!!!

      Has consumerism taken over us so much that it is a “waste” to not work? That people think you need 2 incomes so you can buy more things that wont add any value to a childs life.

      Ask any person who had a SAHP if they wished mom or dad spent more time at the office… then ask anyone who had 2 working parents if they wished mom or dad spent more time at home..

      I think we all know the answer to this….
      eric recently posted..This is why 6am is worth it!My Profile

      • Eric, I agree with Michele that this was the right choice for her, but its not the right choice for everyone. Your comment makes it sound like its bad to have two working parents and I don’t think that’s true. For many couples, maybe it is about money, but for my husband and I, we both enjoy having careers and I believe it makes us both better people and better parents because we appreciate every moment we get with our families. I also grew up with two parents who both worked full time and while they “had to” just to make ends meet, I honestly never felt like my sister and I didn’t get enough time with them or that they didn’t make the most of the time they had with us. This is a very personal choice and I think each individual must do what they believe is right for their families.

    39. I look at it that you have a lifetime to fulfill ambitions and dreams but your little ones only stay little for a short while. You are doing the right thing spending this quality time with them and being a great mum.

      Unfortunately, we are going to have no choice about me returning to work when we start a family. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when.

      Can i just say the picture of AJ climbing the fridge is so funny and adorable! Cheeky little button :) He must keep you on your toes!!
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    40. I loved this post! Though, I don’t have children yet, I 100% respect SAHMs and always have! I feel like I do have a desire to be a SAHM once I have children because I know I will love it! It’s a lot of work, but seems so rewarding :)
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    41. This is beautiful! I’m a SAHM too, and I get similar reactions from my old college friends (I graduated at the top of my class with a finance degree and worked for years here in nyc). Just this morning a mom in my son’s class started telling me about what a waste it was that I wasn’t working any more. I left feeling like a bit of a cop out. Thank-you so much for this post – it’s just the reminder I needed that what we do is important and wonderful (and hard!).
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    42. You have the hardest job ever! I’ve talked to my husband about when we plan to have kids that I want to also be a SAHM. When I was a kid I went to babysitters…I know my parents wanted to give me a great life but I never saw them, I want the opposite for my kids…to see them grow up and to build that relationship. Cheers to you! 😉
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