WAHM BAM THANK YOU MA’AM

Quite early this past Saturday morning, I was in Writer-Beast-Mode with a deadline dangling over my head, typing busily on my laptop while my eight-year-old twirled around me, talking nonstop as he’s known to do. I was half-paying attention to him, nodding and smiling, certainly not 100% present, I admit. Until he said this and my world came to a screeching halt:

“I liked it better before you were a writer. You weren’t on the computer so much. You spent more time with me.”

My heart broke into jagged shards and Mother’s Guilt settled in my bones like a sickness. Doubt ran through my mind as I wondered if I was doing a disservice to my children with my writing. Do I ignore them? Are their memories of me going to be the back of my head, typing on a computer? What have I done?

And then a giant dose of clarity splashed me in the face and brought me to my senses.

FUCK. THAT.

I’m not going to shame myself for working my left ass cheek off as an author while working my right ass cheek off as a mother (oh how I wish that analogy were less figurative and more literal). My husband and all our friends work nine-to-fives and don’t feel guilty (nor should they) about the time they spend working. Sure, they might wish they had more time with their kids…but the point is, they don’t feel ashamed for working. Why should I?

And why aren’t my kids giving their dad grief for the amount of time he spends at the office? I’ll tell you why: because this arrangement is all they’ve ever known. They’ve had me front and center, attending to their every need for the first decade of their lives. And that’s exactly what I wanted and a beautiful gift I’ll never stop being grateful for, but I have something else now that also requires a lot of my time and attention. I try to get it all done while they’re at school, but that’s not always possible. I pull just as many twelve-hour days as my husband.

I am a writer and independent author. My office happens to be in my home, where IΒ research, promote, network, edit, revise, read, and create.Β I am the CEO, president, founder, secretary, treasurer, and sole proprietor of my company. But most days, I’m lucky if I get two solid hours of writing in because my other full-time job as momager (I’d list what duties that entails, but you all know what they are, and I’m not too fond of 5,000 word posts) starts the second I wake up and doesn’t end until I lay my head against my pillow at night.

I hope my hard work and determination teaches my children that success doesn’t just fall in your lap. You have to work diligently, with tenacity and resolve. You have to make sacrifices and compromises. You have to believe in what you’re doing more than anyone else. I want them to see that a mom (or dad) can be a parent as well as have a career.

I pulled my son on my lap, kissed his little cheek, and told him that spending time with my family was my favorite thing in the world. I asked if he’d like to go with me to walk the dog, because I felt like he wanted some one-on-one time with me.Β 

While my son’s comment did get my attention – and will motivate me consider if what I’m working on that moment can perhaps wait until later – I won’t stew in Mother’s Guilt because my work doesn’t involve leaving the house to go to an office all day.

I am a hard-working WAHM (work at home mom, case you didn’t know) and I’m pretty damn proud of how I’ve juggled both jobs.

Now scoot over kiddo, momma’s got books to write….

72 comments

  1. Awww. We’ve already discussed our similarities there. My husband’s extracurricular activities are binge watching shows, bowling and flying RC planes. He takes Christopher bowling “sometimes” and flying RC plane rarely because Christopher isn’t interested. So I don’t understand why when I’m trying to do one thing they both pout around me in there own way. I was in Walmart Saturday with Christopher to pick out a birthday gift for his friend. I was constantly looking at my phone because I was bored with the toy section. Christopher said, “No offense mom but do you ever look up? ” I did get pretty defensive about it and ask him does he ever look up from his Xbox when he’s at home. But I did feel bad. I’m going to try to not look at my phone so much when he’s around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES, great point about the extracurriculars. While I was feeling guilty saturday morning, you know where the hubs was? On a four hour mountain bike ride with his friends. meanwhile, my 8yo is giving ME shit? No way. Not gonna feel bad!

      and oMG if I had a nickel for every time I had to call my kid’s names fifteen times because they were zoned out on minecraft…..we’d be living in Hawaii.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! I feel all of this! My youngest has made a similar comment. And I’ve felt the stinging rush of guilt. And I’m writing blog posts, which doesn’t sound nearly as important as writing a brilliant novel to follow up a brilliant first novel! #Oo7 πŸ™‚ But, you’re right. And even though mine’s just a blog, it’s a step in a crazy plan to eventually be typing furiously under a deadline like some of my brilliant blogging/writing friends. #Oo7 πŸ™‚ I say it’s good for the kiddies. I’m telling you, I’ve created little hovering teens with my older two, so I think a little healthy neglect will be a good thing for my youngest. You’re awesome. And I know you’re an awesome mom. Just look at those adorable faces! Those are the faces of two confident and loved boys!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GKelly, ANY writing is work, blogs are no exception! I firmly believe that. And thank you – it means a lot to get validation! Just to know other mom’s kids have said these things….RELIEF X 100.
      #Oo7 (grins)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Guilt gets us nowhere. I’ve done a lot of thinking on this topic in the last couple of years. Before Zilla was born, I would never have considered staying at home. At the time, I believed I needed to work outside the home, continue my career, etc. It was true then. After she was born, every month that went by made me think a little differently. After a while it became a question of figuring out how to make the change. Finally, I just did it. Now we continue to work at finding the balance between what I need and want to do for me and and what I need and want to do for her. There is no right answer – every mom is different, all kids are different, every marriage and family dynamic is different. What I’ve found since making the switch to home is that the times that are Mom times I need to actually be in Mom mode. So two weeks ago I turned off all my social media notifications, etc. Anything that could make my phone ping me in the middle of my other life got cut. I took a total break and now I”m easing back in to a better balance. I found that my eyes and attention went to phone and computer far too often on Mom shift. I’m finding that compartmentalizing is working much better for all of us. Good post. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is such a difficult balance, Lisa. I find that summer sort of forces that kind of social media shut down for me because they’re here, IN MY FACE, all day, you know? This will be my first summer really trying to do a writing push on book #2, so wish me luck. Fortunately, my boys are older and up late/sleep in, so I’m hoping to wake up early and get a few hours of writing in before they even wake up.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes – I’m totally with you on this one. I’ve only just started compartmentalizing my time and it has done wonders for my sanity. I’m feeling more present with my kids and am more focused when it is time to get down to work. Maybe I’m just a terrible multi-tasker?!

      Also turned off my notifications a couple of weeks ago. Such a small thing but what a HUGE difference. Don’t even miss them anymore.

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      1. Oh yeah, Kelly, I’m totally turning my notifications off. I was just telling my husband that it’s impossible to stay focused when these little thought clouds keep popping up in the corner of my laptop saying, “so n so just commented on your post…” and so on. insanity.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. OH I LOVE THIS SO MUCH SERIOUSLY.

    So my heart broke for you when I first read this but I also worried that you’d fall into the trap. The fact that you pulled him onto your lap and decided to go on a walk together is perfect, but I’m also so glad that you don’t feel as if motherhood stops all your possibilities. I had a single working mom, and I missed her while she worked, but I have an awesome work ethic because I saw how much she worked, and I appreciate that now as well.

    So good for you, Miss Beth! I’m going to have to take all kinds of tips from you every day on how to manage life as a mom versus life as a publisher.

    Love yer guts, Beth.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not worried about you one bit, KCross. You’re a savvy, wicked-smart dynamo. You’ll figure out a great balance, even if it takes smoothing over a few wrinkles first. BUT, I’m a text away if you ever need any advice. πŸ™‚

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  5. I love your perspective! You are on point; however, I just learned where the phrase “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am” derives from and now it’s ruined for me. You can Google it for yourself if you never want to use that phrase again :c)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HA! Yes, I know where it derives from and I chose it on purpose because sometimes (as a mother) I feel used and forgotten like that, you know what I mean? Like my work is taken for granted, not by my husband (typically) but just in society in general. As if that’s what I’m here for and I’m not allowed to have another role or take time for my work/interests. UGH.

      Thanks for reading, veryrach! πŸ™‚

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  6. Yes. Right there That damned guilt. As I type this, Mal is begging me to help her find a doll I’m about 90% sure I put in the toy donation box last week, and she’s sitting right next to me going, “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.” Some days I fail miserably as a writer. Some days I fail as a mom. Some days I find balance, but most of the time I feel like I’m neglecting one of them.

    Mommy guilt is a real bitch. I wish I knew how to balance it more, but you’re right. This is our job, and if we worked outside of the home, we wouldn’t feel like we had to tend to every single interruption, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THIS: “Some days I fail miserably as a writer. Some days I fail as a mom. Some days I find balance, but most of the time I feel like I’m neglecting one of them.” <<< PRECISELY. It's not fair though, is it? my friends who work outside the home don't feel like degenerate parents because of that time away from their kids, you know? I just think we whams have a unique challenge and i don't want to feel guilty about it, ever.

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      1. HA! Well now I know the rest of the story (BLUNTmoms (and I hope you’ve shouted about this elsewhere or it’s gone up and I’m not doing an accidental Thunder-Steal here) WHOOOOOOOOT!) I can only say that I think you’re brilliant and absolutely right, and that this is probably THE BEST rebuttal to writer-mom guilt I’ve read. Not just cos, but because it’s AWESOME and true.

        I fink yer MARVELLOUS. But you know that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. awww shucks. πŸ™‚ Thank you, BW. That means a whole helluva lot. I haven’t said anything about Bluntmoms yet just because I have no idea when it’s going up. I’ll let you know when I know. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Okay well I want to yell it from the rooftops because you’re so awesome but I’ll keep it hidden here. Sorry if I stole your thunder…I thought that I was coming late to that one! Feel free to edit out the reveal :/

            Liked by 1 person

  7. As you know, I had a big event on Saturday. My husband had a technical rehearsal for the show that opens on Tuesday on Saturday. My daughter had a DANCE COMPETITION on Saturday. Originally, Nathan was going to be able to bounce from work to the competition (because it was scheduled nearby) but there was some kind of major screwup, so Sarah was in CT, I was in Maine, and Nathan was in Mass. Talk about Mom guilt! But here’s the thing, even though Sarah was sad and missed us (she almost started crying while there) she also realizes how important this is to me. She’s proud of me, and I think that is teaching her that she has the right to follow her dreams as well. I am not going to let the guilt stop me anymore (and I have turned down directing jobs because of it).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “teaching her that she has the right to follow her dreams as well” << that right there is SO vital for a young person, particularly a woman, to know. Good job, I know you have so much going on right now, and I know you try to be everywhere at once, but it's great to know you have that family support when you can't be. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have the same issue. And I’m so tired of my kid NOT thinking that my writing is work. Because I have another job. But my writing is more important to me than anything else I do.

    I keep explaining this to him. I hope he eventually gets it. Right now, if I say I’m “working” and it’s writing, he looks over at what I’m doing and gives me the hairy eyeball.

    He’ll learn. It’s a process, because like you, I tended to his every need for years. Now he has to be independent lots of times.
    Great post, Beth. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sweet Samara. πŸ™‚

      I know how much you do for Little Dude, and I have no doubt he’s not suffering while you write. Like we’ve said, it’s just that they were used to having us 24/7 before. But they need to know other things in life take priority too, and it’s tough to juggle, but worth it.

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  9. Beautiful! I have had the same conversation with my kids, and you are right, my husband has never fielded that question.

    The other day my son read something I had written and wanted to know why I wrote it. And I explained that a) it’s what I love to do and b) I was going to put it where people could read it and he said “oh, other people read it? Wow. You’re a writer!” Which we all know is crap but it was nice to hear from him.

    I think allowing your kids to see you pursue something you love, like a writing career, is good parenting. πŸ™‚

    Fabulous, just like you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Renee. It’s funny, I saw a meme or something recently where Jennifer Garner said that at every single interview for ever single movie she’s ever done, she’s asked how she juggles work and family, but not once has her husband, Ben, ever been asked that. It’s a double standard, obviously, but one that’s hard wired into our definition as woman, and one I’m not going to accept or apologize for anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am sure that in twenty years, your son will remember that his mom wrote books, not that she was on the computer “all day.” It’s all or nothing with kids much of the time, but memories are fuzzier and kinder. At least that’s what I’m telling myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t listen to them I spend a shitload of time with my family and none of them need for anything. I’m there when I need to be and I’m done feeling guilty for time I take for myself to do something I truly love to do.

    No apologies. They’ll get it one day. You’re doing just fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Damn, Beth, you nailed that one right in the balls. I’ve had to reschedule my writing around my son. Thankfully, I can do it while he’s at school or while I’m waiting for him to get out of school or therapy. But there are days that I suffer from that dreaded mom’s guilt. When I do, I’ll just think about this post and give it the middle finger. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ohmygosh YES, Kella, exactly! I’ve said that before too! How many times have I had to explain to them why none of their friends are home until 6:30? They don’t know how good they have it, right? Well, they don’t *now*, someday they’ll understand. πŸ™‚

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  13. Hey, Bethie. It’s been a while since we’ve been on, (we’ve been pushing ourselves with the sequel to The Perfect 7 and are finally finished). It wasn’t too long ago that Mathair and I were in the grips of our writing muse when my little brother informed us that we don’t spend time with him since we began our writing career. Like you, we made our baby the center of our world and though my brother takes full precedence in our hearts, our writing has taken a lot of our time. We had the moment of guilt and shame, shut our computers and gamed with him for a few hours. As we thought about it later, we realized exactly what you did; that we should proud of our literary accomplishments and the hard work and dedication we’ve put behind them. We (female authors) are writers, editors, publicists, mothers, sisters, wives, daughters; so multifaceted and look damn good while juggling it all. πŸ˜‰ Keep trucking, darlin’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this entire comment but all I could think was YOU’RE DONE WITH SEQUEL TO THE PERFECT 7?!?! *stands to clap* How very exciting!!!! So are you done done, or still have edits but done writing done? eeeeeep! can’t wait to read what happens next! Well done, ladies! Your support and tenacity are to be admired. xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, darlin’. Your support and friendship is so dear to us. We’re in the Beta Reader stage of The Crazy 8, but have already heard back from two readers with great feedback and awesome critiques. We will be publishing this summer. We’re very excited to get it out to the readers publicly and can’t wait for everyone to catch up with the Juniper Falls Jekyll. We’re even more excited to start delving into the Order of Seven. πŸ˜‰

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  14. You handled this so beautifully, Beth. You addressed his need in a loving way without “admitting” that he may have been right. Had you behaved tentatively, he would have sensed that and it would have confirmed his fear of his mom not being available. The fact that you dealt with it confidently (though with a momentary bit of doubt) shows him that you are proud of what you do and that it deserves the respect your husband’s job gets. Muy bueno, amiga! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ohhhh I got a muy bueno! Yay! And thank you for affirming how I reacted to him. I felt it important to add that part lest anyone think I just shoved him aside. Of course he needs one-on-one time with me and I’m always careful to pay attention to that need. He’s still just 8, and being the youngest, he often gets the ole, “go play with our brother,” directive, which isn’t fair but part of being the youngest I think, so I’m extra attentive to him if I feel like he needs focused time with me. He didn’t get the years of me all to himself that his older brother got. Thanks, BHC. ❀

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarah. Yeah, I hate when they’re talking to me and it takes like 3 times to get my attention because I’m in the middle of a thought. I feel SO GUILTY when that happens…until I remember the 1,000x I had to call them to get their damn shoes on, AMIRITE? hahaha

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  15. I’m not a mommy to 2-legged children, but I am to a 4-legged one. I was blessed to have the opportunity to follow my writing career. It’s tough juggling the writerly things along with household, cooking, laundry, husband and dog. Oh, and to try and reduce my maximum density body.

    I like how you thought about it and decided to spend one on one with your son. No guilt needed, just a bit of shuffling around. Your sons are probably just used to the “me” factor. The “you” factor is foreign to them. Plus, I think kids get bored a helluva lot quicker these days than when I was a kid. Good luck with the Mommy/Writer Shuffle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, I’m so glad you made that point! While I was writing this, I felt like I should mention that you don’t have to have the 2-legged version of a kid (or any at all!) to experience guilt about the work and hours a writing career (or any at-home career) entails!! xoxo

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  16. YES!!! Thank you for writing this post!! I’m pretty sure yours is the first post I read about not giving in to mommy guilt because you KNOW that your job is worth giving time for!! We should never feel the pressure and guilt of pursuing our own passions! Good for you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So encouraging to read this, Beth! With kids possibly on the horizon for my husband and I, I always wonder if I’ll be able to handle both writing and a family. So any time I see a woman loving both family and writing, it’s awesome=)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jennifer! It’s a challenge, but doable. You just have to stick to your guns and multi-task like a mofo. haha BUT REALLY. compartmentalize your time and make writing an absolute priority (after taking care of baby, of course)

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I read this last week and it wasn’t far from my mind the whole time.

    Kudos to you for calling it like it is and setting an awesome example for your boys.
    When I’m not traveling to customer appointments, my office is at home, too. Husby thinks that means I can run errands for him and Dane assumes that I’ll have time to deliver forgotten items to the school office.

    When they were both younger, the kiddos never noticed that I was home because they were in school. Then, summertime would show up and suddenly I was the beck and call girl (or is that beckoned call-girl?) I used to struggle with the guilt until I flat-out asked my oldest, “Would you rather I not work?” She said (and I QUOTE!) “oh, gawd no! You’d be in our business even more if you weren’t working.” Then, she got a little more serious and told me all of the reasons that she’ll be a mama pursuing a career someday, too.

    Anyhoo – perception is reality and I’m so stealing your words to level set the Terry boys. They don’t always see the same clear path that my daughter did.

    I sure wished our paths would have crossed sooner – brilliant bloggy babes like you keep me sane πŸ™‚ xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that’s sweet that your daughter wants to be a mama with a career too. You done good, Mama Terry. And yeah, I’m the freaking girl friday around here 24/7. All summer. All afternoon after school. Every little need. And that’s what I signed up for, I get it, but it gets difficult to separate from writing. It will always be a challenge, but I think now more than ever I’ll be less guilty and more steadfast juggling both jobs in a way that respects both jobs, you know? Yes. You know. Love your guts. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Hang in there! In 3 years he’ll want nothing to do with you (other than a ride here or there). My kid tried to guilt trip me too, a few years back. Now I can hardly get him out of his room.

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