Help! I feel like the only working mother in the village.....

(37 Posts)
WellTravelledPrawn Mon 03-Dec-12 11:05:16

Sorry in advance for the whingey tone.....

I live in rural Essex with 2 DCs (15 months and 3.5), most 'husbands' commute to the city. On the whole, it's a wealthy place and a bit of a bubble. I went to (yet another) dinner party this weekend where I was the only working mother. Literally none of my 'mummy friends' work. I know of a couple (literally, 2) other mums who work, but rarely see them (as they are at work!)

It took me seven years to train in my profession. I run I thriving practice and I love my job. I know that I need to keep working as I go a bit nuts when I'm not. And it will pay the school fees. My children are (on the whole) bright and well balanced. Me and my husband are often knackered but like our lives as they are.... But I'm finding it a bit hard as the one who always has to turn down invitations and (I suspect) the other mums feel a bit sorry for me. It also sometimes makes me doubt my choices, like I'm not a 'proper' mum and my children are losing out.

Am I just an insecure individual, inhabiting a totally anomolous community of people or has anyone else experienced this?

Nevercan Tue 04-Dec-12 07:40:19

You have to do what's right for you. I like working so I work things so I can do this. You never know they might secretly wish they were working too and would like to be too busy to attend a dinner party or two lol grin

Katisha Tue 04-Dec-12 08:06:10

Just brazen it out. I was amazed when I had children to find how many other mothers didn't work. And even more amazed to find how much the schools assume there is someone at home all day and available for events, appointments and changes to timings at the drop of a hat...

WellTravelledPrawn Tue 04-Dec-12 08:36:35

Thanks, I'm glad it's not just me who has found this. I know that the schools thing is going to be a bit of a nightmare- especially when we are both working in London (not very often, but I like it when I do!).

Katisha Tue 04-Dec-12 08:46:16

I work in London. DSs are older now (although am still at home iwth one ill today...) but when they were young I found the way to make it work was to engage a childminder and pay her extra for flexible working as I didn't always need to be in on the same day. Also she was available to have them if they were off school. And if the train home was late she didnt have to get them out on the dot of closing time - she would tell me to get a coffee and not worry, would feed DSs some more and just keep them happy till I got there.

orangeberries Tue 04-Dec-12 17:33:42

We certainly have a very large contingent of SAHMs in our village too but now that the children are at school many of them have gone onto minimum wage jobs or unpaid work.

Whilst I used to begrudge my working and got many comments (how do you manage it, you must be mad, so glad I don't have to/want to, etc), and was consumed by self doubt, now I am really glad I have held onto my work and I am in a flexible, well paid profession.

Also whilst even in the first couple of years of school it is lovely to have your mum helping out at school, etc this becomes less palatable as the children become older.

I think when children are young is very tough, but when you come the other side you really do see the benefits of holding on - I would just grit my teeth and carry on - at least you got invited to dinner parties - I have never been invited to anything since we moved here nearly 4 years ago!!!! Maybe it's 'cause I work AND I'm foreign - arf!!!

DeafLeopard Tue 04-Dec-12 17:40:51

Totally agree with orangeberries - I have just come through the staying at home phase (DS has SN so slightly different, but his caring requirements have changed so back to work I went)

I had a good-ish job with a decent salary; career path; benefits etc....7 years at home have left me in a minimum wage job as I am totally de-skilled

WellTravelledPrawn Tue 04-Dec-12 19:49:38

Sorry to hear that DeafLeopard, hope that you are in a position to re-skill and find something more suitable soon.

Orangeberries- you think it's bad being foreign- I'm Jewish and a Liberal Democrat. Sometimes I think we should have stayed in Hackney!

You are right that coming out the other side makes it all worthwhile, it just feels a bit of a slog at times!

fufulina Tue 04-Dec-12 19:56:32

Ha! I was talking to my mum about this the other day. I'd always assumed that most women work when they have kids, and looking at my closest girlfriends and family, I am the ONLY one who works anything more than 2 days a week (I work four days). I was, and still am, astounded.

Whatever works for you. My major concern is if my marriage falls apart, dh dies (sorry, but I am a worrier!), I need to maintain the ability to earn enough money to look after me and the girls.

lizardqueenie Tue 04-Dec-12 20:16:05

Quote refreshing to read something like this so thanks for your OP!
I've just returned to work (today's my first day actually so perhaps it's a bit rose tinted still) after have 2 years at home with my dd. I've gone back pt 3 days a week but feel that it will give me, and our family, more financial security. My DH was quite unwell recently & is still undergoing some tests. I felt I wanted to return to work for me but also what if my DH was suddenly too ill to work, I feel that at least now things are a bit more financially secure for us.

WellTravelledPrawn Tue 04-Dec-12 21:04:54

Exciting times Lizardqueenie- hope it carries on going well for you smile

Fufulina- I know that feeling! I like knowing that I provide for my family and am contributing to our financial security. And when I waiver I remember the voice of my first supervisor- an unreconstructed third wave feminist who, when I announced my pregnancy, took me to lunch, waved her finger across the table and warned 'just remember, emanicpation is economic'....

lollystix Wed 05-Dec-12 09:53:14

I live in Stepford and an a working mum of 4 very small kids. Im viewed as a bit of freak but I have to work to afford to live in Stepford and I also want to. School attitudes etc don't help (i sense they don't approve) but I do have some SAHM friends who have always been really respectful if my choice (need) to work and actually help me and my nanny out here and there.

I do it for money, sanity and most importantly a foot on the rung in my career - I didn't want to slip back as I know myself I just wouldn't be good at dealing with that (selfish perhaps). My salary pays for the nanny, the stepford rent and then I'm left with £5 a month for me. DH money pays for food and swimming lessons etc. Kids are happy and well adjusted and I reckon once they can all wipe their own bums and dress themselves it'll be worth it.

lizardqueenie Wed 05-Dec-12 20:34:58

Thanks Prawn - I love your name by the way!
Another day done here- today I sat and had my lunch in Pret & got chatting t another lady by herself who works for the council, it was very nice, very easy and I didnt have to share my soup with anyone!

One thing I did notice, going back to your OP, was that when I told some of my SAHM mum friends they acted as though they felt really sorry for me, whereas I felt that it was the right decision not just for my family but for me as an individual. They have been very sweet in their well wishes & asking me how I am getting on but have also said only one day to go now, like I am doing time or something. I dont feel that at all (although early days still). Then I think, should I feel like that? Should I feel guilty? Is that how I should "justify" it? As if it needs justifying. Sorry getting a bit deep & meaningful here! confused

coolmango Thu 06-Dec-12 15:08:12

Keep working. I think it sets a positive role model for children plus I would go stir crazy being a SAHM. My DPs ex has never worked and when DP told DSD8 he had 2 weeks off at xmas and would be making dinner for me when I got in, (I am working over xmas), she said, ' but that's coolmangos job, men don't do jobs around the house'. I did explain to her that I worked also, but she was rather upset that her dad would be having to do 'women's work'??????

OP, you could be me three years ago. Even the Mums who worked were part-time to fit around the kids and DH's Much More Important Career. I left my ex, moved to my local city and have never looked back.

But I massively sympathise - the school, childcare options, the playground all seem designed to make you doubt yourself. I felt I was trapped in the Daily Mail.

Entreprenizzle Fri 07-Dec-12 13:45:02

I'm in the opposite position where I gave up work (we relocated when I gave birth and had all our children quite quickly) and feel like the only non-working mother in the village. I would actually like to be working and I am sure some of those mums also secretly wish they still had careers.

In my experience, children grow up so quickly - our 11 year old needs his friends almost as much as us now - you have done the hard bit, so I would stick at it for a bit longer until your children are a bit older and reap the benefits of your hard work.

If you go potty at home, what would be the point in not working? Your frustration at not working would rub off on your children. Could you get a bit of balance from working from home a bit more/delegate a bit more?

bubblepop Sun 09-Dec-12 07:39:36

welltravelledprawn- your just feeling insecure because in your particular group you feel like the 'odd one out'. It sounds as if you have made the right decision for you and your family. try not to doubt yourself, if your kids are happy and so are you and your husband, then there's nothing wrong.

I am a sahm myself, given up my career 10 years ago. Im knackered ( like you,) and often turn down invitations due to lack of money, lack of babysitter or dh's work committments. I have been looking for work recently, and can echo what other posters have said, I am looking for a minimum wage job as I am now out of date with my skills etc. This is the other side of the coin. If you have a decent career then it is worth holding on to (I didn't but if I did I might have done things differently).
Also, just wanted to say that there is nothing worse than a group of women together on the yard poking their noses into your life and making comments! Don't let them do your head in ! x

rotavirusrita Sun 09-Dec-12 07:58:49

You perhaps need some new friends. I live in a village perhaps a little north from you. Until recently i worked full time (have gone part time/"freelance" lance as i enjoy it more). When we first moved here from a town EVERYone else was a SAHM. However now the children are getting older a lot come to me for advice with angst about getting back in the workplace. Things generally improve as children get a bit older aand people start to work/volunteer etc. Now when i get together we have more to talk about than school/ children stuff. If they are snotty with you for the choices you make you probly need some new friends

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 09-Dec-12 08:04:56

There are definitely more SAHM than working mums with children in DS's class. Initially I thought that was because lots of them have younger children, but even though some of them have now started school, their mums are still not working. I am still pretty astounded that in 2012 we still have a model of "man goes to work; woman stays home" in so many homes

Pendulum Sun 09-Dec-12 20:47:07

I feel like this too: the DC go to a school in a small town where the majority of the mothers are SAHMs, and I commute into central London to work full-time. In my experience the only way for us to rub along together is for me to offer some justification, usually economic, for 'having' to work. I don't like doing this but find it's the politic answer.

I did have one friend at the school gates who commented on how well-adjusted my DC are.... considering.

bunnybing Sun 09-Dec-12 21:25:26

"even though some of them have now started school, their mums are still not working"

er...has it occurred to you that they may have looked for jobs and not found them?

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 10-Dec-12 06:51:39

It has, bunny, but that's not the case in the half dozen cases I know about. Unless they are really good liars, and use the line about needing to be around for the children a bit longer and looking after the house while their husbands work long hours to cover up for not securing a job

orangeberries Mon 10-Dec-12 09:29:45

It can become a double edged sword in most cases I know.

It's the case of looking around for work, none of it looks suitable, much of it too low paid or long hours, so CVs are not sent as the mountain to climb is too high. Or when a rejection comes back then confidence is knocked further.

It is easy to get into that situation tbh. I too left my job when my DD1 was born as it was a very long commute and we have no family around, so instinctively it was the right thing to do. By sheer luck I found something else closer to home a year later, but I often reflect that if that hadn't happened I wouldn't be working now as I would be totally unskilled and with 4 children I wouldn't be able to justify a minimum wage or low paid job as it wouldn't pay for childcare.

I think women in general often lack the support (practical and emotional) and for those who don't have families around to help (like us) it is a huge uphill struggle when the children are little...

lljkk Mon 10-Dec-12 09:54:31

I think you are lucky. I am trying hard to get a job but no luck.

Beamur Mon 10-Dec-12 10:06:32

There is a mix where I live - a small village in West Yorkshire. I haven't noticed any SAHM vs WM rivalry, if anything the SAHM's are a godsend as I know a couple who have volunteered to be emergency pickups for my DD in the event of all my other safety nets falling through.
I would like the time that SAHM's (and SAHD's) must have to keep their houses tidy (compared to me) and collect their kids from school and maybe even have some time to themselves, but I like working, even though some weeks it feels like a treadmill simply to keep on top of everything that needs doing. (I don't work Mondays though and really should be doing some housework now..)
I'm glad I've kept my career going although being a SAHM was never a financial option for us.

Snoopy99 Mon 10-Dec-12 13:38:01

I feel I owe it to my daughter to work. And I owe it to my son for him to see that both mummy and daddy contribute towards the home in terms of money and care. The family is a unit and the wellbeing of each member of that unit is important. The children's needs are obviously key but they don't trump everyone else's. And anyway, why would a child want to spend every spare minute outside school with their mother??! I think it's good for them to mix around. Mine are 2 and 4 by the way.

Lomaamina Sat 15-Dec-12 10:16:00

I too have experienced this. We're in a little commuter village within reach if the City and most of my DS's friends used to look in astonishment when a real, live daddy appeared in daylight to collect him (DH works locally, I'm full time in London. I've had lots of weird diuble-edged comments about how amazing I am to manage a commute every day hmm and bloody annoying, if not upsetting ones from his teachers when I've (very rarely) not been able to make it for an assembly (like they're not working mums themselves). Now he's in secondary, at a much more mixed I take comprehensive, it's easier. And I certainly don't regret enjoying (I admit it) my stimulating job. Sadly though I don't have a big circle of mummy friends, but my small and select circle, mostly like me too knackered to do dinner parties grin suits me fine.

Hang in there. It's worth it!

morleylass Mon 17-Dec-12 17:09:39

I found exactly the same when I moved to rural Norfolk several years ago, even though I worked part time I felt like the odd one out. Now my children are a bit older 12 and 9 I find that more parents are returning to work although I still think that those working any more than a couple of days are in the minority (at Primary). My main problem like others have mentioned is attending all the events that occur during the school day, my work are very flexible but there is only so much that you can do! For ages I wanted to quit work as like you I felt I wasn't doing things like the other Mums. I think the fact that childcare is expensive and there aren't many jobs in rural areas makes it more likely that Mums stay at home, if you are earning a low wage but have to pay out childcare costs, including time you are travelling, then it probably doesn't seem worth the hassle.

My eldest is now in his second year at secondary school and more of his friends parents are back at work. I didn't have to attend any events during school hours last year so I think it definitely getting easier and now I am glad that I didn't give up work as in 18 months time both my dc will be at secondary school. Their school trips are getting more expensive as well as all the additional kit they need, if I hadn't stayed at work we would struggle to provide these things.

If you and your family are happy then you are doing the right thing and try not to feel guilty...I've not quite mastered it yet though!

MaryPoppinsBag Mon 17-Dec-12 17:41:43

I've found that most mothers work at my son's school. Although a lot do hours to fit round DC's.

However, in my close circle of friends from school 5 of us have DC's. At one point I was the only one who didn't work. 3 worked FT and one PT.

I am now a Childminder and work approx 32 hours a Week plus paperwork/ prep and shopping.

I felt the odd one out amongst my friends and must admit I questioned myself a lot!
In an ideal world I'd have kept my job. However, circumstances at work were less than ideal and the company went into liquidation Last week. And I'd have endured 3.5 years of uncertainty.

Just carry on what you are doing OP .
All families are different.

brettgirl2 Fri 21-Dec-12 14:23:00

Its interesting because I dont know any SAHMs who dont at times go out of their minds.

In the main they dont work because they cant find something the right hours that is well paid enough to cover childcare.

I think a lot of men are very sexist even now tbh and think its the woman's job to do breakfast, get kids ready, take kids to school, pick kids up, cook dinner etc. If your partner is of that ilk it makes it very tricky.

I do a job share not full time but I couldnt be a SAHM.

badguider Fri 21-Dec-12 14:35:15

IME there's a belt around london about 1hr on the train into a main station where it is common for the 'dad's to commute into london but it can be tricky for both parents to do so. Hence a disproportionate number of SAHM families in those areas.
In London itself, or in the country away from London or in a smaller town or city this effect is not nearly as pronounced.

Personally I left London for a different (much smaller) city entirely because i didn't want to live that 'commuter belt' life.

motherinferior Fri 21-Dec-12 14:38:03

This is one of the million and one reasons I live in south east London grin.

DewDr0p Fri 21-Dec-12 22:58:46

Oh don't tell me that badguider I'm hoping if we move that way I'll have more job opportunities, not less!

We have a real mix of working and sahm where I live. I'm actually one of the sahm atm, apart from the odd bit of freelance work. As pps said, in rural areas, the combo of long commuting times (to nearest cities), limited and expensive childcare options and sheer lack of opportunities can make returning to work very difficult. We have no family nearby and dh travels a lot with work so it's even more tricky.

I think where I live we all respect each other's choices though. I do sometimes look at friends who work full time and wonder how on earth they keep on top of everything as there are times when I struggle and I'm not working! That's only ever thought with respect though, not a shred of pity.

CultureMix Tue 25-Dec-12 12:03:42

I work FT and have done so after both my maternity leaves. Boys are now 3 and 5 and seems I'm one of the very few FT mums, there are some more PT and lots SAHM (I'd say over well 50% but tbh have no accurate stats). Interestingly I do see a number of dads at school dropoff - don't know about afternoon as never done it, DS1 goes to afterschool club while DS2 at nursery.

I get on ok with the other mums but don't know them really as I'm always rushing off. I don't feel snubbed and they are friendly enough but I'm well aware there's a whole coffee/playdate circuit that I'm cut out of. DS1 goes to a separate afterschool group so cannot do any afterschool activities, I do feel bad about this but there's no perfect solution and yes it's a juggle. I enjoy my job, don't feel cut out to be a SAHM and fully accept it's a personal decision for everyone.

I work in a very technical field so there are few women to start, even less mothers - in my experience the ones that go PT are sidelined and drop out entirely within 2-3 years. I enjoy my job and fully intend to keep at it, and would never have the flexibility I now have if I tried to find a new job after a long break. My colleagues are supportive in that many have children too but they mainly have SAHM partners so rather seem to assume I have one as well grin.

As for social life, dinner parties, what's that? The only ones with the social life are my sons who get invited to endless birthday parties - which are great btw as let you actually chat with the other parents for an hour or two.

jellybeans Tue 25-Dec-12 12:16:14

I am a SAHM, fairly affluent area. Most of the mums in DC's primary SAH. A couple of dads are SAHD also. This applies all through primary and older. I love SAH but have friends who work (vast majority 2-3 days a week or term time hours) and I used to work full time. I think it is great that you are happy doing as you are doing and wouldn't make comments etc. I don't expect all Mums to SAH.

'Also whilst even in the first couple of years of school it is lovely to have your mum helping out at school, etc this becomes less palatable as the children become older. '

I disagree with this though, even in year 6 my kids have loved me helping in their school.

LookingForwardToMarch Tue 25-Dec-12 12:27:36

Good was starting to feel like a freak!

I'm currently at uni and my DH is working full time.

But as soon as I qualify for a training contract my DH will be a SAHD

Just annoyed by some comments I get that seem to suggest this means I am a selfish uncaring mother.

'Oh how will you stand it, I couldn't stand to be away from my DC's'

or my new favourite

'Don't you feel they will be missing out on a mother figure'

It's not like I will never see them ffs! How come its ok for the dad to be at work all day but not the mum? Do people really believe children can't be raised by a father just as well as if it was the mother.

Lol sorry rant over

ItsaTIARA Tue 25-Dec-12 12:33:52

This is also why I'm not budging out of Zone 2 mother. Life is really tough for a 2 WOH family in the commuter belt. I think this is an interesting corollary to the "Don't give up your career unless you are independently wealthy" thread - "Think very hard about moving to commuter land before you have DC"

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