SAHM...The Anagram That Changed My Life
I have always been the go-getter/ over-achiever/ extremely ambitious-type. Since day one I have sought to accomplish projects, meet expectations, please as many people as possible and do it all with excellence. I suppose that is just the way I am wired. Type A, task-oriented, and ambitious. That’s me. I started my first business at the age of 14 or 15, selling custom designed cake-pan lids. My dear parents still get calls inquiring about ordering a custom lid. I climbed up the ladder in highschool and college, getting A after A until I was valedictorian of both my highschool and college classes. Ok, so I was co-valedictorian at my university, but still….
After getting married right out of college, I started working at a grocery store down the street from our apartment since we only had one car. I started at the bottom and worked my way up into management by my third year.
I’m not saying all this to toot my own horn. I am sharing these details of my past to bring understanding of my present and how it has dramatically changed me...for the better, I believe. After having Ethan, my eldest, I decided it was best that I quit my job and stay home. I figured I could paint and work on my art career while raising my baby boy. So, when filling out forms for doctors, preschool, etc, I would stare at the “employer/occupation” line in dismay. What do I put? I clean butts for a living and paint occasionally? I figured out later that I should put the anagram, “SAHM” in this spot. “Stay-At-Home-Mom” was now what was considered my job. I resented that. I hated filling out those forms and I would scroll underneath this confession, “self-employed artist” in order to sooth my angst.
If you consider who I was before having children, you can understand why the selfless, endless, unnoticed and unrewarded job of motherhood was hard for me to accept as my primary role. Let me just tell you, there is no one handing out reports or letter grades to let you know how you are doing and you can’t get promoted or get a raise because your employer can neither write nor feed themselves, and they think money is a fun snack. (gross!!)
Fortunately, I have come to terms with this anagram and as the years go by, more and more meaning and richness is added to what it represents. I’m a mother who is blessed to remain in the home while my two boys are developing and growing into young men. I get to watch them learn and mess-up and they get to watch me do the same. They observe me do my job as an artist since I can do it from my studio in our home. I think this helps them understand me a little better.
Being a SAHM has also helped me to cope with the sometimes fruitless, unrewarded or unnoticed life of being an artist. I can sit there for hours wondering if a painting is finished, or send emails into the void hoping for someone to validate or affirm what I’m trying to express with my work. Becoming successful, building a following of people that believe in you and your work takes years. This steady plod mimics my steady march as a mom. Both jobs take faith, hope, and a lot of grace. Because of my experience as an artist and mother, I’ve come to savor the little successes and be grateful for the process as opposed to the end result. I will still always be a task-oriented, type-A personality, but even an extremist like myself can learn to value the journey.
Here's a work on paper I did after coming to terms with the SAHM anagram...it's called "Amazing Grace" 12 x 12
Have you ever had to make a big change that seemed to go against your personality? How did that experience affect you? What did you learn?