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Sunday, November 17, 2013

SAHM - Mary Gauvin

Mary Gauvin is not only an incredibly smart and hard working person, but she's also a military mama staying at home raising her little (handsome!) man. We met in college a zillion years ago and she's one of my greatest friends who I never get to see. I admire this woman's strength and perseverance through challenging times of running a household while her husband is dedicating his work to our country. They are an amazing family, and I'm excited to share some of her story here with you all. If I could nominate her for Mom of the Month I would, but I'm not allowed to nominate anyone... so featuring her as a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) is next best thing! THANKS, Mary, for such a real and honest account of being a working hard mom at home.

All photos from Mary Gauvin 

1. How long have you been a SAHM?  
I've been working from home since 2010, but a mom since 2011. 

2. How many children and what are their ages? 
One child, age 2. 

3. What is a typical day like for you ? 
Wake up by 0530, breakfast and out the door by 0630, CrossFit at 0700, home by 0830, and either meetings, Kindermusik, Zoo programs, playgroups, or staying home in the morning, lunch, then nap from noon-ish to three-ish, and more playing! Dinner by 1730, bath and bed by 1845. Depending on if my husband is home or not, I'm usually in bed by 2200. Looking at what I wrote, our day looks pretty scheduled, but it certainly doesn't feel that way to me. 

4. Why did you decide to stay at home? 
My mom (a single parent for most of our school years) was able to work from home and I really liked that she was able to be there for us. 

With so much instability in our current lives (my husband has been gone, either deployed or at training, for over half of our son's life and we have no idea where to or when we'll be moving again), I want to be that constant for him and any future children. 

With my husband on the docket for leaving again early next year, we want Robby to continue to have that stability. It's both heartbreaking and enlightening that when my 2YO is asked where Daddy is (after he's been gone for almost three weeks), he says, "Oh, Daddy WORK!" with a little bit of trepidation and disappointment. But then he goes right back to talking about how and Daddy will play trucks when Daddy gets home. I think part of Robby's smooth adjustment to Daddy being gone this time has been his knowledge that even when Mama leaves him at "school" (drop-in care), she'll be back... and Daddy will be back eventually.

5. What is important to you when it comes to be a SAHM, what do you try to make sure you do each day, what do you want your child to learn from this experience being home with you? 

At this stage in Robby's life, it's important to me that he has the opportunity to play. I don't think being a SAHM has any bearing on that experience but it does give me the freedom to observe and influence that play. 

As a teacher, I know the importance of free play and imagination. But I also know that soon enough, that play will need to be a little more structured. We try to do one lesson each day... whether it be singing the Alphabet Song, counting on our fingers, learning colors, opposites, etc. And as a milkid, we also learn different Army things... I thought my husband's coworkers were going to fall over when Robby was running through the motorpool, calling out types of trucks. It was hilarious! There are so many opportunities for teachable moments at this young age and I try to seize as many as I can.

6. What do you think most people do NOT understand about being a SAHM? What do you think they think about your day that isn't true? 

I think people assume SAHMs have a lot of free time. Yes, our schedules might be more flexible (except nap, don't mess with nap), but free time is minimal. 

I also volunteer as our Battalion's Family Readiness Group (FRG) advisor (I advise and assist four FRG Leaders and the over 600 families that are within our unit. Not deployed, it's 15-20 hours/week. Deployed all depends... forty plus, last time around)... just because I'm not being paid monetarily for my time doesn't mean I'm not super busy!

7. What helps you to be a good SAHM? 
The biggest thing that helps me be a SAHM is seeing my child's successes and knowing I had a direct impact on them. Additionally, several of my military spouse friends call themselves "single parents" when their Soldiers deploy. I disagree with that - having grown up with a single mom until late middle school, I know that a single parent is responsible for not only the everyday care and well-being of their children, but also the finances. I remember going to the grocery store with $75 cash (to last for two weeks, for four people) and having to budget every item out because there weren't credit cards to use in case we went over. And if we did go over, we'd have to put something(s) back. 

One of the biggest factors that helps me be a SAHM is the fact that I can concentrate on raising our son and not worry as much about money things. I also know how extremely lucky my little family is!  

8. What is your advice to a mother thinking of being a SAHM? What tips would you recommend for getting through the days?  
Take it one hour at a time. It's okay to not clean or cook or do other household tasks during nap - watch that TV, read that book, take that nap. I reserve an hour each day to tidy up and do chores, but sometimes by the time afternoon rolls around, I need a break! 

This photo from photographer Addie O, all rights given to Mary Gauvin

9. What is the best part about being a SAHM? 

Not missing anything. Being able to record and journal so my husband doesn't miss too much, either. I'm also currently the only person that can interpret the toddler talk, and that's a big honor.

10.What are the challenging parts of being a SAHM? 
It's all on me. Yes, my son does go to drop-in care a few times a month (I still feel guilty for leaving him... it's that weird mommy guilt - why should I pay someone to do something that I can do perfectly well myself. But he LOVES it!) and I also hire a babysitter a few nights a month to go out with the girls (if my husband isn't here or won't get home from work in time), but from day to day - it's all on me. There are definitely some days that I live for nap and bedtime. 

In my husband's current job (when he's not away training or deployed), he sees our son for about 15 minutes every weekday and spends at least one day out of the weekend in the office. I'd like to say that I consult him on parenting decisions but it's more of letting him know afterward. Or hoping he replies to a text or email in the time needed to make a joint decision. This will definitely be a challenge as our kiddo gets older but since we have no idea where we'll be living at this time next year, I don't worry about it too much. I'm also looking forward to a different job... mostly for his sanity!

11. Anything else you want to add? 

Even on the worst days, I wouldn't want to do anything else. I love being a SAHM! As I tell new military spouses (it also applies to motherhood): The only constant in life is change!

12. If you were not able to be a SAHM what would you be/do/work as? 
So I have a Master's degree and I'm certified to both teach and be a guidance counselor in a few states... but I'm not sure I'm the right fit for a school job anymore. I do eventually want to go back to school and study military families (University of Maryland has a PhD program in Military Sociology). I also work from home for my oldest brother (I do payroll), so I'd probably have a bigger roll in his company. Who knows. That's all part of the fun!

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