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How Does a Working Mom Relate to Stay-at-Home Mothers?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I'm not sure if you remember my previous letter, regarding what felt like the imminent demise of my marriage related to my anxiety, my husband's jealousy and the SGLI beneficiary fiasco.

I am writing to let you know that things are going much better now!

We did begin marriage counseling, though that's currently on hold due to his most recent deployment. It was a great stepping stone to get us on the right path, and I continue to see this therapist weekly while he is gone. We fully intend to continue joint sessions once he returns.

In the meantime, my therapist and I have discussed ways I can boost my self-esteem and self-worth, reduce my anxiety and how to facilitate general self-acceptance. One way I am doing this is by socializing with other women who are married to men who work with my husband.

While I do enjoy the time we have to come together socializing while the children play, I sometimes find it difficult to relate to the other women.

I am the only wife in the group with children who also works outside of the home. All of the other moms are wonderful and intelligent, and we get along. But they are stay-at-home, homeschooling mothers and frequently like to arrange get-togethers during the week at midday. This is not an option for my family due to my work hours.

Because of these points, I find it difficult to relate to them. I even feel a bit depressed that I am not in a financial position to lead a similar life. Though to be honest, I'm not even sure of my abilities to homeschool my children, and I enjoy working outside of the home.

I feel anxiety that my children "pay the price" for my decision to work, and that they may be losing out in some way by not having a stay-at-home mother as a parent.

I also feel judged by the other wives that I have chosen to have employment outside of the home. I do enroll my two boys in extracurricular activities (guitar, swimming, ice skating and other sports) when I can, but not all that they have voiced interest in due to time restrictions related to my work hours. My boys have expressed sadness that they cannot participate in certain activities like the children of these spouses can.

What I'm really getting at is that while I will continue socializing with this group of moms when I can, are there resources available to meet other military spouses who also work outside of the home? I have reached out to my family readiness group with limited success.

My anxiety at one point was so elevated that leaving my home other than out of complete necessity was a real hardship for me. While I am beginning to become more relaxed and willing to step outside of my social comfort zone, I do not know where to go. I am fighting the urge to slip back into old routines of isolation, and I fear that without continuing to push myself to participate in other activities, I may revert back.

Do you have any recommendations as to which programs encourage networking between working military spouses and their children by providing family-oriented activities during times that fit our schedule? Many of the activities I have seen are weekday or midday functions, making it impossible for my family to attend.

Any ideas or direction you have would be appreciated! Thank you!

-- No Longer Insignificant

Dear No Longer,

You were never insignificant! To the contrary, you are very important and you should be very proud of all of your accomplishments.

It sounds like you are very hard on yourself. This may be something for you to explore in therapy. I think it is sort of humorous the way your anxiety has kicked in because you are now comparing yourself to the stay-at-home moms. Why are you doing that? Why would you marginalize yourself as a mother because you work outside the home? You are a good mother too, just like the stay-at-home moms.

If you want to stay at home, look at your finances and figure out where you can cut back and save money; figure out what things you can let go of. You'll be surprised to know that you could stay at home too.

However, since you are employed, find other ways to spend quality time with your children. It may be more than just keeping them busy with activities. They can have activities, but find ways to get quality time with them. Create your quality time with their help.

The activities on post or on base are generally geared toward Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Generally, very few activities take place in the evenings.

But you can still visit the family service section on base to find out about evening activities, such as Army Community Service, Fleet and Family Service, or Marine Corps Community Service.

There are still opportunities for you to meet other spouses and make connections. You can also make friends through work, through religious activities or through other organizations where you may want to volunteer.

Whatever you do, start giving yourself credit for doing a good job! It's great to hear from you again. Stay in touch!

-- Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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