They work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — overtime on holidays, under stress and constant demands and needs, perform all sorts of insane tasks and rarely, if ever, get a break. If by chance they do get a break or go on vacation, their thoughts are consumed with worries about their children and all the things they will have to do when they get home. On top of this more-than-full-time job, some mothers also have part or full-time jobs outside of the home or work from home. This can also be true of fathers or other caretakers. How do they do it?
Yet, it sometimes seems that the stay-at-home moms are undervalued by today's society. Family, friends or strangers can sometimes make comments that cause mothers to feel less-than or unimportant. Sadly, a lot of rude comments are from other moms. (Read Mom vs. Mom: How to keep the peace amid the 'mommy wars.') Whether you're a friend, relative, fellow mother or stranger, there are things that come off as judgmental or hurtful, even if you mean well, when talking to a stay-at-home mom.
"I wish I could afford to stay home," or "Your husband must make a lot of money!" or "I'm not as well off as you so I can't stay home." Often this statement comes from working moms, who probably comment due to their own longing to stay at home with their kids. Yet, it makes it seem as if stay-at-home moms are living the life of luxury. Likely, money is tight. Regardless, it's a financial sacrifice. It's a hard decision to work or stay at home, but we should be careful not to judge each other because of it.
"You're not working?!" or "Why did you even go get a college degree?" or "Don't you want to contribute to the household?"
Believe it or not, moms ARE working. All the time. We are on call 24 hours a day. We contribute to the household in a major way. The college degrees even come in handy. Many moms keep track of the finances and pay the bills, shop for groceries, clean the house, which includes — laundry, dishes, floors, picking up toys, cleaning bathrooms — bandage bumps and bruises, sanitize the house after toxic diapers and stomach bugs, clean the house (yes, I said that twice), keep track of schedules, teach kids and help with homework. The list goes on and on. A college degree and the experience of college helps in this arena. What other job requires as many skills, hours and multitasking? None. And, did I mention, we don't get paid? There are lots of kisses and hugs though, so that helps.
"Must be nice to stay at home and do nothing all day" or any statements that assume or suggest that being a stay-at-home mom is easy or stress-free.
While being a mom is an important job with lots of rewards and joys to experience, I'm not sure any mother would say it was stress-free or easy. Is there an assumption that moms waltz around getting manicures and pedicures, watch chick flicks and eat bonbons all day? I think, if we even tried, there'd surely be a kid there to mess up the nail polish, demand a kid show and eat all of our dessert. I mean, we can't even go to the bathroom or take a shower uninterrupted, much less sit down to eat lunch. Oh, the novelty! It's non-stop busyness with only daydreams of "doing nothing." And, if "doing nothing" ever does happen — like trying to go to sleep (haha!), our brains pelt us with all the things we should be doing.
"She (stay-at-home mom) can do it; she has no schedule and lots of free time" or "What do you do all day?" or "Your house must be really clean."
Wait. What? Yes, we may be at home cleaning or running errands all day, but our kids are also home making messes or running errands with us all day. There is no "free" time. None. In fact, it takes us longer to do any task with kids. While we clean, someone is right behind us making a disaster. Imagine going to the store to grab a few items like milk, bread, eggs and cheese. Five to ten minutes tops, right? Not with kids.
Put kids' shoes back on (since they took them off during the ride). Get out of the car and corral kids into the store (it's like herding cats with squirt guns). Pull kids away from candy/toys/drinks/cool thing they want (this may happen multiple times). Stop subsequent tantrum and or meltdown. Go back across store to get item you forgot during the aforementioned meltdown. During checkout, one kid bolts for the door (and busy parking lot) while another opens — and eats — the eye-level candy (they really should put that stuff behind plexiglass, like cigarettes). You buy things — like the half-eaten candy — you weren't planning on. You've forgotten an item, but won't realize it until you're cooking dinner. Another toddler battle ensues while trying to buckle them into their car seats. And now, that "quick trip" has taken a couple of hours. So much for all that "free time."
Stay-at-home moms are not "just moms." Our workload is huge and is often made bigger by our cute little "helpers." Yes, we are at home a lot (and long to get out and talk to other adults sometimes), but that does not mean we do nothing, have a free schedule, are living in luxury or are wasting our degree and lives without our potential career. C. S. Lewis said, "The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only — and that is to support the ultimate career." We have the ultimate career — and we work insanely hard at it. Kudos to all moms —working, stay-at-home, foster and "Mr." Moms, a.k.a. stay-at-home dads.