Last weekend I was at a family gathering with my husband and five month old daughter. We were all immersed in great conversation when the topic of my husband’s work came up. He had to work the next day at both his restaurant jobs, which meant he started at 10am and got done around midnight. Nearly everyone gasped with a look of complete horror as they expressed their sympathies about his long days at work. Long days indeed, but as I sat next to him not one person uttered any condolences for me, the stay at home mom. I tried to explain that I wasn’t exactly lying on the couch for those 14 hours but the most I got was a knowing smile.
When my mom insists that I let my husband relax on his days off I can only wonder when she thinks I get to relax (hasn’t she done this before?) It doesn’t bother me that people applaud my husband for working so hard for his family; he deserves that. And believe me, I know how lucky I am. What I want though is for people to recognize and understand that we both work hard for our family; I just do my work for free. Granted, being a mother isn’t always “work” but it is a never-ending, demanding role and quite often a thankless one.
My husband and I talked for a long time about whether or not I should return to work. It wasn’t a question of if I wanted to; it was a question of finances. We are barely scraping by but we are making it work because it is a priority for us. Being there everyday for my daughter is worth all the other sacrifices we’ve made. Thankfully we have a huge support network, which includes friends and family. Even though some of my family members might not fully understand our decision they are always willing to help us out. I know how lucky we are, and I know there are many mommies out there that want to be home with their babies. If I had it my way, staying at home to raise your children would be a right, not a privilege.
There isn’t a nice and easy way to describe what a stay-at-home-mom does. The list is endless but mostly obvious. Just think for a moment of the amount of learning a baby must do from day one to her third birthday. These are some of the most formative years in a child’s life, physically, mentally, and emotionally. That is a heavy burden to bear for a mom, or any caregiver for that matter. My husband is the first to admit that his long hours waiting tables is no comparison to the importance of the work I do at home (except that it allows me to do that work).
In the face of a pointless war I am teaching my child how to get along with others. Throughout yet another environmental disaster I am explaining the importance of recycling. While in the midst of an economic recession I am teaching her that love conquers all. When schools can no longer afford the teachers they need I am reading her books. As our country sees the largest rise ever in childhood obesity I am preparing healthy meals. So please, before you assume that staying at home with my baby is easier than bringing home the bacon, remember what we moms are really doing and what we are up against.