Oh, you’re a stay-at-home-mom…

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.

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7 thoughts on “Oh, you’re a stay-at-home-mom…

  1. you are so fortunate to be with your daughter. My daughter in Canada is facing a dilema about work. She goes back to work in Sept. & her son will be 1 on Sept 14! She got a year off paid, & makes nearly $30 per hour. In Canada unlike here, childcare is also subsidised. So she won’t have to pay for his daycare, unless she uses a private care giver. Even with all that, she is struggling because in her heart she wants to stay @ home with him. In the states you get 6 to 8 weeks paid & if you can get 4 more weeks extension, it is without pay.

    I don’t understand why so many in the states thinks that a stay @ home mom is unordinary. If you went back to work, most of your pay would go to childcare. Your baby wants to be with you, & visa versa. I really wish women got more support for staying home with thir babies.

    I was home with my children all the time, unless I was called to attend a home birth. Until my children walked I would take them with me. I took 6 weeks off after each birth too, for my own recovery. When they were older they stayed with my mom. I did 4 births a month so was with them most of the time. I did prenatal clinics in my own home with the children present. It was awesome.

    As far as relaxing on days off, you may get an hour here & there, like if you take a nice soak in the tub while hubby watches the baby. The other thing that kind of bothers me is when the dads say they’re babysitting their baby! Makes it seem like they’re not really committed &/or invested in the raising of their child! I hope this changes for moms & dads so their family is more cohesive.

  2. So interesting that you wrote this right at the time I saw this column (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/22/AR2007052201554.html) from a few years ago, which is making its rounds through my circle of friends on Facebook. It describes the job of stay-at-home mom better than I’ve ever seen before, and captures exactly why what we do is a 24/7 job.

    We can’t make the entire world understand or care, but know that there’s lots of support out there. Bravo to you!

  3. It’s even harder for a stay-at-home dad to get respect and credit. My husband does a great job with our son, and I thank him every day – but he gets comments all the time about getting a “real” job and quitting “babysitting” or talking about him like he’s broke….its a lot to overcome.

  4. this post left me teary. In many other countries (developed and not), mamas are paid to stay home for at least a year. Government programs support maternity. I know this isn’t politically popular with everyone, but I applaud nations who allow mothers who choose to stay home to so.

  5. Thanks for this article! Many do not understand or care to understand the job of a stay at home mom. In this the age of “mommy wars,” I’ve found sometimes the worst offenders are other women. I hope some day, somehow, some way we will support each other better in the decisions we make that are best for our families.

    Even though my partner is very actively involved, I too have wondered, as do many other sahm, when are my vacation days? When is my lunch hour?

    Denise, I know a sahd who would love to connect with another.

  6. Jordyn,
    So well said! Thank you for sharing and making such an eloquent statement about what you’re doing right now. That girl’s so lucky to have you as her mom!

  7. This post has really touched me. It is a fact that many don’t really know or understand how life is being a stay home mom. I’m not a mom yet. But I have witness all that with my mom, and it wasn’t easy having three kids to take care of. And still there are those who think that she’s just being lazy because she prefers to stay home. It’s never easy because it’s not an ordinary job that you have time to check out. It’s almost a 24 hours on call job. Work at home moms do great sacrifices for the family; we need to appreciate them more.

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