This month, my oldest son, Cooper, will celebrate his 10th birthday. Needless to say, I will also be celebrating my tenth year as a mom.
During these last ten years, I have spent the majority of my time as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), and I have worked outside the home as a middle school teacher. As a mom who has experienced both worlds, I understand the comments moms often receive based on their vocational choices. When asked what I did for a living, I would hear the most interesting, and sometimes offensive, comments from people when I told them I was a SAHM. In an effort to help keep relationships intact, here are a few things you probably shouldn’t say to a stay-at-home mom:
1. “You must have so much “free time”. What do you do ALL day?”
Well, hmmm…where do I start? I never sit down, and I certainly don’t sit on the couch watching soap operas while eating chocolates. I have no idea where that SAHM stereotype came from…we are NOTHING LIKE the “real housewives” on the Bravo network. As SAHMs, we are lucky to get a full meal of any kind and it is usually the leftovers from our toddler’s half-eaten lunch. If we’re sitting, we are most likely rocky a baby, playing horsy with a toddler on our knees, or folding laundry. When we’re not doing those things, we’re cleaning, organizing, running kids to and from school and activities, going to doctors appointments, volunteering in the classroom, and the list goes on and on. So, yeah, it’s pretty much a FULL day. It’s honestly the hardest job I have ever had, and I’ve had some pretty tough jobs.
2. “If you wanted to be a SAHM, why did you go to college?”
Wow. Just wow. It pains me to say that I have received this comment more than once. The underlying statement is that you are wasting your education if you decide to become a SAHM. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I believe that a college education only enhances our parenting skills, and it also gives us options for making income on the side or to go back to work full time in the future. It is hurtful that some people view staying at home as “giving up”. There are certainly sacrifices that come with staying at home, but SAHMs are not getting college degrees in vain.
3. “I never thought you’d be a SAHM. I thought you had aspirations/dreams.”
Call me crazy, but I always dreamt of being a SAHM at some point while raising my children. I know I don’t get paid for being a SAHM…although that would be nice, but a dream or aspiration doesn’t always have a paycheck attached to it. Being a SAHM is hard and sometimes exhausting, but it is full of so many sweet moments with my kiddos that I wouldn’t trade for any amount of money. And, honestly, I have a gazillion dreams, and they are changing all the time. Being a SAHM is only one of them that, thankfully, became a reality. I haven’t stopped making plans or aspiring to better myself and my family simply because I am staying at home while raising my kiddos. My brain is still fully functioning, though I might know a few more kiddie songs than the next mom during this season of my life.
4. “Oh, so you DON’T WORK.”
Well, this all depends on your definition of “work”. If you mean we don’t get paid for staying at home, then yes, we don’t “work”. But, if you consider the many jobs we do throughout the week, we are honestly doing the job of about 5 or more people. I read an article once that considered all the hours and jobs that most SAHMs do on any given day, and it stated that SAHMs should earn an annual salary of $80,000. Now, that’s a lucrative job! Instead, we get paid in smiles, slobbery kisses, snuggles, and hugs. Though we all could certainly use the money, I would take those over a paycheck any day.
5. “Since YOU DON’T WORK, can you take little Johnny to his dentist appointment?”
Since I have been a “working mom”, I completely understand how hard it is to take off work sometimes for the many appointments that our kids have throughout the year. No matter how desperate we are, we cannot assume our friends who are SAHMs have the time to run our kids to their appointments. Although many SAHMs, including myself, don’t mind to help our “working mom” friends out on occasion, it is very insensitive to tell us that we “don’t work” and have the idle time to add an additional duty to our plate. Many of us became SAHMs to have the freedom to take our own kids to various appointments and to spend more time at their schools and activities, but it is amazing how quickly our days get filled to the brim.
It is important that both SAHMs and working moms respect each other in their chosen roles. As mothers, we are all part of an unspoken “motherhood sisterhood”, and we need all the encouragement and support we can get! So, let’s be mindful of what we say to each other and how we say it. And, when we don’t know what to say, let’s just offer a quick word of encouragement. We can’t get enough of that!