A beautiful blogger and great friend of mine wrote a post today about being a fake stay at home mom (during break as a teacher.) She got a lot of well-deserved hits, and I laughed at myself, saying, “I’m going to post where you post, claiming that SAHM is a career.”
But, then, I thought, what the heck, self? SAHM is a career.
She writes: As a teacher “for several weeks out of the year, you can pretend like you don’t have a job and stay home with your kids.”
Now, anyone with half a brain knows what she means, but this is the message that society gives stay at home moms every day. You don’t have a job. You get to stay at home with your kids.
You don’t have a job. You get to stay at home with your kids.
I think it’s time to break this down. Why do people insist on telling stay at home moms that they don’t work?
1) They don’t get paid.
Okay, you’re right, world. We don’t get paid. But we save money, which is basically the same thing. By staying home with our children, we save thousands of dollars on daycare or babysitters. The main reason I am a stay at home mom right now is that the money I’d be able to pull in working a job would be less than the amount I’d have to pay out to have someone watch my two babies. I’d be working for negative dollars. Stay at home moms also save on gas money because we have everything we need in our home. We save on sanity because there’s no mad rush in the morning or afternoon to drop off or pick up the kids. We save face because when our kids are sick, we don’t have to call out of work to tend to them. We are already at work. Stay at home moms save.
2) They don’t have a boss.
Wrong. I have two bosses. And they are the most fickle, most demanding, most egotistical bosses I’ve ever come across. No logic appeases them. No project is done soon enough. No amount of attention paid will sate them. They ask for, and expect the impossible. It’s up to me to figure out the details. Even the hardest boss has given me more logical duties than I have now.
3) They stay at home.
True. We do stay at home. But since when do you need to leave the home to work? Several people operate businesses out of their home. Some use a computer network and work from home, despite having an office job. I fail to see how location impacts whether or not someone is holding down a job.
4) The work they are doing is not considered “a real job.”
Actually, yes, it is. While the stay at home mom is not getting paid for her duties, she is doing at least two, possibly more, jobs that others would be paid to do. Childcare is the obvious job. The next is house cleaning. Several people get paid to nanny kids or work in a daycare. Several more get paid to clean people’s houses on a weekly basis. By saying a stay at home mom doesn’t do any real job, you are not only insulting the mother, you are insulting those workers who get paid to do what we do. Who are you to say what job is real?
5) It’s easy.
I can only speak for myself here. There are some women for which, I guess, it is easy. But for me, it’s hard. I have to teach my kids. I am a teacher. I have to teach them English, I have to teach them manners, I have to teach them how to think on their own, I have to teach them concepts like cause and effect. I am a nurse I have to keep them from hurting themselves. I have fix them up when they do manage to hurt themselves. I have to care for them through sickness that they don’t understand. I am an entertainer. I have to come up with crafts, activities and games for them. I have to ensure that through these various forms of entertainment that they are learning and not getting hurt. I am a janitor. I have to clean up after them constantly. I can thoroughly clean and vaccuum a room only to have it torn to shreds moments later by grubby baby hands. I am all things at all times. I am an engineer. It is up to me to fix the various toys, furniture parts, picture frames, and dishware that the babies break. It’s amazing how many things a toddler can break just by looking at them.
Now, this is not to say that working mothers and fathers don’t have to do these things, too. This is only to say that stay at home moms have to do them all the time. And we have to do them while fighting the societal stigmatism that tells us we’re not doing enough. We have to do them without the perks a normal job comes with. There is no bonus, no vacation, no time off. The time that others “get to spend with their kids” we simply continue to spend with our kids, so that if we’re sick, we’re still working. If we’re on vacation, our work is even harder because we’re responsible for keeping everybody in line in a new environment, in a new situation. Our time off, namely nap time and bed time, we use to complete the other half of our daily work, namely cooking and cleaning.
Being a stay at home mom is a thankless job, but a job nonetheless. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, somebody pass me the bon bons.
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