Over the years I have read numerous articles written by moms for moms, sharing opinions and ideas I either agreed with or did not. Recently there was another one of these articles roaming around my Facebook stream written by a mom chastising all the stay at home moms who claim being home with their children is a ‘job’. Apparently any SAHM who feels it is a job to be home with her child is a narcissist who does not appreciate her good fortune. There are those moms who constantly complain and believe to be the only one with such a crazy life. But there are many of us who roll with the punches, not asking for help (even though sometimes we should), and complaining very little about it.
The author of this particular article referred to being a SAHM as a hobby or a life-style choice. I am sorry but raising children is in no way like deciding to become a vegetarian or taking up knitting. It is offensive that anyone would refer to parenting in this way and this person’s parenting skills are questionable if that is how she feels.
And while being able to stay home with my children was a choice I was lucky to have, it was not one without sacrifice. I left a good career along with my paycheck and downsized our house. I will never regret this decision. I wanted to be the one raising my children and to witness all the firsts, to be involved in their early childhood experiences, volunteer in the classrooms and go on the field trips. I still want to be there to do homework and take them to swim lessons, and play dates. And as my time being able to stay home draws to an end, I have a constant pit in my stomach as I imagine what my world will be like as a working mom.
But yes, being a SAHM is not a job. I am a parent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I get no lunch break, no coffee break, no vacation time, and no sick leave. My weekends are often the same as my weekdays because my husband works most weekends. I do not have the option to send my children to day care if I am not feeling well or have an appointment, because I am their daycare. I have no quiet time to make important phone calls and most often I have no idea what is going on in the world because I have no time to read or watch the news. Even my cell phone gets hijacked from me to be used as an electronic coloring book, which means I really lose touch with the outside world. I cannot make any plans that are not flexible. On any given day, at any moment my whole schedule can get switched around or erased because of my children’s needs. My social life consists of play dates and small talk had while waiting for my son or daughter at an extra curricular activity or at preschool pickup. And because being a SAHM is not a job, I get no paycheck, which means I cannot justify hiring a babysitter or getting my nails done because that money could go toward more important things. I accept all of this though and even on the worst days, I know I am doing what I was meant to be doing.
So to the offensive author’s point, being a SAHM is certainly not a job because jobs offer more freedoms and pay. Being a SAHM is one of the most important, valuable contributions a woman makes to her family that often goes unappreciated because of people like her. It is not a hobby that can be practiced and perfected because every day is different and children’s needs are constantly changing; it is not something that anyone can master, you just keep trying. It is not a lifestyle choice. I cannot just one day walk away from this decision and stop being a parent, the way I could decide to start eating meat after being a vegetarian for 20 years. The day I go back to work will be extremely challenging for my entire family because they rely on me for so many things. And if someone chooses to describe being a stay at home mom as their career then let them. Why do you care enough that you had to write an article offending so many of the hardest working women I know?