Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yes, I am indeed, just a mom.

I got a call the other day from someone totally out of the blue. It was one of those awkward calls that you cant wait to be over because, frankly, you have nothing to say to the person. She asked what I was up too and I honestly cant remember what my response was, I'm blinded by what she said next. Her voice had a weird tone and she said, "Oh so your at home? You don't work even part time?"

Now, as my lovely friend bitter betty can attest, occasionally I tend to read to much into things or become a tad obsessive. But really I think there was something in the tone there. Why is it, for some, staying at home to raise your children is not considered work? Cause let me tell you I worked before children and really not a lot compares to the hours I put in around here. I went to college, I'm halfway to a master's, I had a great job that I loved (I wouldn't put it in the mega bucks category but still it was a great job). But ultimately I brought these children into the world I am going to raise them.

Motherhood can be a lot like high school. Everyone whispering about everyone else and their choices. I'm the first to admit I don't always understand my friends who are working mom and their decision to put their kids in daycare. This post isn't to start a working mom vs. stay at home mom debate. This is my little corner of the web and I'm just using it to figure out why people seem to look down at stay at home moms.

I work hard from the moment my little ones wake up to the moment they go down. Dash-1 has grown out of naps, occasionally he'll read my mind or something and take one but for the most part there is no quiet time around here anymore. Just so some of you aren't thinking "ah ha well she has time to write this! So she must sit around and do nothing!" Yeah I started this on Tuesday morning.

I blame feminism. Yeah that's right. I said it. I'm a woman and I blame feminism for the problems out there. Oh lord I can feel the nasty comments coming. I just don't get feminism. Its a very simplified outlook of feminism but to me the crux of it is that woman can be anything, do anything, and are equal to men. Hey I said it was a simplified take on it. So my confusion is that it seems to me that feministas look down on woman for choosing to be a stay at home mom. But I thought as a woman, as a strong woman, I could be anything? So why look down on me for waiting to stay at home and make an impact on the world by raising my children?

I don't think I'm selling myself short being "just" a mom. I don't think that I'm not living up to my potential. Would I maybe be a slightly saner person if I worked out in the big people world with other adults? Perhaps. But life is filled with choices. I gave that life up when I had kids and when we decided to make a go as a one income family. I'm not saying that as my kids grow up and get in school that I wont go back to the working world, but my priority will always be my kids. I wish that people could understand that stay at home mama's work really hard at their "job". Now there are occasionally piles of laundry or dirty dishes in the sink, but my responsibility is to keep things on track and running as smoothly as they can with little ones rustling about. Not to mention trying to turn out happy, healthy, responsible kids.

So next time you ask someone if they stay at home with their kids don't ever say the phrase "Oh so you don't work?".

And please, working moms, don't think I am criticizing your decisions. As mom's we all have to make the best decision that we see fit for our families.

27 comments:

  1. Ah I totally agree, and I am two semesters away from having a law degree and don't have kids yet!!

    I hate women who take feminism to the next level. Feminism is about the RIGHT TO CHOOSE. Whether that choice be to stay at home and raise your little ones, or to pursue a fabulous career. Who the hell has the right to judge someone for their choices? Isn't that what the women before us fought so hard for?

    Grr...I'm sorry that someone had the audacity to say that to you. Being a mother is a hard work, and one that a lot of women really fail at. I'm sure you are doing an excellent job!

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  2. you know...if we got paid for what we do, we'd make more than our military husbands do. But our payment is in sweaty hugs, peanut-butter laced kisses...sticky hands holding yours...sweet (and sometimes not so much) breath in your face...

    Like you, I really hate "oh...you just stay home?". But I've been blessed that a lot of people say to me they admire me for making that sacrifice. Particularly with a spouse in the military...because THEY know the pay's not always the best....

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  3. I agree that feminism is part of the problem--some people think that it only empowers mothers to go out into the workforce but really what it gave us all is the CHOICE to do what is best for our families. I think women on both sides get really defensive about what they've chosen to do and it doesn't have to be that way. We should be supportive of each other instead of trying to convince everyone that one way is better than the other.

    Greg and I have always been in agreement that when we have young children, one of us will be home. Right now, I'm that one. It's the way we were both raised and the way we are most comfortable. When/if he gets out of the Navy, he may telecommute to college, and in that case, I'll work and he'll be at home. I bet that will raise eyebrows, too!

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  4. I agree...I am weird and hate the term/modernized movement of feminism...
    I worked with a woman who claimed to have been "the feminist movement of Detroit"...she hated that I dressed cute, wore makeup, had long hair, got married young, was conservative, was going to have a family...
    She thought that was against feminism. my thought: if she was the feminist movement, then I want NO part of it.
    Thanks for a good post

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  5. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs I've ever had...but it's the most rewarding. I get paid in artwork, hugs, kisses, and smiles. I wouldn't turn those down for the world.

    I wish I could stay home with him. I wish I could go get him from preschool earlier in the afternoon so he doesn't have to be there 8 or 9 hours a day. I wish I had the time and money to take him to swimming lessons, or karate lessons, or whatever he wants to do.

    But, I don't have a choice right now and I'm okay with that. I work so he and I have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I have him in a good preschool and he'll be going to a good kindergarten.

    This is a choice that families make. What works for one family might not work for another. There is no cause for judgementI'm sorry someone said that to you.

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  6. Amen sister! I agree wholeheartedly with everything you just wrote!

    I've had my share of "oh you only..." comments too. Grrr.

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  7. Oh! Oh! Oh! PREACH IT SISTA!!!!!

    Feministas? Feminazi's in my book - sorry, but thats the way I feel!

    I too feel like feminism has played a major part in the downfall of our society.

    Great post!
    From one loser stay at home Mom to another :)

    Alicia

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  8. I LOVE being home with my little girls. I have not always had that choice...and I don't know how long it will last.

    I too get very upset with people's attitudes about stay-at-home-moms. I COULD work, if I wanted to...I COULD be that career woman. But, I am the only mom my kids have, and they won't be with me for much longer. I am DETERMINED to be here with them for as much of the journey as I can.

    Thanks for sharing your rant.

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  9. I think my Mom was really an original feminist, it really is too bad that word conjures up bad things for many of us these days, including me.

    It really was all about choice, and freedom. In my Mom's generation it was about not getting kicked out of high school in your senior year because you were pregnant (yep, it was me she was pregnant with), about being able to wear pants to high school during the Iowa winter, getting an advanced degree in something other than teaching, home economics, english literature, or nursing if you wanted to, being able to have a credit card, bank account, or buy a house or a car in your own name, being free to go to work if and when you wanted to, being paid and promoted at the same rate and scale as your male counterpart.

    Those are all the things my Mom fought for, and it really is too bad that as a whole we are so unsupportive of each other, so competitive and judgemental that one woman would actually say that kind of thing to another. Think about it, we do it all the time to each other and not just about motherhood and it's choices.

    I'm not going to BE that kind of woman, ever, and I'm sorry you had to even hear that as opposed to, "wow, that must be really difficult with your husband gone so much, how do you manage it?"

    Carry on, Trying, as I always say, you do GOOD work!

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  10. I would probably have ruffled feathers as well if in your position. Where do people get the idea that being a mom isn't a job? I only hope that when the time comes, I have the option to say home if I choose. Hurray for you & your children that you can. :)

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  11. I'm sorry that lady made you feel bad.

    If it's any consolation, I think the job you are doing is probably THE most important one. In fact, if everyone had their priorities in order (regarding parenting), our society would be a much better place!

    Though I don't have kids, I plan to be in your shoes one day. I know the job won't be glamorous, but I think it will be rewarding!

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  12. WOW! That was a GREAT post. It really made my day. Some days I feel as though I struggle and struggle just to keep things running smoothly. From sun up to down it is a battle a literal battle to keep things going as they should. I too have had similar comments. I also home school which adds another challenge in there for me and even more negativity from others. But I don't look down at others for making different choices then I do and I wish others would offer me that same respect. Your post was well written and very diplomatic. Thanks!

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  13. Great post.....although smoothly? I think you need to come teach me how since I seem to live in mass chaos most of the time! LOL

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  14. My oldest is giving up his nap, too, and I hate it! It means I stay up too late now because it's finally quiet.

    And, yeah, I hate feminism for what it's become. My college experience was drenched in it (I graduated with a B.A. in English literature), and I got so tired of deconstructing EVERYTHING with feminism. Please. It is too bad we can't pay more attention to our own lives and less to how we think others should be living theirs.

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  15. Wow, and ouch.

    I'm a feminist, and a rather raging one at that. I think your "simplified" view of feminism is actually dead on. Feminism means that everyone is equal, regardless of what their chromosomes look like.

    I'm bothered by the generalizations about feminism and what it's "become," though. There have been waves - First Wave was the original push for suffrage. Does it suck that we get to vote now? Own our own property? Make our own choices? I don't think so. Second Wave was a pretty radical movement, and it's the one that has given feminism its "bad name" - the idea that you have to be a hairy-armpit, butch-haired, bra-burning radical to be a real feminist. The reason it has that bad name is because that's the odd stereotype used to demonize the push for equal rights, equal pay, the right to make our own choices. Its what gave birth to the idea that women should go out and have careers while still having families. Unfortunately, it didn't teach women that the domestic duties shouldn't remain solely on the women who also pull a paycheck, so the superwoman thing died a grisly death. Third Wave is our generation. We're the ones who like our lip gloss and pedicures, who want jobs or want to stay home or want jobs and kids at the same time, who dare to say we have the right to dress the way we choose and speak the way we want and pursue the careers that excite us and give birth to as many kids as our lifestyles and desire allow.... It's all-inclusive and doesn't shun men. In fact, it recognizes men as equal victims of the patriarchy - the fact that emotion is a sign of weakness for them and that they're discouraged by society to be very involved with the home life beyond outside chores, throwing a ball with the kids, and toweling off a few dishes at night, etc.

    Like it or not, those of you who believe we have rights and deserve to be treated as the equals we are... you're feminists, too. And that means you're more than welcome to stay home with the kids if that's what empowers you.

    As for the 'zatch... she needs a bit of education and/or a verbal smackdown. IMHO. I don't think you were taking it too personally or too far in your head. Sounds like the same bollocks I hear that I know is a dig to my choices.

    :)

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  16. Mothers have the hardest job in the world - taking a baby and raising it to be an adult with character! Along with being a wife and remembering WHO she is beyond those titles.

    I ignore ignorant people like the one you had a conversation with. They get no time with me. At all. I have far more important things to do, than allow someone to be disparaging towards what I have chosen to be important to me.

    Well then.

    I hope you don't have to interact with this person again! Shame on her!

    -Andrea

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  17. I am a feminist (I say that proudly) and I work outside the home but boy do I think being a stay at home mom is hard work. There is no harder work in fact. Even though I have my kids with me at work I gotta tell you just being able to use the bathroom alone makes me think I should pay them and not the other way around.

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  18. I agree with you. It's harder, for single, childless folk to understand as well. I do not lump myself in this b/c you know if I ever decided to procreate I would want to remain at home...The "friend" that called is a single, childless gal and it sounds like having kids is not something she is into right now or in the very near future. That's probably why she made that comment.
    I guess mothers-stay at home or working have their own silent wars as childless marrieds and procreated marrieds have. I am the abnormal in my married friends groups b/c I don't want kids and you are the abnormal in your mommy friends group b/c you stay home.
    It is so normal to be a working mom and to have big families REALLY early in life and/or marriage. We really are, the abnormal when you look at the bigger picture. This is not saying we are wrong...just abnormal.

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  19. I hate to say "I blame feminism" but it's true. Feminism is just supposed to be a way of saying that women shouldn't be treated as the lesser sex. But, as with a lot of things, it got out of hand and is going towards the opposite end of the spectrum. Now, instead of just having the right to work outside of the home, we are expected to not only work outside the home but also raise our children. Women are criticized for not working outside of the home, but women who are single or don't have children at a certain age are criticized too.

    Sorry I got a little carried away there! But, I hate getting comments like that too!

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  20. Thank you for this post- i'm graduating college and marrying into the army (from a marine family)and my extremely liberal/feminist dance professors are horribly dissatisfied.I have heard the lecture no less than 5 times about how i am throwing away my talent and possible career... i will be dancing and doing what ever i want as a job until i have kids and my fiance and i have decided i will stop or at least quit anything full time once we have them (i cant imagine not dancing so i'll prob stil teach in the evenings). that's what i choose. and i can say i honestly appreciate the fact that every time i was sick at school, my mother was at home available to pick me up and take care of me. some of my friends would wait in the germ infested clinic all day. So thank you again for reinforcing what i hope to be my life one day, I've come in contact with many challenging arguments about it!

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  21. Um, hello!? Someone has to teach the kids how to sing Twinkle Little Star in Latin. Does she think that only takes a few minutes? If you don't stay home and do it, who else is there? ;)

    I find it funny that feminists take on the attitide that for women to be equals to men, we have to work 80 hours a week, earn the same money, cut the grass, and bench 250. So if all the adults are out working 80 hour weeks and doing the "manly" household chores, who's supposed to raise the kids? Inevitably, this is leadomg to the males getting more respect with regards to child rearing and less time in the office, so they can be at home helping to raise the kids and the idea of Mr. Mom is becoming more popular. I'm wondering if by the time our grandkids are adults is it going to be considered part of the feminist movement to want to stay home and raise the kids like the men do?

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  22. I'm proud to be a feminist, but I cannot WAIT to be a stay at home mom, and I have already experienced the attitude you are talking about- the holier than thou, don't waste your life bs. People need to get a clue.

    If I had a dollar for every time a "friend" asked me why I was bothering to get my master's if I was planning to stay at home with my kids someday, well, let's just say Einstein and I would be taking a trip to Cancun.

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  23. That is the question that always makes me feel so nervous. I never exactly know how to answer... Lately I've taken to: (they say) "and what do you do?" (I answer) "I'm just the best mom in the world. that's all."

    okay, I haven't actually said that. But I'm going to. next time I get out of the house for a little adult conversation.... really...

    I met a girl (whose husband is deployed with my husband) for lunch this week and i knew that question was going to come up. It kind of made my tummy hurt. I was working on my answer all the way to honolulu.

    When we met and she started talking about her high power job at an add agency I started to feel like a loser. I have no life....

    but then she went on to gush about how amazing it is that I get to stay home with my kids and how she can't wait for her dh to get home so they can get busy (she didn't really say that.) so they can have babies and she can be a mom blah blah blah.

    It was like a breath of fresh air. It took a real weight off my chest. And it made it easy to want to be friends with her and hear all about her really cool grown up job.

    PS - my sister works and has a baby and she is such an awesome mom. I am totally impressed with her and she's making me eat all my "how can those women put their babies in daycare" words.

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  24. Great post. I think my easiest job has been in an office dealing with the daily grind and struggling with deadlines. Motherhood, by far, has been my hardest job. Even out ranking my military stint.

    Kudos on working towards your masters. I completed mine last fall.

    Oh, and for the record, I've got a feminist liberal side. So, don't you all be hatin' on me. (Yeah, I just wrote that; I just dishonored my English degree).

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  25. This engineering major concurs.

    If I want to be a stay-at-home mom, that's my own dang business.

    I'm thinking anywhere from 5 to 9 kids ...

    (I'd love to see a typical feminist's reaction to that)

    Anyway. Great post. Can't be said enough.

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  26. Someone might have already written this, but I'm too tired to read all the comments (sorry!)....but anyway. My husband likes to tease me by commenting that I'm spending "his" money. My response is that if he had to pay me for everything I do there's no way he could afford me! :)

    Besides...I love being the one to raise my son. I don't mind getting a babysitter every once in awhile...but it would break my heart if I had to drop him off at day care every day!

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  27. I get this all the time because I stay home with my children. I love staying home with them and I don't regret it, but I do get tired of people making me feel like crap because I 'don't do anything' or 'don't have a real job.' Geesh.

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