Monday, February 7, 2011

Working Mother

Today, I missed my monthly mom's book discussion group so I decided to take the kids on some errands.  We went to the bank, pharmacy, Target, and Whole Foods.  All in all, a busy morning, but we got a lot done (and, 2 loads of laundry are finished and 2 more are going!)

At Target, I had Bobby in the cart and Maya in my sling.  I'm doing my shopping and all is well.  Near the end, I see a woman with her toddler in the cart.  We smile.  Say each others' kids are cute.  Then she says "It's tough to shove everything into a day, isnt it?"  I laugh and agree.  I try to keep all my errands and then do them at once, as to not have the kids out and about constantly.  So, yeah, I can get that.  She asks if I work.   And here's where that goes.

"Not outside the home."
"Oh."  Gives me the once over.  "You're a stay at home mom."
"Yes."  I can see this isnt going to end nicely.
"Well, I wish that I had that luxury."  She laughs.  "It must be nice to not have to work."
I smile.  "I'm glad I dont have to work outside the home.  But the home is quite a bit of work and the kids keep me busy."  What do you think I do?  Eat bonbons and watch General Hospital all day?
"I have to take the day off from work just to shop."  All the while, she has a slightly icy stare.  "I have to work every day and be a mom.  You dont know how good you have it."  Again, a laugh.

Now, dont get me wrong.  I'm damn lucky.  I admit that.  But dont, for a second, think that my "job" isnt just as demanding as yours, lady.  I didnt say that.  But I wanted to.  I wanted to go into all the reasons why my work is just as hard.  Does your job wake you up at 3am and need you to hold it and love on it for an hour?  Do you clean up shit every few hours?  Do you carry around 50 lbs for several minutes (hours???) every day?  But you know what.  It doesnt matter.

There will always be people who think that being a homemaker and a stay at home mom doesnt matter or is somehow less important than their paycheck earning, out of the home job.  And what I do or dont do, what I'm blessed to see and not have to miss... That doesnt matter.  Because if I sit and try to convince her that my job is just as important, I become her.  On the flip side.

I smiled at her and said "Regardless of working outside the home or in it, I think we all end up working AND being a full time mom."  And then I went to the check out line.

But I cant tell you that it doesnt piss me off.  Because it does.

I joke with Peter that my job doesnt come with sick time or vacation time or a paycheck.  That I dont have time off.  But that's not true.  I do.  I go to the gym.  I go for long runs that last over an hour (and sometimes two).  On Wednesdays, my in-laws watch the kids all afternoon so that I can do a hardcore house cleaning.  That's time away from the kids.  So, I do have "vacation" time.  And, when I've been sick and havent been able to be a good parent, I had help.  My MIL came over or Peter took care of the kids.  So, there, I had sick time too.  The paycheck?  I dont earn any money, but I do spend it, so that is taken care of too, I suppose.

I clean and I cook from scratch.  (That's no disrespect to anyone who has a cleaning service, eats take out, or cooks from a box.)  I educate my kids every day.  (Kudos if you send yours to school.)  I take care of my kids every day.  (No worries if yours go to daycare, nursery school, or have a nanny.)  In the evenings, I spend time with my hubs, have dinner, he gives the kids their bath while I get their stuff ready, and we get them into bed.  (Just like a lot of other parents.)  The big difference is that I do the things a lot of people outsource, either by choice, design, or necessity.

We have 1 income but 2 people working.  2 incomes usually mean more than 2 people working.  My way isnt the best way for everyone, but it works for our family.  I have a friend who loves her job- and her daughter- and cannot fathom staying home.  I have another who would love nothing more than to stay home with her sons but works out of necessity.  And what about before Bobby and Maya were here?  What would the woman at Target have said if I'd mentioned, prior to having living children at home, that we'd discussed me being a homemaker.  Because that's an important (if unpaid in the traditional sense) job too.

I'm not really mad anymore.  Ignorance breeds a lot towards people who are different than we are and who make different choices.  But it was a bit of a shock to have someone that I dont know make such a statement to me.  And on the day I decide to take the kids shopping no less!

Well, at least they looked cute and I wasnt in pajamas!  


Reba said...

aww michele! it's true people really don't understand that staying home with your kids is so much work.

i stay home with naomi on wednesdays and everyone at my job is always asking if i had a relaxing day off. YEAH RIGHT! it's way more exhausting staying home with naomi, hands down!

that's not to say it doesn't feel like so much extra work preparing for daycare...getting all the cooking etc. done in one day. it's really hard only seeing naomi for a few minutes before work in the morning, and for about an hour before bed at night.

i'd pick staying home with her in a HEARTBEAT, and i'm sure mean grocery store lady would, too. it IS more work, but it's work i'd so much rather do. i bet she was just jealous...i know i am. ;)

Kakunaa said...

I honestly don't know if I could be a SAHM. Seriously. I need adult conversation and I am a terrible housekeeper, LOL. Plus, I have the benefits, so it's really just not possible for me to NOT work. I admire SAHMs, I really do. Because it's something that would drive me nuts. So kudos to you! With 2 kiddos at home!

Hope's Mama said...

Your house sounds similar to ours. We could certainly do with the extra money and do really struggle some weeks, but I want to be home with Angus. My career can wait, he will only be little for so long.
I'm proud of my choices and it sounds like you are, too. I wish other people could just respect our choices.

Paula said...

"Regardless of working outside the home or in it, I think we all end up working AND being a full time mom."

I like this. I think everyone should do what works best for their own family and not try to make others feel like their choices are wrong. I joined a moms group in the area and almost left after the first couple outings when a few women told me they could never stand being a "part-time mom". I work outside the home, partly by choice and partly by necessity, but that certainly does not make me a part time mom. I can't understand why women feel the need to tear each other down.

Tracy said...

Hey! I'm glad you've came across my blog. I tried to follow yours but for some reason it says the blog can't be found? Weird. I think what you said is exactly right though. I think whether or not you work outside the home, or your a stay at home mommy, it's all work. I think some people do think it's a luxery to stay home and don't think of all of the demands a stay at home mom has. I work part-time outside of our home, and I'm busy when I'm away, but I'm even more busy when I'm at home lol. You sound like you do a great job!

Aisha said...

Someone I know recently was struggling with being a stay-at-home and posted it on facebook and someone responded "I wish I could be a stay at home mom i would read and exercise all day." and I just couldn't believe the ignorance- to think that's what I do all day long- just idle time to relax and do as I please. Its a horrible thing- I wish women wouldn't do this to each other.

Barb said...

I think (or at least would like to think) that it was more jealousy than judgment on her part. You are lucky because you have the choice to be with your kids instead of putting time in at work where maybe your (her) heart isn't in it even though home work is VERY hard. At least that's how I feel.. envious of having that choice. If I chose to work, that's fine, but I can't choose simply because if I don't work full time, we won't have adequate health care, and that sucks. It's bitter that otherwise we could afford for me to work part time, which would be the ultimate for me. I don't want to give up my work completely, but neither am I invested in it like I am my home and this baby. I YEARN to be with him more. It kills me sometimes. I hate missing as much as I do, and I hate that so much decision making on his raising is between us and our daycare provider. But at the same time, I'm learning a lot this way I guess.

Sorry you had a bad experience. :(

momstepmom said...

My mother, a true bra-burning woman's rights gal, told me that what her generation fought for was the right to choose. A woman should not have to be forced to work, or to stay at home. They should be able to choose how they want to live and they should not be put down for whatever choice they make.

She also told me that when someone is mean like that, there is usually something else going on. She may have had a bad day, or missed her child's first word that week, you never know.

On a lighter note, I frequently request that my husband trade me "jobs," I'll go to work and he stays at home with the 3 kids. He has yet to take me up on the offer :)