As I head back to the world of gainful employment and go through some sort of mid-mom-life identity crisis, I need to get a few things off my no-longer-nursing chest. Some of these thoughts are about all of the times I’ve felt like I had a chip on my shoulder about something but didn’t say anything because I’m not a mommy warrior. Plus, five and a half years and two kids later, I may have actually learned a few things. Maybe one or two. The other 44 are just filler.
1. Fact: “What do you do all day?” is the dumbest question you can ask a stay-at-home parent.
2. “What "else" do you do?” Also a rude question. Do you ask your working friends what they do other than their job? And if they’re not in a band or writing a novel do you assume they’re wasting their life away?
3. A little advice: Before you ask any question of a stay at home parent, ask yourself if you would ask the same of someone who works? Any question you would not ask your friends with 40-hour jobs is probably rude or intrusive or both.
4. You know how lawyers have to account for all their time in 15 minute increments to prove that they were doing something worthwhile with their time? It’s kinda like that, except people who expect a full report are not your boss.
5. Your “boss” can be a real jerk and it’s ok to think that, but when you think it too often, find a way to get away.
6. Find a moms group. Or other moms. More than one. If you don’t, you’ll never last at home.
7. You need time alone, away from the baby. You may not understand why at first, but you just do. Trust. Plan.
8. Truth: There are other ways of finding out what stay at home moms do all day. Try: Do you take any classes with your kid? Have you found a moms group? How was your week?
9. There are good days and bad days and that is not different than any other job.
10. Hours pass by when I couldn’t say what I did. It’s called mothering.
11. Sometimes I can do more in one hour than you did all week. Sometimes I don’t get that hour.
12. Don't tell me you could never do what I do. It's condescending. Cleary what you mean to but wouldn’t say is: I would never do what you do.
13. Truth: If you have any reason to believe the SAHM considers herself a feminist, she will be defensive about everything all the time. Deal with it.
14. I hate the acronym “SAHM” but I also think all acronyms are simultaneously stupid and elitest.
15. It’s such total crap that in the Era of Choice Feminism there is any judgment at all about whether working or taking care of your kids during the day is feminist or not feminist.
16. If you know one stay-at-home mom or dad, you can pretty much extrapolate what they’re all like. Right? And then definitely, please, we would love for you to share your wild generalizations with the world. Preferably in the comments section of a website meant to be supportive of new mothers.
17. What gives my life meaning, what “else” I do, what is still mine alone… None of these things are any of your business if we are not friends.
18. If you are not offering to watch my kids, don’t tell me I look tired.
19. Truth: The annoying part of pregnancy where everyone suddenly thinks your body is public property and acquaintances expect answers to intimate questions? Yeah, that keeps happening.
20. Don't make assumptions about how much or how little money my family must have because I’m staying at home.
21. Don’t assume I’m happy all the time. Or expect that I should be.
22. Don’t assume that I think I love my kids more than a mom who chooses to or needs to work. I don’t think your choice is bad, just because I made a different one. Some days I’d swap.
23. Some days I wouldn’t, not for anything. Picnics and sunny days and other clichés are usually involved.
24. If you didn’t know me before I was a mom, I must not have done anything with my life except wait to become a mom. Obviously.
25. Don't assume I will never work again. Lots of moms stay at home for 2 months, 1 year, 3 years, until kindergarten… Most of us don’t know our path back until it’s there.
26. Once you admit that you’re looking for paid work again, you become an unemployed person who cares for the kids during the day. Lots of people think of all stay-at-home dads this way from day 1. That seems fair, right?
27. If you stay a home after all of your kids are school age, are you a stay-at-home mom or do you suddenly turn into a housewife? Maybe. But it’s no one’s business beyond your family walls.
28. Some kids need more of their mothers than others. Some mothers are built differently than other mothers. If being at home works for you and your kids and your family, rage on.
29. Stay-at-home parents shouldn’t feel like they have to do anything more than be with their kids. But that’s really hard.
30. If you’re not paying attention, you’d be surprised how many things would grind to a halt without the unpaid labor of women, including stay-at-home moms.
31. If most women today take some amount of time away from a job when they have a baby and most women head back to work at some point later, it shouldn’t be so scary to have a “gap” on a resume. But it totally is.
32. Even if you think you’ won’t end up doing more chores because your job is supposed to be daytime parenting and your spouse’s job is what it is and everything else should remain the same, you will and it doesn’t.
33. The primary caregiver is stressed. The primary breadwinner is stressed. Try to hold hands and walk across the bridge to each other’s island now and again.
34. I never felt like it was his money. It was always our money. Just not my money.
35. Laundry used to be this kind of romantic thing we did together. There was nothing about laundry in our wedding vows. Yet hours have been lost sorting socks. Hours, people.
36. We are not all Mary Poppins.
37. The ones who look like Mary Poppins—which by the way, is the best movie I’ve ever watched with my kids—also sometimes cry to themselves while their husbands sleep by their side.
38. It’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s freaking amazing.
39. If you never tell another stay-at-home parent that you’re struggling, they won’t tell you either and you’ll both think everyone else has it all together all the time and you’re a big mess.
40. Staying at home can be made to seem just as romantic as working. And just as unromantic.
41. You do not need to work harder on tummy time because your kid had better be ahead of the curve if you’re home with them every day.
42. To stay-at-home, you don’t have to be the sort of parent that gets down on the floor and plays with your kids all day. If they lay on a blanket and watch you fold the aforementioned laundry or help unload the dishwasher, they’re good. Kids who help with errands and chores are happy kids. You don’t even have to do Gymboree.
43. It’s ok to drink in the afternoon if you invite another mom and call it a playdate.
44. I am a whole person. I am not my kid. I don’t take my identity from being a mom and it doesn’t take my identity from me. At least not forever.
45. Everything is half done all the time and you have to let it go. If you have a daughter and she’s old enough ask her to sing you the song. She’ll be happy to oblige.
46. I’m really glad I did it and I’m really glad I’m done.
What do you think? Any stay-at-home mom thoughts to share?
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