Quick Quiz: What job requires you to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unpaid and with no time off, no lunch hours, no coffee breaks, no health benefits and no available options for unpaid leaves or sabbaticals? If you said stay-at-home motherhood, you’re correct! If you didn’t, you’re like most people who tend to chalk off SAHMs as lazy, stupid, or failures who’ve retreated from the working world to hide behind their children’s dirty diapers. The reality of our daycare culture is that women who choose to stay at home with their children are in a misunderstood minority. We not only bear the brunt of the burden of raising our children, we also bear the burden of these stupid comments that get flung our way.
Here are some things you should never say to a stay at home mom:
8. You must enjoy having so much free time. My baby is rounding the three month mark and I’m just starting to be able to get to the bathroom before I’m ready to explode. I once worked for a guy who wanted to install phones in the company bathroom so he’d never miss a call. He was less demanding than my newborn.
7. It must be great to be able to sleep in every day. The first time my son slept through the night I was up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Now if I can manage to stay in bed until 5 a.m. it’s a miracle. The one time my husband let me sleep until nearly 8 on a weekend I almost screamed at him. Why? Because the house won’t clean itself, the errands won’t run themselves and unless the sleep deprivation has really gotten to me, I don’t recall seeing a chef living in our spare bedroom.
6. What’s it like to be able to shop whenever you want? Shop? With what money? What part of “unpaid” did you miss in my job description? Besides, do you realize what I have to schlep to get this kid outside for a walk around the block, let alone out to a shopping mall? And boutiques? Forget it. I’m never getting a stroller in those tiny aisles. Online shopping was made for working mothers. Online couponing was made for women like me.
5. I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well. At least you’re at home. This morning I woke up shaking from exhaustion. I’ve already been up twice, first to address baby’s gas pains and later to address baby’s hunger. The shaking stopped after the caffeine kicked in, but it’ll be back in a few hours. At that point my option is to re-caffeinate or collapse when my kid naps …on me. (Because we still haven’t gotten over that phase yet. We practice until Mommy gives up out of sheer exhaustion, usually around 4 p.m.) Therefore, my “collapsing” means propping my head against the sofa cushions and Tweeting maniacally via Smartphone in order to stay awake, lest I drop my baby or roll onto him while in deep slumber. Want to factor in a cold or some other sickness on top of that? I don’t think so. If anyone walks into my house with so much as a stuffy nose they’re getting kicked out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
4. You didn’t get that done? But you’ve been home all day! The image of the baby who sits in the swing all day is a fable created in order to convince women that having a baby is a piece of cake. What no one bothers to tell you is that for the first three months of their life (minimum) babies want to be held by you all the time. You are the toy. You are the mattress. You are the food source. You may put them down to change their diaper, but that’s about it. Mommies and Daddies don’t eat, sleep, or use the bathroom, let alone have anything else to do but take care of baby, duh.
3. What do you do all day? See above. On weekends my husband takes over the baby wrangling so I can accomplish all the things that didn’t get done during the week. About halfway through he looks at me and says, “I could never do this all week like you do. You’re amazing.” Damn right.
2. I’m sorry, I can’t. I worked all day. And I got my nails done while breezing through a pile of trashy magazines as Wendy Williams blasted in the background. Please, tell me how you worked all day. Tell me how you surfed the Internet, took umpteen coffee breaks, had a whole hour to yourself at lunch and spent that three hour meeting secretly surfing social media on your iPhone. Man, working in an office filled with potty-trained, self-sufficient adults is so exhausting.
And my personal, all time favorite:
1. But your husband needs to sleep. He has to get up for work in the morning! I get up earlier than my husband. Why? Because I need time to get dressed, have a cup of coffee and, oh, I don’t know, get things done before the baby, who consumes 90% of my day, wakes up and takes over. If anyone ever attempts to guilt you, Stay At Home Mom, over letting your husband take a night feeding, you tell them that they are more than welcome to come over in the wee hours and make sure the baby is fed and changed. You need your sleep, every precious minute of it, because you work hard. Your day starts long before 9 and stretches well past 5 without a break in-between. As soon as he’s home, he’s on duty, just like you. Welcome to the reality check of 21st century parenting.