Thursday, July 7, 2011

For the record: Stay at home moms DO work

Thank-you very much.

And before I dare even say another word, let me just say this to all the employed moms out there. In no way, shape, or form, is what I’m about to say meant to disparage or belittle what you do on a daily basis. Whether you are employed because you prefer it that way or you have to be because your family is relying on your income, you ARE AWESOME!!! Being a mom is not easy and a lot of hard work no matter what else you have going on in your life and in no way do I mean to suggest otherwise.

That being said, I had an incident today and it’s not the first time it’s happened. But today it’s bugging me more so than usual and I’m in the mood to write, so you all get to hear about it (thank-you for indulging me as this has very little, ok nothing, to do with running).

I had to go get that 1 hour blood glucose test done today. You know, the one you take when you’re pregnant and they make you drink that really sweet stuff that doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as something that sweet SHOULD taste to see how your pancreas reacts. That one.  And I’ve got to admit, somewhere about mid way through my hour long wait before my blood draw I realized I was really enjoying my time all to myself (in the waiting room with a half dozen strangers that is). I did a little writing. I tooled around on Facebook. Then, I watched the weather and read the news. No one climbing all over me. No one shouting demands. No one to say “No!” to five thousand times or pry little things that don’t belong out of their fast furious little grasps. It was kind of nice. Before I knew it, the nurse, who shall heretofore be called Nurse Clueless, called me in for my blood draw.

She seemed nice enough, had a bright cheery smile on her face and started to engage me in a little chit chat. “How are you?”, “Ready to be done?”, “Is this your first baby?”, “Do you know what you’re having?” etc. But then she asked me this: “Do you work?”

Now, I’m really not an easily or quickly offended person and I honestly don’t have a problem with that question. I knew what she meant. Do I have a job? And so that’s the question I answered. “No. I stay at home with my girls” I told her.  An answer to which I believe there are any number of appropriate responses to give. Things like: “Well, I’m sure that’s plenty of work.” Or “What’s that like?” Or  “Do you enjoy that?” Or even just “that’s nice.” But the response I got was, “Oh.” Followed by a pause and a follow-up question of, “Well, what does your husband do?” (There’s less smiling going on now btw, in fact, eye contact is virtually gone). I answered her and then, I got silence…for pretty much the entire rest of the time I was there, which was really only a few minutes more but somehow felt really awkward. Then she told me I was all set and to have a nice day. 

Ok. What the crack? Why am I suddenly not worth talking to because I’m not a “working mom?” And can we just get one thing straight. It’s not like I’m laying around all day watching soap operas or judge shows and eating bon bons while my kids run around unsupervised like wild hooligans. My kids are 5 and 2. I AM WORKING. ALL. THE. TIME.

In fact, I am working 7 days a week, 365 days a year from 8AM-8PM (on a REALLY good day when one of the SLEEPS IN and I’ve run the snot out of them so they both fall asleep quickly.)  And when my “shift” is over, I’m still on call at ALL times in case of nightmare, illness, thirst, mosquito bites that won’t stop itching, middle of the night toilet paper shortages, sudden urges to play for no apparent reason, and whatever other random reason one of my kiddos walks into my room or screams my name for.

I get no vacation days, personal days, sick days, or holidays. I don’t get smoke breaks, coffee breaks, or lunch breaks. For crying out loud, I can’t even get a 30 seconds to pee break without someone walking in or pounding on the outside of the door yelling “Mommy! Where are you?” (apparently, I disappear when I walk into the bathroom and shut the door…right in front of them).

I mean, come on. It’s not like I never had a job. I know how physically, mentally, and even emotionally exhausting they can be. But so is a job as a stay at home mom. Staying at home with small children means being ON EVERY second and not just on and ready for anything, but also being two steps ahead of whatever precarious position they may put themselves in. It’s a complete and utter giving of yourself, putting yourself and your needs behind those of the little people who have been entrusted to your care. It’s repeating yourself over and over and over and still having your tiny little co-workers ignore your request creating MORE work for you in the process. There simply is no slow or down times. EVER.

Listen, I made the choice to give up my career and stay home with my girls. I own that choice and everything that comes with it. And I still believe for me and my family, it was the right one. So I don’t say all this because I’m frustrated and I regret leaving my job. Or I think I made a mistake. I don’t.  I love what I do every day, exhausting though it may be. I just do NOT understand why we as women and mothers sometimes pick each other apart or look down upon one another when it comes to this issue. Because unless you can completely and entirely get into my shoes and walk (or run) in them for a few weeks, you’ve got no business thumbing your nose at me because of what you THINK my life is like on a daily basis and I’ve got NO business doing the same to you. Everybody’s different. Everybody’s kids are different. Everybody’s families have different needs. So instead of tearing each other down, let’s really be women shall we? And give each other the mutual respect and admiration deserved for doing our very best at THE hardest, toughest, most rewarding job out there. Motherhood.

So the next time someone like Nurse Clueless asks me, “Do you work?” I might respond a little differently. Something more along the lines of, “Do I work? Yeah. I’m a stay at home mom. I work my a$$ off!” But then again, I’d probably have to explain myself, or I’d get drawn into a debate or argument or something. And who’s got time for that? Certainly not I. Too much work to do Smile

'Til next time...


P.S. Check back tonight for the new giveaway!


Holly said...

Sounds like she must not have children.

Perhaps she has some coined questions she asks everyone. When you answered differently she moved onto her next question with the hubz. Then she wasn't sure what to say.

Then she just zoned out.

Maybe she was having a bad day.

fancy nancy said...

Ugh! Seriously some people should just not say anything at all!! I am a teacher so I get to experience what stay-at-home moms do in the summer. It is most definitely hard work! You are doing a GREAT thing and I wish I could too!!

LDM said...

I usually re-phrase the question for the person. "Do you mean, Do I work for a paycheck?"

Renee said...

Ugh! I'm a SAHM too and I hate that question even though I even ask it other moms I meet when I'm just trying to get to know them. I usually try to ask- Do you work outside the house?

I wasn't there so I didn't get all the cues she was giving you but as I read the story one thing I thought was that maybe we was jealous. Maybe she wishes she could be a sahm. And the question about your husband was just to see what kind of great job he had the afforded you the ability to stay home.

Anonymous said...

I think you are over-reacting, personally.

Kelli said...

Maybe you over-reacted, maybe not, but either way, this stuff happens all the time to me as a SAHM. People either love it and applaud me, or they glare at me like I'm worthless. That's one of the big things about this "feminist" movement that upsets me - I thought orginally it was about women getting a choice to work or not - but now it seems no matter what choice you make, someone, somewhere, is judging and hating on you. For me and my family and my faith, staying home is a choice I made because for us, it was the right thing to do. Maybe for someone else it wouldn't be the right choice. But me choosing to stay home, should be just as wonderfully and worthy a choice as going to work, just as a mom who works would really hate to be judged for choosing to be employed outside the home.

Looks like this hit a nerve for me too, haha.

Erica said...

I find these comments ridiculously annoying if people knew what we did at home all day I swear they would think twice.. to who ever anonymous is you clearly have no idea how hard we work to be a stay at home parent and how little reward there is and people like this particular nurse are incredible annoying!

KNow that your kids will always be thankful and so will you that you were home with them :)

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

My Hubby is a SAHD and he works his booty off!! Thanks for the reminder,I will give him a big KISS and a break tonight..


Congrats on Baby #3

Teamarcia said...

No offense but I think you may be reading too much into it. She may ask that just to seem friendly. Idle chit chat. If you said you were an attorney perhaps that too would have been met with silence. You just don't know and its not worth getting worked up about.
Moms definitely work their asses off.
A woman said to me once "oh you're a mom? Is that ALL you do?" I smiled and said 'yes, and its fabulous!"

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

How frustrating and thanks for venting. All moms work ALL the time, whether in the house or out of the house. No mom really gets any breaks and you are awesome for everything that you do! Be proud to be a stay at home mom because I really wish I could and not because I think it would be easier for me but because I feel I would have more time to positively influence my daughter.

And yes, why can't moms have a 30-second bathroom break? Ironically, even at work outside the house I feel co-workers are waiting for me to come out to ask me questions!

trifitmom said...

i have a constant guilt about the fact that i stay at home. as if i won the lottery and get to sit on my butt and do nothing ?? through out the day if i am not engaged in my kids i feel guilt b/c i think that folks think i am not doing my job and doing crafts with them, cooking for them etc. i hate it. i just want to be able to say i stay at home and i enjoy it. it is not easy but it is what is best for me and my family .....

Angela said...

Not to mention when you are finished your momma duties you have running clients to deal with! As someone who plays mom all day as my job, I can understand how frustrating it must be to get a reaction like that. There are days at work when I leave that I sit in the car almost in tears because if I was really a mom and not a nanny I would still be dealing with the demons that took over the kids body and I don't think I could do it.

PiccolaPineCone said...

First Congrats on your third pregnancy... somehow I missed the crucial posting where you announced! Anyway what exciting news. So, so glad to hear you can run again.
I am with Holly on this one... the nurse probably does have a set of pre-prepared questions that she asks people to put them at ease and you fell off her flowchart so to speak... I know personally I find it really difficult to chit chat with people I don't know and when someone gives an answer I wasn't anticipating, I find it really hard to come up with a polite, engaging follow up question.
That being said, I understand it is a sensitive topic and, as a NSAHM (not stay at home mom... surely there is a better acronym for this) I didn't think your disclaimer was necessary AT ALL!!! Your post couldn't possibly have come across as offensive to anyone.
Sigh... this stay-at-home versus working-outside-the-home thing is SO LOADED and sensitive. I was told the other day by a friend's mom that she would have found it unbearable and horrible to "abandon" her children to daycare. "heads they win, tails we lose"...

Melissa C said...

I think your post was very well said. Staying home was a choice that I made for my children. Sometimes I feel like I should do more for them than I do, especially with the move, but honestly, I used to ENJOY going to the dentist because it is the one place I say I have to go and I have no problem finding a sitter or someone to watch them. The bummer now is that they are old enough to need apts too, so I bring them and now stress about how they are doing while I am in the chair instead of just laying back chilling.

RunMom said...

So I guess I really stirred the pot on this one eh?

Let's see here...

First let me just say,yes! You ladies are entirely correct, there's any number of reasons why this nurse's demeanor completely changed and I suddenly felt like I was getting the cold shoulder and it quite possibly had nothing to do with the coincidental timing of her question to me about working. Maybe she can't talk & draw blood at the same time and it was truly in my best interest for her to cut the othewise pleasant conversation short lest my blood start spewing everywhere or maybe her boss who had just lectured her about spending too much time with patients walked by and shot her a look to zip it. I really have no idea and I'm totally willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say the weird vibe I felt in that room was coming from something entirely unrelated.

However, when you've just found yourself in a sort of weird situation, isn't fairly normal to go "huh? what just happened?" And what it seemed like to me happened is what you read in the post.

Now, whether or not I completely misread the situation (which is again entirely possible)is beside the point. I didn't intend for this post to be a reaction to this one isolated incident with this nurse. Had it been such, an isolated incident, I honestly probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. And even as it stands, IMO, it was a fairly mild encounter.

I wrote the post because what happened yesterday (or what I thought might have happened yesterday)got me to thinking about the many other times I've run into similar reactions to my being a stay at home mom. And it has happened numerous times and in ways that would be IMPOSSIBLE to misinterpret (such as someone specifically saying staying home is not working, or worthwhile, etc.) and what was "bugging me" was NOT this one woman, but the fact that this IS even an issue that seems to pit mother against mother. It's stupid. We should be eachother's biggest cheerleaders and NOT be so busy tearing eachother apart. And like Piccola Pine demonstrated, that knife cuts BOTH ways. It's absurd.

So really I wrote this post for 2 reasons, #1 if it happens to me, it happens to somebody else and I just wanted those somebody else's ought there to know that hey, I get you. I get what you do & how hard you work. In fact, there's a WHOLE lot of us out there that understand what you're doing every day. And #2 since every single mom everywhere in the entire universe reads this blog (for real, didn't you know that ;-) I wanted it to be a rallying call of sorts. Let's get behind each other out there! And remember, we're each doing what we think is the very best we can to raise our children. It may not be an easy task, but it's the most important one we've got. So here's to ALL the moms out there! Keep up the good work!

RunMom said...

WOW. That was the longest comment ever. Probably just should have wrote a whole 'nother post eh? And I forgot one thing.

As to the overreacting comment, you mean just because I posted about it? Because other than that, I didn't really have any reaction to the nurse other than to sit there and let her draw my blood.

And if you were just referring to my writing a post about it, oh man, you may want to steer clear of me because I will blog about far far less than that! LOL. What's a post without a little drama? ;-)

Michelle said...

Now, I always say "Do you work outside the home?" Especially now that I stay at home myself - I know! I asked someone's husband one time if his wife worked and he said "Yes. She just doesn't work outside our home. She has plenty of work with our kids."