Approximately sixteen years ago, when my first child was born, I became a stay-at-home mom. I’ve officially transitioned to part-time work-at-home mom, but my schedule is so flexible I still consider myself a stay-at-home mom. Over the years, I’ve heard my fair share of ridiculous comments about stay-at-home moms (SAHMs), but I’ve also received a lot of support and encouragement. Many of my friends are moms who work outside the home, and I haven’t felt any animosity from them. I actually tend to think the Mommy Wars is a thing sensationalized by the media, perhaps even fabricated by the media. But a couple months ago, I read something by a young woman mocking the notion of a SAHM being busy and complaining about SAHMs not pulling their weight financially. So I wondered how many people think what this young woman was bold enough to say.
I asked my SAHM Facebook friends what sorts of annoying or absurd comments they have heard. Based on their responses and my own 16 years of experience, I have compiled a list of frustrating and outrageous comments and our responses.
So – here are the Top 7 Annoying Things To Say To A Stay-At-Home Mom —
1. Oh, you don’t work? Ummm, yeah, I just spend my day doing leisurely things, like scrubbing bathtubs and doing laundry and volunteering at my child’s school and mentoring other moms and, you know, managing a household of eight people — not work at all. And when my children were smaller, I spent my days teaching preschoolers and toddlers their shapes and colors and letters and numbers and changing diapers and feeding babies and cutting up grapes and picking up toys and cleaning up spit-up and wondering when I’d find time to brush my teeth. So yeah, I didn’t work in the same way a preschool teacher or daycare employee doesn’t work.
2. Since you don’t work, you can volunteer for this. Just because I have a flexible schedule and I don’t receive a paycheck does not mean I am available to volunteer for everything. I do volunteer for many things, but I also have a lot of demands on my time and I have to protect some boundaries. Please don’t assume I am available for everything you need simply because I don’t go to a place called Work during the day.
3. Of course you have a clean house! You’re home all day! You have All.That.Time! No, because we are home all day with small children (AKA mess-makers), our homes are being wrecked all day by the blocks and Little People on the floor and the play-dough on the table and the crumbs from morning snack and the half-folded laundry that we tried to finish but were interrupted five times during our attempts. If you work outside the home and your children are in some sort of daycare or preschool or school-school, your vacuumed floors get walked on for three or four hours every evening; a SAHM’s vacuumed floors get walked on for 12+ hours a day. Besides, I never stayed home to clean my house; I stayed home to be with my children. Often, those two things seem mutually exclusive.
4. I don’t know how you do it! I could never stay home with my kids all day! They’d drive me crazy! I think I get the thought behind this — it’s that we’re all different and fueled in different ways and have different priorities and stress-levels. But please know – sometimes our children do drive us crazy. Sometimes the crying and the spit-up and the monosyllabic conversations make us feel just a little bit like sipping Xanax smoothies in a room with padded walls. But sometimes the office politics or the seemingly impossible sales goals or the difficult parents of students or the whatever stresses of our former jobs made us a little bit coo-coo-crazy too. None of it is easy, friends. Stress is everywhere.
5. What do you do all day??? See the answer to #1. It probably looks different for every SAHM. When my children were little, I nursed and changed diapers and read board books and sang nursery rhymes and stacked blocks back up after a toddler knocked them over and clapped for the tenth time. I did all the things with my children that your child’s preschool teacher does with him. Now that my children are in school, I spend my days organizing the lives of eight people and volunteering in a Bible study and for the school and for the community and I write and sometimes I even clean my house or do some laundry or take my dog for a walk.
6. You stay-at-home moms don’t contribute financially. I have saved my family so much money by staying home! We never paid a penny for daycare or preschool — that’s a HUGE amount of savings! I never bought a work-outside-the-home wardrobe. We have spent much less money on eating out and convenience groceries, coffee shop coffees and commuting expenses. We are in a lower tax bracket because I do not have a full-time job outside the home. But that’s not even the point for me! The intangible benefits of being home with my children cannot possibly be measured monetarily. I nursed every ear infection, saw every first step, heard every first word. I taught them their colors and shapes and how to sing their ABCs and count to one hundred. I taught my children to read. I snuggled on the couch and napped with them after a sleepless night of teething or sickness or night terrors. You can’t put a dollar amount on any of that.
7. You’re so lucky! I wish I could stay at home, but I could never afford it. For some women, this is absolutely true. You are a single mom or your husband is disabled or unable to work. You truly have no option except to work outside the home. And you say this to SAHMs with full sincerity. For you, my heart is filled with compassion; I wish you could stay-at-home too. But I think this comment frustrates so many SAHMs because this is not a luxury we have happened upon. Most of us are not lucky. Most of the SAHMs I know have made great sacrifices to be home. For years, we lived in a tiny house and rarely ate at restaurants. We drive old cars and purchase things at thrift stores and consignment shops. Well over half the furniture in our home was owned by someone else first. We have never had cable TV. We don’t take week-long vacations to the beach each summer. For a long time, Date Night for my husband and me was eating Sonic take-out in our living room while playing Trivial Pursuit after our children were in bed because a babysitter and a movie or a nice restaurant were not in the tight budget. We have sacrificed because we believed it was best for me to be home with our children, because I felt compelled to stay home with them. (And I don’t say that AT YOU in any sort of accusatory way. It’s just that this is the choice I knew that I knew that I knew was best for us.) That initial choice for me to quit working outside the home was a huge step of faith. But over and over and over again, we have seen God provide in amazing ways — so, yes, we are blessed or fortunate. But I believe that blessing has come as a result of my being a SAHM, not as a cause. I have been blessed to see God provide for our needs in some pretty incredible ways, and I have been blessed to spend the past 16 years pouring into the lives of my children in a way I could not have if I had also been pouring into a job outside the home.
Are you a stay-at-home mom? Have you heard these comments? Did I miss anything?
I know not every mom wants to be a stay-at-home mom. I know some women decide it is best for them and for their children if the mom works outside the home. Some women feel as compelled to go to a place called Work as I have felt to be at home. And I know annoying comments aren’t only reserved for SAHMs, so coming soon — a perspective from a mom who works outside the home.