It started with a post on Facebook: “Ladies. Staying home is not an option. #brainmelting”. Seems since then I’ve seen this discussed almost daily. It’s been the center of many discussions I’ve had lately because I am a Stay at Home Mom.
For the second time in my married life I am not working. The first was when we moved to Los Angeles for work (obviously not mine) and I was five months pregnant. This time, we again moved for work (again obviously not mine) and we decided I’d not work the first year to get the kid settled, figure out my possible responsibilities within his new, high profile position, find a place to live, etc. It’s 18 months later and I’ve not gone back to work. There are a million reasons why, but they’re not really important. I don’t go to an office every day, period.
A couple weeks ago on The View the topic started by saying more millennial men want their wives to stay home with the kids. The dominant response was “what is this the 1950s?” Why does the concept of being a stay at home mother invoke thoughts of June Cleaver, or Valley of the Dolls? If a guy wants a wife to stay home, he’ll find one, and clearly it won’t be you. A woman choosing to stay home to a raise a family doesn’t make her any less bright, interesting or successful that a woman who goes to work every day.
A major argument for women working besides the financial is that mothers should be role models to their children by showing they are passionate about something. It basically argues that if children have their mothers home they will not respect them as individuals. There are two problems with this argument. First, it discredits that fact that you can be passionate about the health and well being of your family and home, along with other things. I love to cook, and am thankful I have time to do it. I love tennis and play a few times a week. I love sewing, and made my daughter’s Eliza Schuyler Hamilton costume this Halloween (I hate cleaning and doing laundry but that happens daily as well, just as I hated budgets and meetings when I was working but knew it was part of the gig). I will never be a professional chef or seamstress but it fills me to do these things, and I am fortunate. I also volunteer to read to kids at a non-profit elementary school. I am a better parent to my kid when she can come home from school and I can give her real attention without being on my phone and computer.
Secondly, this assumes most people who work are doing what they’re passionate about and that is complete bullshit. You typically don’t hear a public restroom cleaner on their high horse about stay at home mothers. Most people in this country are working to live – to feed, house and clothe their families and maybe take vacation sometimes. Most people are not passionate about their work. Ask most people if they could get paid what they do to stay at home instead of work they’d jump at the chance.
Another point – we put so much importance on work. So much. Work has become a way to measure our worth. The first question we ask is “what do you do?” Why? What does that say about me? If you know I do events what does that tell you about who I am? You can be a piece of shit with or without a job, just as you can be an asset to your community.
Having a job doesn’t make you a more interesting person. Having interests and being interesting makes you an interesting person. It doesn’t make you smarter, it doesn’t make you a harder worker, it doesn’t move you closer to the front of the line when you get to heaven. Having a job means you have a job. But, if you’re fortunate enough to love what you do, consider yourself very lucky. And if you feel you’d do what you do even if you didn’t get paid for it, stop criticizing stay at home mothers for doing just that – what they love without pay.
Same goes for mothers who stay home. Stop shitting on mothers who work. Doing this makes you look bitter. If you want to work do it, but don’t put a working mom down because she’s got the life you think you should have. Get out and get your life!
And if you want to harken back to the 50’s how about this fun fact: In the 50s, when more mothers stayed home to run the house and family the obesity rate for kids hovered around 6% and 10% for adults. Those numbers now are about 19% and 35% respectively, due in large part to packaged meals and frequent restaurant dinners. There are also data about increased rates of ADD and Autism over the past 60 years, not to mention cancer and diabetes. So maybe we were doing something right back then.
Whether you decide to work full time, part time, stay at home or sit on the porch all day reading and scratching your ass, it’s your choice, and we shouldn’t feel so comfortable judging people for their personal decisions. None of us are perfect at whatever we decide to do, so just shut up and do you, and stop putting someone else down to lift yourself up.
So bye. I’m off to make double chocolate zucchini muffins, drop off mail, work out, read to kids, make dinner before picking up the kid then going out for said husband’s gig. All without one melted brain cell.