Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fifteen things you should never say to a stay-at-home parent

People say the dumbest things.  I know that they (usually? sometimes?) have the best of intentions, but those intentions often manifest as condescending and hurtful statements, in my case particularly when discussing my life as a stay-at-home-parent.

I have been on the receiving end of every single one of these questions or statements at least once; most of them, multiple times. Snotty answers in italics

1. Wow, I don't know how you'd do it; I'd get so board at home with my kids all day.
Lucky for me my kids aren't boring.

2. Oh, I could never be a stay-at-home-parent; I need intellectual stimulation.
Well, good thing my kids are smart and I get to help them learn new things every day.

3. When are you going to go back to work?
This is my work.  I am at work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  So, never.

4. That must be so much easier than juggling a full-time job with home life.
Yeah, thank goodness this parenting gig is only part-time.

5. You must have tons of time to do laundry.
Oh, yeah, child care takes up like zero hours of my day.  They pretty much take care of themselves.

6. If I were home full-time my house would be spotless.
I actually strap swiffers on the baby's knees and let my toddler mop the floor with his cereal milk.  The house shines and smells amazing!

7. Don't you miss your career?
Do you want me to punch you in the face?

8. Didn't you go to college?
I did, but I prefer to waste my education on my raising my children instead of being a contributing member of society.

9. Staying home full time is a luxury our family can't afford.
Yeah, it is pretty luxurious with all the snot wiping and no vacations and the smell of poop I can seem to get off my hands. 

10. It's must be much less stressful to be home with your kids than working full time.
Oh my god, it's like no stress at all.  Keeping my children alive and occupied all day is so easy and relaxing.  Excuse me, I'm just going to go grab a nap.

11. Don't you miss having adult conversations during the day?
Yes, but not with assholes like you.

12. It must be hard to keep track of the days of the week; I bet they all blur together.
It's like every day is the weekend!

13. It is so noble/self-sacrificing/Jesus-like for you to give up your career/personal identity to stay at home full time with your children.
I'm not a martyr, I'm a mom.  And I still am a real person with real interests in things not child related like books and politics and movies and wine and evenings out with my husband and friends.  

14. Do you have any life outside of your children?
Believe or not, yes.  I have a book club and a wine club and a large circle of friends both with and without children, who's company I enjoy on a regular basis.  REAL PERSON.

15. But what do you do all day long?
Lets see...I fix three full meals and two snacks every day; wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry; I make beds; I clean up constantly - toys, dust, vacuuming, dishes, wiping spills; I wipe noses; I wipe bottoms; I toilet train; I teach manners; I chase my kids; I play cars and trucks and robots and trains; I read to my children; I do crafts with my children; I tickle my children; I mange my household's budget; I run errands; I schedule home and car maintenance and repairs; I go on play dates; preschool drop off and pick up; I volunteer at Oscar's school; like a million other small things that fill up every single second of my day.  So basically, I do nothing.

So, let me hear it SAHPs, what other thoughtless, idiotic things have people said to you about your choice to stay home with your kids?  How about you working parents?  I've no doubt you receive more than your fair share of "But how can you leave your kids all day?" and "Daycare is letting someone else raise your kids" type asshole-ish comments.  Give me your worst.


Strawberry said...

This one: "If I were home full-time my house would be spotless" is by far my favorite. HA. Maybe if you locked your kid in the closet it would be ;)

I know I would suck at being a SAHM. I just couldn't handle it or have the patience for it. And yet, I totally respect those that can and do. Different strokes for different folks. I don't get why people have to judge each other either way.

I feel like whenever we post that we took the day off and sent Miles to daycare, I can hear others' jaws dropping. lol. Well, it ain't a day off if the kid is with us ;)

gretchen said...

I get few of these comments because the weird career I have chosen allows me to work without actually working. Therefore I can be a stay at home mom but still make a living. Of course, I still have to drag my kid around with me to auditions. Anyway, I do have one good friend, a man, whose wife always worked full time, so their daughter was in full time daycare. He could never understand why I didn't put Jude in a full time "school" as well. He used to say the most ridiculous things to me about the benefits of daycare. And I couldn't really say anything negative about it to him, as it was the choice they had made, and I didn't want to sound critical. Argh.

Anonymous said...

I can completely relate to all of this - I was a SAHM for four years. Then my husband "lost" his job (long story), so I went back to work and he stayed home with the kids for the remaining 8 years of our marriage.

If you think women get a lot of unthinking, idiotic crap from people, just try being a stay-at-home father - or the working wife of one. Yeesh.


VandyJ said...

The only way I'm able to work is because we have family that split the care of our youngest. Grandparents rock! I stayed home with Turbo when he was little--I went back to school when he was 15 months old. I admire those mom's who can take on the job of being home with their kids full time. It drove me nuts--I felt so isolated.
The worst comment I've gotten as a working mom is you don't get much quality time with your boys do you? So what is the time I do spend with them?

Sprite's Keeper said...

I think you've inspired me to post something I wrote over 2 years ago but never published. A kind of working mom tribute.
I would give a lot to be a SAHM since Sprite is just fun to be around, but while I am where I am and she is where she is, I know she's in good hands.
I envy you your time with your children. I don't envy you the misunderstandings you're always subjected to.

Keely said...

I don't actually know very many SAHPs, so I don't hear opposing views on my childcare choices often. I do know that I would be a terrible SAHM, because it's effing HARD. And thankless.

rach said...

ok numbers 6 and 7- your answers had my laughing loudly over here...the image of your kids with swiffer knee pads...love it!

I'm not a mom so I have nothing to really add, but once when i was around 21ish and I was at the gyno for my yearly check up- he looks at me and says, so how many kids do you have??
WHAT?? um, no- thanks bucko. And then he says, well you better hurry up before you dry up! and he was being serious. WTH.

Michele said...

These types of statements/questions are the same ones that I got 20 years ago.

Andrea said...

Most of those comments were lobbed in my direction as well, but I was also a BIG fan of when conversation just STOPPED when I'd say that I stayed home with our kids. Perhaps for fear that I'd be unable to form a complete sentence to keep up with my end of the dialogue?! LOVE your answers! BTW...tried going back to work, and completely unsure how they do it either, as I still had to do all of the SAHM cr*p AND go to work?!?!

Heidi said...

Maybe it's because I live on the West Coast, but I rarely get these comments from the people around me. My friends/family in the Midwest/East - that's a whole different story. Out here, I only have two friends where both parents work full time, and neither of those moms would have it any other way. They love their careers and their kids and are happy with their choices. I'm happy for them and I'm happy that I can stay home.

The irritating question/comment I constantly get is when I'm out with all three kids (ages 5.5, 4 & 2): "How DO you manage THREE?!! I could NEVER do that..." Um, yes you could. "You have your hands full!" Not so much - that's why strollers were invented. "You take them to the mall/store/errands BY YOURSELF?" Yes, because otherwise I'd have to get a cow for my backyard, learn to make shoes and grow coffee.

djs said...

OMG - absolutely hysterical!! And SOOO true! Actually laughing out loud at #6...will most definitely post a link on FB! Thanks for the laugh!!

Swistle said...

Oh, man, this gave me such a head rush. I've LUCKILY not been on the receiving end of much of this, but I do have a cousin who said to me, "I wish I had that luxury---but I don't know what I'd DO all day! I guess I'd get caught up on all the things I never have time for!" The ol' one-two-three punch, from someone who buys new cars instead of used and has a much MUCH nicer house than ours. Sigh.

I wonder if the best answer to ALL the pineholery (stuff like my cousin said and also stuff like "I could never let a stranger raise my kids," which KILLS ME DEAD WITH THE PINEHOLERY) is a shrug and "Well, everything's a trade-off."

Momma Hunt said...

Although I am a working mom I loved this post. I think way too many people make judgements about both SAHM and working moms. I really loved the swiffer to the children's feet. I seriously have thought to myself if only I could figured out a way to attach swiffers to the bottoms of my daughters walker (the kind with the wheels for motoring around) my house would be so much cleaner! Loved the post!

Aimee said...

Hear, hear!

For YEARS, I've been listening to the SAHM vs. WOHM debate. I was sick of it ten years ago, and it's gotten no better. Some people would make horrible SAHP's. Some would make horrible WOHP's (put me in this group). We're all different.

Camp Papa said...

Omg, I laughed so hard at this and read them to my parents, who are visiting me. #12 makes me die. You know, though? It has so much to do with where you live vs where I live. Here it's assumed that any mom is staying home. And when I would say, "and I'm finishing my phd," people were like, "Um, I got nothin'."

You rock, lady.

Camp Papa said...

Ok that was Becky posting from my dad (Camp Papa's) iPad.

Just Another Lesbian said...

You know, ironically, I get the most insulting comments from other SAHPs. Because I am doing this for just a few years, with every intention of going back to work, often other SAHP assume that I don't like what I'm doing or that I've made some huge sacrifice of career to do this. In truth, my family made a choice. A well-informed choice that works for us. It's certainly harder work than I ever did as a working parent...and there are sacrifices that I make. And while I get no breaks, no paycheck and no insurance (fuck you, Federal Government), I do get to watch my two incredible children grow into people I adore and the supreme satisfaction of knowing that their growth and development is guided by my hands, my love and my hard work.

:-) Mikki

Amy said...

Great post! You are so funny. It amazes me, though, that we are still having this conversation. Know what I mean? Looking at your list made me realize that I really haven't had to deal with a lot of that, probably due to where we've lived. In Dallas, I think a woman would maybe get more comments about why she wanted to work.

Now, one that I do get that is unrelated but still bugs me: "you look good, for having had three kids!" Ok, but for a "normal" person I look bad? Um, thank you? ;)

Captain Dumbass said...

"I'd get bored." As a former SAHD, that statement makes me want to knee somebody in the junk. Like you have time to be bored.

Mrsbear said...

Of course, my house is always spotless. The rest of my time at home, I spend making long distance phone calls and eating bon-bons. With four kids, it's like I have a house full of servants. Cushest job ever.

I don't think I ever got as stressed at work as I do at home.

Casey said...

The other day, a mom (when she noticed that I was the weekly reader at the kid's library day) was all "oh, I would read but I don't have time to. I have a job". I was all... uh, thanks, cunt, cause all I do all day is lay around and watch tv.

Veronica said...

Great post! I teach freshman comp part-time, which means I'm in the classroom for a few hours two days a week and then at home three days a week, taking care of the baby and the house and also writing lesson plans and grading papers. My least favorite question is in reference to those Monday/Wednesday/Fridays: "What do you do on your days off?"

Thoughtful Mothering said...

You spelled "bored" like a chalk "board." Two different things. Just sayin'. I have mom brain, too :P