Being a stay-at-home mom can be a thankless job some days. You feel like you're killing yourself, and then you look around the house to see that nothing has changed since you woke up this morning. Nothing you can see, at least. But you're still exhausted, and you realize as you're making dinner that you have yet to shower. That's when you stop and wonder how much longer you can keep this up.
On top of your all your hard work work, people are always giving you backhanded compliments and small words they don't realize hurt. And those words cut deep. Because even in your dry shampooed hair and your stained t-shirt, you are doing your best. And you're doing it in a way that is equal parts exhausting, exhilarating, and lonely.
Stay-at-home-moms deserve more appreciation than what they get sometimes. So let's do them all a favor, and make sure to NEVER say any of these phrases that make their jobs all-the-more difficult. They've heard them enough.
1. "It's so great your husband has a job that allows you to do this."
Ummmm. Maybe it wasn't income at all that made someone choose to stay home. Maybe it wasn't a choice. Whatever the reason, it's their family, their money, and their business. Don't comment on it.
2. "I could never stay home with the kids. I need stimulation."
I'm not quite sure what you mean here, Susan, because my kids have already stimulated my nerves AND my gag reflex and that all happened before my morning "break" where I had to expertly plan my bathroom break between Peppa Pig episodes and snacks. If trying to devise a plan to get your toddler to nap and your dog to stay quiet while you calculate how long it will take to wash your hair AND shave your legs isn't challenging, I don't know what is.
3. "Don't you feel weird spending your spouse's money?"
Does my husband feel weird using the towels I washed, dried and folded? Do my kids feel awkward because I prepared the meal they are eating? No. Why would anyone feel bad being part of a partnership? Who said my husband's money belongs to HIM and not the family? If the money is his, then the dinner, snacks, clean clothes, washed dishes, all of the laundered sheets, and clean floors and toilet belong to ME. And I haven't decided yet if I'm willing to share.
4. "I wish I could be a stay at home mom."
I know how easy it is to get jealous of allllll of this I have going on. Wearing my pj's all day and living in a messy bun with unwashed hair and furry legs. But the grass is not greener on this side. It's just different. I don't choose to wear my yoga pants all day and opt out of a hair washing; I am forced to many days because as I was trying to do the laundry, but just as I got the load in the wash, someone emptied a jar of sugar all over the kitchen counter. While I tackled that mess, they got into the paint and I found my bathroom covered in toothpaste. And then when that was over, there was.... see where I'm going with this? Don't pretend my job is a vacation. It's not.
5. "When your kids are all in school, do you plan to get a real job?"
It may seem as if staying home with kids all day isn't a "real" job because I don't walk away with a paycheck, paid time off, or sick leave. But it sure feels like one when my day starts before I've even gotten out of bed in the morning, and my "work" usually wakes me up in the middle of the night (multiple times) to fix a blanket, retrieve a glass of water, or change some wet sheets. It might not seem like the average "job" to you, but it sure feels like work to me when I lay down after a long day. I'm not sure what I'll be doing when my kids are all in school, but I know what I'm doing now sure feels very real.
6. "It must be nice to give your kids attention 24/7."
Sure, it's nice. You know, if you like spending your entire day with a tiny, very bossy and high pitched version of you attached to your hip begging for snacks, treats and your undivided attention. It's especially nice when you need to get something important done — like make a phone call — and you can't do it without meticulously planning or locking yourself into a room while the kids destroy the house you spent all morning cleaning. Just so you could get a few minutes to yourself. It's really "nice."
7. "Don't you wish you didn't go to college just to spend your time doing this?"
Do you regret spending seven years in college changing your major until you ended up with a degree in Human Resources and now work as a photographer? I would never regret my degree and bettering my education. Even if I never use that degree toward my actual career, it's helped me grow. And, who knows, one day I might go back and use it in life. Either way, it's mine. I own it, and I'm proud of it.
8. "You wouldn't understand, you're JUST a mom."
This one TAKES THE CAKE. Being "just a mom" is the most hurtful thing you can say to a stay at home mom. It's true that I might not understand what it's like to work a 9-5 job. I might not have a commute, or adult conversations throughout the day. But just because I'm home all day doesn't mean I'm "just a mom." Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Right next to being a dad. Whether you stay home with the kids or go to work, you are never just a mom. You were someone before kids, and you are someone now.
If you are a stay-at-home-mom, chances are you've heard one of these doozies before. Let's all just agree that whether someone stays home to raise their kids, goes to work, or does some mixture of the two, being a mom is not easy by any means. The next time you have one of these thoughts to share with your SAHM friend, try to keep it to yourself.
Nicole is a realtor, divorced mom of three, and ally to the transgender community. As a mom who achieved her graduate degree alongside growing her family, she understands the importance of finding a work/life balance. Follow her on her blog where she focuses on family, parenting, divorce, and experiences of raising a young transgender child.