I Stay Home…Get Over It

I have the best job ever.

This is my career. How could it be worthless?

Ever since I made the choice to leave my career and stay home with my sons, I’ve been overwhelmed by my choice. There have been periods of time when I felt like I was nothing more than a butt wiper or a housekeeper or, in darkest times, a slave. Some days it is hard to find the silver lining in my current career. But, no fail, right about the time that I am feeling 100% certain about my decision, some working woman or man asks me what I do. The standard response I get when I tell a career person that I am a stay-at-home mom is a simple, one syllable, “Oh.” Conversation over. Clearly, I have no longer have anything current or intelligent to talk about, and no one wants to hear about kids, so they leave. I am a serial conversation killer. I’m not exactly sure when the decision to expend my energy solely as mother and homemaker vaporized my IQ and decimated my inherent worth as a human being, but it happened. Working people get to ask me ridiculous questions about my personal choice without feeling an iota of impropriety. I wonder how they would feel about it if I questioned the validity of their career choice? Really? You’re a programmer? I’ve heard they’ve taught monkeys to do that.

I was fortunate enough to have a choice to make when I was 32: 1) have a career and no kids, 2) have a career and kids, or 3) have kids and no career. I chose what was behind Door Number Three. When Joe was born, I knew that what I really wanted was as low-stress of a life as I could have. To me, that meant not trying to juggle too many things. Steve worked. We could afford for me not to work. We came to an agreement. He puts money in our bank account. I run the house. We share duties with our sons. Our weekends are free to enjoy because I take care of the busy work during the week. As with any choice, it has both good and bad points. The choice I made means I clean toilets and mop floors like Cinderella because we can’t afford a maid. It also means, however, I can go to yoga during the day when my kids are in school because I am my own boss. Like anyone else’s life, my life is a balancing act to keep things working. But, make no mistake about it, I work. Every day. Seven days a week. I get no paid vacation. No bonuses. No salary. But it’s worth it to me because our four lives are more peaceful because of what I do.

To be fair, I know that the work I do is invisible to those on the outside (unless they catch me at Starbucks having coffee with a friend while they’re on their way to work and suddenly I’m no longer invisible). And this is why people feel free to interpret something they know nothing about. Still, I get tired of answering condescending questions. To that end, today I invented some succinct responses to lessen the agony of being asked them repeatedly:

“When do you think you’ll go back to work?” Never. Work sucks.

“What did you do when you worked?” I was an adult film star.

“What do you do with all your free time when the kids are in school?” Day drink.

“Don’t you get bored?” Oh…when I get bored watching Oprah, I take a nap. Crisis averted.

Really, people. I am doing the right thing for me. I only get one shot with my boys. I have to do my best the first time around because it’s the only time I have. Ask any adult child about their relationship with their parents and you will know this is true. Time with our children goes by fast. I have six years left with my beautiful, deep-thinking, first-born son. It will be over in the blink of an eye. I know I have been fortunate to have a choice, and I know that what is right for me is not necessarily right for others. I don’t begrudge anyone their choice. I simply wish others would believe that there’s more to me than my lack of a paycheck. Right now, I’m somebody’s most important person, and that won’t always be the case. Someday they will no longer need me. I bet I will not be on my death-bed regretting the inordinate amount of time I spent with my sons in their youth. I will only regret acknowledging stupid questions about the smartest choice I ever made.

11 comments

  1. You know what burns my ass, Jus? That anyone thinks they have a right to not only judge a person’s life choice but also share their thoughts on it when they were never asked.

    Let’s put aside the fact that just b/c someone is a SAHM people think they don’t work, aren’t caught up on world events and don’t have anything intelligent to share in a conversation but even given pretty box they’ve put you in they assume you’re no more than a sweat pant wearing, pony tail sporting chauffeur, “chef”, bon bon eater, tv watcher.
    UGH!

    It boggles the mind that people can be so narrow minded. It’s your life, your family, your choice(s) and it’s no ones’ business except for the people that live under your roof.
    Not too peeved about this subject, am I?

    Anyone who is or was strictly a SAHM fully understands that your “work” and “free time” are completely misunderstood by the rest of the working parents.

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall for the Q&A at the next gathering you’re at!! 🙂

    1. You’ve gotten to the root of my complaint, Edie. I don’t like being put in a box because I no longer work at a career. The assumption that I am somehow lessened by a choice I made to be with my kids until they are grown is frustrating. Every mother is a working mother. Those who don’t believe that haven’t spent enough time home with their children 24/7. Thanks for the reply.

  2. I stayed home with Zach for 3 months when he was first born. Unfortunately, I think I lack the discipline to stay home. Maybe it would be different now that he’s older. I admire the service you provide your family. The stress gets a bit intense with both of us working.

    1. Honestly, Suzanne, I am always so impressed by families with two working parents. The time and dedication it takes is unbelievable. My hat is off to anyone who can balance that act. I’m not sure I could without going a bit crazier than I already am. 😉

  3. 2 comments:
    #1: My wife learned long ago her response whenever she hears “Must be nice…”
    She says: “Why, yes. Yes it is.” A simple truth.

    #2: I think most folks are livid with envy when they make remarks about one’s chosen course if it does not include the indentured servitude of the wage earner. Wages? Ooh, that was (and still is) a swear word for a cowboy.

    Homemaker, stay-at-home parent, Mr.Mom, housewife… call it what you will. Why must people take offense? Seems like a great gig to me, all around. Of course, we did it this way with five kids!

    Still, the best gig is to be an “artist”. Then you can stay home, live a little trashy, drink a lot, smoke cigarettes, develop emotional issues, and still have no job or boss to report to! Well, maybe that’s just me…

    Keep it fun,

    Paz

  4. Don’t mind them. As long as you enjoy what you are doing and the family is happy, others’ opinions shouldn’t matter anymore. I have a job, but I don’t know how to do half of what you do. Being a wife and mother is not the easiest thing in the world. To each his–or her–own. They should try being you sometime.

  5. I really enjoyed this post. When I first left my FT job to SAH I would get tongue-tied around the questions “What do you do?”, feeling some sort of shame that I was wasting my experience and education, and the silent judgement I felt. Now that I am easing back into work, I realize what a gift that was to SAH. I agree, these years are precious and we don’t get a do-over. As the saying goes, YOLO!

    1. I do feel shame sometimes for saying I am a SAHM. Some reply “Must be nice” (which it is), while others say “Don’t you get bored?” (which I don’t). I am still working on acknowledging my situation for what it is to me…a gift. There will always be critics. My goal is to learn to ignore them. Thanks for your insightful comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s