I teach. I inspire. I manage. I organize. I garden( and can the surplus). I cheer. I support. I clean. I cook. I do windows! I blog! I plan. I volunteer. I’m a busy gal! I am a stay-at-home mom (LOL! whatever that means)! For 26 years now I have had the privilege of being at home with my 4 my kids. Two of them have flown the nest and two remain at home. I’m happy to be able to stay at home with them and to make our home my work.
There’s something that has been a “hot topic” of discussion around our table lately and it’s been gnawing at me a lot lately. Something I’ve encountered from people in the workforce that I just don’t understand. I would like to know why people who work outside the home assume that because I’m a stay-at-home mom, homemaker, domestic engineer, or whatever label you want to put on it, I’m lonely and in need of something to fill my days. Why do they assume that I’m sitting at home with my hands folded in my lap waiting and hoping for something to do? Why? (These are not rhetorical questions, by the way. Feel free to weigh in!)
I remember when I registered my last kid in Kindergarten the principal asked me if I was going to go out and get a job now. What? My kids are my job and I’m hardly ready to retire. That said I have been known to take various part-time jobs to help with finances when needed or just to do something I enjoy doing and make a little extra money. I’ve worked for my church, the local community theatre, and currently I work for an agency that, for a long time, I had served as a volunteer. Each job was temporary and part time. I also volunteer as a 4-H leader, a band mom, a Relay for Life team captain, etc. and at every turn I’ve encountered this phenomenon that I call the “You’re a stay-at-home mom so surely you are looking for something to do with all of your spare time” syndrome.
At the church I worked for I was accused of turning my back on the “Kingdom of God” when I refused their offer to become the church’s full time office manager after I’d filled in there for a couple of months while someone was on leave! I told them that as far as I was concerned the Kingdom of God could be found in my front yard or around my kitchen table after school on any day of the week and I’d far rather work at home than for the church.
My current part-time job is supposed to be as needed and no more than 4 to 8 hours a week. Twice now I have been asked if I would consider working for them full time and I respectfully I have told them no. I try to explain that I already have a full time job, plus a 4-H club of 51 members and a couple of other volunteer positions. Then I was asked if I would be interested in picking up a second part-time position as the office janitor. Again I told them “No thank you. My house is in need of a janitor of its own right now.” The boss lady blinked a couple of times then said, “I don’t understand, I figured you would want the opportunity to get out of the house a couple more days a week. It must get boring to be home all alone while the kids are at school.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? When they are gone is when I get most of my WORK done!
As a volunteer it is often assumed that when a need arises I will automatically fill it because “I stay at home”. Believe me, as the leader of a volunteer organization I am willing to step up and help whenever I can! I believe in good karma! But, believe it or not I do NOT always have free time and when I say no, I often hear the person asking say, “But you don’t work.”, as if I’d forgotten that fact and would suddenly realize that my entire calendar had just opened up!
I’ve had friends come to me when a job opens up where they work. They tell me how they thought of me right away because my kids are in school and I would probably appreciate something to do during the day! Aw…thanks for thinking of me but I’ll be fine. Just hand me a blanket and the remote before you go. I’ll find a way to while away the hours here in the dark. Is that bonbon box empty?
I know that there are plenty of women out there who are happy with their jobs outside of the home. I know that there are many women who LOVE their careers! I know that there are women who, without work outside of the home, would probably go crazy for lack of adult contact. I know that there are other women who would love to stay at home but cannot do it because they HAVE to work. I get that and I RESPECT that. I KNOW how lucky I am to have the opportunity to stay at home and raise my kids. I am fortunate to be able to make home my career. So why can’t I get a little respect that?
And before you start hollering “But Momma T, nobody gets the working mom either”, let me say that I’m not blind (or deaf) to the fact that this situation goes both ways. I know that working mom’s take their fair share of guff and that there are many stereo-types and misconceptions that roll the other way. I also know that working moms no more shirk their responsibilities to their homes and families than a stay-at-home mom sits on the couch eating bonbons and watching TV.
My point is that we ALL work hard at what we do. No one is better or worse for the choices we have made! This is not a contest! This is LIFE and we’ve all got to live to the best of our ability. We need to respect each person’s decision to choose that which is best for THEIR situation. I have my reasons for doing what I do and while I may not do it perfectly, I do it to the best of my ability and I am happy and fulfilled! Isn’t that what is most important? To be HAPPY AND FULFILLED in what we do? Isn’t that what we tell our kids we want for them? I know I want my daughter AND my sons to know that staying at home, IS an option and if it suits their personal situation then they should go for it and be proud! All I’m asking is for R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Just a little bit.