Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about some job related issues. I’ve complained about the new short term economic goals, and while some agree with my analysis, others did not. The people that understand and appreciate the new ethos of pick up and leave, jump from job to job, there is no such thing as stability camp were shouting the virtues of living a happy life. Do what you want because you shouldn’t be beholden to a job. Life’s too short: you need to live.

Ok. For today’s discussion, let’s assume that these people are right. As working for a corporation, or even a steady 9-5 job can be soulless, and frankly, hard to achieve, we’ll go with jobs should be secondary to life.

So…

Why are stay at home Moms (SAHM) brutalized?

I was a SAHM.  In a world where anything goes, why was I given grief about being “just a Mom”?

As TJ pointed out last week, she stated that she always wanted to be a Mom. That was the career she always wanted. She said it almost apologetically though, like, I know it sounds funny, but this is what I wanted.

Why is Mom as a “profession” or “career” not as respected as other things?

Directly, or indirectly I’ve been referred to as lazy, stupid and lacking ambition. The question I have been asked the most is not “How are You”, but “So, what do you do all day.” Because apparently, being a Mom is easy, doesn’t take much time, doesn’t require one to think, and should not even vaguely considered a job.

Why do people take delight in belittling those who chose to stay at home?

Why does your worth as a person still depend on what you do?

Do we automatically respect some jobs while we disrespect others?

I never felt the need to defend my status as a SAHM. I made a choice to do what I thought was the right solution for me and my family. My choice, my decision, no one else’s business.

Yet…..people judged me.

I got snide looks as I showed up to school with cupcakes for the bake sale, or volunteered for field trips, or worked on executive committees for PTA. “Must be nice to have the time”. To this day, people will still say to me, “Well of course your daughter is a good student, you only have one kid and you were home with her all the time. With that situation, any kid would be good.” Really?

Why do people feel the need to make themselves feel better by putting others down?

Why do people think that being a SAHM is easy?

Why do people care so much about what others are doing, assuming it’s legal and ethical?

Judging…….

 

106 thoughts on “What Do You Do All Day

  1. People are going to say stuff like this no matter what you choose. When I owned my boutique, a friend actually said “Wow, you must get bored just sitting in the shop all day.” Pretty sure my mouth fell open because she had NO IDEA how busy I was all day running around doing a million things. Now I’m a SAHM and I’m even busier, lol.

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  2. Love this post!! I was a stay at home mom as well. What matters though now that my children are grown, Is that my children appreciate it it! My son who is now over 30 Has told me it meant so much for him that I was always at home when he was little and he enjoyed seeing me when he came home from school and having me take them to school!! So that makes up for all bashing I took. Now that I’m in my early 50s and I have retired early I am kind of getting all the bashing again!! I guess some people like to be superior and will take jabs if they think they can. My friend tell me the best way to counterpart it is to be good in your own skin!!! Anyway, loved your post!!

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  3. Oh, my. How to sum this up -this major issue that was the impetus for my writing, my depression, my constant questioning of dissatisfaction….

    People do not respect being a stay-at-home parent because of the same reason they do not respect maids, janitors, or even flower shop owners (Candy 😉 ). There is a low barrier to entry.

    I’m impressed that you retained your dignity, because even I look down on myself. I feel that I’m wasting away, as my mind has only the intricacies of a unwashed dish to solve.

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    1. I felt what I was doing was important. Just as I did with the career that preceded being a sahm, and being a college student before…..do whatever you’re doing to the fullest….

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  4. Frankly, I am always amazed people make derogatory statements about someone else’s job, etc. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for the same place for most of my adult life and that it’s become a second family. No soulessness involved. As for SAHM, a lot of derision comes from jealousy, that their economic situation didn’t allow (in perception, because if you minimize “the things necessary ” for life you can always get by) for them to do the same. I don’t have kids, except the furry kind, and don’t have a *real* opinion one way or another. As long as the SAHM feels fulfilled and has no regrets. I say this because most of the moms I know work, not out of necessity but desire. Not all jobs are just jobs. Some provide challenges that help us grow, some are our dreams, some are creative outlets. If having kids was your dream then really that’s your business and no one else’s. On a general note, most of the obvious conflicts in the world today come from people having too much time on their hands and minding the business of others. 😊

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    1. It’s a lack of respect. No one respects anyone else, and no one ever thinks of what challenges others might face. We all need to learn to respect everyone around us!

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  5. Can of worms here LA!
    We could go way back to the ideals of patriarchal society, or even site the Victorian image of a “true woman” in her clearly outlined (by male society of course) sphere. We could talk about all those outdated ideals that still hang on into 2019 and how woman are judged no matter what they do because they are somehow not following a prescribed plan. We could spend hours debating the idea that women are human and have free choice just like men. We could focus on the subsequent guilt and frustration and hostility to invades a woman’s life when she chooses to exert her choice, as well as the judgement by every single person around her for that choice.
    How long do I have to write this dissertation on outdated and sexist gender ideals and place in society?? 🙂

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      1. Oh definitely, the judging is a thing is so many aspects of human life. And snobbery goes right along with that. But of course this is all learned behavior and thus we have misplaced and outdated historical viewpoints that only add misery to the situation.

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  6. Some times I have envied the stay at home mom. But you know when dealt with the grandchild and two dogs in cages, I thought again, hmmm…she isn’t all day on social media. I just called to renew my teaching certificate and the lady in customer service was a bit condescending at times. There is always someone who thinks the pasture is greener until they hit it. The stepson and his wife now complain about the nearby school district and she has professed interest in becoming a teacher. I encourage her Try as after all I don’t have children but I read every paper and know the students very well throughout the different collegiate and public school jobs. She does have time to sub and this will give her an outlet but yes, th e grass in not always greener and not everyone can do the job.

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      1. Exactly. I got tired of hearing, “she doesn’t have children,” and I was tired of hearing them put down the teachers. We all work hard but parents are also responsible for their children. Anyway, thanks for listening. And you are right, just because she posts often doesn’t mean anything. I may need to delete my social media accounts! LOL.

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  7. I ranted a little because I hate when people judge teachers so harshly. I hope she become a substitute teacher and then has to go through all the certification courses and paperwork. I hope she makes it and I hope I make it politically safe through the holiday dinner with them. Smile on and moving forward. Enjoy the day. I know most stay at home moms and dads contribute to the well being of their home and children. There are always exceptions to every situation.

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      1. I know she is a good mom but being a good teacher doesn’t always mean you should be a parent. Yes ,you may understand some things about children more but don’t judge others. Being an effective teacher or instructor at any level is hard. I hope she tries it, so she can understand. We shall see.

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  8. I’ve been pondering this judging thing lately. I’m guilty of it. Not your situation but just what people do with their life and how they work. This is the mentality at work and I’m trying to rise above it. I guess it makes the day go.faster when you talk about other people’s faults. I try to stay by myself and not to caught up in the gossip and focus on what I need to fix in my life.

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  9. Why do people take delight in belittling those who chose to stay at home?

    Jealousy. Plain and simple. Many people cannot survive and thrive without someone else telling them what to do. Staying at home means that you are willing to be responsible for all that you do– and when you succeed it bugs the snot out of people who were rooting for you to fail.

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  10. Everyone would like to stay at home, not having to commute, making your own choices sound like retirement in the minds of many stuck in jobs they don’t like but need. The fact is that most women don’t have the choice and they resent that they don’t, and their husbands are well informed of that fact.

    SAHM are not in retirement, I think most of them are still working, albeit unpaid, more than an 8 hour day but they do in a variety of ways spread out.

    It’s a fact SAHM don’t get the respect they should, but that’s probably not going to change because of every Mom (and/or Dad) who has to go to work while she/he inwardly wishes she/he didn’t.
    Rather than think of how SAHMs are not valued by adults, I like to think of the kids who are so happy when they come home at lunch or after school and their Mom is there. I remember that, my Mom was a SAHM while I was in early grades, and coming home for lunch, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches after a walk in the rain is a special memory.

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    1. See, I’ve heard SO MANY women say they just can’t imagine sitting home, doing nothing, because they have such a fulfilling career. I think we just have to stop envying, coveting, and thinking everyone has a better life than they do. Life is hard enough without comparing

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  11. When I was working and pregnant with OC, a large majority of my coworkers were stunned when I only took my leave and came back to work after he was born. All of them assumed I’d just stay home. As much as I wanted to be a mom (as I mentioned, it was the only thing I’d ever really thought about as a future goal when I was younger), at the time I also really wanted, and needed, what I got out of my job. I didn’t have a lot of choice then when it came to finances, but if I did, I still would have chosen to go back to work. It wasn’t until I’d been married again and the core nature of my job changed and I was no longer getting the same things out if it that I chose to become a SAHM. Both of those choices were the right ones for me.

    I’m not social enough to have gotten many judgements about staying at home, I did get a whole lot of assumptions about my available time from family and the few social avenues I had, though. I made the mistake of taking on a role on our HOA board and everyone expected me to do the bulk of the work because I was home all day and had the time to spend full time hours doing the work of a volunteer. The other members never understood when I told them I didn’t have time to do it all. I’ve even battled this attitude with Hubby a few times over the years. Now that the kids are old enough to mostly do for themselves, I do have a load of “free” time, but it comes in spurts and blocks. I have things I still have to do as a SAHM that may take me all day or even several days to do. It all still kind of balances out in the end.

    One thing that a lot of people looking in from the outside don’t ever see is the fact that most SAHMs don’t ever actually get a vacation from their job. It is there always. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even going on actual vacations is work when you have kids. I’ve still cooked. I’ve still done laundry. When the kids are still young and still need so much, those things don’t go away when you are on vacation. Yes, my Hubby was always amazing in how much he took on, but he didn’t do it all. A SAHM can’t walk away from work and leave it there to go home. It is ALWAYS there.

    Over the years (I’m looking at 18 years of SAHM time), I’ve considered trying to go back to work because I’ve felt like I’m not doing enough to contribute to the household financially. I’d love to take some of the pressure off my Hubby to get us to retirement. I have more reasons than just the kids as to why that never happened, but I’m glad that I’m still here for my kids even though they are high school students. There are a lot of days they come through the door and they both fill me in on stories of their day before the door even closes. I am in awe of what I’ve gotten the privilege of experiencing with them and I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to have that.

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  12. My son asked me once what I did all day (he was maybe seven or eight?) and I said I watched tv and ate candy all day. And he believed me! Then I had to explain that laundry and bill paying and dinner etc didn’t happen by magic. I am a SAHM now but that happened after a 21 year military career so technically I am also retired. How I answer depends on the context and who is asking “So what do you do?” The mom career is way harder than the military career, at least for me. I do hate it when I feel the need to defend doing the full-time Mom thing though. It was a planned and thought out choice. I didn’t want someone else raising my child when he was tiny and now that he is in school I want him to enjoy his holidays and time at home after school. I think about going back to work but I feel my focused presence is still important to his development (he is 12 now), maybe even more so as he gets older.

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    1. I did freelance things when she was# growing up, but I wanted the opportunity to spend as much time with her as possible. It was a choice that came with risks and rewards, and both up and down moments…like everything* else in life

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  13. People that think being a SAHM is easy have obviously never been one! I remember once when I as a SAHM with two preschoolers having to go away for a full day for my Grandmother’s funeral. I left my hubby 3 full A4 sheets of instructions for the day and that was only for looking after the kids – not any of the other tasks I normally managed to fit in. Let’s just say that after that experience he was slightly more appreciative of what I did every day. 😉

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    1. The problem is, if you ask someone if they’re judge mental, they’ll say no way, not me….the goal is to get them to look at their actions and words before they answer

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  14. Yeah, I never ran into that. First of all, David and I work out of our house; which was very helpful because Ry has had issues, including autism, throughout his life. School was a nightmare. If I had to work for someone else, I would have lost my job. I’ve had to fight two school districts. Working at home gave me flexibility. Nothing like catching up on our business while baking cupcakes at 2 AM. Also, my daughter was very ADHD. Turned out I’m ADHD as well. Plus there was the a-hole ex that we/I had to constantly deal with. And David’s side of the family. Fun. Needless to say, I stayed busy both working for our business, volunteering, and keeping our house and lives functioning. The kids are grown, of course; and the moment they stabilized (sort of) in high school, I started college and went on to get my Masters. This year as we wind up our business and settle into retirement, I’m trying to re-coup and regain my health. I think I’ve dealt with one too many stressful things. I was going to go into a professional job as a counselor, but I’m putting that on hold indefinitely. Anyway, now I’m dealing with my health! I dare someone to come up and suggest to me that as a SAHM, I didn’t work my butt off and then some. Also, now I’m writing and blogging and still trying to maintain the house. Though the dust can wait at this point in my life. Writing is more valuable to me. Long story short, I have two kids that (thank God!) are finally grown up and doing well. Ry will continue to live with us because of his continued issues. However, he continues to make important strides. The idea of raising children is for them to become well-adjusted adults. It sounds like you did your job very well. I think that given all that David and I encountered, we were successful on that count, too. BTW, if someone else is so busy judging my life or someone else’s life, the real question is why they have so much time on their hands to do that? Actually, I think that many say absurd things about other people because they want to believe that the grass is greener on the other side from where they stand. It’s a common misconception. The point is, the manure gets spread around fairly evenly–though, there is no question that some get more manure than others. Even so, no one lives an ideal life (even if they would have you believe differently) and life is a struggle for all of us. No human is immune from the condition of being a human, so more compassion and humor and less judgment is always welcome! If someone doesn’t realize that, a listening ear as they vent about their troubles is sometimes helpful. Not always, but sometimes. Okay, clearly this triggered me. Sorry about that. I remember days when I felt like there was no way I could continue to maintain and how harsh some people could be with their criticisms. Most of those people have been kicked in the teeth once or twice by now and have mellowed considerably. So, yeah…does any of this make sense? Mona

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  15. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years. I didn’t think of it then but now I would give this answer if someone asked me what I do all day. I would tell them I do everything a babysitter or daycare center would do if they were taking care of my children. In other words, the people that would get paid to do what I do, that’s what I do. 🙂

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  16. This is a great topic! I’ve always appreciated the stay at home mom, or dad. That’s hard work. It translates into dollars earned (saved). People have done the math on this but I can tell you that if you have to pay for daycare, there’s no point in having that second income stream because that’s all it can pay for. I personally loved being a dad and loved child care. I also did most, like 90%, of the housework when I was married, and all of it when I was single. No judgment for me. Stay at home moms are great ! It’s hard work. And I think it helps keep the kids centered and on track too. No latch-key kid problem either 🙂

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  17. When you are out at a job, who is looking after the child or children? Someone has to. More status with ‘working’ and that’s okay if parent(s) want to do it, but they couldn’t unless someone was taking on the childcare role.

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      1. It’s just that some people can be so snide that they are working and you are not – they feel superior, but if someone wasn’t taking care of the child or children (your choice or maybe not if you have one or more) they wouldn’t be able to do it.

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  18. “Do what you want because you shouldn’t be beholden to a job. Life’s too short: you need to live.”- couldn’t agree with this more!!

    Also I really think that stay at home mums should be applauded not denigrated!! I’ve no idea if that’s what I want for myself (I haven’t decided yet and don’t know if I’ll have the option to be honest) but my mum was a SAHM for a fair part of my/my siblings childhood and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s a full time and important job! It’s really sad to see how things have gone from one extreme to the other (from not allowing women in the workplace/in the same roles as men) to shaming women for choosing to put their family first! (like I said, if it’s possible- I don’t know in the modern financial climate if it’s even possible to make the same choices, cos, at least in my neck of the woods, wages have stagnated so badly most families need two adults working- so I definitely don’t want to shame people in that position either) Basically, people should be allowed to make whatever decision suits them- if being a career mum is what you want, then do it, and if being a SAHM is what you want, do that!

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  19. I think this issue has been around since women began working outside the home. In the early 80s I was told I was doing my children a disservice by not putting them in daycare where they would learn to socialize. I worked two days per week.

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  20. A combination of the grass is always greener and if someone made a different decision or is doing it differently out of necessity then people judge, judge, judge. I had friends who really disliked being home with their children and were better parents by working. I know when I was a SAHM, my work day never ended. There was always more laundry or lunches to make, or whatever. Long hours and low pay! 😂

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  21. Let’s face it…everyone has an opinion and most think it is their duty to tell the rest of us what we should or should not be doing. If we all started really listening to our inner voices and doing the things we find joy in the world would be a much better place. No place in my life to criticize people for choices and lifestyles they maintain. Although, being an independent self driven woman I have had tons of people throughout my life that seem to think that their opinions about my life choices should matter. Nope! I did just fine making my own way doing my own thing even if it wasn’t popular. Go out and live your life people. Great insightful post LA!

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  22. Been a SAHM for 19-20, and yeah, I got those looks like you did. And I was hesitant to tell people I was a SAHM because of what they’d think. So, I can totally relate. Reading your post about people’s responses sounded like these women were a bit jealous and wanted to stay home with their kids but couldn’t due to financial reasons, perhaps? We were never “rich”, but we budgeted and such for me to stay home. I wanted this since I was 13 years old, and before I married my husband, we talked about my staying home when we had our children. And we stuck to that ever since and never regretted it. My husband always supported my staying home with the children, so having his support was much appreciated. Also, in this day in age (the past couple of decades), some women have wanted to work outside the home and pursue other things because motherhood. So, I was a victim of my society and thought being a mom was nothing much. I believed the cultural trend at that time. But every time I’d talk to my spiritual father/priest, he’d have to remind me that what I’m doing is the most important job because it affects the lives and souls of those I’m raising to become adults and live their own lives in this world. After several reminders by my priest, it finally stuck. Even if I’d not had a special needs child to care for, I’d still have been a SAHM. Thanks for blogging on this topic. It is important.

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    1. Thank you. For me, I’d had a wonderful career for fifteen years, but I also worked a lot. I came to the conclusion that if I did both, I would do neither well, that each aspect of my life would be just getting by. I didn’t want to just get by with raising my kid….but it was my choice and I owned it.

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      1. Makes a lot of sense to me. Years ago in the 1990s, I watched an Oprah episode where women were so concentrated on their careers that they fell behind on finding a mate and having children. Many of them on the panel ended up having fertility troubles because of it. The woman gynecologist talked about waiting until your late 30s meant your eggs were drying up and made it more difficult to have children. It was out of the prime window time. And what the episode came down to was that women can’t “have it all” without something suffering, and your comment shows you were well aware of that, and that’s a good thing. Quite smart, imo. I realize some people don’t have the resources or means to not work when they have children. But if you can, I think it’s a good thing to be there for them, especially in their younger years.

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      2. I don’t regret my decision at all. I was in my late thirties when I got pregnant. If I’d been younger, it might have been a different decision, but you have to try to do what feels right

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      3. I also had a long career and continued to work part time after my son was born. A couple of years ago I realized that a baby/toddler/young child kind of just needs to be somewhere or be “watched” but an older child has more interests and activities outside of school.
        It seemed I either needed to work full time and hire someone to drive him around, make dinner, etc. or become a full time mom. Financially it wasn’t a concern for us, however, for many people that may be the main issue. Sometimes I have felt judged and wonder if maybe they are jealous that they are not financially able to do so?
        Personally I compare myself all the time with SAHMs who have more than one child and try to justify, so I even judge myself harshly!
        You make a good point about age of a SAHM. I also was “not 40 yet” when I had my son and if I had been 10 years younger I would not have been at the point I was in my career and life in general.

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      4. The age really matters. When I was younger I was still trying to prove myself….when I was older I realized that none of that really mattered. I think everyone has different expectations, and while economics is a reality, some people just choose to live differently. It’s no ones business how anyone really decides to conduct their life, especially is they’re not asking anything of you

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  23. Just yesterday, I was thinking about how there were times in the past when I felt the need to belittle other people. I was never outright mean. I was always passive-aggressive (so I could plead ignorance). So, I asked myself, “Did I do this because I was competitive?” I thought, “No, because there were certain people that I always respected.” Then I thought, “Was it about control?” And I think it was. It was about letting people know that my life choices were better, and therefore, they should follow my lead. I thought that the world would be a better place if everyone acted in a certain way. My desire for the world to be a better place actually made it a worse place. When I let go of trying to control other people, then I become free to be kind to them.

    Anyway, I’m sorry that people made you feel bad about your life choices. It’s shitty, but I’m not going to pretend I have any idea why anyone else would try to make you feel bad. I am still figuring out my own pathologies.

    One of the things that I love about living in Japan is that it is still a perfectly acceptable goal to be a SAHM. It’s also still a perfectly acceptable goal to work the same mid-level job for 30 years. I’m not against ambition, but if everyone thinks they have to be the best, then a lot of people are going to end up feeling inadequate.

    When I first moved here, the first thing I noticed was how happy SAHM’s seemed. As a matter of fact, the only people who looked happier were the little kids who were with their moms all day (they tend to operate in groups). I think that here, SAHM’s are respected as important contributors to society and are given support to do their jobs well. I can see that it results in a more stable society overall. Also, in a world that is as tough as this one, why begrudge anyone their happiness, even if it is temporary? Isn’t happiness always temporary, anyway? For the record, I’m someone who chose a completely different life. I never wanted children and never had them.

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    1. I don’t begrudge anyone’s choices, because no one knows what goes on in the hearts and minds of others. No road is easy, and all require hard work. We just need to stop judging!

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  24. I had had to defend myself as a SAHM for YEARS! Even against my own MIL who did the same and she never held a job (whereas I did before hubby and I chose that I would stay home). And now, divorced with kids in college, that’s the question I still get – What do you do all day? As if I’m sitting on my a** eating bon bons all day…it burns me up when I get that eye-roll and question – You mean you don’t work? What do you do all day? As if I’m less than someone else who works a full-time job. SAHM is a full time job that gets no vacation time nor pay for overtime. And even though kids are in college, one still lives here so I’m not alone, nor relieved of my parenting since I’m custodial parent. It’s worse when I’m starting to talk to someone new and they look at me like I’m not motivated to work outside the home. I’m sorry. I guess I went on a rant…this is a tough subject for me. But I’m staying a SAHM until I feel like changing my life. Life is too short to be handcuffed to a job and not make relationships and connections in life. I get the financial gains (and need them) but still…SAHM’s are the best! 🙂

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    1. You are so right, it is just that people can’t or won’t put themselves in the same position so they belittle what they don’t understand. Childcare workers are hugely underpaid and I think to myself, you begrudge the money you spend to take care of the most important person in your life?

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  25. You won’t find a lot of people admitting this, but stay-at-home moms pick up an awful lot of slack for working moms in terms of driving, after school care, etc. I know because I did it. The real problem is that society as a whole has no respect for SAHMs. There are more back to work programs for prisoners than us, and often by the time we try to re-enter the workforce, we must deal with age discrimination and questions about gaping holes in our resumes.

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  26. Really good point. People are so judgemental and narrow minded. I was laid off at one point with my first child and I got to be a stay at home mother. It was great I got all that bonding time and gave her unconditional love, that’s not really what they get at a daycare. When I went back to work I realized wow being a stay at home mom is definitely more work. Your trying to multitask and take care of a another person at the same time. You don’t realize how much work it is until you actually experience it. Especially stay at home moms with more than one child.

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  27. As a society, we sure like to judge.

    I’ve always worked. I’ve had to – for I’m a single parent and there’s no one else paying my bills. I’ve been judged oh so many times – by everyone from colleagues, other parents & teachers at my daughter’s schools, to government departments, my parents, church-goers, men I’ve dated, and total strangers. It’s gets so that it’s water off a duck’s back – except it isn’t. It’s a PITA, it’s hurtful, nasty, and damaging as all get out for confidence and self-worth. But hey – I have an amazing daughter and she’s been worth all the judgemental behaviour I’ve ever received. I like to think I’ve proved people wrong in the best way possible 🙂

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  28. I was a stay at home Mom for most of my kids childhood , but I was surrounded by a lot of other moms that were also. I didn’t get a lot of judgement, but as a retailer I did. It was scorned, not respected and people just assumed that it was easy to do. They still do, I have watched people degrade store help whether it is a cashier or stock help or management. It will never be a respected profession, but one that I enjoyed for years. So when people say “oh, well I suppose I can always get a job in retail, it’s not brain surgery” Tell them for me that it is if you do it right.

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  29. I am not a mother yet, and am in awe of what my parent friends do. Those who work full, part time and those who are stay at home parents.
    No one has the right to judge, because no one knows where you’ve been, what your goal is, what you have to deal with each day.
    As I said I’m not yet a parent but reading this makes me so angry, people like to put everyone in a box with their own ideas of why they’re put there. It’s ridiculous x

    Liked by 1 person

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