When did being a “Stay-at-home Mom” become one of the weakest jobs a woman could have? This question has got me wondering ever since I became one. Why are some women so embarrassed of saying “I’m a stay-at-home mom”? Why has referring to another woman as “a stay-at-home mom” become a taboo like you’re somehow insulting or offending her?
It’s a fact. Most of us moms don’t have a profession – as in a traditional sense: a career, a 9:00-5:00 P.M. job, lunch with coworkers, monthly meetings, 15 minute breaks, or even written schedules. I think the awkwardness has to do with money, right? People assume that if a mom is working, it’s because she can’t afford to stay at home; which is rude and probably wrong. People also assume that if a mom is staying at home, it’s because she’s going to Pilates in her Lululemons every morning with her husband’s credit card; which is also rude and probably wrong.
The stay-at-home moms that I know are not fancy or spoiled. In fact, the dynamic of my marriage changed a lot when I stopped bringing home a salary. I have to follow my husband’s lead and sometimes it’s super sad because my ritual Home Goods trips for home décor, my tall Flat White at Starbucks, or my usual gel manicures are not line items in his budget considerations.
Here’s the truth of it, for me at least. I don’t look back longingly at the medical career I “sacrificed” to stay at home with my daughter. I do, however, look longingly at the adults that get to calmly sip on a hot cup of coffee alone in their living room and run errands without dealing with a carseat or a stroller. Staying at home with a child doesn’t mean relaxing on the couch watching uninterrupted episodes of Friends. It’s chasing my 10 month old daughter around the house so she doesn’t fall and hit her head, it’s picking up every disaster she creates in each room, it’s feeding her (sometimes trying to convince her for hours), it’s negotiating so she allows me to change her diaper, and of course, keeping her nap time schedule. Not only for her growth and needs, but for my sanity as well. It’s also doing piles of laundry, keeping the house clean and tidy, and of course making breakfast, lunch, and dinner while looking pretty so your husband doesn’t end up leaving you for a fun and light-hearted 25 year old that he met at some random bar while out with his friends. Sometimes our days are incredibly smooth and happy, and some days are just “bad days”. Not because my daughter is a bad baby, but because I get overwhelmed with the constant movement I do around the house and because I rarely get a break from it. And just like any other job, it has its ups and downs.
Putting my daughter in daycare was not an option for us because I knew it would be incredibly hard on me. I couldn’t deal with the idea of seeing her around strangers all day just so I could have a couple of hundred bucks in my checking account. I wanted to be around and see my daughter grow. I wanted to see every milestone and be able to guide her in everything. And even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, I found the strength from deep inside of me to get a decent paying job working from home (with conference calls and all). I went through a whole career change (completely out of my comfort zone), and I’m still able to take care of my child. I made it through long sleepless nights, through sickness, and strong emotional distress. Those were emotional battles sometimes hard to overcome, especially because I felt defeminized. I slowly pulled myself together because I really needed to prove to myself and my husband that I could do it. I needed to feed my soul with something tangible, with something obtainable, and with tons of passion. Once I finished studying for my new and exciting career, I felt empowered. I felt proud of myself because I felt like I could do it all. I am now preparing myself to take my certification test which will definitely get me an even better paying job than the one I have now. This will again change the dynamic of my marriage because I’ll be able to provide with my salary from the convenience of my own home. This will also change the way people see me as a simple “stay-at-home mom”. I’m not looking for a pat in the back, recognition, or a nobel prize. I’m simply trying to illustrate how fierce and determined a woman can be and how much we’re also able to accomplish by just being at “home”.