You’ve heard the expression “Parenthood: the toughest job you’ll ever love.” No? So you don’t think being a parent is a job and more of a “hobby?”
Recently, a post on xoJane.com, titled: Unpopular Opinion: Being a Stay-at-Home Mother Is Not a Job went viral. It was, in my opinion, click bait; meant to ruffle feathers. Apparently from the comments, a lot of people agreed. Being a stay-at home-mom (or dad) is a hobby. What the what?!
Yes, said the author stay-at-moms are hobbyists. La, la, la, pass the Elmer’s glue and glitter, I’m making a fun craft. Maybe we’ll go to the park, or not.
I take so much issue with her premise, I have blisters from my issues with the word “Hobby.” Here’s my (not) favorite excerpt:
Whether you call it a “blessing” or a “privilege,” the fact remains that having someone else foot the bill for a lifestyle that only benefits you and your close family is by no means a “job.” [sic]
Are you fucking kidding me? First of all, how does my raising my child–and not having a stranger do it–benefit only me? I thought we were living in a community, a world where raising good citizens benefits everyone. Come on down, Ayn Rand. It’s all for one and all for one.
Second, some people don’t call it a privilege but a necessity. When the cost of childcare (which can be astronomical, especially if you chose an accredited organization that won’t give your kid Benadryl at naptime) outweighs the potential income of a parent at their “real job?”
How self-fucking righteous are you, really?
Finally, who is this “someone else” “footing the bill?” In the author’s case, she was not wealthy, so why describe it as “footing the bill?” This is condescending; makes it sound like Daddy Warbucks was handing out cash in the delivery room. In many cases, families who chose a stay-at-home parent lose an income. The choice can be financial as well as emotional. Our income went down by half. “Footing the bill” is an elitist description of how many stay-at-home-parents raise their children. For many, it is cutting incomes in half, more or less, while adding a mountain of expenses and responsibilities.
An important side note, and one that makes the phrase “footing the bill” stick in my craw all the more, is that while this author had little money, she did have access to significant support from the U.S. government’s Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) program. She also had free-of-charge child care from her parents.
Now, these are gifts.
The job of a stay-at-home-parent includes both mundane and necessary tasks while the working-for-a-paycheck parent deals with the pressure to provide for a family. That the stay-at-home-parent is not financially compensated does not make their role any less necessary, or routine.
Not once, when I was married, did my spouse stay home with a sick kid because I had a doctor’s appointment, a freelance deadline, or I was puking my guts out. Not once. Because he had a job, he had a meeting, or he was out of town on business. So I did my job.
I never do my hobbies when I’m puking. Do you? I was the stay-at-home mom, and the stay-at-home parent stays home.
Parenting is not a hobby. And stay-at-home parenting is a job if you’re the primary caregiver. If you are raising a person–feeding them, changing their shitty diapers, putting them to sleep, bathing them, teaching them values, dealing with their illnesses, teaching them to share, to go to school, to do homework, to deal with bullies, to not be a bully, to fail at things, to succeed gracefully, to be a friend, and to be a contributing member of society–you are a parent with a job.
If you are caring for their needs, including tending to their security, safety, health, welfare, long-term emotional well-being then you, my friend, have a fucking job.
A cross-stitch is a hobby. You can do it in a weekend and frame it over the fireplace. Raising a child from birth to adulthood, that is a job.
So you don’t get your panties in a bunch, let’s define the word job. A job is a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price. Notice it says “or” for an agreed upon price. In your case, the price is zero. But, is it what you and your partner decided when you agreed it made sense to earn one income, save the cost of childcare and raise your child at home? Price comes in a lot of forms. Open your mind. I’m not saying being a stay-at-home-mom is a career; if only, because I’d be on the fucking fast track for CEO.
But it is a job.
You may have chosen this, as I did. Or, you may not have had a choice. Perhaps childcare cost more than your income would offset. Like anyone with a job, you have good days and bad days. You get to revel in the good and bitch about the bad. The one thing you won’t get is a pay check. You will get the side-eye from “working outside the home” parents, which is bullshit. You will get, “aren’t you lucky, you get to stay home?” which, if you want to be home, you are. But it also sucks sometimes, and you get to complain.
I made a conscious choice to stay home, but I made a shit ton of sacrifices including financial, social, career, emotional, and psychological. Don’t call me a hobbyist. I work hard. Not all parents do, by the way. That’s right, I said it. I’m damn good at my job. I have done it well. Where’s my plaque? Where’s my ten-year gold watch? Where’s my goddamn bonus or trip to Hawaii for best salesperson of the year?
I want to be the primary caregiver to my children. Financially, it has worked, although it wasn’t easy and it hasn’t made me rich. But I have two loving and amazing sons who understand, now that they are older, how much I do for them.
So, job well done, and I’m still employed. No pension, and no 401K, but a lot of appreciation. I have been working my ass off for thirteen years as a mother to two incredible human beings who will someday be highly functional, emotionally healthy, brilliant contributors to society.
I’d call that a job and one I’m proud to have.
Preach it, sister! PREACH. IT.
You tell ’em, Jenny! Hobby!? I think not.
CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP!!!!!!!!!!!! I applaud this. I LOVE IT. Thank you, Jenny, for putting into words what the rest of us have been thinking since reading that horrible essay.
Thank you ladies, now let’s go viral on their asses.
Well done,Jenny.Glad I landed on your page away from the xo Jane mommy war
What a well put response!
Having children usually sacrifice. And sometimes, it’s a HUGE sacrifice for one parent to give up an outside income to raise children. No one loses half their income to a hobby. It’s a tough, tough job.
Amen sister! Amen. Well done.
“especially if you chose an accredited organization that won’t give your kid Benadryl at naptime” BUAHAHA!!!!!!! best.line.ever.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always chosen hobbies that involve poo, lots of cooking and feeling exhausted. The Thing that gets me is that I feel like I never get a break from it. The kids are at school during the day, but I’m still working from home whilst cleaning shit up, doing laundry and all the other stuff that a home – hobbiest would do. Even when the husband gets home, I’m still working. .. bravo, jenny. I agree with you, sister.
Yes, yes, yes.
If it were a hobby, I’d have quit the bitch and run off by now. Fucking hobby, really?
I’m not even sure I like the ‘job’ designation, b/c I’ve quit better jobs than this. A job, I get mandated breaks. At home, I don’t even get to sleep reliably. Seriously, I played Musical Toddlers all. night. long. last night.
Love and adore my Minons, but Mother of God, hobby my ass.
And, just to add on to the whole, ‘not a hobby’ gig, we also homeschool. Yes, that is absolutely a choice, but definitiely not a hobby, for cryin out loud.
A hobby is fun. Done in spare/leisure time. By that definiition, you know what my hobby is? Grabbing a fucking shower.
The absolute BEST: “I never do my hobbies when I’m puking.”
Way to deflate that sad argument. I mean “unpopular opinion.”
Not sure it’s a hobby and not sure it’s a job. For me, it just is.
OUTSTANDING!!!! Bravo, this is spot-freaking-on!! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta get back to my ‘hobby’, they just left a freaking mess for me to clean up in the kitchen.
Said perfectly, Jenny!!!
I’d call it a job too, and one well done! Thanks for writing this. That xoJane article chapped my ass.
True. Hooray! Way to Write!!! I particularly liked your comment about cross stitch~ I cannot do cross stitch, it is math and I always mess up and I often wish I could hang one of the boys on the wall… (thank goodness for photographs, so much safer!) I was fortunate to be able to stay home with the boys as they grew (I subbed as a TA every so often) and spent much of my life volunteering. Oddly, as I look back at my career, I totally get why I’m bored and out of sorts now that everyone is grown and I’m ‘retired’ from the waiting for kids mom scene.
Yes! I’d like to add a comment to the “footing the bill” nonsense. She makes it sound like we sit on our asses eating and watching tv. I think the parent earning the income gets a nice deal too. Dinner when they get home, a clean house, clean laundry. I believe that’s a live in housekeeper. Maybe they should hire one and pay for child care. I don’t know many that can afford that.
Has to be click-bait! No person could be this mentally ill. Great rebuttal!
The thing that most appalls me in the “reasoning” of people such as the author of that xoJane post is the notion that working in, say, sales for some company is a more laudable and respectable and useful thing to do than dedicating time and attention to raising a new human being (your child).
I am a working mom of 3 kids under the age of 6. I would give anything to stay at home with them but alas I am the primary breadwinner and this is not a possibility for my family. That being said I applaud your article and agree with you wholeheartedly. I read the offending article and although I am a working mom found it to be lacking and deprecating. I love your perspective and applaud your rebuttal. My husband works every Saturday and so I get just a small taste of what it would be like if I were home full time- and that, my friend, IS a job.
I hadn’t read the other article you mentioned (so take that other article), but loved all the points you made. Amen sister!
THIS WAS SUPERB!! (Also holding my long hair back is an interesting hobby of mine. And I DO this hobby while I’m puking. 😉
I read this earlier today and I cannot stop thinking about it… I was told how lucky I was so many times with my son fourteen years ago and now I hear it again with my daughter. Nothing has changed in thinking over that time! Childcare where I live is just a little bit less than my take home pay would have been every month! My husband and I sold our nice cars, cashed out my retirement, and he even left his family’s business to take a higher paying job. We made sacrifices to do what we feel is best for our family. What I do at home is a JOB! I love it being a Mom but it is not a fucking hobby!
I don’t know how it happened, but at the end of this article, I felt pretty amped. I felt like one of those big foot ball players gathered around there leader, while said leader yells about how much there gonna dominate the game…. it felt awesome. Thank you 🙂
Preach! Now I’m all fired up. And I’m not a SAHM. Working mom here, and yes, my kid’s not a hobby.
This. So much this!
I chose to give up a career (and and very decent income) to be a SAHM. It is WORK. My daughter has therapy, I homeschool my 4 yr old, I go to school online (4.0 GPA WITH a double major, thank you very much). I am building a freelance editing business, and I work very hard at keeping my kids happy, healthy, and fed. All of this while precariously balancing a budget cut in half.
My husband works very hard to provide for us, but he is gone for at least half of the year. This cuts into our budget because he has to PAY to work. (Oilfield ) It is HARD on all of us. Nevertheless, it is worth every second.
I work harder now than I did when I was a career woman. Oh… and that career was in the Oil and Natural Gas industry. That industry is not conducive to raising children. So, I have returned to school to earn 2 BA’s. One in English and one in Liberal Arts. I intend to build a name for myself… and maybe, to teach.
I have made a commitment to raise the best people I possibly can, and for us, this means I stay home. Sometimes I cry and lament my choice. But, most of the time, it is worth it. My autisitic daughter gets the intense one-on-one care she needs to thrive, and my 4 yr old son gets one-on -one attention as well.
So fuck you to all of the people who think this is “a hobby”. I don’t fucking have TIME for a hobby!
So heartened by all of your support, thanks for reading and commenting everyone. I’m especially pleased the article resonated with non SAHMs. Thank you you moms with jobs outside the home who still get and appreciate the job. And, a point I wish I could have made a million times, that raising a child (future member of society, possible teacher, parent, leader, innovator, etc.) is a huge responsibility.
I have driven my kids to school with a plastic tub on my lap, in my pjs, sick with the stomach flu and unable to get anyone else to help at the last minute. Not a hobby.
Great response! Exactly what the rest of us Stay at Home Moms were thinking. 🙂 Also, I think being a SAHM while financially necessary for some of us is also stressful. We have to try to find shortcuts financially in everything we do. We are the ones who go to the Zoo and bring our own lunches, shop at thrift stores and garage sales for clothes, and try to find as many free or discounted items we can to help our family save money. (all while not getting gov’t help I might add WIC, etc.) We don’t financially qualify but I wouldn’t anyway. There are many things we do to cut our costs as a family because we can’t afford to go to work and pay childcare yet its still hard to live on one income. Its not all fun and games and at least when you go to a 9-5 job you can clock out at the end of the day and take breaks etc. I dont remember the last time I went to the bathroom alone. I could go on and on but if you are a SAHM you understand the everyday stresses of taking care of your child, financial aspects, pointless housekeeping, and still be supportive of your husband working overtime all the time and days off are unheard of……literally it doesnt happen.
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Thank you for writing this smart and funny rebuttal. This is the piece that needs to go viral!
I am SO glad the author of that article considers what she does a ‘hobby’. Maybe it makes it true if she tells herself often what a ‘privilege’ it is that someone else foots her bill. Because let me tell you, I have a completely different perspective. I have been a SAHM for 16 years and it hasn’t always been a privilege. I’ve had people look down their noses at me because of it. They treat me as if I have some sort of disease because I can afford to stay home and raise my children. Barely. Yes, I am fortunate that I can do so, but it doesn’t mean I consider myself elitist or condescending as the author said because I consider it a job. I don’t go off spouting it’s virtues or it’s problems. But I do consider it a job because it is. It is a lifetime career that ends when my children are living on their own. Being a MOTHER is a gift. A SAHM has a shelf life; a MOTHER does not. Being a SAHM is a privilege and a choice, not a hobby. A hobby is a relaxing way to rid yourself of stress, and SAHM’s know better than most what real stress is. So don’t tell me I’m being selfish and diminishing the value of what I do because I consider it a job. I am on call 24/7 all freaking year long. And I’m tired of listening to people demean me personally because of it. I’m tired of the pats on the head and the looks that way “oh, your a stay home mom. How quaint” and “you need to get a real job.” That last one is my favorite because that one was even said to me by my husband at one point. Apparently being a SAHM isn’t a real job to the rest of the world either. And you know why? Because it has no monetary value applied to it. So it must be a hobby. Bravo author, well done! You’ve bought into the propaganda. Good luck with that. Let’s talk when you’re raising two hormone driven teens, a pre-teen, and a toddler on a budget without gov’t and parental assistance. You can tell me then how what I do is a hobby.
(Sorry for the long response Jenny. This got my dander up!)
I wish we as mothers could just support one another. I wish that other article had not been written and you didn’t have to defend yourself or other SAHM’s at all. I read the other article, it stung. I am constantly weighing the sacrifices I am making personally. I would love to have a career and I would love to be respected for the work I do raising my children. You did an incredible job in your writing describing the costs for many women of making this choice to stay home and describing how, for many, (myself included) that the choice is not really a choice at all given the financial bottom line when considering child care. It is my greatest hope that as mothers we can support and respect one another.
I read the other article first and found your comment linking to your rebuttal, and thank you for that.
I was one of the ones who had to quit my job because it would have cost us more in child care, gas, and other expenses to keep working. I’ve had to do freelance work at home just to keep up on the bills. I’ve tried to get a job, because we needed the extra money, but it wasn’t something that was feasible (there are no jobs anywhere nearby that could cover the cost of child care, and any night jobs I applied for either didn’t reply or said I was overqualified). So no, it’s not that much of a privilege for some people. Some people are forced into it.
And now that my husband is working full time and then some and going back to school for his master’s degree to get bumped up a pay grade, I’ve been having to help him with his work because he just has no time left anymore. It’s funny what people consider a hobby vs a job. There are people whose job it is to color all day. Other people consider that a hobby, but some people can get paid 6 digits a year for doing it. It’s also interesting how people won’t consider something a job unless you get a paycheck or work for someone else (such as volunteer work, but some people sneer at that too). You can’t work for yourself for free to society, I guess.
The thing that bothered me the most about her article was how she completely bailed on that pregnant woman because pregnancy wasn’t fun.
“For example, I listened with real compassion to one woman I befriended who spent a year (and thousands of dollars) on fertilization treatments to conceive her second child, only to begin whining about how much it sucked being pregnant once it finally happened. Other women in that social circle were happy to join in with her complaints; I was quick to leave. ”
Way to be supportive… Apparently we can’t complain. Ever.
Also, I’ve noticed I can leave my hobby in the car without worrying about getting the cops called on me… But how many times have I read people telling parents, “It’s your job to always watch your kids!” Mmhmm. They don’t say, “It’s your hobby.” It’s a duty, a job. And it is our job to raise the next generation. I have never heard anyone call it something else.
Preach it. I cannot believe that she would actually write something like that and not think through the ramifications of what she was suggesting. I agree that it’s clickbait and meant to just infuriate us all for traffic purposes. You made some amazing points!
When at my job I teach basic economics to year 7. Lesson one is types of work. Unpaid work and paid work. Unpaid includes volunteer work, unpaid overtime and house/parenting relating activities. Paid work can include chores, helping people out for payment (money/food/help) and jobs.
Currently I am a stay at home mum… My work is in the home. My job is waiting for me at the school I’ve taken 12 months unpaid leave from.
I do not consider this current work a job. I can go on holidays from a job and I get paid from a job oh and all those awesome things like sick leave. When I go home from my job (when I’m not bring marking and planning home) I keep working on maintaining a home. Come October that will include parenting.
As for a hobby… Not commenting on that bullshit.
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