What if I told you that I’m a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t always want to be a stay-at-home mom, but doesn’t want to be anything other than a stay-at-home mom. Does that make you want to reach out to a stranger on the Internet and tell them they should have their children confiscated and given to someone who is more appreciative (aka suffers in silence)?
5 months ago I wrote a blog about being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and I still get hate mail because of it. Last week, a SAHM I know posted a seemingly innocuous Facebook status about her job and the hard work it entails and the trolls came out in droves.
Do you want to trigger someone? You don’t need to touch on guns, religion, or politics. Bring up a mother’s working status and everyone has an opinion. There are plenty of men eager to chime in, but it’s women who can barely get to their keyboards fast enough on this. We all have something to prove and I’ve found women are incredibly defensive when it comes to their contribution to their home. They are incapable of supporting other women, they cannot accept that someone else might have a different experience than them, let alone openly express it.
Maybe we could all decide to settle on the fact that every mom works the hardest and stop trying to win the tired wars. I don’t care to measure myself next to a mom who works a 9-5 then handles dinner, homework, and bedtime. We are not in the same lane. Or against a mother who has 5 kids. Or a mom who works from home, but has childcare. Their lives are difficult at times. My life is difficult at times. Both of those statements can be true. Each situation has its own set of benefits and downfalls and we should spend less time comparing and more time allowing other moms to express themselves without judgment.
I’m done with the Be Blessed, Be Grateful, and Shut Up mommy code.
Once you start wearing the SAHM hat, you trade in your ability to experience the full scale of human emotion. There is only happiness here. Cardinal rule of being a SAHM: you are not allowed to express even the slightest sentiment of unhappiness or dissatisfaction. You are absolutely forbidden from saying that your job is in any way difficult, tedious, or tiring. After all, someone is slaving away so you can stay home. That should be all you ever need, now show your gratitude.
Here’s a simple cheat sheet for when you start craving contact with the human world and realize you haven’t left the house in 5 days. Substitute normal human emotion with any of the following: **wouldn’t trade this life for anything!**, **so worth it!**, ** nothing else I’d rather do!**. If you’re feeling like you’re about to break and reveal to someone your true state, just snap a selfie in Target and pretend that this existence is totally mentally stimulating and fulfilling.
Squash that pesky desire to do anything besides feed, clothe, and play on the floor with your toddler! Because someone is very eager to remind you that these moments don’t last forever. (Thank God?)
There is a reason why moms are trying to sell you shakes and leggings (besides wanting to be a boss babe). It’s not just the lure of financial freedom. It’s an intense need for purpose, pride, and community – an identity, outside of being a mom. So let’s try to remember that when they’re sliding into our direct messages. These women are trying to do something for themselves, and I feel that.
I’m supposed to pretend that I enjoy taking 30 minutes to talk my child into wearing pants? And that the only reason I’m in negotiations to begin with is so I can cart them to a swim lesson, which has absolutely no long term swim skill benefits, but a price tag that suggests it’s ran by an ex-Olympian.
No. Sorry, I’m not gonna do that.
You’re not some all-star because you won’t admit that spending 3 hours on the floor getting yelled at for doing Elsa’s voice wrong isn’t exactly how you want to spend your Tuesday. You’re faking it. And there’s no prize for that.
I’m supposed to tell you that this is what I’ve dreamed of my whole life?
It’s not. I kind of just pictured myself eternally at an MTV Spring Break on a floating platform in the middle of the pool.
Being a mother (of any variety and work status) is a great privilege, but it’s not without sacrifice. Some that are made happily and others through gritted teeth. I understand that dwelling on the negative aspects of our station in life isn’t healthy. But neither is pretending they don’t exist.
I don’t always love being a stay-at-home mom – get over it. It doesn’t mean I’m not good at my job. It doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful. Or that my home is a mess. Or that my children are neglected. It doesn’t mean that my husband is cheating on me, going to, or is miserable. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy. It just means I had a rough day at work; that even dream jobs come with pitfalls.
When people who work outside of the home express unhappiness regarding their position do we lambast them on the Internet? Do we tell them to be quiet, because they chose this? Do we expect them to work through their breaks and lunch? Do we think they’re insane when they get annoyed by their co-workers? Do we think it’s unreasonable that they get vacation and benefits?
Nope. Many working adults live for the weekends in our culture, yet we expect moms who stay at home to unwaveringly love a position that doesn’t necessarily have them.
There is no other job I’d rather have. And there is nothing worth missing these moments for. But that doesn’t mean that moms who stay home don’t need, want, and deserve time away from their children. It doesn’t mean that we should expect them to be completely fulfilled by their domestic roles. That their punishment for their blessings and circumstance is a life sentence of silence; that they traded time with their children for the inability to express themselves honestly without crucifixion. It doesn’t mean I need you to come and remind me how good I have it or how bad I could.
Scarlett Longstreet is a stay at home-ish mom, bartender, and wife. She lives in a suburb of Detroit with her husband and daughter. She writes for www.spilledmilkclub.com. You can follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thespilledmilkclub) and Instagram (www.Instagram.com/scarlettlongstreet).