"Stay at home Mom." Why does that come across as so boring? Sure, I happen to be a "work-from-home Mom" with my businesses, but even without my businesses, just being home to raise my kids is far more work (and more rewarding!) than any paying job I've had. I mean, think about it...you are devoting your entire day (minus nap time and the 5 seconds you have alone in the bathroom before your toddler barges in) devoted to molding a human life into a responsible, contributing member of society. You are influencing someone's future Mommy or Daddy, someone's husband or wife...You're creating the future of humanity for crying out loud! "The children are our future!!"
Yet, somehow whenever I hear someone remark, "oh, you stay at home with your kids?" or "she used to work at such-and-such company but now stays at home with her kids," it comes across as some kind of "easy" route. Because "work" is, you know, "work," so everything else must be like a day off, right? I mean, can't you just toss the kid a snack and a toy and then sit back on the couch with your bon bons?!
I think, to over analyze a bit, the part that urks me is the word "STAY." To me that makes me think of being still, just standing there, doing nothing while everybody else "GO's." Like something you do at the amusement park with the kid who's under 42" tall while everyone else rides the wild roller coaster. It sounds so sedentary...yet "staying" at home with kids is anything BUT that! I don't think a day goes by when I don't feel like I've been run over by a truck by the time the kids are in bed!
When you talk about work, you use the opposite word..."GO!" I'm going to work! Sounds a lot more physical, more active, more...I don't know...exciting? I used to work at Best Buy's corporate headquarters designing store fixtures. Yes, it was a fun place to work...great people to be around, business trips to places like New York and Hollywood, and even the occasional celebrity roaming through the building. But, like any job, it wasn't without it's boring days sitting in the cubicle. Every job has it's up's and downs, including parenthood, but it's ALL hard work!
Today I still get to do the same kind of work for Best Buy and many other companies as a freelancer from my home office. Sure, it may have lost some of it's sexiness, but I love having the ability to keep my career going while being home with my boys. I get excitement in other new ways, like watching my child take his first step, middle-of-the-night trips to the ER, and chasing a toddler with dog poop on the bottom of his shoes as he darts across a newly vacuumed living room carpet.
I looked up the word "stay" in my good ol' non-electronic dictionary (yup, they still print those!) and found paragraphs of definitions...some fitting and some not for the "stay at home mom."
"to stop moving; halt" or "to wait; pause" ... seem not so fitting to describe my day at home.
"to endure or persist" or "to hold out or persevere to the end of a race or challenge"...now there's a better definition!
Okay, so just like the job of a stay at home or a work-out-of-the home mom, "stay" can be viewed as both an active or sedentary term. It's all in how you look at it. Maybe I should call myself an "endure-at-home mom" or a "persevere-at-home mom". So as a "stay" at home mom, I thought I'd take it upon myself to remind everyone that "stay" doesn't just mean to sit still or be held back from something.
All stay-at-home moms are work-at-home moms, because motherhood itself is hard work! And "working moms" are ALSO working when they get home from work! In the end, all moms work. I'm a mom, and I work. (and play!) That's it. All moms work by definition. Who cares where you are doing it (office or home?), who you work with (co-workers or kids?) or how you get "paid" (paychecks or hearts drawn with crayon?). When people ask me what I do, I usually tell them I run 3 businesses out of my home with my 2 boys. Maybe I should say that I run 5 businesses...GF Design, Paintertainment, Junk Mail Gems, AND Sammy and Toby! (I just happen to love two of them WAY WAY more than the rest. )
I admire all kinds of moms...those who "stay" at home with their kids every day, those who have part time jobs, and those who have full time jobs. Being a mom is a hard enough [24/7 full-time] job already without having people judge you for your decision to work in or out of the home. Those of you who work out of the home, I applaud your ability to juggle and manage your time and roles! Those of you who stay at home, I applaud your ability to keep up with your kids all day! You're all amazing!! Of course, being that I LOVE my own situation, it's natural of me to want to wish the same upon every other mom I know. But, in reality, I know it's just not for everyone.
Both working and stay-at-home moms know just how much work and how rewarding it is being a parent, whether you are physically with your kids full time or not, and I'm hoping this post will help everyone who does NOT have kids to understand that moms work hard no matter were they "stay" or "go" in whatever location you think is more "work." I think that no matter how confident we try to be in our decisions, the sad fact is that many stay-at-home AND working moms feel just a little insecure sometimes when talking to someone who's doing the opposite or who's not a parent. A stay-at-home mom may feel like other women are looking down on her for being "just" a mom, while a working mom may feel like other women look down on her for not being with her kids 100% of the time.
Let's remember to lift each other up, not look down...We can all use a little support and encouragement! It's a tough decision to make whatever way you go, so pick up the phone today and tell a mom that she is doing a great job at motherhood however she chooses to do it...unlike our "work" lives, moms don't have a "boss" giving us praise for a job well done. So here's a little "quarterly review" for all you moms out there from one of your co-worker mommy peers...
Great job not losing your temper the other day when your kid was driving you nuts! Great job getting out of bed to get the big kid ready for school when you were up all night with the baby and your hubby was snoring away! Good for you for being conscious and vertical when calling in sick was not an option! NO ONE can comfort your child with an owie like you can! You're all AMAZING, even if you feel nobody may notice half of the work you do...keep on keepin' on! Give yourself a RAISE and a big fat BONUS of a little "me" time...if you can squeeze some in! You've EARNED it and you're all SUPER MOMS!! :-)