Saturday, October 27, 2012

You Can't Claim to be Both

One of my friends, who happens to be a SAHM, posts regularly on Facebook about how she does work, she raises her kids, takes care of her house, etc. It is work. She's tired of people saying she doesn't work, SAHMs do work, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe she's getting some flak from someone in her life about not having a paying job. I don't know. I've never heard anyone say anything to her. I've never seen anyone post anything but supportive things in response to her rants. But I'm not around every moment of every day.

Maybe she's feeling guilty about not having a paying job, and is dealing with some of her own internal issues.

I don't know.

What I do know is that she also regularly posts about where she took the kids that day, how they visited her mom, how she took them to have lunch with her husband, how they went to the park.

And this morning's status really got to me, on a personal level: she posted about how cuddling with her kids after breakfast is the best part of her day.

That's awesome. It really is. I think it's great that you have time to cuddle with your kids after breakfast. I think it's awesome that you get to take your kids to the park in the middle of the day & stay as long as you like. I think it's fantastic that you get to visit your mom whenever you feel like it, or have lunch with their dad once a week. I really do think it's great.

I also acknowledge the fact that she (and other SAHMs) work really, really hard to raise their kids, take care of their homes, etc, etc, etc. It is real work. Please don't take anything I say to mean otherwise. It is work. I acknowledge that, and respect the work that SAHMs do.

But the fact is that you do stay at home (hence the term SAHM).
The fact is that you do not have a job that provides income for your family.
The fact is that it is distinctly because of these two things that you have the honor & privilege of enjoying cuddling with your kids as long as you like after breakfast, taking them to the park in the middle of the day  & staying as long as their hearts desire, or visiting your mom for a chat.

There's a reason I take these statements personally.

I take it personally because almost daily my daughter asks me to cuddle in the mornings, and I have to either tell her 'no', or tell her 'only for a few minutes', and then watch the clock like a hawk... because I have a job to get to and don't have the luxury of enjoying extended cuddle time every morning.
I take it personally because today my daughter asked if I could take her to the park after work tonight, and I'm trying to figure out how we can squeeze it in, because I already know I need to stay a bit late at my job tonight, and we're running out of food, so I need to go grocery shopping, so I'm afraid working in a trip to the park probably isn't in the cards at all, and if so, only for a quick 15-20 minutes... because I have a job that takes up the majority of my day.
I take it personally because I adore when I get to visit my parents with my daughter, but those visits are maybe once a month, almost always at the end of a work day, so we don't get much relaxed time to chat... because I have a job that has taken up the beginning of my day.

I take it personally because I can't take my daughter to lunch, we've tried it, because she has too hard of a time saying good-bye to me again in the middle of the day... because I have a job to get back to.

You may think that being called a SAHM is somehow an insult, is somehow a sneaky way of saying that you "don't work", but it's not. It's a way to acknowledge the amazing life that you are honored to lead. Stop selling yourself short by trying to justify your existence.

Stop devaluing the time you are privileged enough to get to spend with your family by insisting on getting credit as a "working" mom.

And stop devaluing my contributions to my family by insisting that you're a working mom too.

Because you're not.
Just as I don't know the challenges of being a SAHM, and would never try to claim to, it's time to admit that you don't know the challenges of being a working mom, so stop trying to claim that too. Either you're a SAHM, or you're not. The lives of SAHMs and Working Moms are distinctly different. You can't claim to be both.

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