“But, Mommy, You Don’t Work” – Rant of the Week

December 17, 2010 · 2 comments

It is the accusation every Stay at Home Mom dreads hearing from her kids, “But, Mommy YOU don’t work!” What horrible, awful words! I think it might be easier if a child actually stuck a knife in her Mom’s heart.

I recently heard this accusation out of the mouth of my 12 year old.  How could it happen that after making the sacrifice to give up a career, to chuck my most income-producing and career-expanding years to raise a family that a child of mine could consider what I do as “not work?”

I thought that stay at home moms were past all this.  I thought being an at-home mom was “the hardest job in the world,” that a mom is the”CEO of her family,” that being a mom is “the most noble job on the planet.”  And then out of the mouths of babes, THE TRUTH, “Mommy, you don’t work!”

What have I done wrong? How can my family feel this way about all my hard work? Have I made stay-at-home motherhood look so easy that no one sees at as a job?

I would like to tell my daughter the truth.  Here’s what I would tell her:

I used to “work” as you call it.  I used to get up every morning, make a cup of coffee, do my hair and makeup, struggle into sheer-shimmering pantyhose, slip on a silk blouse and a navy blue suit with a pencil-straight skirt, and slide into 3 inch heels.  I used to show up at my office, shut my door, plan my day, check my emails, attend meetings, make phone calls, and collect a check.  I’ve done that. I did it even when your brother was a baby.  I dropped him off at daycare on my way to the office.  Sometimes, I would sneak back to the daycare center during my lunch hour (gosh, lunch hour – those were the days) to watch him play on the floor through the two-way glass just to make sure he was ok.

After two years,  something happened to me.  I loved working but I felt I wasn’t doing any of my “jobs” well.  All my colleagues were working until 8 at night.  I couldn’t or wouldn’t.  All my colleagues were bringing work home.  I couldn’t or wouldn’t.  My little guy was getting sick all the time.  My husband and I were stressed.  I saw the writing on my wall.  I had to give up the job for my family.

I gave up the paycheck and started a new “job” that was harder than every other job that I have ever had or will ever have – the 24 hour a day service to another human being – housekeeping and laundry included for free.

How do I explain this reality to a 12 year old?  I did it all for her, for my husband, for her sister, for her brother, for our family.  I don’t want praise, but I don’t want criticism.  I simply want an acknowledgment that I work, too.

I guess I’ll just have to read her my blogpost.

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