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.