March 6, 2013

Hate mail and last week's Mother, Interrupted column

This article was run in The Lebanon Democrat, Smithville Review, and Oak Ridge Observer. In fact, it stirred up some interest and a little bit of controversy (by that, I mean 1 person told me they hated it). Here's an excerpt from the kind email I received from an anti-stay-at-home-mom in response to this article:

"Stay at home moms make this choice for various reasons.  In many cases, it may be simply because they don't want to be out in the working world dealing with the everyday stresses and demands of a career plus all that's waiting to be done after work.  Some  manage to convince their husbands and in-laws  that it's in the best interest of their child for mom to be at home in her pajamas eating P&J. . .Or, maybe you are grooming her to wear pajamas all day and grow up to be a stay at home mom.  Don't misunderstand, if a mom wants and can stay at home, that's great but it's the pity party and whining that I find repulsive and see those women as weak and unproductive. I will clarify below."

So, if it inspired such passion from that reader, there's a chance you'll like it. Read on!

It’s hard for me to complain about being a stay-at-home mom, although that doesn’t always stop me. What other fully-functioning adults get occasional naptime, daily craft time, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and a slightly-more-than-healthy dose of My Little Pony? Not that I’m fully-functioning or anything. There are a lot of stresses that come along with being a stay-at-home mom, sure, but the perks are undeniable. I love being able to do it, and to be honest, I wish I could be a stay-at-home mom until my daughter has graduated from college and hasn’t come home to visit in so long, I just feel obligated to go back to work. Or at least until it’s time for her to start school.

What does being a stay at home mom entail? I’m so glad you asked. Most people assume I don’t do anything, and that I do it (or don’t do it?) all day, every day. This isn’t completely true. I only do nothing part-time, when I’m pretending to read a textbook for class (but I’m actually sleeping) and make my husband play My Little Pony with our daughter. I’m raising and tending to a tiny toddler tornado that calls me Mama and--bless her heart--just can’t seem to walk into a room without making a mess or spilling something. Is this normal? Can anyone relate? Am I the only mom who cleans and re-cleans the living room no less than 15 times a day?

Being a stay at home mom means the definition for pajamas changes. For you, at least. Everyone else still considers sweatpants and a tank top “pajamas,” but you call them “casual wear.” And there will be days when you have on “casual wear” until about 5 minutes before your husband comes home. Your child will also be clad in “casual wear.” It’s probable that your hair will look like crap a lot. Basically, for a stay at home mom, every level of clothing and appearance formality shifts up one notch. Pants that, at one time, were never worn out of the house become grocery store appropriate, and ponytails are suddenly up-dos. It’s like magic.

Staying home with your child means you will make a lot of food, so you better get good at it. This is important, because if you don’t, you and your child are doomed to eat frozen fish sticks and chicken nuggets every day for the rest of the foreseeable future. That, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which were the only thing I ate for lunch 2002-2003. Ask my mom. She should have had me psychologically evaluated, but whatever. Learn to cook, because your child is a living, breathing creature who can’t live off ramen noodles. I mean, they could, and they’d probably love it, but nutrition is still important. So suit up, Betty Crocker!

Some stay at home moms think, “I stay home all day, take care of this child, cook, and keep the house from burning down in the process. I deserve a medal.” Yes, you deserve a medal, but the medal is called “your child becoming a well-adjusted, healthy individual” and you don’t win it until they are grown and out of the house. Translation: after you’ve taken care of the child for many, many years and broken your back to make life enjoyable and pleasant for the child, they just might turn out to be normal people without crippling mental issues. That’s uplifting—with tons of hard work and extremely rare breaks or moments to just sit down, our children actually have a chance at success! Let’s all just take a moment to watch our favorite kid’s show on Netflix and clean up the finger-painting mess later. We can’t stay home forever!


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