The choice whether or not to stay home after having children is a personal one and, still, many people have a strong reaction towards whichever path a woman chooses. If you return to work, you don't care about your children. If you stay home, you must be lazy or don't have personal goals of you're own. Partners can help combat these toxic messages, though (and thankfully). So, if you're a grown-ass man, you know there are certain things grown-ass men never do to SAHMs; things that can work to undo what society is constantly telling mothers: you're not good enough.
When I had my daughter and chose to stay home full-time, at first my partner wasn't on board. Eventually — and after seeing everything involved with the whole stay-at-home mom thing — he understood my reasons and, in the end, championed my decision. His reaction wasn't without a few fails but the point is, we (read: he) lived and learned and became the supportive partner every grown-ass man should be. He learned the right things to say and the best ways to support my job (yes, being a stay-at-home mom is a job) without judgement.
Of course, not every partner of a stay-at-home mom is a man so the following list isn't gender-specific. However, since our culture has some feelings about gender roles and still (apparently) thinks gender stereotypes should be a thing, I think focusing on what every grown-ass man shouldn't do to a stay-at-home mom isn't only worthwhile, it's necessary. So, with that in mind, here are a few things my grown-ass partner and I learned along the way:
They Don't Assume You Don't Do Anything All Day
Grown-ass men know better than to assume something so ludicrous and condescending. SAHMs do way more than "nothing." From the time I wake up (at the ass-crack of dawn), to the seconds before closing my eyes late at night, I am on the clock.
Between preparing all the meals to being the chauffeur, there is no real down time. As much as I'd love to count the three minute speed shower I take some mornings, it doesn't count if I'm answering homework questions for the oldest while ushering my youngest from hanging out and "watching" in between shampooing and conditioning. If this is what doing "nothing" feels like, I must be doing it wrong.
They Don't Ask When You're Going To Get A "Real Job"
I've previously had jobs outside the home. While they fulfilled in different ways, being home with my children while they're small is more of a priority for me. This is as real of a job as anything else (if not more at times) and if you assume otherwise, you're not as grown as you think.
They Don't Question Your Appearance
OK, let's be clear: I can't guarantee I'll look presentable at any given time. Sorry, but it's the truth. I might be braless, in sweats, with my hair a mess or I could be in my go-to running shorts and t-shirt or my hair might've been done by my daughter because she wanted to "practice braiding," and my clothes haven't been changed since yesterday.
On the chance I dress in something a little nicer, or I look a bit more put together, no need to point out how much better I look than the days I "don't try." Grown-ass men know when to compliment and when to keep their mouths shut and this is just one of those times.
They Don't Expect Your House To Be Perfectly Clean At All Times
Yes, when I'm not running the endless list of errands or cooking or paying bills, I'm technically home. This doesn't mean I have the time to clean, though.
Full disclosure; due to anxiety, there are certain tasks I'll do no matter what (such as clean the counters). The rest of my house? Probably not as clean as some might assume. This is because I'm busy with the important things, such as scouring the house for that one tiny Lego piece my son needs for his epic battle.
They Don't Assume You Cook Every meal From Scratch Because You "Have The Time"
Again, where does my time go? If I list every item, you'd be reading this for awhile. I do have quite a few cookbooks and I love to cook. However, are you kidding me with this "from scratch" business? Who has time? No, seriously. Who?
In being home, I admit I am close to the oven proximity-wise, but as far as time goes there's always more pressing matters than making pizza dough from scratch. That crayon isn't going to wash itself off the wall so yeah, on occasion I might order a pizza in the spirit of feeding my hungry family. There's no shame in that and I make no apologies.
They Don't Joke About How Nice It Might Be To "Sleep In Every Day"
Firs and foremost, grown-ass men know this isn't true. The last time I slept in — like really slept in and in an uninterrupted bliss — was before I had kids (over ten years ago).
On the nights I turn in early, or sleep slightly past six in the morning, I probably wasted time tossing and turning, wrought with anxiety about the next day's schedule. When I do get a little solid block of sleep, I'm awakened by one of my two children for something that could've waited until morning. I'm tired. Really tired. Grown-ass men don't question it. Ever.
They Don't Tell You Being A Stay-At-Home Mom Is Like Being On "Vacation"
A vacation is something that relaxes and refreshes you; the ocean, or anywhere tropical, comes to mind and I can almost taste my fruity drink with that little umbrella.
However, staying home with my children is definitely not that. It's taxing and exhausting, both emotionally and physically. In fact, a vacation with my kids isn't even a vacation! It's more work. Grown-ass men don't dare speak of the SAHM job as anything but hard, intensive labor. Now where's that drink?!
They Don't Blame You For Certain Financial Situations
Some will comment on the financial aspect of staying home and while it's none of anyone's business but yours and your partner's, they can't help themselves. They might ask "how can you afford it?" or say "I can't imagine living on just one paycheck."
When you make the choice to stay home, you figure it out.
That doesn't mean it's always going to be easy and there might be sacrifices. However, you've already taken this into account when you made the decision, right? Right. Truthfully, when I worked outside the home, the extra money didn't amount to much. After taxes, commuting, and all the adult-stuff, it didn't matter if I stayed home or not. Grown-ass men know you've put the thought into how to make it work and that's the end of the conversation. Period.
They Don't Question Your College Education
Having a college degree doesn't guarantee you'll be successful in life. Education is important but anyone assuming that, in having a degree and choosing to stay home, you're wasting your talent? Ain't nobody got time for that. Grown-ass men won't challenge your choice either way. Because it's just that — your (and your partner's) choice.
They Don't Take Your Hard Work For Granted
SAHMs (and all moms) are not superwomen. We are doing the very best we can but it takes a grown-ass man to recognize the work behind being a SAHM. Whether working or staying home, there's little we can't, or won't, do for our families but let's be real; it's not easy. Grown-ass men know how hard you work, what you may have sacrificed to stay home, and appreciate every bit of it. They also know your limits and offer support and help as needed. They never, ever take what you do for granted because what you do is freakin' amazing and in no way a walk in the park.
Choosing to be a SAHM shouldn't invite negativity or ignorance and grown-ass men totally get all of the above and then some. Maybe it comes with life experience or evolves with age but, either way, I know firsthand how taxing the SAHM thing can be so I'm raising a glass in solidarity. You're doing alright, moms. In fact, you're doing great.