A week into being a stay-at-home mom, I had a little bit of a crisis that I look back on with a weird mix of eye-rolling and sheepishness. In retrospect, it broke several of my cardinal, "things grown-ass stay-at-home-moms never do" rules. It all started, innocently enough, when I had to get groceries.
As soon as I pulled up with my toddler and infant, I noticed a whole lot of other stay-at-home moms heading in. Up until this point, either my husband did the grocery shopping (when he was a stay-at-home dad) or we would go together on the weekends, as a family. Now this task had fallen to me. I don't know why, but I completely panicked. Part of it, I suspect, was that such a mundane activity highlighted the fact that I had made such a big life change: from city-dwelling working mom to suburban hausfrau. I can't blame myself for panicking over that, to be sure. however, what I do still feel bad about was this overwhelming sense of "No! This isn't me! I'm not like all of you!" which, honestly, as a spectacularly crappy and presumptive thing to think. I didn't know those other woman, and lumping them all together under this blanket idea of "what is means to be a stay-at-home mom" was myopic and snobby.
After I found my groove (and realized that being a suburban stay-at-home mom doesn't mean you're a Stepford Wife), I became determined to the kind of woman who was confident in herself, sought harmonious, honest relationships with those around her, and did her best to empower other women to do the same. Of course, were some things I didn't want to do, as a grown-ass stay-at-home mom, either, up to and including the following:
Judge Another Mom's Choices
No self-respecting, grown-ass woman is going to look down on a woman because of her decision to work outside of the home or not. Or join the PTA or not. Or send your kid to private school or not. Neither they, nor any other rational human being, believes there is One Moral And Acceptable Way To Live Your Life. They'll do them, you do you, and you can all get together for drinks at some point, because #momsolidarity, where you can talk about the series finale of Westworld, because you all have interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with your children.
Expect Zero Help From Her Partner Because "That's Her Job"
Granted, when you're parenting with a partner and there's a stay-at-home parent in the mix, that person is (reasonably) going to be tending to more of the domestic duties of children and household However, to assume the working parent has a "pass" that enables them to forgo putting dishes in the dishwasher or folding laundry for the rest of their life is ridiculous. Both parents have 24/7 jobs, it's just that a working parents' job is split between a workplace and home. When working partner gets home, they should still be expected to contribute to management of home and hearth.
Get Pulled Into Play Date/PTA Drama
No, no, no, no, no. A million times no. Who has time for that? I don't. You don't. No grown-ass stay-at-home mom (or working mom, or dad) does. Taking care of children barely leaves one with enough time to take care of oneself, let alone get enveloped in someone else's mess. It's time consuming and emotionally exhausting. So just say no. No to the gossip, the backstabbing, and the passive aggressive slights. If you can't say something nice, sit quietly at the playground with your ear buds and a good podcast.
Pretend Everything Is Perfect
Because every grown-ass woman knows they're not doing anyone favors when they deny that they're having a rough time of things. I'm not saying you have to run around like a hot mess and give up on ever keeping it together (though, you know, live your best life if that's your thing: no judgment). Nor do I think you have to let everyone in on each of your struggles and personal demons if you want to live authentically.
However, if life has been difficult — or if it takes constant, hard work to keep on top of everything — a grown stay-at-home mom knows there's no pressure to pretend that they aren't or that everything is dreamy and effortless.
Allow Someone To Make Her Feel Inferior For Her Choices
Because they know they are not defined by a paycheck or a title or their child's starting position on the town Little League team. In fact, their worth and worthiness are not measured by anything anyone else believes of them or what they should be.
Refuse To Ask For Help
This goes along with not pretending everything is perfect. Everyone is going to need help from time to time. It's our ability to ask for help and give help that enabled humans to make it this far, as a species. No one is entirely self-sufficient. So not only will a grown stay-at-home mom be OK asking for a helping hand from time to time, she's also willing to pay it forward and offer one.
Be Smug About Being A Stay-At-Home Mom
Every now and then you'll come across a mom, stay-at-home mom, working, or otherwise, who feels like she's got it all figured out. Like, not only is she awesome at what she does (which is totally fine to take pride in) but she's awesome at what she does because it's what all other women should be doing and (in her mind) they're too mixed up to figure it out.
A handful of moms who have made the choice to stay at home, that I've encountered (decidedly not GASAHMs) at least, smugly assert that their decision is a woman's "natural role." This is where we have a problem. Because no. There are no "natural roles."
Get Competitive With Other Stay-At-Home Moms
Not through homes, cars, volunteering, or — please dear God, no — their kids. This isn't a contest: this is parenthood. If it's a contest us parents are losing, and our kids are winning. So why don't we all stop in-fighting and team up against these damn children?
Let Anyone Tell Her She Isn't A Feminist
Bish please. There are dozens of reasons being a stay-at-home mom doesn't make anyone a bad feminist. Feel free to innumerate them if anyone ever tries to pull this crap.
Feel Like She Has To Fit A Particular Mold
Before a woman becomes a grown-ass stay-at-home mom, she is likely a grown-ass woman and, as such, she learned that the idea that only "certain women" [fill in literally any blank you want here, seriously: are mothers, are stay-at-home moms, are child-free, have abortions, have sex, have short hair, have careers, join the PTA, etc.) is a tool that has been used to keep us down since always.
So, go to your PTA meeting with all your tattoos and piercings exposed. Your life is going to change with kids in it, but you don't have to change every single part of who you are as a human being in order to appease (small-minded) people who can't wrap their heads around you. Broaden their horizons; don't let them narrow yours.