Since having children, I've been fortunate in that I've been able to experience motherhood from a number of different perspectives. I've been a working parent with a stay-at-home partner, a working parent with a working partner, a part-time working mom, a work-from-home mom, and a stay-at-home mom. Each one has its pros and cons, but there's definitely no denying certain aspects of being a stay-at-home mom; specifically, the things people say to you when you are one. I mean, I love the people in and around my life, but sometimes you're angering stay-at-home moms and you people don't even know it.
I try to be gracious and roll with the punches, most of the time and to the best of my ability. I know, 9 times out of 10, most people aren't actively trying to be dicks. In fact, I'd venture to guess that most of the insulting things a SAHM hears is bred of ignorance for what, exactly, it is that she does. I mean, despite the fact that I had insight from both my husband and my mother, before I endeavored the stay-at-home mom thing myself, I really didn't have any idea what I was getting into. So, yes, I try to be understanding and I try to be patient and I try to remind myself that, hey, "This isn't about me, this is about someone else's lack of understanding..."
But sometimes? Well, sometimes people really are being overtly and vindictively rude and it's insulting AF. It's hard to roll with the punches when so many of the assumptions hurled in your direction are based on stereotypes (often really problematic, sexist stereotypes). So please, if you could, avoid saying the following, as I promise you stay-at-home moms everywhere will thank you.
Telling Them How Lucky They Are
Look, it's not to say we don't recognize the ways we are privileged, or that we don't enjoy being home with our kids, but acting like staying at home with children all day, every day, is some sort of gift bestowed upon a pampered few is taking a pretty narrow view of the gig. A lot of women are SAHMs because their annual salary would not cover the cost of daycare. Some families meticulously plan in order to be able to forgo a woman's salary so that she can stay home, and with that comes a lot of sacrifices and tough choices. Chances are you don't know everything that went into a woman's decision to stay at home, so until you do maybe refrain from declaring it "lucky."
Prefacing Everything They Do, Own, Or Are With "Mom"
If a SAHM starts her own business she's a mompreneur. If she gets a haircut it's a "mom chop." If she pulls a useful item out of her purse on demand, the people around her say, "Oh, you're such a mom." Or, maybe I'm a business-minded, stylish, super-prepared human being. Maybe none of these qualities has anything to do with me being a mom. Maybe I've always been like this. Yes, I'm a mom. Yes, that has changed my life and perspective in a lot of ways, but I'm still an individual outside of motherhood.
Telling Them They Shouldn't Complain
"There are women who would give anything to be able to do what you do!" "At least you have kids!" "It's not like what you do is hard!" "You can wear yoga pants every day!"
Do you realize that if want to play this game, no one gets to complain about anything, ever? There's always someone who has it worse than you. Perspective is important, yes, but so is being able to vent totally valid frustrations. Everyone is entitled to their own struggles.
Secondly: if I'm telling you about my lived experience, don't minimize that because you imagine it differently. My actual life trumps your imagined version of it. Seriously, back off.
Describing What You Think Their Day Is Like
"Oh mean, if I were a SAHM I would wake up early every morning before the kids got up to do yoga. Then I'd make a healthy breakfast of smoothies and flax and banana pancakes. Then we'd have arts and crafts time. Oh, I'd totally have a big wall in the house dedicated to the artwork they're constantly making (that leaves hardly any kind of mess behind, duh). Then I would read quietly on the couch while they played with tastefully appointed dollhouses I made with the spare time I'd have in the afternoons. It would be magic."
Look, you haven't even hit your imaginary lunch time but I just have to stop you, because no. No. It's nothing like that, and I've literally never met a single, solitary stay-at-home mom who would tell you that your imaginary life resembles even one day in hers. I'm not suggesting our lives our chaotic cesspools of insanity and squalor, but there's a lot more insanity and squalor involved in our days than your interpretation suggests.
Assuming They Have A Minivan
I drive a sedan people. Two car seats fit in it just fine and, no, I don't need anything more than that. We don't all drive minivans. It's not like someone hands you your baby along with a 75% off coupon for a new minivan that basically obliges you to get one.
Making Fun Of Their Minivan
Then again, a lot of us do drive minivans and I did, too, for a while, and we like our minivans. Yeah, we know they're not cool, but they're convenient as hell and you need to back off our sweet ride! It's like driving a living room, people! So roomy. So comfortable.
Making Last Minute Plans
I feel like this is a general mom complaint, not just reserved for SAHMs, but I have felt this more as a SAHM than I did as a working mom, because people feel like, "Well, you're home, so you don't have to plan around anything in particular, right?"
Wrong. In fact, I have two things I have to plan around: my son and my daughter. I cannot drop everything to join you in whatever you're doing. It sucks when you've come up with this awesome idea that I cannot partake of because you didn't give me enough of a heads up. Please, please, if you want me to join you in anything, don't assume I'm unoccupied just because I'm home.
Assuming They Have A Ton Of Free Time
Even when I'm bored, I'm probably working pretty hard keeping sh*t together. A good way to think about being a SAHM is something along the lines of, "I couldn't tell you what I do, but you would notice pretty quickly if I stopped doing it."
I was, at one point, pretty guilty of assuming stay-at-home moms didn't do much of anything during the day, I must admit. When I left my job to be a SAHM I had big plans for how much more reading I was going to get done, what new exercise routines I would pick up and how I would devote at least an hour a day to working on short stories or a novel.
Then I actually became a SAHM.
Talk About "Their Partner's" Money
Actually, it's money for the household. My partner gets the money, I maintain the household and children, which, if they were doing this parenting thing on their own, would cost them money that I am not charging. My partner does things that make my life better, I do things that make his life better. Everyone plays a part, so when you imply that my partner gives me money like I'm a child or, worse, like I'm "lucky" to be getting it because I'm not actually entitled to it? Yeah. Rage.
Assuming They Have No Interests Outside Of Their Children
I love my kids. My social media feeds would assure you of that fact (#sorrynotsorry, my kids are adorable and I'm going to post pictures of them) and, yes, they take up an awful lot of my time (by choice). However, that's not to say I don't want to talk about the book I'm reading or this amazing movie I saw or go with you to a new restaurant, or talk about your latest promotion. Believe it or not, I'm actually a pretty interesting, well-rounded human being who hates being written off as a one-issue stereotype.
I guess the moral of this story is this:
Stay-at-home moms: just as complicated and individual as you, only they stay home with kids and, okay, I'll admit it, are more likely to drive a minivan.