My heart sank as I rounded the corner before the entrance to my favorite neighborhood spot: Costco. The normally sparse weekday parking lot was full of cars, belonging to folks who are normally at their workplaces but who had unexpected time to shop because of an upcoming holiday break. Crowding her favorite store on a weekday morning is one of the cruelest things anyone could do to a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). The ability to shop when stores are more or less empty is a big chunk of the decidedly meager SAHM compensation package, so seeing that privilege get snatched away for a day feels like a pin in a beloved balloon.
Yes, stay-at-home mom life can be sweet at times, but it also has its struggles. For example, when your kid unexpectedly falls asleep in the car, giving you your first chance to catch up on emails in days — until some busybody wakes them up by deciding to knock on your window to ask why you're sitting in the parking lot instead of going inside. Or when your child’s playmate not-so-discreetly discovers a hole in your favorite leggings. The petty cruelties are endless.
Of course, folks aren't trying to be awful day-ruiners by doing any of the following. They are, but they're not trying to be.
Canceling Plans At The Last Minute
If you've made plans with a SAHM, then she's probably arranged childcare, dug several special, non-leggings pieces of clothing out of her closet, and possibly even put on makeup and styled her hair into something other than a ponytail or a top knot. Getting all her going-somewhere-with-a-grown-up ducks in a row, only to find out she no longer has anywhere to go, is the worst.
Freaking Out If She Has To Cancel Plans At The Last Minute
Yep, it's a double-standard. Yep, it sucks. Yep, that's just the way it is. When you're the primary caregiver for your kid, especially during the daytime, all plans have to be a little soft in case your kid gets hurt, sick, or your backup childcare falls through. Don't worry, as inconvenienced as you feel, she feels eighty times worse. I guarantee it.
Going Home Early
Any grown-up who comes to visit us during the day should know that they literally never have to leave, unless they've done something uncharacteristically mean or stupid (like step on our cat or delete Hamilton from my family’s Home Sharing account). If you speak any language in complete sentences, and don't wail every time something unexpected happens, you are highly valued company. Please don't go!
Telling Her How Jealous You Are Because She Doesn't Work
Newsflash: every stay-at-home mom you know works. She just doesn't get paid for her work. Or get sick days. Or vacation time. Or recognition, usually. However, she definitely works.
Inviting Her Somewhere Really Early In The Morning
Now she has to weigh two impossible choices: taking the opportunity to enjoy some adult company, or enjoying the opportunity to not wake up early (or worse, wake her child up early to go somewhere, potentially with someone who isn't mom).
Telling Her That She Looks “Really Comfortable”
“Oh, don't you look comfy!” is the sartorial equivalent of, “Bless your heart.” It's faux-sweet backhanded praise of her outfit; the Splenda of clothing compliments. Oh, the shade.
Noticing Baby/Toddler Food Mishaps On Her Clothes
Please: do a messy mom a favor and just pretend you can't see the spit-up/puréed fruits and veggies/pancake syrup left behind by small children who love on her constantly, in all their messy-faced and sticky-fingered glory. (Unless, of course, you're her very best friend, in which case you damn well better tell her about that mess the moment you see her so she can change before she sees anyone else.)
Keeping Her Partner At Work Late
I love spending my day with my son. I also love the part of the day when my partner comes home so that I can take a breather from 100 percent vigilance/playtime/reading responsibilities.
That time (which I call “Daddy o’ Clock” and y’all can change your titles as needed based on your partner’s gender) is precious, which is why I instantly see flames when I get the worst non-emergency text a stay-at-home mom can get: “Home late tonight, stuff came up at work.” Stuff. Stuff can go %#@! itself.
Making Her Partner Travel For Work
To me, the only thing worse than delaying “Daddy o’ Clock” by a few hours, is delaying it by a few days. Work people, send a partner droid or something to help out around here if you're going to keep the real thing. Mama needs a shower, and at least one chance to go to the bathroom alone before bedtime.
Inviting Her To A Kid-Unfriendly Event On A Weekday
If this event is happening during the day when she's normally with her kids, and she doesn't have family or other trustworthy childcare available, what is she supposed to do with her small human(s)?
Changing A Standing Appointment
When you don't necessarily have to leave your house every day, it's easy to lose track of time (and days, and dates). So recurring events like a playgroup or a coffee meetup can be important markers for weekly routines. Changing that up on a mom can make her whole week feel wrong. If you're going to do this to her, change the event to occur later in the week than normal. That way she can at least be pleasantly surprised by the weekend (or whenever she gets a bit of a break from All-Kids-All-The-Time duty) happening “sooner” than normal.