There are a lot of preconceived notions out there about "the kind of woman" who becomes a stay-at-home mom. But the truth is we really run the gamut socially, economically, personally, and pretty much every scale we can fall on. When I decided to become a stay-at-home mom after the birth of my second daughter, however, I was determined to be a grown-ass stay-at-home mom: responsible, thoughtful, socially aware, non-judgmental, and true to myself. So I came up with a personal manifesto of things grown-ass stay-at-home moms say, because in a world where work and home and family and job all blend together, you have to have your North Star.
It's still weird to think of myself as a stay-at-home mom, because I didn't necessarily think it would ever happen. I was raised by a stay-at-home mom, and appreciated the opportunities that afforded for me and my siblings, but I didn't know if it was right for me. As it turns out, I've realized two things: I really like it and I think I'm good at it, and I still needed, for my sanity and bank account, to work part time.
I've found my balance, and, I think, that's what being a grown-ass stay-at-home mom is all about: balance. So with that in mind, the following mantras allow me to balance myself personally and within the larger context of the mom community.
"My Choice Is Not A Commentary On Anyone Else's"
I didn't become a stay-at-home mom to stick it to the working moms or somehow imply that they were making a poor decision by continuing to work. This is just what I've chosen to do. I'm not you, friend: I don't know what the best decision is for you and your family, but I'm going to go ahead and assume you're making it as we speak.
"There Are Lots Of Ways To Have A Happy Family"
People are complex, magical creatures... like fairies but no wings or magic powers. But still magical.
My point is that this complexity lends itself to myriad options when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. For example, some people run marathons and that seems to make them happy. That would make me the opposite of happy, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it seems to work out well for others. Ditto when it comes to raising families. Working parents, a stay-at-home parent, country living, city living, home school, public school, etc. The possibilities (and combinations) are limitless.
"I Do Not Have To Do This Alone"
I may be a stay-at-home mom, but that doesn't mean every single domestic task is my sole responsibility. It's a lot to handle, you guys, and it's far better as a two or more person job. Yes, the household tasks are primarily going to be my responsibility, because that's the choice I made and, moreover, it just makes more sense since I'm the one here most of the time. But that doesn't mean partners and children are not going to be expected to pitch in from time to time.
"This Is How You Can Help Me"
A grown-ass stay-at-home mom is proactive in seeking help (though that doesn't get her partner off the hook in offering it, either). She's not going to play the martyr or be coy or passive aggressive about it. She has no problem saying: "Look. Laundry. Please fold it."
"I Need A Break"
Everyone needs a break. In fact, employers are mandated to give their workers breaks. A stay-at-home mom doesn't have an employer, so she must take it upon herself to speak up when she needs a moment. The necessary amount of breaks will differ depending on the person. I need some downtime every day (again, who doesn't) but I also need to step out of my domestic sphere every few weeks just to recharge the adult/social part of my brain.
"I Support You, Other Moms"
A grown-ass stay-at-home mom is a cheerleader for mothers of all walks of life. So she not only refuses to judge anyone who is doing their best, but she actively goes out of her way to voice/show/give support. To quote Gretchen Weiners: "That's just, like, the rules of feminism."
"Sometimes This Sucks"
Admitting that stay-at-home life isn't always glamorous isn't whiny or ungrateful. It's OK to be open about the fact that things get hard or even crappy. A stay-at-home mom keeps it in perspective, but she also keeps it real, because no one is served pretending everything is perfect.
"I'm Under No Obligation To Fulfill Your Notion Of What It Means To Be A Stay-At-Home Mom"
There is no one stay-at-home mom. Everyone is an individual and is going to tackle things in a different way. I feel as though a lot of stay-at-home moms are pressured (by partners, society, or other, not-grown-ass stay-at-home moms) to justify their existence. So they always feel they need to dress perfectly and look a certain way and join certain committees and involve their children in "the right" after school activities. But a truly grown-ass woman knows this is absurd.
"The Ways I Do Conform To Your Notion Isn't Me Selling Out"
Hey, some moms love volunteering with the PTA or chaperoning class trips or fundraising for the local historical society or dressing up every day. That doesn't mean she's some sort of traitor to women or putting on airs. Again: just assume everyone is honestly doing their best to live their sincerest, best life.
"I Have A Life Beyond My Kids"
And that's OK. All parents should — no one should ever put all of who they are into another person, not even their children. And I would argue that's good for children, because they learn they're not the unquestioned center of the universe, and one should always maintain an identity of one's own.
"My Interests Matter"
They're not silly or frivolous or unearned because I "don't work." They're valid and important in the complete picture of who I am as an individual.
"Sometimes I Mess Up"
Just because I "just" do this (aka motherhood) doesn't mean I've perfected it. I never will, no matter how much time I had with my children... and, as all those schmaltzy social media memes assure me, the time I have raising them is all too brief. As such, I'm going to screw up, hopefully mostly in small ways, but I'll probably screw up in big ways, too. While I'll do everything I can to avoid that I accept that I'm not perfect and will try to grow as a mother and a person whenever I can.
We all have our fuel. This is stay-at-home mom fuel. That's just science, and one must respect science.