Monday, January 12, 2009

An addendum...

While I understand the comments from you working parents that I'm getting on my last post, I feel I need to point out that there is a BIG difference between the busyness of working parents and the busyness of stay-at-home parents, one that the writer of the letter has apparently not picked up on.

Working parents get up every day, get their kids ready, get out the door, drop their kids off, go to work, do their 8-9 hour day, pick their kids up, get home, and have to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. The work of a working parent is quantifiable... tangible. Their work day is legitimized by non-parents who also have a 9-hour work day (lunch included).

By contrast, sometimes the only tangible work of a SAHM (or dad, of course) is the fact that the child is wearing a different outfit than the one he/she went to bed in. Sometimes, that's all we can manage to do. Sometimes, even WE wonder what the heck we've done all day.

Certainly, while all parents are busy and need strict prioritization to remain sane, too many people don't understand or appreciate that SAHMs can also be extremely busy even without the element of a 9-5 in their lives. The letter writer asks her friend what she did today, and all she hears is "went to the park and to play group." She probably thinks that surely going to the park and play group can't take up more than a couple hours of her friend's day. Surely the rest of her day is taken up by bonbons and Oprah.

Here's what she doesn't hear, because her friend probably doesn't want to bore her with the details.

"I had to shower with my kid since he wouldn't let me leave him in his bouncy seat. Forget drying my hair. I was supposed to do the laundry but Junior wouldn't stay out of the dryer, so I just threw it all back in the basket and decided we'd go to the park. I couldn't find a matching outfit so he went in a jacket with no shirt and a pair of baseball shorts and one Cars sock and one puppy sock. I chased him around the park for an hour and finally managed to get him on the swing, where I was able to take a break because pushing him requires less effort than keeping him within the park's fence. Play group was for 1pm so I started to leave at 11 but had to let him go down the slide one more time. Then again. And again. I finally got him all strapped in the car when I realized he'd gone poop, so I got him out of the car, cleared a spot in the trunk, laid him in there and changed his diaper, then put him back in the car. Took him home to feed him lunch. Spent half an hour cleaning peanut butter off of the floor, out of his hair, and I don't even know how it got on his toes. Since most of his clothes were then all wet or covered in peanut butter, I found his Easter outfit on the floor of the closet and figured he didn't really need socks. I got to play group at 1:15 and let him tear up someone else's house for an hour while I reconnected with my sanity by talking to other adults. We left, and finally it was nap time. I put all the clothes in the dryer, did the breakfast and lunch dishes, tidied up from the morning's tornado, wrote a thank-you note to my Aunt Mildred, and got the chicken out of the freezer for supper. Unfortunately, Junior woke up from his nap an hour earlier than he usually does, so I had to keep him entertained or he'd get really cranky. Finally, my husband got home from work and I was able to shove Junior off on him so I could cook supper. He saw how dirty the house was and asked what I'd done all day, and it took me a while to chop his body up into tiny pieces and bury him. I got Junior fed and bathed and put him to bed, then cleaned up the supper dishes and did a little reading. What'd you do today?"

While some of that is a fun fictional rant, it's really not that far off from the standard day of a SAHM. It's also going to serve as a "con" on my "do I want more kids" pro/con list... Heavens to Betsy. So yes, while all parents are busy, it's clear that the writer of the letter didn't understand that a SAHM is as busy as any other parent. I had a friend tell me once, before either of us had children, that he didn't want his wife to stay at home with their kids because SAHMs are "lazy." I just kinda laughed scornfully at him then, but I think I'd have a few more words for him now.


mayberry said...

Going back to the corner now.....

If I was able to be a SAHM and people couldn't understand "what I did all day" I would tell them to kiss my ass. Period. That is all. I don't have to rationalize myself to anyone.

My mom was a SAHM and I've seen her bust her butt every day of her life.

Susan said...

I realize I have no room in the conversation, not being a mom of any type, but I do totally respect the SAHMs out there. I have a friend who told me after her first round of maternity leave that she didn't think she could do it full time, work was less stressful and hectic!

RhondaLue said...

Susan your friend was probably right!

I love this post...and don't forget to add in therapy appts, IEP meetings, neuropsych and Dr appts, plus getting the tires rotated, oil changed and all the normal routine stuff that requires more outings with kids. BIG fun. ;)

(I say this in jest because I really do LOVE my job but loving it don't make it easy!)

Stacey said...

Rhonda... girl you have SIX CHILDREN. Even if you had a nanny, a chef, and a housekeeper, you'd still be insanely busy.

Nicole Bradshaw said...

These are a great set of posts AND comments. Both sides of the issue are difficult - both being a SAHM and a mom who works outside the home. BOTH require you to be crazy-organized to ensure that stuff runs smoothly (or at least runs, eh?).

Kudos to ALL of us who looked the hairy spectacle of childbirth in the face and did it anyway!

Watercolor said...

You know, life is hard for everybody. I feel the most for single parents. I'm single - I know how hard life is with no help and no backup. Throw a kid in there with no help and good Lord, they are heroes.

Jo said...

I have worn both hats. I was a working mom up until 2008.

Now I'm a temprorary SAHM. If I could get PAID to stay home, I'd do it in a heartbeat!

Yes it is a super busy life... even with my son in school all day... I rush around to get all the housework, laundry, etc finished so that when he gets home I can spend time with him and not feel guilty that I'm vacuuming instead of playing legos with my boy :)

But we all work it out. Whichever path we choose... or gets chosen for us (like me.. I HAVE to find a job cuz we need the money)... we work it out :)

my word verf is bioplahs... I'm feeling a little bioplahs right now LOL :)

Jen said...

my friend has 4 kiddos and I honestly get a kick out of hearing just what she DID all day. It's hilarious, especially when the two 3 year olds flush apples down the toilet, freaking hilarious. But, she is also a very very busy woman.

There are pros/cons to SAHM and Working Moms.

I tip my glass to each.

From the Doghouse said...

Saturday. Think about Saturday. You plan to get all of these things done, but because of the kids (and life) the day's gone before you ever get to those wonderful errands you had planned.

I'm guessing that's the SAHM day every day.

Erin Steele (previously Domeyer) said...

SAHM is sooo hard. Sometimes i want to go to work again just to get those 15 minute breaks and lunch with the girls with no one else around. My nights at school are like heaven. My husband never understood what i did all day until he had o be alone with them 4nights a week. He sees a small portion of my day. I think working parent s work hard also but in a totally different way. parenting is so hard!! I know that it has seriously changed my mind about having a large family..i go nuts 1/2 the time with two!! (;

Bird said...

Being a SAHM is WAY harder then my job ever was. Like you, I have days where I just can't figure out what the hell I accomplished and I'll just skip outings completely because I don't want to deal with the hassle of doing it with the kid when doing it without the kid will take a fraction of the time.

jk said...

I did not do well as a SAHM. Both working out of the home and being a SAHM have their benefits and their hardships. Some people are made for one, some for the other. I know SAHMs who do it effortlessly or seem to. A lot seems to depend on support circles, finances, and the mentality of the woman involved.

I hate the "mommy wars".