Staying Home Gets a Bad Rap
Recently, I was at a baseball game for my son and I overheard a conversation that I listened to because honestly, there was nothing else to. It seems one of the moms had to stay home for a year to tend to her child that was ill. For one year, she was a stay-at-home mom. This conversation made me realize that I'm the only one who is a stay-at-home mother. This doesn't bother me, I don't really care if a mom stays home or not. Staying home with my children doesn't make me a better mother than one who works. We both do whatever we think is best for our children because we want the absolute best for them, and that makes us fantastic moms either way. In this conversation, I did get bothered. Maybe I was meant to hear the conversation to get upset enough to post. Maybe I was meant to overhear it to question myself and do a little soul searching. I'm not sure, but at least it gave me something to ponder with my readers.
The one who stayed home said "I can't wait to get back to work. My husband likes me at home but I need to get back to work." That's reasonable. I understand that and think that to be the best mother she can be, she should do what makes her happy. A happy mother is a great mother. Feminists fought for women to have this right to work outside of the house if that was what they wanted. Women deserve that right to not just be "baby-makers". Another mom then chimed in, "good for you. It'll be good for you." Excellent. Women are seen to be too "judgy" of each other, catty beings. It's good to see non-judgmental support. Then the third mom chimed in, "that's excellent. You should get back out there. Rediscover your identity. Stay-at-home moms don't have their own identity."
I remember my face turning red. I'm not sure if I was angry at the time, or embarrassed. I could have even felt ashamed of myself at that moment. Normally, I don't care what other people think. I'm not entirely sure why this time I suddenly felt bad about myself. I was second guessing myself. Did I make the right decision? Do I have my own identity? Did I lose myself when I chose this? I could see that. One reservation I had getting married was changing my last name. I didn't want to, in fear that I would lose my identity. I would be "Mrs. LaRochelle", no longer "Brianne". Did I lose my identity at that point in time? When did I lose myself?
I thought about this for a few days. I considered the possibility that I was no longer "me". I considered that perhaps she was right, stay-at-home moms have no real identity. I shamefully admit that I went through all the emotions a teenager does in high school when trying to figure out what exactly they were, second guessing everything. I thought about this for a while. Maybe this mom was right; maybe I was nothing but a mom who's every day revolved around laundry, cooking, diapers, bus stops, baseball games and cleaning vomit. I was nothing more than a glorified maid and nanny. I was inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I was just there to exist solely as a mom, and nothing more. I will admit that I became a little depressed at my existence at that very moment in time. I was nothing but a mom.
Soon, I snapped out of that. You know what? Even if I wasn't anything more than "just a mom", would that really be so bad? Some women spend hundred of thousands a year to become "just a mom". It's fulfilling to be able to watch your child learn from you, and grow into this incredible person because you made a difference in their life. I don't have to worry about scheduling "child" time after work, anytime they are home I can bond with them. Staying at home frees me to go out with my friends without too much of a guilt trip because I'm away from my children, because I spend every second of my day with them at home.
Maybe they were jealous of people that stay with their kids while they worked. Maybe they are the judgmental women that just like to make other people feel bad about themselves. Maybe they are the sort of people that think any woman who chooses to stay home, is a slap in the face to feminists who worked so hard for women to hold whatever job they want. I wonder if they think that stay at home moms are serious people who dedicate every second to their husband and kids. I've decided that I don't care, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. And I won't be bullied into feeling bad about myself for that. There is nothing better in the world than seeing that smile on your child's face that tells you that you've done everything right. Okay, maybe having a glass of wine at the end of the day with your friends to de-stress without the guilt of not being around comes close.
Who am I?
I might be a stay-at-home mom, but I'm much more than that. I'm the family accountant, the tailor, the chef, the maid. I'm the psychologist and nurse. I'm not a "homemaker", I'm a "Domestic Engineer". Sometimes I even think of myself as the brains of the operation. I'm the household CEO. I'm even the household stylist, doing both hair and clothes. I run inventory. I plan events. I work 20 hour work days sometimes. I'm much more than a stay-at-home mom: I'm the one that makes sure the household runs smoothly and happily for as cheap as possible. My life doesn't revolve around baseball games and homework and diapers, my life "involves" that. There's a distinction there that shouldn't be ignored. We're all more than we're given credit for, and I feel sad for the people that think otherwise.
I'm more than that. My husband always tells me that I'm not a stay-at-home mom; I'm a freelance writer. I do have my own identity. I'm quirky, or neurotic (either way works). I do things my own way, no matter how other people seem to look at me. The fact that I stay home isn't something that I feel defines me in any way at all, it shouldn't. I was my own person before my children, now I'm just a better version of myself. I'm not just a mom; I'm Brianne, an older and wiser me.