Thursday, October 08, 2015

Dear Non-Stay-At-Home-Parents

I nearly choked yesterday when I was reading a friend's post on Facebook. Her daughter is about 20 months old and she was lamenting the challenge of being a stay-at-home-mom.
That is NOT the part which almost made me gag.
In fact, it was some of the comments her other friends made (I think in an attempt to encourage her???) that raised my hackles. They were comments like these:

I'm envious of the parents (girls or guys) that are able to stay home and be there for every minute...[Describes circumstance which produced guilty feelings]...Now multiply that by hundreds of little things that happen on any given day and you have to realize how lucky you are to be there for it all even when it gets tough.
I would give anything to be a stay at home dad! It's super difficult being a full-time dad, having a full-time job and having three kids that are actively involved in sports/school/band etc. I have not even one hour to myself,… Ever... And I mean,… Ever.
OK. I get it. Honest. I do!
It is so, so challenging to work outside the home AND inside. (I'm speaking from my own experience here. Not sure the dad quoted above comes home from work and makes dinner, continues the work of maintaining a home, etc. But that was often a breaking point for me.)

The thing is, my experience as a stay-at-home-mom tells me the words these friends shared are NOT the things a mom in her place needs to hear.
Consider this:
*She knows she is fortunate to be able to stay home with her babies 24/7 (Trust me, she gets reminded of how "lucky" she is often.) but such knowledge can lead to guilt feelings - for wishing she had some time away. Because she doesn't feel like she ever gets an hour to herself, either.Yeah. While you're feeling guilty for missing things, she's feeling the same way for being tired of experiencing EVERYTHING.
*A stay-at-home-mom loses her patience with a child who just won't listen, or who can't express herself, or who is having trouble with potty-training. *Read that: wets his pants at least five times, daily.* And while she understands her child is just that - a child, she feels an overwhelming need to have a person respond to her on an adult level. *Read that: It makes for a really loooooong day when successful communication almost never takes place.* The result? More guilty feelings.
*Chances are, the stay-at-home-mom used to be a "working-woman." *Read that: She used to leave the house and get paid for the work she did.* She probably used to make significant contributions at work and feel appreciated by her co-workers. Unlike the work she does now - changing diapers, reading "Goodnight Moon" 20+ times a day, and being called "The Meanest Mom in the World" at least twice a week. Most likely, she thinks you're pretty lucky to get to go to work each day.

So, my non-stay-at-home-parent friend, may I ask a favor of you on behalf of the stay-at-home-parent-types? Although I am sure you are well-intentioned (You honestly think a look at your world is going to make her feel better about hers. I understand.) and although what you're saying is true (Being a working-parent is really hard! Again, I understand!), would you please refrain from telling stay-at-homers how lucky they are, and how much you wish you had it as easy as could be like them? Because from where they're sitting? It just doesn't appear the same.
The fact of the matter is - parenting is tough stuff no matter where we are, or what we're doing. Let us all leave the camp of you're-so-lucky-to-be-where-you-are and move on to I'm-having-a-hard-time-too-so-let's-help-each-other.




Michelle Mackey said...

Amen! I've been on both sides also and it is tough either way for all of the reasons mentioned.

happyhome said...


Karen Hossink said...

Michelle - But the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, doesn't it?

Angela - Thanks for the vote of confidence. ;)