I have been harboring some repressed angst lately, and I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time.
I have a few friends who say things to me that really upset me every once in a while. Now – I am one of those people who says TOO MUCH, so I don’t get too offended when people say somewhat colorful things to me. I mean – I understand that sometimes you just say the wrong effing thing and I’m cool with that. No need to explain. No need to feel bad. I GET IT, because I do it too. Usually, a simple, “shit, I didn’t mean to say it that way,” works for me and I move on (moving on from all things is not my greatest strength, but when it comes to moving on from stupid comments, I’m able to do that easily).
So what is it that people say that gets me riled up? They all have to do with the GOOD things I’m doing for my child. They all have to do with the choices that B and I have made to provide Matthew with the upbringing that we feel is right for him and us.
When I talk about the following topics, I usually get a similar reaction from a handful of friends. Here are the topics:
- Cloth diapering
- Making Matthew’s baby food
- Breastfeeding until he was 12 months old
- Pumping enough milk to have 3 months stored up in the freezer
- Having a clean house
- Getting Matthew out for activities every day
The reaction I get from some friends on any or all of the above topics is, “you are able to do those things because you stay home.”
- We were committed to cloth diapering before Matthew was born and had all diapers and supplies purchased and ready before my 8th month of pregnancy – long before either of us considered me being a SAHM
- We were committed to making all of Matthew’s baby food before he was born and had 4 recipe books with favorites selected before he was born. Again – long before we considered the SAHM option
- Being successful at breastfeeding was a result of hard work, many tears, determination, and lots of pumping. When I did go back to work before quitting, I drove 20 minutes each way to Matthew’s daycare to nurse him over the lunch hour. All of that, and the pumping to sustain his “only breast milk” diet, was done while I was a working mother
- My house is always clean and picked up. That’s just who we are. It was like that before kids, it’s like that during kids, and it will be like that after kids. When I was still a working mother, I spent at least an hour every night after daycare washing bottles, picking up the house, cleaning dishes, folding laundry, etc. etc. etc. The state of my house is not due to me being home, it’s due to both B and me being rather tidy people and requiring that in our lives
- Long before we considered the SAHM option, we were getting Matthew out of the house every single day. While on maternity and paternity leave, we left the house at least once a day starting the day after we came home from the hospital with Matthew. This is just who I am – I am a mover and a shaker and I need to not sit in my house all day. Matthew is a social kid who needs daily interaction with friends his own age, so I bust my butt providing that for him. Not because I’m a SAHM, but because I’m his mother and it’s important to him and me
I am so tired of the mommy wars and the parenting technique debates. I am so tired of people validating their own choices by invalidating others’. I am sick and tired of people who are my friends telling me that the only reason I do these good things for my child is because I stay home. I have several bloggie friends who work and make many of the same choices for their children.
All of those things on that list above, with the exception of Matthew’s activities and getting out of the house, are done “after hours,” long after B is home and Matthew is in bed. I don’t have time during the day to make baby food (which is actually super easy), pump my breasts, clean and fold laundry, wash and stuff diapers, and keep my house picked up. I’m chasing my son around all day, or taking him to some fun activity. When he’s napping, that’s my down time and I enjoy it to myself.
I do these things because they are important to me. They are important to B. They are good for Matthew. We make time in our lives for the things that are important to us. We all do.
To those people who feel it necessary to pooh pooh my choices by suggesting I only chose them because I stay home, I have this to say: If cloth diapering, making baby food, nursing/pumping, and keeping a neat house isn’t important to you, then don’t do it. I don’t care. I don’t judge you for not doing those things – I could care less. Please don’t try to make yourself feel better for not doing those things, by attempting to dismiss me by saying I have time for them only because I am a SAHM. I make time for those things because they are important to my family. Just like you make time for the things that are important to your family.
October 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm
So yeah, if you were one of the first three people to read this post, I apologize that it had some notes there at the bottom. Holy hell – I didn’t mean to keep those in my post! Geesh! Always proof read before you post, people 😉
October 2, 2012 at 11:04 am
I thought the notes were hilarious!!!! I loved them!
October 2, 2012 at 11:22 am
Oh no – you saw them!!!! UGH! As you can see, I calmed down from that conversation. Had to let my thoughts marinate 😉
To be honest, I’m glad you were one of the ones who saw them because you are not judgy. I worried that someone I don’t know is reading saw them and was thinking, “she likes the word, FUCK!” (I do like that word though – it is my favorite. Very useful!)
October 2, 2012 at 4:34 am
Your second to last sentence is an important one. The things you do for your family happen because of time management (and probably determination). I think a lot of people put other things in front of what they “wish” they could do or should do and then say they don’t have time.
Like you, I chose to make my baby’s food. I would never condemn someone for not making that choice.
It’s silly for people to say that you do the things you do for your family because your a SAHM.
October 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm
Thank you 🙂 I sometimes think I’m a little over-sensitive (because, as I’ve said in the past, there is some guilt for not working and contributing financially to the family), but this really had me worked up. I feel much better now 🙂
October 2, 2012 at 4:48 am
I think people are hyper-sensitive of their own situations and make stupid statements like these to make themselves feel better. Oh, well, I don’t make my baby’s food (and clearly don’t care as much about his/her health [sarcasm, of course, but it’s the inherent implication and likely where the guilt comes from]) because I WORK (snotty emphasis on this word). Don’t let it get to you. Not only are you making some really great, healthy decisions about Matthew’s life but you are carrying through on them too. I’d be inclined to respond to those comments with a simple, and clearly sarcastic, “Yup, being a SAHM is really living the life of luxury!” Then again, I’m kind of a bitch. 😉
October 2, 2012 at 8:31 am
This comment is pretty much the bomb. Um… I will have independent thoughts below in a minute.
October 2, 2012 at 11:47 am
I totally agree, because I feel the same way about NOT working sometimes. I feel guilty for not contributing financially to our household, even though B says this is crazy. I think it’s interesting that no matter what we decide to do, there is always guilt.
I do want to say to these friends, especially when Matthew’s freaking out over food, “do you think THIS is easy?” But – that will ge me nowhere and the truth is, even with his fits (few and far between), I really enjoy being with him all day! But.. I do miss contributing. B just asked me if I knew two people for some jobs posted at his company and I responded with, “Me?” HA!
October 2, 2012 at 6:49 am
I am extremely organized and got so annoyed when people said oh you won’t have a tidy house etc when you have a baby. Guess what, I still do!
I totally agree why judge me for my choices I couldn’t care less about yours?
But try not to let it get to you. Just keep doing what your doing.
October 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Thanks! People told us that too, before Matthew was born, and I always thought, “you’re going to be so disappointed when that ends up not being true.”
October 2, 2012 at 7:40 am
My house is constantly picked up as well. This may sound like 1940’s stuff, but I feel like keeping my house clean is my “job” as a SAHM. Clutter, toys every where and dust make me crazy so having things messy aren’t an option for me. I take a lot of pride in having an well organized house and honestly I enjoy cleaning and cooking. Being a SAHM is SO hard, my hubby is always shocked how much work it is when he’s home with Aiden all day! 🙂 You are doing a great job, ignore the people making rude, uninformed comments!
October 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Thanks for the support! You know, I think it’s my “job” too – becuase it is. We agreed to it and it works out because I like having a clean house. We also agreed to me cooking lots, but that’s been a real problem with a toddler. When I do cook, I’m in heaven. HEAVEN! That’s an escape for me.
I am glad you found me. I’ve been looking for you 😉 Blawndie mentioned your blog (said I should be reading you) but I couldn’t find you. Thanks for finding me!
October 2, 2012 at 8:47 am
I find I get the *opposite* from my DH and certain family members. Like the “You’re home all day… why is the kitchen/living room/bedroom messy? Where is dinner? Why are my pants not ironed?” AND SO ON. Yeah. Because while I am physically home all day, I am *trying* to keep up with those things you listed above! I don’t have a car, so errands are on foot which takes me some time and energy too! AND until last week I was working from home during naps. So step OFF BJB! I tell you, I rarely got dressed! I know it is because I have shitty time management, so I feel guilty about that. I try! I have lists! I have apps! It is just my personality, and I need to accept that a little more. I am a mum now, but I’m still SRB, you know?
I also agree that sometimes (um, most times) nap time is Mum Time. Sometimes, I just want to eat a goddamn sandwich and read some blogs! And I agree – the last two lines are very important indeed.
October 2, 2012 at 10:40 am
Ya – I wish I could be a SAHM (and maybe if we have 2 kiddos some day, it will make more sense financially for us), though honestly, my time management skills TANK when I am home more. Somehow when I only have “x hours” to get stuff done, I crank it out…but if I have all day, not so much. You’re not alone there. 🙂 You need YOU TIME anyway!!
October 2, 2012 at 11:50 am
Just hijacking Courtney’s post to say Thanks Josey!
October 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm
Hijack all you want – that’s why I put these topics out there!
October 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm
I am the same way. When I would “work from home” in the old days, I got nothing done. I’ve had to really work to figure out how to manage time and priorities. B would tell you that I’m a work in progress with this 😉
October 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm
See, I don’t think it’s necessarily shitty time management. I just think it’s hard. Our shower is being re-done this week (holy hell, what a disaster that’s been) so I have to shower in the other bathroom. No problem – that’s just fine – but Matthew hates showering in that shower so I can’t shower while he’s up and moving around. This results in no shower every other day. YUCK. It’s not because of time management though – it’s because it just does not work. Just like cooking – very, VERY hard to do with a toddler running around, sticking their hands in everything. I unlock the controls on the oven to cook and he changes the settings, tries to open the door, etc. It’s a freaking hazard! Trying to fold laundry with him up is a game – he unfolds everything I fold. And it’s cute, so I let him do it. It’s just HARD to get things REALLY done, you know?
I don’t remember the last time I had a real lunch. I’ve been getting breakfast (with my morning coffee – trip out of the house!) because Matthew naps over lunch. We have lots of fruit and veggies in the house, but that’s not a real lunch. Not complaining, just saying that yes – sometimes you just want a goddamn sandwich!
October 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm
Thanks for this! But for me…it’s totally shitty time management and procrastination. It’s just who I am! BUT my challenge is to get as little better and set a good example! Ugh! 🙂
October 2, 2012 at 8:57 am
I’m sorry you even have to feel like you must defend your choices!! I would get defensive too if people questioned those things. But, I do wish I had more of a drive to keep our house picked up and free of clutter. That is the one thing that drives me nuts, with JJ staying home all day, he’s usually the one that makes the mess. I love that you are so active with Matthew and get out of the house at least once a day!
October 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm
Your comment makes me want to clarify one thing – I am a neat person until you enter my part of the closet. Poor B is driven nuts by the mess I keep there (I won’t even say, “make,” because it never gets cleaned up!).
It is never fun coming home to a mess. I do try to pick up and clean all of our daytime dishes before B gets home because I know how awful it is to walk into a messy house that you didn’t create. I feel you there, friend!
October 2, 2012 at 10:39 am
I wholeheartedly agree with this: “Please don’t try to make yourself feel better for not doing those things, by attempting to dismiss me by saying I have time for them only because I am a SAHM.” — I continually remind myself that their feelings about what they are/aren’t doing for their children are probably why they’re judging me.
I find cloth diapering to be super cute, easy and it saves us money.
I find doing baby led weaning and making fresh, homemade meals for my kiddo to be super easy and it saves us money.
I find breastfeeding to be a great bonding experience, plus it has been easy for us and saves us money.
Having a clean house makes me feel good.
Getting out of the house makes me feel good.
And I work outside the home 35 hrs /week. Honestly, I’d PREFER to be a SAHM Mom at this point, but it isn’t in the cards for us financially at this point, so we make the best of it. To each their own!!
So yeah, obviously the choices we have made for our family are BOTH for our daughter and for us, and that’s okay. 🙂
October 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm
Josey – you were one of the moms I was talking about when I said I have friends who work and do all the same things I do. It’s not whether or not we stay home, it’s whether or not those things are important to us.
AND YES – OMG the cost savings! I didn’t think making food would be cheaper, but it totally is. I bought baby food once for a trip and was shocked at the cost. I am super lucky that breastfeeding worked out so well for us because that stuff is expensive!
October 2, 2012 at 11:04 am
Why are people so judgey??? I wish more than anything I could be a SAHM. I know I’m lucky enough to only have to work one weekend a month. We made the choices we did because they were right for our family. I wish I could have breast fed my daughter, but it wasn’t something that worked for us. So I pumped the shit out of my boobs and here she is almost 10 months old and still getting breast milk…not too shabby if I do say so myself. I chose to do baby led weaning because of some really gross pictures I saw online of prepared baby foods. I clean because it makes me feel like I have control over one part of my life. I like to get out because I don’t want to feel trapped….but I need to get my butt in gear with some more baby oriented things….
What is right for you may not be right for me, but respect what we do as I respect what you do…RIGHT?!?!?! I mean seriously people what is it with the mommy wars? I’m holding up a white flag from now on 🙂
And SRB, my mom once said something like that to me and then she had a day with Raegan and took it all back saying I know exactly why you can’t get anything done….I have since improved my time management skills and have been better at keeping it all in place…it’s not perfect, but We’re happy with it.
I am sorry you felt you had to defend yourself….I find I’m doing that a lot lately in all aspects of my life…
October 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm
I just do not understand the mommy wars at all. I don’t get it, and I don’t think I ever will. I really don’t care what others do with their kids as long as they’re not abusing or neglecting them. Every style is different, every family is different, every child is different. Let people do what is best for them. Geesh!
October 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm
I agree- WHO CARES what other people do as long as what you are doing is working for you and you are doing the best for your own kid. Everyone is different. However, I am VERY jealous that you keep a clean house. My house being messy has nothing to do with me being a SAHM or not- I’m just messy, and I hate that about myself. I am so envious of people who just have that natural organization and ability to keep a house looking great. I feel like I clean ALL THE TIME but the house still looks like shit. So frustrating. Anyway, end vent about that- ha! Loved this post!
October 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm
B would tell you that our house is NOT organized. HA! We just went through an exercise tonight of collecting “all the paper” and sorting through what needs to be done with each thing. He saw that there’s lots of paper in drawers (bills, reminders, letters, etc.) but that they were all addressed or had a plan in place. I just didn’t share the plan. I know where EVERYTHING is, but that does not mean everything is in a logical place 😉
October 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm
This is interesting. I’ve been having FEELINGS about working outside of the home versus being a SAHM. I’m not sure I’m ready to write about it. Having experienced periods of time when I was home all the time, away 35 hours a week and working at home most of the rest of the time, and now being away 50 hours a week, I can say I haven’t a shadow of a doubt that it IS easier to get the things you mention done as a SAHM. It’s also easier when you’re gone 35 hours a week versus 50. That being said, there are definitely things that are harder as a SAHM, and not being a SAHM isn’t a reason to not do the things on your list. I do everything but cloth diapering, and that has nothing to do with me working. (No, that’s not true; I don’t take Mira out for activities during the week because I don’t get home until 6!) I feel sometimes like I spend every minute of my free time (when Mira is sleeping) cooking and cleaning, but oh well. Now I’m blogging instead of sleeping. We all make choices. I guess I wonder why these people feel so defensive. It seems like you’re not putting them on the defensive.
October 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm
I spend too much time blogging, but it’s my connection to the world. I would like to say that I cook and clean and do laundry while Matthew naps, but that’s my down time to get caught up on all sorts of things (setup appointments, plan the week, connect with people I haven’t talked to in weeks, etc.). When I worked, I did have a pretty sweet gig where I spent my free time (lots of it) balancing our finances, paying bills, emailing people, taking long lunches, etc. Now that I’m home, there seems to be NO TIME to do any of those things. It boggles my freaking mind. I used to check our credit card statements every other day for fraudulent charges (we’ve had problems with that in the past) and now I do it every 3-4 weeks. I used to check in on all of our various accounts (checking, savings, 401K’s, etc. – all scattered all over the place after a few job hops and a marriage) daily – and I mean daily. Now, I do it every 2 weeks at best. It’s not good enough – I need to manage my time better. I keep thinking it will get easier as Matthew gets older, but as he gets older, he gets into more and more things. Many things would be much more organized if I was still working. But if I was still working, many things would be behind (laundry) becuase B is crazy busy and you only have so many hours in a day. I think that’s the HARDEST thing as a working parent. If I have to, I can skip my own down time to get the bills paid, the laundry done, the dishes washed, etc. But when you work – you only have that time between work and bed (and don’t forget you have to feed the kids, bathe them, put them to bed, etc.). I do remember being exhausted every night because I didn’t sit down until 9:00 each night. I still don’t sit down until 9:00 each night, but I do have that nap time each day to recharge my batteries, and that is very, VERY nice.
October 2, 2012 at 11:05 pm
Sorry I’m late on this, it’s been really crazy at work. I think it’s really interesting that people think you are able to do those things that are important to you because you are a SAHM. It seems there are plenty of people who work outside the home who do those things, and plenty who are SAHMs who don’t, so I don’t really see how one precludes the other.
I also choose to cloth diaper and I also made homemade baby food when my daughter was eating it. I do think that our breastfeeding relationship was cut short by my return to work, as a teacher I had very little time and privacy to pump and with my work over 45 minutes away from my daughter, it didn’t work for me to feed her on my 30 minute lunch break (which I spent pumping at my desk, where anyone who looked through my hanging blinds at the right angle probably could have seen me). So while I think it can be easier to nourish and prolong a breastfeeding relationship when you’re home, I think that plenty of women who really want to keep breastfeeding while working find a way to do so, and plenty who are at home don’t choose to continue that practice. Breastfeeding was never a very positive experience for us so I’m sure that had a lot to do with my decision not to keep pumping while I was at work (also we realized my breastmilk had that enzyme that made my milk taste bad when it was frozen so we lost MONTHS of my pumping efforts. It was heartbreaking).
And my house is always a total disaster, whether I’m home or not. In fact, sometimes I think it’s MORE messy when I’m home because my daughter and I are destroying it all day, where as after a day of work/day care, we don’t have as much time to mess it up.
The one thing I really miss when I’m working (I’m a teacher so I get a taste of being a SAHM during summer) is the down time for naps. I use that time to get chores done and take some time for myself and when I’m working I don’t get that. I have way less time for myself when I’m working because of losing the nap time, but that is mostly because I used that time mostly for me, and not to clean my house and do a lot of the (productive) things other SAHMs use it for. I also really miss going out with my daughter to parks, the zoo, the discovery museum and stuff like that. When I get home from work those things are closed and weekends get filled up so fast, I rarely get to do those fun things with her when I’m working. That makes me sad because, I’m like you, I HAVE to get out every day and I thrive on those kinds of outtings with her.
But honestly, as far as the important (to us) things go, we make it happen whether I’m home or not. We chose a day care provider that accepts cloth diapers and speaks to our daughter in Spanish (very important to me). We feed her healthy foods and don’t let her watch much TV. We make these choices because they are important to us, and we make them while I’m working during the school year and when I’m home in the summer.
I don’t really get why people attribute that stuff to being a SAHM. It’s who you are as a person, you desire and your determination to do those things that gets them done, not whether or not your home during the day with your son. That It must be so frustrating for you.
October 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Amen Sista! “Like”!!
October 4, 2012 at 10:17 pm
Hmm, as a fellow SAHM, I think I might have some interesting points to make on this 🙂
1) I agree– living your life the way you want it to be happens when you put in the effort to get things done the way you’d like them to be done. If you want a clean house, you have to clean it, and if you have very little free time at the end of the day, you’ll prioritize cleaning over other things because your house ain’t gonna clean itself.
2) BUT– being a SAHM does give ME, at least, a lot more time to do things. I am not good at spreading myself across many different domains and doing them all well. I can be good at household management or good at my job, but not both– I’ve tried. I am not mentally designed that way. I run out of steam FAST and get overwhelmed easily. I’m sure that this will adjust over time, and it already has– two babies means I just HAVE to do some things at a certain pace, even if I don’t feel like I can muster the brainpower. I absolutely MARVEL at women who can work full-time, have partners who work full-time, and then care for their kids and household and seem to have it all together. HOW!? I just… I boggle.
My mom is “that type of woman,” by the way, and she does a lot of “tsk-tsk”ing at me not doing certain things because I “need a break.” I think she thinks I’m just somewhere between lazy and disorganized.
3) I can definitely see a difference between people thinking these things are IMPORTANT to you because you’re a SAHM and people thinking these things are just MORE POSSIBLE for you because you’re a SAHM. I can agree with the latter, to an extent (again, if you’re a person like me, it’s a critical difference) but not with the former. I think it’s insulting to ALL moms to insinuate that certain moms might be more interested in making what they consider to be well-thought-out parenting decisions. Ick.
4) I think “oh, that’s just because you’re a SAHM” usually means “you have more time on your hands than I do.” Go ahead and try it out sometime! Be a toddler wrangler for a week! See how much “free time” you have!
October 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm
I too marvel at the moms who work, have husbands who work, and still keep it all together. I was a working mom for just 7 weeks and it was hard. I kept it all together and everything that was important to me still got done, but it certainly wasn’t easy. No it was not.
I like how you put it – you summarized what I didn’t say too well. These things are important to me (us) because they’re important to us – not because I stay home. Thank you for saying that so well and simply!
And let me just say that there is no way for you to keep it all together because you have TWO babies to wrangle.