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the mommyhood memos: what we wish others knew about being a hard-working mom

Sunday, September 26, 2010

what we wish others knew about being a hard-working mom

{This post is part of the Moms Who Work series.}


Have you ever been misunderstood? 

I know, I know… loaded question. Let me make that question more specific…

Have you ever been misunderstood in your role or decision to work full-time away from home? Or be a stay-at-home mom? Or any other scenario you’ve chosen in regards to your work?

Even though I’m still relatively new to motherhood and staying home with my baby (most of the time at least), I’ve already had many opportunities for people to ask me the question, “What do you DO all day?”

No doubt they mean well—and they truly are curious and want to understand—so I try my best to answer politely in hopes that I can give them the little glimpse that they’re hoping for. But even with my best efforts I don’t think that anyone can ever really understand what a SAHM does all day until they’ve tried it themselves for a period of time.

I, for one, had no idea the amount of time and energy it takes to look after young children full-time, and then try to also keep house, do the shopping, plan meals, maintain some part-time volunteer work, have time for friends, stay well-connected with my extended family, and keep my relationship with my husband thriving. (Not to mention trying to fit in things for myself like prayer, exercise, reading, and other hobbies.)

Even as someone who babysat from the time I was ten years old, nannied infant twins full-time, and then worked in early childhood education for four years, I was still in for a rude awakening in regards to what it’s like to stay home full time with a baby of my own.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have seriously never worked harder in my life. Nor have I ever had to be so deliberate about not losing my marbles.

I desperately wish there was a way to adequately communicate what it is like to those who would like to know. (Let me know if you’ve discovered it.) 

There's also a good handful of other things that I wish people could understand... like why I'm home all day but some days seemingly get absolutely nothing done. Or why it was much easier for me to get my daily dose of Oprah while I was working full-time than it is now that I'm home. Or why cooking a nice dinner after getting home from working all day felt easier than it does now that I'm home and have the opportunity to start preparing even earlier.... I'll stop now, but my list goes on... 

In saying that, I also realize that as a SAHM I can’t fully understand what it’s like being a full-time working mom away from home. Of course that position comes with a completely different set of challenges, not to be downplayed or brushed over. No doubt working moms wish us SAHMs would have better insight into what it’s like for them.

We could all use a little understanding. We could all use a little empathy. After all, ALL moms work hard.

I asked readers what they wished other people knew about the position they are in, whether they are a SAHM, a working mom (away from home), or a work-at-home mom.

Here’s what you had to say…


A Little R&R said... 
I wish they would take seriously what I do. Some people think you work in your PJs and are not professional. I am just as professional as the lady in an office...it’s just my office is in my living room.
(A work-from-home mom.)



Mandy said...
I wish others understood just how much work goes into being a full-time mom. People often say to me, "Oh you’re lucky, you get to just stay at home all day and have fun". And yes, that is true to a certain extent. But it’s not always as glamorous as people make it out to be. There are times when it is just down right frustrating. “A screaming baby, spit up everywhere, a messy house, the dog threw up on the carpet, I have to pee, when was the last time I showered?, oh great someone is knocking at the door and I'm nursing, Ah, I can't reach my phone and I really need to take this call, explosive diapers, more crying..." and the list goes on. It's truly, truly a mess sometimes. But a beautiful mess, and one that I'm so grateful for. 
(A stay-at-home mom who also does photography part-time.)

cooperl788 said... 
I wish that others understood that even though it's a choice to stay home, that I still feel frustrated with my choice, just like every person. I really wish others would understand that I'm busy all day - I don't sit at home and watch soap operas all day. I'm cooking, cleaning, growing my child's mind – homemaking! 
(A stay-at-home mom.)

That I'm still working hard. I'm not just sitting on the couch watching soaps and eating bon bons. I have a lot to get done everyday and that all has to be balanced with taking care of a child that demands all my attention. 
(A stay-at-home mom.)

Kristen T. said... 
It's not a competition! I'm not in a "who is the best mom" competition with stay-at-home moms. Just because I brought in Rice Krispie squares, and you made perfect, uniquely decorated cupcakes -- I'm not a bad mom! 
(A full-time work-away-from-home mom.)

Maryline said... 
Others don't often realize the time I have left to myself is close to zero. I need to sacrifice sleep to fit in the exercising, the blogging, etc. 
(A full-time work-away-from-home mom.)

HRH Mommy said... 
In the Netherlands (where I'm from) moms work and the kids are in day care. The responses I receive from both family and friends are less than supportive when I mention that I'd prefer to be a SAHM. I have a Masters Degree and therefore am expected to work and make $$. After I became a mom that all changed for me. Being a mom is so much more rewarding than the $$ any job would pay. Luckily my hubby is all for me being a SAHM, though at the moment I will be returning to work, simply since things have been slow (hubby is self-employed) and we need the extra $$. 
(A part-time work-away-from-home mom.)

I guess that I just want everyone to understand that I am always doing the best that I can. That I am constantly trying to manage everything. I don't work because I don't like to be a mother, but I do enjoy my job. 
(A full-time work-away-from-home mom.)

KDC Events said... 
Just because I am not at the office and at home, does not mean I am on vacation, having a day off or eating bon bons! I am working just as hard, if not HARDER!!! 
(A part-time work-away-from home mom and part-time work-from-home mom.)

Nya's mom said... 
Umm. I wish that others understood that in choosing to return to work, I did not choose work over my daughter. Both in my real life and online, when I was in the stage of figuring out whether I would return to work, I received some responses from stay-at-home moms who implied that in returning to work, I would be, essentially, putting my self interests over those of my daughter. That hurt!   (A part-time work-away-from home mom and part-time work-from-home mom.)



Further reading in this series:

Dear mommy-friends, can you relate to these moms? What do you wish other moms understood about what you do? Or how about those who aren't moms... like your husbands, bosses, coworkers, single or childless friends, or relatives? And lastly, what can you do to be more gracious and understanding toward other moms who are in a different position than you are?

working at being more gracious,





adriel booker | the mommyhood memos | 2010 
do not reproduce without written permission

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3 Comments:

At September 26, 2010 at 7:00 AM , Blogger frenchieliza said...

Great post! I just wish MY HUSBAND understood. He thinks I get to sleep in and have my whole day free. He does not understand at all why I am so exhausted at the end of the day. From what I hear, that is pretty common though.

 
At September 28, 2010 at 3:03 AM , Blogger Carol said...

Great post! I've been on both sides of the coin, for me working outside the home is easier, and more comfortable for me. I was not okay with asking my husband for money, or being solely dependent on him financially, that just felt awkward to me. I am happier working, having my own resources, using my education, and that makes me the best mommy that I can be. I miss my kids, especially while they were little (under 3), but eventually they will go off to school and I'll still have my place in the workforce. I do have friends that don't understand this because financially we don't NEED my income. I wish they were more tolerant of my desire to excel at BOTH.

 
At September 29, 2010 at 10:37 AM , Anonymous Jill L said...

I must say that it actually is relieving to read that we find many of the same things challenging about being a SAHM. I was just thinking about this today, the every day house chores etc seemed easier when I had a full-time job away from home. The things I attribute this to(for myself anyway) is (1) I was never good at start and stop when trying to accomplish things and that is pretty much what life is about now. Its very exhausting for me. (2) I am responsible for this little person that is very dynamic and as much as I thought I would, I can not put into a box of a tight schedule. Which, inturn, means that my day is not always predictable. (3) It is exhausting to constantly be concerned about someone else. There is so much more to think aobut with having chilren then I thought possible, ie. when do I start finger foods, what is she trying to tell me right now, why isn't she napping well etc. (4)There really is more housework when you have a little person in your home. As always, Adriel, thanks for sharing :)

 

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