I had a strange (read: annoying, frustrating and sad) thing happen to me yesterday.
I was out running errands with J, and I had a few things to do that shared a parking lot, so I popped him in the stroller, and went from store to store… to Starbucks. Obviously. After I’d ordered my venti decaf iced coffee (because… pregnant) we waited at the end of the counter for it to be finished. An older lady (probably about my grandmother’s age) said, “Oh look! You two match!” J was wearing a green shirt and I was wearing tie-dye that had some green in it. Okay, lady. She proceeded to say how cute “she was” (seriously? He’s wearing a green tee, baggy jeans, and huge sneakers. She?!) and I was like, “Yeah! He’s a cute, big guy!” to nicely emphasize that she wasn’t right about the “she” part. Next, the lady said something that began to really get to me…
“He’s just really happy to have a stay-at-home mom.”
Hold on there, lady.
It’s not that I’m not a SAHM. It’s not that I don’t like and appreciate that I’m a SAHM. It was 3:00pm, I was in my bum clothes (gym shorts and a big t-shirt), and I’m out at Starbucks with my son (aka obviously not at work). I guess it’s a fairly safe assumption that I don’t have a 9-to-5. It’s just that it frustrates me that you had to label me, without knowing me. You had to give me a label – even if you weren’t judging me. You were actually applauding me… I think. But let me tell you something. I’ve been a working mom, too. I’ve had a full-time job. I’m still working a part-time job. In fact, I had been at work that very morning, and was enjoying time with my son I had missed while I was gone. I don’t think I’m a better mom now that I was when I worked full time. I don’t think J loves me more now that I stay home with him more hours a week. But it was what she continued to say that baffled me even further.
“You know, I think it’s finally coming back into vogue now.”
What?! Are you implying that staying home with your children is something you do because it’s in style? Or that you don’t do it because it isn’t? AND thankyouverymuch I made a choice to be home with my kids… to quit my job, to put a halt in my career, to take a financial (and let’s be real, emotional and personal) leap of faith and stay home with my children. I wanted to try it, to be with them while they were little and needed me more than they might need me later. I wanted to help them learn and grow and see their precious little selves learn to walk and talk and potty train and see what happened when we added another sibling to their ranks. I DID NOT decide to “stay at home” (which, by the way, for me, doesn’t include that much staying at home) because I thought it was in style, popular, likeable, or more acceptable than what I was doing before.
Staying at home was (and is!) what I wanted, and my family was able to make it happen. I am grateful every day for that, even when I’m driven crazy by the lack of routine (or the drilling sameness of it) and I’m an unshowered, goldfish-eating, coffee-guzzling wreck. I don’t make choices for my family because of what other people will think or say. I also don’t judge what choices other people make for theirs. Every family has its own system that works, and its own choices that make it special. What my family does won’t necessarily work for everyone. What other families do won’t necessarily work for mine. But when I get labeled and targeted as a member of a group, and then given a reason to do it, such as “it’s in vogue” to do so, my feelings get hurt, my 26th-week hormones get a little… well… ragey… and I have to call my gal pal to vent about it so that I don’t let my crazy fly in the face of this old lady who shares her opinions a little too freely.
Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I apparently needed to vent some more. Situations like this, and feelings like hers (and like mine that resulted) are the reason that I signed this petition and made a #mommitment to end the judgement surrounding being a mother. Every single mama should do her best, and not be judged for it. Every single mama should feel supported and loved, and not labeled or lumped into a category for her choices.