Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Is Not A “Hobby”
The Internet says a lot of things about parents. This I know.
I've been writing as a parenting blogger for a few years now, and I really thought I had heard it all. But I have to admit that one blogger did the impossible and genuinely shocked me when she claimed that she knew the truth about stay-at-home parents.
And the verdict?
Staying at home with kids is just a “hobby.”
“No, Stay-at-Home-Mothers, choosing to create your own little person upon whom you’ll spend all your time and energy, is a hobby. It is a time-consuming, sanity-deteriorating, life-altering hobby — a lot like a heroin addiction, but with more Thirty-One bags. Whether you call it a ‘blessing' or a ‘privilege,' the fact remains that having someone else foot the bill for a lifestyle that only benefits you and your close family is by no means a ‘job.' ” Liz Pardue-Schultz wrote for XO Jane.
Yup. She went there.
In a way, I get what she was trying to say. If you read the whole article, her basic point is that it's become the “norm” for stay-at-home moms to complain about every little thing because staying at home with kids is oh so hard, and maybe we should all appreciate it a little bit more.
But, dang. If she didn't get the message across in the totally wrong way.
I don't care what she says; staying at home with young children is a job, because someone has to watch them. You'd consider it a job for the daycare provider that would watch them if you sent them there, wouldn't you? The economy isn't a fixed equation — staying home means a lot of different things in a financial sense: breastfeeding may be more feasible, for example, which means fewer potential illnesses, which reduces healthcare costs. Or maybe staying home means less of a carbon footprint or lets you contribute to your child's school. It's just silly to belittle the fact that parents who stay home have very little economic value.
However, I understand that she's trying to point out that many moms can throw themselves so fully into mothering and staying home that they lose themselves in an unhealthy way in the process. Been there, done that. And it sounds like this particular mother has adjusted perhaps a bit easier than some of us. That doesn't make her experience less valid, but it doesn't make it valid for her to preach that all stay-at-home moms are whiny, complaining, ungrateful hawkers of 31 bags, either.
Is staying at home a privilege? Honestly, I'm not sure. For some mothers, it is. For some, staying home takes serious sacrifice. For others, it really feels blissful and, still, for some others, it's like gritting your teeth to get through the day.
So the bottom line is that it's counterproductive to ever call staying at home with kids a “hobby,” because it's damaging to our society as a whole. The author even mentions that she was able to stay home with the help of WIC — something that might not be possible if work-family policies didn't exist.
Those kinds of family-supportive policies exist because, as a society, we recognize that raising healthy children is beneficial to society and that no one can do it all alone. We recognize that there is a value in raising children, and we have a long ways to go in creating more work-family policies, laws, and benefits.
And you know what? None of that will happen until we recognize that staying home and raising children is a job.
What do you think?