Monday, March 10, 2008

Yet Another Opportunity to Wield a Blunt Object and Flog Myself

How many of you stay at home moms are actually home much during the workweek? Really, I want to know.

I have days where I leave with the kids in the morning to take them to school and am not back home until five or later. Obviously, I (happily) took this on when I decided to have lengthy gaps in between each kid. Which means doctor appointments almost every week (between the eyes, regular doc, teeth and skin we are covered), school activities, errands, and volunteer responsibilities. Not to mention that little thing called the writing career and the possibility of a part-time job never far from my mind. I can't imagine that every single mom who reads this isn't nodding her head and relating. I am probably describing many of your lives, as well. Let's face it, the "stay at home" mom is the busiest she's ever been.

So two things chapped me this week. One, when I went to approach several teachers about finding me a parent volunteer for a gala we're having, every single one of them told me they would have a hard time coming up with a name, since most of their moms are working. Now, I appreciate how busy these moms are. When I only had two kids, I worked a fifty-plus hour work week myself. When I look back, it's with mixed feelings, but the one thing I loved was my lunch hour. Keep in mind, I need a total of say, three hours over the next month from these potential volunteers. That's six days where they give me half their lunch hours and make some calls. If that. Plus, we are no longer at the Catholic school, which means as a family of six, we are an anomaly at this school. There are a handful of big families, but most of these parents have one or two kids. Yeah, clearly they are smarter and more evolved, I know. But my point is this - aren't we all busy as hell? Aren't we all burning the candle a little bit to get the most out of life? When the third teacher mentioned they would see which stay-at-home mom I could call, I felt so angry. Bob jokes that half the time I am an angry black man inside of a white woman's body - and that's how I felt when I saw the stereotypes being brandished with impunity at a class of women that is shrinking with each day.

Then, a woman I know asked me what I had been up to lately, and in her asking, she used the term housewife. Before I could answer, she stammered and went on and on about how sorry she was that she said housewife. Until she mentioned it, I hadn't given it a second thought and was only trying to think of anything interesting that had happened so that she wouldn't fall asleep in front of me as I described my many journeys to school in the car that week. She was so upset, that she was literally stuttering in front of me.

"I know how demeaning that term is. I know you do things and that you're smart. I didn't mean to say it."

So now being a housewife is demeaning? Argh, people - not while I am PMSing, okay? Because this week could get really long.

34 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Yes. To. Everything. You. Said!

Mamma said...

Okay, so now I'm completely afraid to comment.

I will say that I think you deserve a lunch hour each day.

sara said...

I had a college friend (a doctor w/ two sons, live-in nanny) write me about her new town & all the stay-at-home moms whose 'only fulfillment' is through their kids & PTO. Yipes, is this how she views me was the only thing I could think of.

"Every mom is a working mom," cliched but true....

Nancy said...

HU? You mean you don't sit home in a muumuu poppin' bon-bons while flippin' the remote from one soap opera to another?

Well, golly gee ... now the "housewife" has morphed!

Grrr to the women that work out of the house ... I have always had more free time than a stay at home mom to volunteer to help with school projects.

Kelley said...

I have no children, but I think you are completely right. Judging "housewives" by their so-called lack of productivity is just as much of a prejuduice as saying that all yuppie white folks recycle or all black people like watermelon. All stay-at-home moms are not lazy.

I would deal with these teachers the same way that you deal with any other bigot: with patience and grace and explanation (without being defensive). Or set their mailbox on fire.

(J/K about the mailbox. I think.)

Circus Kelli said...

I'm with mamma about being afraid to comment. :)

The few moms at my kids' elementary school that I've encountered during a recent Winter Festival event gave me "Oh... I see" with arched eyebrows when I told them I worked full time outside of the home.

Women seem to be damned if they have an outside job, and damed if they don't -- and sometimes, other women are the most judgemental about it. It sucks.

Life As I Know It said...

I despise the terms 'housewife' and 'stay at home mom'.

I'm never 'home', and I'm not married to my house.

Ugh.

I've been on both sides of the coin. Working full time and now "staying home". I have much less free time now. No lunch breaks, no access to daycare, no outside office I can get things done at.

So yes, I can relate.

Beck said...

I have fully embraced the word housewife. Yes, I am now married to my house.
I'm actually home MOST of the winter - it's just too miserable to leave - but the rest of the year, good luck catching me.

Anonymous said...

Hey, AZ Cuz,
I wanted to let you know I know exactly how you feel. I "only work part time" and people feel I have all the time in the world to help with every little thing! I have learned a new word, "NO". If it is something for the school like you are talking about, and they need so little time. (3 hours, that is nothing!) I gladly say yes!

Glad to see my boy Jack is walking, can't wait to see you this summer!

imbeingheldhostage said...

You are spot on again! You know what I can't stand as a SAHM (and I do use the stay-at-home part loosely), it's the working women who call ME and ask ME to pick up their kid/watch their kid/take their kid... because I'm "at home anyway". ABSOLUTELY nothing against working moms(I was one too once), just THOSE particular women.
I do hope word gets out that you need these volunteers, usually the busiest women will step up to help.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

It does annoy me that the moms who work out of the house seem to be getting a free pass from the teachers as far as volunteering goes. I would have been all over them on that one.

And as far as the word "housewife" being demeaning (maybe household manager would be better), whenever someone asks me if I am planning to go "back to work," I explain to them that I already have a job, thanks - and I really wasn't looking for a second one. They get really confused. It's fun.

Christina said...

I feel like I should scream 'Ya Ya!' for the sisterhood.

Katrina said...

Most days I feel like I am on a dead run! Laundry, dishes, diapers, homework, groceries, yard work, our new business (I am the admin everything from the dining room) teething baby, teenagers with gf problems, school events, sports, taxes, banking...

Not a lot of "staying home" if ya ask me.

KathyLikesPink said...

Good grief. Those teachers need to be edjumacated.

Sometimes we women are our own worst enemies. This constant battle of who is the better mother is such a waste of time. We should be supportive of each other instead of maintaining a stupid stereotype.

MOMS ROCK no matter what!

Marie said...

I much prefer housewife to SAHM. I, however, never leave my house because I don't have a car.

Molly said...

Motherhood and "work" is so damned if you do, damned if you don't. I've been a SAHM now for 4 years and have decided to go back to work and have been told flat out by other mothers and my son's preschool teacher that I should think twice because it will be so hard and it's "so bad" for the children. And I have also been told by my working mom friends that they don't see how I can stay home and they would be so bored and they like to use their brains.

Wh can't we all just support each other and not pass judgment on one another?

Joanie said...

So I guess this means you won't pick up my dry cleaning or wait in line at the DMV for me? Dayum-it.

liv said...

i say you need a foot massage and some red wine and some chocolate. doctor's orders.

flutter said...

I think it's way more flattering that hausfrau, or 'hey you'

dawn&brian said...

Ah, the mommy wars. All too familiar to me after 9 years of either SAHM or working "only part time". Stereotypes and judgements only worsened by stupid TLC shows like "The Secret Life of a SoccerMom" where they take this poor unfortunate soul who sacrificed herself to stay at home with her kids, only to have Tracy Gould sweep in and dangle a made up job offer in front of SAHM in her lowly jogging suit and slippers.
I am a full time mom. That is my job. I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My lunch hour and lunch dates consist of broken, interrupted conversations with mom friends (or strangers) at a fast food playland. I volunteer 16+ hours monthly at the school, yet I am one of the first moms called when they need more. Sometimes, I get angry and resentful too.... I totally get you on this one.

Jennifer @ The Cubicle's Backporch said...

I know where you're coming from b/c my mom didn't work when we (8 kids) were all younger... and she worked her ass off.

I did a similiar stick-my-foot-in-my-mouth incident with a couple of home-school moms when I was a server. I joked about how they must be glad to get out of the house or something. DoH!

Valle said...

I'm a work-at-homer and I still get the excuse when looking for other volunteers "oh, no, don't ask so-and-so...she is too busy"...it's so insulting! Like I'm not too busy????
I work, have 2 kids (one w/a disability), am on 2 boards and do the newsletter for another group??? I'm not busy!!?!?

On the other thing: I've been working from home the past 3 years now, and I couldn't imagine going back to an office. Though maybe I'm working double time now (doing all the kid things and the work things), it's on a much more flexible schedule, and our family's stress level has gone down exponentially.

Moms who work in an office 40 hours or more, still have to make sure their kids get to the doctor, they have to do the shopping, go to teacher meetings, pick up the kids when they're sick, etc. So I do believe that their lives are more stressed (I believe it because I lived it). Not more busy, but more stressed.

Sass E-mum said...

Speaking as a mum with a job and an 18month old, I've not yet got involved with school commitments and teacher expectations.

You are all so cross about this, but I'm surprised that some of you are doing so much for others and forgetting your own priorities.

Professional mums face exactly the same dilemma as mums doing paid work. Getting your work (paid or unpaid), having some fun and doing the best for your children.

The teachers are using SAHM/working mum labels as leverage to find volunteers. Bet they find other ways of laying guilt trips onto 'working' mums.

Don't fall into the trap. You are as busy as the next person and you've given up volunteering time already.

So, here's a challenge - think like a man next time you say no to a teacher's request for volunteers. Don't justify, just say 'no, can't help you with that'. Hold your breath - DO NOT SAY ANYTHING ELSE.

AnotherMomCreation said...

Having worked full time, part time and now just working on raising the kids I'd say it feels about equal. Just a completely different balance.

We mom's who stay home and take care of ALL the house stuff, kids stuff family stuff have different free time than those who work outside the home full time. I do think part-timers have it worse than the other's. Part time work allows Moms to try and do it all, be a stay home mom and a working mom, and still do ALL the acitivities, ALL the house stuff, and the kid/family stuff. Its just too much.

dkaz said...

I worked for a top pharmaceutical co before I had kids - we were all sent to seminars periodically to further our education. One was called "Managing Personal Growth" and it dealt with what you would like to get from your dream job. I was 8 months pregnant at the time and I chose 'recognition' as something that was important to me. The leader laughed and said that I wasn't going to get much recognition in my next job (mother). She was right. Motherhood is rewarding on so many levels, but your not going to get much applause from other people, including maybe even your mate if you stay at home for a while.
I stayed at home when my kids were little - worked at night part-time. I work full time now that they are in school, and I can tell you I have faced a lot of resistance trying to volunteer at my kids' school. Organizational meetings are always at 10:00 AM, not at night, and it makes it very difficult to get involved. But I persist, because I want to be a part of things.

wheelsonthebus said...

I think there is judgment no matter which way you cut it.

SaraLynn said...

I am with Circus Kelli on the "damned if you do and damned if you don't" wagon. I have been on both sides. I am now a stay at home mom and I have to say when I am old, gray and reliving my memories, it will be of my children, not what juicy gossip I heard at the watercooler.
And I also agree with iambeingheldhostage that the busiest women will volunteer,stay at home mom or not. I guarantee you it will not be the judgmental ones, they are too busy judging.

Jen M. said...

I agree with so many of you - damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Judgment just needs to go away. Period.

mjd said...

Amen, plus your Nelson Mandela quote does sum up things profoundly.

Mrs. G. said...

Being a homeschooler who is rarely home, I get the whole gone all day thing. I don't mind being called a housewife. I just don't want to be penalized in the job world for having been one.

Kelley said...

I'm a homeschooler, too, and at the moment I really am home most of the time. Besides, if I have to choose a title for myself, I choose "homemaker." That is my main job, after all. I work hard all day to make my home a place where my children can learn and grow and be safe from all the yuck in the world. Granted, they are 7, 5, and 3 (and one due in 3 months) so it's easier than it will be when they get older. Even so, I want them to grow up knowing that stay-at-home moms/housewives/homemakers are extremely important, and are not to be denegrated.

I just finished reading a biography of Abigail Adams. She repeatedly affirmed her belief that the main responsibility of mothers is to create homes that are the basic foundation of society. I couldn't agree more. This is true whether you work in the home, out of the home, or a combination of both. Mothers are important, and always will be.

(okay, now I will step back down off my soapbox) :)

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I've started telling people I'm 'chief cook and bottlewasher'. Yes, I think housewife is demeaning. I even think "stay at home mom" is a misnomer. But, try to tell people that you are a homeschooling mom, and 99% of them think I'm a religious fanatic who pretends she lives on Little House on the Prairie.

Beck's comment made me laugh: "yes, I am now married to my house". And, may I add, "and you should see the size of his chimney".

Queen Mommy said...

I have three kids and work fulltime, out of the house. I stayed home for 1 1/2 years when number three was born. It became ever so apparent that I was not cut out to stay home. When I went back to work in August of 2007, I found a job that is 12 minutes from my home. I can leave and pick up my daughter at preschool and drop her off at our sitter's house. I will be able to volunteer for things at their school when the time comes. I was working too far from home at my other job for that to be feasible. This works for us.

Working out of the house or staying home both have challenges unique to each situation. We need to support eachother as WOMEN and MOTHER's regardless of our status.

That's my two cents.

Just Seeking said...

When I was pregnant with #1, we took a childbirth class. One of the women in this class didn't work outside the home. She didn't have any kids, but she/they still chose to have her home taking care of that end of things. At the time, as a career woman planning to go back to work after the baby was born, I thought it was crazy. Now I have two and stay home fulltime and often wonder how we would get on without me doing so. And even though I sometimes think about going back to work parttime, I wonder how much more challenging our lives would be if I chose to do this. My two are just about to be in school fulltime and I'm still considering staying home fulltime. I think this pregnant stay-at-homer was on to something. Why not work together as a marriage team---one tackling the homefront and the other tackling the workfront? And then, we can all have time off to enjoy each other's company. I'm done proving to other women how busy I am. Since when did "busy" become synonymous with important anyway? We all deserve to live our lives the way we chose. And for us, we've decided to actually ENJOY our lives. I'll take "enjoy" over "busy" anytime.