One of the most popular topics of discussion on STFU, Parents is stay-at-home moms, or SAHMs. The common question is, “How hard is being a parent, and should being a full-time mom be considered a legitimate job?”
On the one hand, most jobs require hard work, doing things you don’t feel like doing, and putting in long hours – all of which apply to being a full-time parent (stay-at-home or otherwise). But on the other hand, staying home full-time to be a parent (for the sake of this article we’ll say ‘mom’) doesn’t come with a real salary, a real employer OR require any PowerPoint presentations, which can make the argument for it being a legitimately tough job to swallow. Especially since there are so many different types of parents out there. Single moms, single dads, households that require each parent to bring home the bacon, etc.
And therein lies the Catch-22. Some SAHMs are inclined to say that being at home is a luxury while others are irate that their ‘job’ is not formally recognized or taken more seriously by their other-jobs-having friends. Some child-free people say, “It’s the parents’ choice to have a baby, so raising a child is NOT a job!” while some moms, like my own – who stayed home for 10 years and then went back to work until retirement – just say, “Who cares who’s working harder? Work is work.”
For today’s column, I wanted to highlight a few of the SAHM submissions that I’ve received in order to break the ice on this controversial subject. Do SAHMs work as hard – or harder – than people who have “real” jobs, or are they taking this job thing a little too far? Let’s take a look at some examples.
1. Job Comparisons
I think this stance might bother the STFU audience (including parents) the most. What’s the point in comparing and contrasting two completely different things? How does Erin know that “A job would be a MAJOR vacation”? Every job is different. Some parents have easier kids than others. Some people have easier jobs than others. We should all support each other rather than complain. Instead of whining along with Amy, perhaps her Facebook friends could make a few suggestions regarding how she can make herself happier.
2. Mommy Cards
Do moms need business cards? Some argue that Mommy Cards (which is a growing industry) are a fun and easy way to connect with other like-minded parents to do things such as organize play dates, while others think they’re a consumer gimmick targeting moms. Are women carrying these cards to help them feel more like professionals, or are the cards just an enjoyable way to “network” on the playground? One thing’s for sure: Most of the people I’ve heard from who aren’t SAHMs cannot stand Mommy Cards!
3. Only Mothers Understand
While I can understand why Pink is excited (especially if she’s a new mom), it’s Orange’s comment that would tick some people off. If going outside is considered a major accomplishment, what are doing taxes and getting an oil change considered to be? Rare and amazing feats? Most people just call that “living life.”
4. The SAHM vs Working Mom Argument
There’s nothing wrong with being a SAHM, but there’s also nothing wrong with being a working mom, whether you have to work or simply want to. Women throughout history have fought hard to have their careers, and they should be commended and supported for wanting to maintain those careers after they become parents. The balancing act is hard to achieve, but it’s certainly not impossible. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave an excellent talk on this subject that speaks to where women in the workplace are today. More often than not, I receive submissions featuring SAHMs saying negative things about moms who work by choice, and I consider that a setback.
I believe that everyone who works hard should be treated with respect for the work that they do. Whether you’re a SAHM or an attorney clocking 80+ hours in the office, it’s nice to be rewarded for a job well done. That being said, there’s a difference between saying, “I’m so happy that my husband shows me how much he appreciates me,” and saying, “My husband buys me high-end jewelry to show me he cares. Quarter-carat diamond necklace and earring set…BOO-YA!” Let’s all show respect for each other by recognizing that some of the folks lucky enough to have jobs (who need jobs) have worked very hard and received paycuts, not diamonds.
6. Work Is Work, a Job Is a Job
Sometimes it’s hard for people with jobs outside the home to see being a SAHM as a difficult job because of quips like this. When you’re busy kissing your boss’s ass, preparing documents for presentations and sitting on hours-long conference calls in a tiny cubicle, it’s hard to feel sympathy for your friend who wishes someone would notice her clean cabinet door handles.
Do I believe that being a parent is tough work? Absolutely. Do I think it’s as grueling as having a “regular” job? Yes and no (but mostly no). This is an on-going discussion and no one is right or wrong, but ultimately I think it’s safe to say that we should all try putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes before assuming anything about the other person’s job.
What do you guys think?