Being A Stay-At-Home Mom Is Not A ‘Job’, But That Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Difficult

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No matter what, being a parent is difficult. Whether you stay at home full-time, work outside of the home or work from home, the fact remains that parenthood is not for the faint of heart. I am in a unique position having done it all. I stayed at home for three years, worked outside of the home for four years and am now a work-at-home mom of two elementary school kids. Having experienced all of these versions of motherhood, I can safely say — they are all tough for different reasons. That said, I would never have called motherhood a “job” at any point. Is it difficult? Sure. But it’s not a career.

A post from XOJane inspired me to write about this. A mom wrote of her decision to stay at home with her daughter and the fact that it is in no way a job in the traditional sense. While I disagree with a good portion of the piece, she does make some good points:

Being a stay-at-home mother to your own kids is not a “job,” no matter how difficult it is or how hard we work. Period. Getting to do nothing but raise a person you opted to bring into the world is a privilege, and calling it anything else is ignorant and condescending.

While I disagree with the ignorant and condescending part, I do understand what she means. Coming at this from the perspective of someone who chose to stay at home, I would agree that it was a privilege. Instead of waking up early every morning and shuffling off to work after dropping the kids at daycare, I was able to stay in my robe and turn on the Today show while playing with my kids. Obviously, my life as the mother of a baby and toddler was far from glamorous and in fact, I was pretty depressed when it was my only gig. It was lonely and messy and often, thankless. Still, I would never call it a job anymore than being a daughter, sister, wife or friend is a job. It is a lifestyle, a relationship. It’s family. Calling it a job actually minimizes it’s significance.

The author goes on to explain how the first job she was offered after her daughter was born would have only gone back into paying for daycare, which is precisely why I stayed at home as long as I did:

We didn’t have any extra money, but I was able to do nothing but focus on giving my daughter the best early years at home that I could provide, and she was happy and healthy. That was a gift. Not a career.

This was our situation exactly and looking back, although incredibly trying, it was a gift. We didn’t have extra money hanging around either but I was grateful to be at home while my kids were babies. I’ve written many times before about the benefits of daycare and I in no way regret the time my kids spent there, but am still glad for the time I had watching them grow up while staying at home.

While a bit harshly worded, I agree with the gist of her closing paragraph:

Have some self-respect, own up to your decision, and call it what it is: a lifestyle that is hard but definitely worth the struggle to you. The people out there who actually have jobs will appreciate you much more if you’re not going around whining about a way of life that is most parents’ dream.

That’s the crux of it. It would seem that some stay-at-home moms feel the need to validate their choice to society and to call what they are doing a “job” makes it seem more worthy somehow. We don’t need to label it a job to recognize it’s value. If you stay at home with your child, as this author says, own it. You don’t need to call it something that it isn’t for people to respect your lifestyle.

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