Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sixteen Stereotypes This SAHM Wants to Dispel

Me in SAHM mode, rocking the stained shirt and kid-made necklace

I usually don’t open those sort of links so I don’t know what it was about “Sixteen Things Only Stay at Home Moms Will Understand!” last weekend that prompted me to open it. For some reason, I operated under the delusion that it was going to be honest and insightful. Instead it was full of all sorts of clichés like we’re really good at multitasking, the pay is terrible but the benefits are great, we like wine, we wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world!

Did I really just waste thirty seconds of my life reading that? Doesn’t all of that apply to any mom—any PARENT—that’s involved in their kids’ lives? Implying that only SAHMs know about multitasking and breaking up kid fights only furthers the divide amongst the Working Moms* and the Stay at Home Moms (not to mention between Moms and Dads). Also furthering the divide are the stereotypes that for some reason still exist about each of these groups of people. So for my own list, here are Sixteen things that THIS Stay at Home Mom (since, you know, I can only really speak for myself) would like you to know:

1. *First of all, I’m not really comfortable with the term “Working Mom” to refer to one that goes out to a job or works from home. To me, all Moms are working Moms. It’s just that some of them also get paid for some of their work. I know it’s just a matter of semantics but I don’t like the implication that I don’t work because I’m not sure what else to call what I do from sun up to sun down everyday. So I like to think of it as Stay at Home Moms (SAHMs) and Working for Money Moms (WFMMs)

2. Second of all, all of this WFMM vs. SAHM nonsense should have gone out with the women’s business suits paired with high top sneakers look.

Now, on to debunking the stereotypes:

3. SAHMs aren’t feminists. Girl, please. I was raised by feminists and I’m raising feminists. I’m a person who since age four had one clear and consistent career goal in mind: being a Mom, preferably one that stayed home with the kids. Was anyone ever permitted to tell me that that was all I’d be allowed to be? Hell no. Am I incredibly lucky my dream came true? Hell yes.

4. SAHMs watch soaps and eat bon bons all day. People still think that? Really? I don’t watch any daytime TV and I’m not really sure what a bon-bon is. A little ice cream bite? Like a little bit of vanilla ice cream drenched in rich milk chocolate? Is that what it is? Hold up, I might be rethinking the bon-bon part of this stereotype. Adding “bon-bons” to the shopping list now.

5. SAHMs are either rich, skinny and coifed or poor, fat and slovenly. I’ll take “Somewhere In The Middle” for $200, please, Alex.

6. SAHMs are uneducated. I certainly didn’t go for the most challenging or cerebral major in college but I did earn my degree (and no it was not my MRS, I actually first met my husband in high school, thank you very much.)

7. (or) SAHMs are wasting their education. Sharing my knowledge with growing minds isn’t wasteful. Also, there’s going to be a lot more life left for me once these kids are grown. Who knows what I might do next?

8. SAHMs have no idea what’s going on in the world and can only talk about their kids. It’s true I take media breaks sometimes, too worn down by all of the bad news out in the world but I do try to at least have some idea of what’s happening. I can talk a blue streak about my kids or almost anything else. Try me.

9. SAHMs are at your beck and call. I love when the stars align and I can help pick up someone’s kid or drop something off to school for them. But I do also have a schedule and a routine and sometimes I just can’t help out at the drop of a hat. Sorry.

10. SAHMs take it for granted that they can get in to the kids' school. Sometimes I just don't feel like running a party game for a classroom full of six year olds but I do because I feel fortunate that I can and I know my kids get a kick out of it. When school functions are at impossible times for WFMMs (Halloween parade at 2pm anyone?) I cringe for my friends who can't make it and offer to take lots of pictures for them.

11. SAHMs are “ladies who lunch.” Okay, you got me there. I do, in fact, eat lunch every single day. And, yes, oftentimes it’s out (on a park bench) and with a friend (she’s four).

12. SAHMs don’t have any options for any other kind of work or are not making sacrifices to be at home. Funny, when a man stays home with the kids nobody seems to assume that as much. (Well of course unless he falls prey to the other SAHD stereotype—which also needs to be debunked—that he’s just lazy.)

13. SAHMs are helicopter Moms. You’ve obviously never heard my theory on not watching their crazy antics and instead just waiting to hear if there’s any crying.

14. SAHMs have an easy, mindless job. That’s why anybody who’s ever done it talks about how hard it is.

15. SAHMs have the patience of saints. If that’s what you want to think of me, who am I to argue? (Realistically, we’re all human. We all have good and bad days. Ask my kids if how much I never yell at them.)

16. SAHMs judge WFMMs Oh for the love of the elusive affordable zero-waste locally sourced healthy organic self-packing lunch, does anyone do this? Seriously, are there SAHMs out there that do this? If so, give it a rest already. All the stereotyping of WFMMs as power-hungry corporate-ladder climbers that don't care about their kids or SAHDs as either self-sacrificing amazing Fathers (regardless of how well he does with the kids) or lazy slob terrible Fathers (ditto) are just as bad as other people believing any of the above about you! Knock it off already!

Clearly in any category of people there are going to be deadbeats. But from what I can see when I look around at each of the very, very many families I know: nearly 100% of them are assessing their own unique family's situations and putting their kids first. They all have good days and bad days, they all love their kids so much and they all work hard every single day.

And I'm glad they're all a part of my village. Because I don't know about any other SAHMs, but this Stay at Home Mom really needs a village sometimes.

*Originally published at Sammiches & Psych Meds

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