Recently, I went back to work outside of the home. In addition to my position as the Editor-in-Chief of Many Kind Regards and as a volunteer for the non-profit organization In Gear Career, I am the Managing Editor of Publications for the Texas A&M Aggie Corps of Cadets Association. I get up every morning, get my kids fed and ready for school, get myself ready for work, take the kids to school, and then I go to the office, where I design, edit, and put together an entire magazine from start to finish. I don’t have an assistant, an editor-in-chief, a staff, or even a graphic designer. Oh yeah, and I’ve never worked with the software that we use to put a magazine together.
Suffice it to say, I work, and I work hard. And then I leave the office, pick up my kids from school, go home, make dinner while my husband oversees homework, get the kids ready and into bed, and then I sit down and work on Many Kind Regards until it’s nearly bedtime.
And I love every minute of it.
So- imagine my distaste when I found out that a young, female, former, coworker was complaining about me- and the other women in my office. Her complaint went something like “Ugh. He hired a bunch of stay-at-home moms and it’s awful”. Step. Off.
I’ll admit, at first, I laughed, and said, “Because stay-at-home moms know how to get trash done!” But the more I thought about it, the more offended I was.
For starters, who gives a flying crud what I was before I took the highest paying job I’ve ever held? I got the job based on my talent and personality- and based on the fact that the company who hired me needed what I had to offer.
Secondly, who made you, little college co-ed, the know-all be-all of what makes a person qualified to run an extremely successful non-profit? (The company is a non-profit, by the way).
But more importantly, what the heck is wrong with being a stay-at-home mom? Do you know what it takes to be a stay-at-home parent?
1) Math skills out the wazoo. Monthly income: 4600. Rent: 1200. Power, water, sewer bill: 200. TV and internet: 180. Cell phone: 210. Insurance, renters and car: 260. CC payments: 350. Savings: 500. College loans: 500. Car payments: 700. You have 500 to last a month for groceries for 5, gas in your vehicles, the copay for all of the allergy medications the redhead needs, school field trips, and toilet paper. Make it work. (numbers are not accurate. I just pulled them out of thin air).
2) Social skills beyond what you will ever learn in your sorority. Your ten year old just won student council and then threw up all over her crush because she got overly excited when he congratulated her. His mother is your son’s old kindergarten teacher, and is trying to carry on a conversation. While cleaning up the puke, helping your daughter save face, telling the other kids that, no, she does not have ebola, and congratulating her, have a meaningful conversation with his mother about how well your son is doing in 1st grade. Go.
3) Mad coping skills. Your daughter is being bullied at school, and so you pull her from the school and transfer her elsewhere, in the middle of the year, with a high grade of 36%. At the same time, your son is beginning to exhibit signs of a learning disability, and possible comorbid disorders. Your husband is overly stressed at work. Your youngest son might be expelled because he asked a girl in his class if he could kiss her. One of your dearest friends is struggling with her new position in life as a widow. And you got fat. Deal.
4) Multi-tasking skills better than an iPhone. You know where the socks are. Where the toilet paper is. Where the ketchup went. How to do mixed fractions while making a soufflé, RSVPing to your cousin’s wedding, selecting the perfect wine for dinner, and ordering a ball gown online. All while helping your boys pick out their clothes for school the next day and explaining to your daughter the different parts of an M16 and why each part is required in order to make the rifle work properly. And that’s not even on a busy night.
5) California driver skills. Someone cut you off while you were taking your kids to school. That obnoxious someone was talking on the cell phone and painting her nails at the same time, and had the audacity to flip you off as she passed you by. And then she didn’t stop for the firetruck. In five words or less, explain to your daughter why you didn’t crash and why you’re laughing as you wave at the angry college kid on the side of the road as she gets a ticket.
6) High levels of tolerance for BS skills. Your daughter says she doesn’t have any math homework. While refusing to make eye contact. Your son just painted a Thomas Kinkade. Actually painted it. Like- there is now a red brush stroke across a lovely chapel. And then told you that he doesn’t even know who did it. Your youngest just ate half of a birthday cake on the counter cooling for Daddy, and gets angry when you point out the frosting smeared all over his face- insisting that he is not lying. Quick- don’t lose your ever loving mind.
7) Patience skills that would rival Mother Theresa. Your sons are doing their homework. You’ve explained 17 times that 0 plus any number is going to be that number. Your sons are confused about why 0+1 is always 1. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about, mom. Here goes 18.
8) Organization skills that could land you a job almost anywhere. You have 6 sets of full sheets and blankets, 3 sets of twin sheets and blankets, 5 sets of queen sheets and blankets, 2 king comforters, 6 mattress protectors, 87 towels, 52 wash clothes, and enough linen storage in your house to put away three oven mitts. Figure it out.
9) Entertainment skills. You’ve watched Star Wars 72 times, Frozen 13 times, Brave 18 times, and if you have to listen to Dora ask you where the big bridge is on the map one more time, you’re going to report her parents to social services. Your kids are upset because all they want out of life is to play the iPad and to rule a small country. Make them laugh. Without using electronics.
10) Time warp skills. Today is Tuesday. Your daughter has a science project due in 12 hours. Your sons have two math assignments due in 12 hours. You need to make dinner, get lunches packed, wash underwear, (and bedsheets because your son just doesn’t have the hang of it yet), wash some stinking silverware because they won’t wash themselves, go buy milk for breakfast, put sheets on the bed again, figure out how to make a volcano without blowing up your kitchen, learn common core math, and try not to drown your cares in a fine bottle of wine. You’re now down to 8 hours. Goodluck.
And this isn’t even a fraction of the skills a stay-at-home parent must possess to be even partially successful. We must be proficient in first aid and minor medical care. We must have, at our fingertips, contact information for every doctor and teacher our child sees, x3. We need to know how to sew a rip in a favorite stuffed animal and how to wash said stuffed animal when our kid pukes on it. We must possess a certain charm in order to coerce our children into chores. We must be dental hygienists and hair experts, shrinks and teachers, technology gurus (xbox one anyone?) and bedtime story readers, historians and experts on boys, philosophers and jesters, chefs and maintenance men, taxis and coaches, finance experts and thrifty shoppers. We need to know just how to fix a boo boo, how to ward off nightmares, and how to make the perfect pb&j. That doesn’t even take into account the other duties- those that come with being a spouse.
See, being a “stay-at-home mom” isn’t such an easy task. It’s incredibly rewarding, but not easy. So when you say something derogatory about me based on my status as a “stay-at-home mom”, you are insinuating that hard work, dedication, talent, skill and ability are of very little importance to our society in general. You are suggesting that a stay at home mom is lazy, incompetent, incapable, and unable.
And when you make such a suggestion, you are really only reflecting yourself. So stop calling me a stay-at-home mom. Besides the fact that I earn every penny I make (and a whole lot of pennies that I DON’T make), and the fact that I am a working mother, you are insulting yourself and reflecting your very limited and shallow understanding of what it means to be a productive member of society.
I am so much more than a stay-at-home mom. I am a Highly Offensive Mom, as well.