*Disclaimer- I am not speaking on behalf of any other person besides myself. These are my own thoughts and opinions which many will relate to and many may disagree with but, like anything I write on my blog unless claimed to be factual or otherwise, I will always be speaking from my perspective. I am in no way trying to generalise all Mothers or stay at home parents. Every situation is different.*
This topic has been on my list of posts to write for a while now but the tone in which I write this may be a little different to how it would have been written should I not have bared witness to something on Facebook of late.
Now, those who follow me over on Instagram will be familiar with said thing, another Mother’s honest and real post which was written on her page and was evidently very heart-felt and raw. It was a selfie of the lady named Bridgette Anne taken as she broke down with no make-up, hair up in a messy bun, wearing a baggy grey T-shirt with marks of some description on it. A photo that many of us would look upon and think yep, this looks very damn familiar.
The caption went on to add some substance and explanation to why she was in that state and her reason for sharing something so personal. It briefly but bluntly stated many of the woes that come with being a Stay At Home Mam: the loneliness, the demand, the lack of self care, the exhaustion. She also touched upon the common perceptions that come with staying at home and how many people deem us to be lazy and lucky to not be in work plus how we have no right to complain about anything.
The post went viral and I personally was left thinking about how brave she was for posting it, how inspiring it would be to people going through the same thing, like myself, and how great it was that she was being recognised for speaking up on behalf of Mothers who stay at home. I felt empowered and wanted to get in on the support and love that I thought I’d be met with when I clicked on the comments.
There was some, don’t get me wrong, but the majority of what I witnessed there absolutely shocked and disgusted me.
The more I read, the more angry and upset I felt causing me to take to my Instagram story and vent some of these feelings and my counter arguments to a lot of what people were writing. Many people felt the same as myself and I thought I’d put my sour feelings to bed but I just couldn’t let this go.
Before writing this I wondered if I was within my rights to feel hurt or offended by the attitudes of these strangers. After all, the comments were not aimed at me personally nor do any of them know I even exist never mind the first thing about my life so why should I be bothered.
But the thing is, there people are insulting and degrading pretty much my whole existence with their thoughtless opinions and cruel words as are they doing so to millions of other Mother’s who lead such a lifestyle. By talking down on and being so disrespectful towards something they probably don’t have the slightest idea about they may just be damaging someone’s mental state. Words can have catastrophic consequences and let’s face it, Motherhood see to it that we may already be in a difficult or vulnerable place without other’s tearing us down.
If we don’t speak up, these stereotypes and ignorant opinions will continue to follow stay at home Mothers and Fathers and I for one think it’s time to kill the stigma.
So, in response to my own query, I’ve came to the conclusion that I absolutely DO have every God damn right to defend what I have chosen to do for a living.
I have one of the hardest jobs in the whole entire world and I am so tired of people trying to dispute that statement or belittle our existence because we want to take a certain path that we believe will help us to raise our children to be the very best people they can be. So we can do everything we believe will allow us to contribute the people we brought into the world in a positive way.
(I am in no way passing any negative judgement onto working Mams by making these statements because they are doing what they believe is right for their children and that’s more than okay too.)
“Get a job”
A lot of the comebacks to anything a stay at home parent says that even indicates they are struggling or not having the greatest time of things involves the assumption that we should just go and get a job instead. What we are doing is a job. A full-time, no sick days, no holiday leave, around the clock job.
Should we decide we want to go to work instead then one of the most common options for childcare would be to pay somebody else who does that as their job anyway and hand over the reigns to them. They are paid to look after children because.. it’s a job. Deciding we would rather not get paid and do the caring ourselves does not mean we are not working our backsides off from the second we are woken up at the crack of dawn or throughout the evening.
Some Mother’s decide that they want to go out and work instead and that’s completely fine to. Neither is more superior for making their own choices and neither should be ridiculed for that. Many woman who haven’t worked a day in their lives have children and decide that staying at home isn’t for them which then gives them a nudge into working life or even obtaining a career. Which is fantastic. Many woman who were in a career prior to giving birth, something they studied and worked hard to achieve decide that, in actual fact they don’t want to return to it and would rather stay at home. Which is fantastic.
Who the hell is anyone to tell another free-thinking individual what they should do with their own life?
“You’re lazy and do nothing all day”
Even dignifying this comment with a response feels like an insult to my very being if I am honest. I never actually sit down, like ever. Even when I do I am usually preoccupied with something such as writing lists, contributing to my blog or thinking about what I should be doing (and usually getting straight up and doing it).
I run myself ragged in order to make our house a home, make sure we have shopping in and everyone has what they need, make sure my son and his Dad have clean, ironed clothes for their week ahead and that there’s food made to fill them up. I clean constantly whilst juggling all the chores and caring for a nine month old who requires constant supervision and attention.
I crawl into bed on a night time completely and utterly exhausted after giving everything I have mentally, physically and emotionally to my family and our home every single day with no exceptions.
I’m not naive enough to be blind to the argument of oh, you don’t have to do all of that, you can have bum days, you can leave the housework, you can let your baby cry a little, you can tell your partner to iron his own uniform. To me, that doesn’t stand nor is it valid because clearly I am choosing to do what I do from a place of love.
We have an old fashioned set-up that worked for many many families for hundreds of years and yes, it’s fantastic that we have broken the mould and allowed for diversity and change regarding what a modern day household should look like but this so happens to work just fine for us. My partner is happy to bring home the bread and I am happy to cook it and serve it up before cleaning the mess made afterwards too.
We both believe one of us should be with our Son everyday and, although I know for a fine fact he would love to be that someone, right now I wouldn’t want it to be anyone else but me, his Mama.
“If you hate your life so much you shouldn’t of had children”
Just because it can be a struggle or we may feel the need to reach out for help does not mean that we hate our lives and it absolutely does not mean that we shouldn’t have had a child. People complain every single day about many things. People who work complain about their job, should they not go to work again?
“Stop winging, some woman can’t have children”
To insinuate that because a Mother is finding it difficult or struggling absolutely does not mean they are ungrateful or should grin and bare it. Let me tell you, the woman who can’t conceive and try and try again are warriors. I can’t even begin to comprehend how that must feel after a year and a half of struggling myself never mind being told children of your own will never be in your future.
But those who say that a woman who has had children should never be sad, or mad, or tired, or anything other than TV smile happy every bloody second because they were blessed with a baby just aren’t in the right to put it simply, no matter what they’ve been through or are going through. Yes, it may come from a place of resentment or anger but they themselves wouldn’t breeze through Motherhood either, not one person on this earth finds this thing easy.. working or not.
We’re lucky, we were given the greatest gift of another little human that we have to raise from scratch. Pardon me for implying that isn’t a walk in the park.
“I work AND I’m a parent”
I would challenged any single individual who uses this as a free pass to discredit a stay at home Mam because let me tell you the two lifestyles are not alike at all and I will stand by that completely. That does not mean that I would sit there and say that my life is harder than yours because you ‘swan off to work’ or ‘get a break from it all’ either as that isn’t my opinion although it is for some stay at home parents (hence the argument, I guess).
Both options are equally as difficult and tiring but in completely different ways. I would never say that I understood what it was like to be a working Mam because I’m not one. I understand what it is like to be a Mother and I understand what it is like to go to work.. separately. I have never experienced juggling the two but I do take my hat off to anyone who does because I couldn’t do that right now, I just couldn’t. I think working Mams are incredible people, super heroes. I also admire the example they set to their children.
Stay at home Mothers? also super heroes.
Our days consist of entirely different things from the get go and we should never try to compete over who has it worse.
One thing that gets under my skin regarding this however, is when working Mams say “oh, well I do everything you do as well as work.” I’m sorry but no, you don’t. You have chores, a house to keep clean, morning routines, breakfast, lunches, dinners, washing, yes.
But somebody else is the care giver of your children whilst you work and you are not residing in a functioning home every second of the day so you do not have the constant cleaning that goes around that, the nappies, the mess, the day baths, the singing, the playing, the mess, the mess. When you’re at home living in it you have to do more housework in order to cope with being in that environment whereby you are doing what your nanny or carer or family member/friend is whilst you go to work.
That doesn’t mean you go for a holiday and switch off, that doesn’t mean you’re not ran off your feet and consumed all day with what you have to come home to, the worries of whether or not things are going smoothly with your babies whilst you are unable to check in with them. It just means your struggles are different, they’re unique to your lifestyle.
You can also wipe your arse in peace so at least acknowledge you have that one on us?
In all seriousness, there are pros and cons to each option but we choose the one we do because it’s what we deem best. I sometimes envy Carl for his peaceful bus journey to work or his lunch break alone and he sometimes envies me for the time I get with our baby or the fact I don’t have to go out in a storm. We both recognise and appreciate each other regardless and we also accept that we’ll not always understand what the other is enduring throughout the day.
I mean, I could go on, I really could. Some of the comments I read were just ridiculous and I would love nothing more than to insert every single one here and counter them all but what would that achieve?
The main thing that bothered me, the thing that really hit a nerve and got under my skin was women tearing other women down. It absolutely BAFFLES me. Surely we have enough worries, enough on our plates without taking the time to insult one another.
We have one common denominator in this situation- we’re all Mothers and we all love our children.
I don’t know, maybe that can explain the animosity and passion behind the words that were said on that post. We all do what we do for our children and we all think that what we’re doing is best for them. That’s the only part of this that can marginally be excused.
Postnatal depression and suicide in women with children is shockingly common whether they go to work or stay at home. It’s a devastating outcome and a tragedy to even think about how much a person must be struggling to think they would leave their family behind. I have been there myself and I know many others who have. To add fuel to that fire by contributing bitterness and negativity to someones life when you have no idea what they’re going through mentally is absolutely uncalled for a pretty disgraceful actually.
Even if someone isn’t effected by mental health issues of any sort, nobody should ever feel so self righteous, so confident and comfortable that they are perfect and lead the ideal life, so adamant that their way is the right way that they go and shit on the way somebody else leads their own life.
I thought that women united once they had a child, that they offered strength and support to one another, lifted each other up and helped each other get through this.. together.
The truth is, that may is the case a lot of the time. I’ve witnessed it myself in the Mam community online and it’s truly inspiring and heart warming. But, what I’m discovering is that if you delve a little deeper, there are people out there who have no consideration for anyone but those who make the same choices.
Stay at home or not, in my opinion..
happy, healthy, loved children- that’s the goal here.. that’s what we’re all aiming for.
Can’t we all just wish each other well and hope for the same end result no matter how we go about achieving it?