Sunday, March 8, 2015

Is it a job?

It's pretty rare that anything I post on Facebook (or here, for that matter) turns out to be controversial or inflammatory.  Last night I shared a link to an article on Facebook, and it got a pretty immediate response.  You can read the article here:

UNPOPULAR OPINION: Being a Stay-at-Home Mother Is Not a Job

I feel like I have a bit of a unique perspective on this considering I've had a full time job for nearly 15 years, have been a working mom for nearly seven, and have just recently been unexpectedly thrust into the stay-at-home mom life.  I know what it's like on each side (to some degree) and I definitely have opinions on both.  I definitely don't agree with everything the author said, nor do I love her tone in parts.  I also don't think that the generalization applies to anyone with a lot of kids or special needs children.  Under those circumstances it is definitely more of a job.  I also don't think it applies to anyone who works out of the home part time, as I don't think it's fair to hold someone like that up to the same SAHM mom standard since they're 20 hours short on time each week.  All I can speak to is my perspective of being home with one kid, which is the same as the author.  I'm lucky enough to get two days to myself right now, though that was as much for his benefit as mine--Carter loves it at daycare and I did not want to deal with the red tape of pulling him out completely or the trauma of trying to get him back in the groove when it was time to go back.  So maybe I'm not entitled to speak to this entirely...but it's not that much different than a SAHM putting her kid in preschool.

ANYWAY...I just felt like her perspective resonated with me where I am right now because I don't feel like being home with Carter is a "job".  Is it easy?  Not always.  But is it the same stress level as a real job?  Not for me, anyway.  However, the first comment on the post actually pointed out that what I'm doing now seems easy because I'm actually doing one job (motherhood) instead of two (motherhood AND a job).  She's right, I suppose.  What I'm doing now does seem downright luxurious compared to having to do both.  I can do laundry and dishes at my leisure.  I don't have to cram errands into evenings or weekends.  Naptime gives me "me time" where I can read or catch up on the DVR.  I get to hang out and play with my very energetic but very cute toddler.  Still, even on the worst of days I have a very hard time referring to all of that as a "job".  Perhaps it's just the negative connotation of that word in my mind after 15 years of wishing for the weekend no matter how much I enjoyed what I did.  I just can't put parenthood (something I chose to do) in the same category as something I generally need to do to keep us financially viable.  It's splitting hairs, I guess, but being a parent is so much more noble a position than anything I could be hired to do. 

At the same time, I don't think SAHMs should be given any less respect by those who do work.  It's a different choice/position in life, and it comes with a lot of stress, responsibility, and time consumption.  There are perks and downsides to both, and it's just a matter of picking which set of stuff suits you better.  From my perspective I know that financially I need to work.  Mentally I probably need to work, too (though perhaps less than I thought!).  But from where I'm sitting right now I know for a fact that I'm a less harried person when I'm home.  I get to take care of household tasks and errands during the day, instead of at night when I'm already spent or on weekends when I'm trying to cram everything in that didn't get done during the week.  Instead of working 40 hours per week and splitting the rest of the time between stuff around the house AND time with the kids, I can focus all of my time on the latter two.  Don't try to tell me that's not easier on some level.  Is it easy?  Not really.  I hold myself to a higher "home" standard right now so it's easier to fill that time with stuff I'd have never even gotten to before.  But it still beats having to spend 40 hours a week away from the house and still having to do so much of the other stuff.

Motherhood is hard, however you do it.  I still maintain it's at least a little bit harder when you work a full time job out of the house, simply because your physical absence means you're always playing catch-up--on housework, on kid time, on everything.  But there is a certain level of patience and skill involved in being home 24/7, particularly with multiple kids.  There's no vacation time, often little budget wiggle room, and a constant barrage of kid-related craziness.  Some people are built for that, and that is awesome.  I guess it's up to each individual mom to decide whether she considers what she does at home a "job".  For some it absolutely may be.  For me, it's not.  It's a responsibility I signed up for, I don't get paid, and it's still a heck of a lot more pleasant than the life of a full-time working mom.  I know I need to get back into that lifestyle soon, and I'm excited for a new challenge.  I need to do it, and I will devote myself to it, no doubt.  But a tiny bit of me will be sad when I have to say goodbye to this existence I've been living for the last eight weeks.  The lazy mornings and cuddles after nap are pretty tough to beat, after all.  If that is a job, then it is the best job I could ever ask for.

No comments: