“Mommies don’t work.”
These words spilled out of my 4-year-old daughter last week and I was almost speechless.
I was offended.
I was worried.
I felt less than.
All at the same time…and all within a matter of seconds.
Her words struck my heart like a knife.
But moms are resilient.
So, my (almost) immediate response was, “Not all mommies. Some mommies work, and some mommies are able to stay home.”
“But not you. Right, Mommy? You don’t work.” She continued.
Ugh! That knife dug in a little deeper and got twisted around just to make sure it did the job.
Why was this so hard for me to hear? Why did I have a problem hearing my daughter vocalize the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom? That mommy doesn’t work, in the traditional sense.
Being more than the stay-at-home mom stigma.
Let’s be honest. Being a mom is incredibly hard. We wear many different hats:
Mom, wife, friend, chef, snuggler, boo-boo kisser, a self-proclaimed doctor in the middle of the night, maid, chaos coordinator, spiritual role model, nurturer, teacher, mind-reader, peace-keeper, personal cheerleader, chauffeur, and let’s not forget…bottom and nose wiper and so much more.
I know this! But STILL, I felt I should be wearing one more hat…the hat of working a traditional job outside the home.
It’s like the million things I do every week for my family are not enough because Mommy doesn’t “work.”
Is this because, with the stay-at-home mom stigma, we are often looked upon as either a lush or homely woman who is uneducated? That mommies don’t work?
True, I don’t have a fancy 4-year college degree…or even an associate’s degree. I earned a vocational certification and licensure in a very demanding medical/service field. I have very few actual college credits, but I do not consider myself uneducated.
I began to feel the stay-at-home mom stigma.
I began to feel this same self-doubt again when I first met all the amazing women I work with here at Gulf Coast Mom.
It seemed like every woman had gone to college, graduated, began work, and is either still working or stays home with kiddos…but still has a degree.
I was the only lady there who did not finish college, had worked in what is considered a luxury service, and now hasn’t had a typical job in YEARS.
I felt like I didn’t belong.
I felt unworthy of being in a group of women who, obviously, had accomplished so much before kids and is now rocking her role as a mom…because she has a degree.
Society screams at us that it’s not “okay” for women to be in the traditional role of wife and mother and stay home. That instead, we should be switching up those old traditions of the ‘50s and standing tall and proud as independent working moms who have it all.
But what’s wrong with mom staying home with the kids, little or not?
It’s perfectly acceptable for the roles to be switched, and dad becomes a stay-at-home parent, or to, at least, assume some of the traditional roles of mom. Why is it so frowned upon that the female not work, stay home, and just care for the family and home?
I looked forward to being a mother for so long. I knew when I met the right man that I wanted to have a family and stay home. I still had dreams outside the home, sure.
But I thought my most significant accomplishment would be raising children and being there…for Every. Single. Moment.
I wouldn’t have to miss a thing because I would be home.
And now, I feel like I’m not a good enough role model for my girls.
I tell myself I wasn’t strong and smart enough to finish college. I let myself believe I don’t contribute to society because I don’t have a degree and I stay home to care for our home and family.
Yeah, I have an odd job here or there…writing, personal shopper, direct sales business…but none of these make (or have made) significant money for me, and they most certainly haven’t required a bachelor’s of anything.
I know that no degree can prepare you for motherhood. We are all just winging it.
I know these thoughts and fears I have surrounding my role in my family and community are valid – because they are mine to own, and I am allowed to feel this way – but they are not true of who I am.
I work hard every day to reassure myself that I am not the problem.
I am absolutely contributing to my community and family by being a stay-at-home mom: degree or not. And it’s not me that has to change. The change needs to come from the unrealistic and biased pressure society puts on women and mothers.
Until that day comes…
I’m taking #momlife each day as it comes, perceived prejudice and all, and I am doing my best.
I will continue to work each day at reminding myself that I am worthy of my role in society and my family. If you have ever felt the same way, momma, know that you are worthy, and you are not alone. Mommies that don’t work, actually do.