Friday, May 14, 2010

Working Moms Vs. Stay-At-Home Moms: Stereotypes

{This is a long post – you’ve been warned! :) If you’re visiting from New Friend Friday, welcome!  I usually don’t write such long posts but you’re totally invited to add your two cents in the comments!}


I substituted yesterday for a 6th grade class at the local elementary school – first time I’ve been in a classroom since last June, when I was huge, puffy, and hot still pregnant with Luke.  Monday, as you know, I spent the day in New York City

This week was the first time I’d ever been away from Luke for an entire day, and it happened twice.  It was hard.  I cried.  I didn’t realize how attached I had become to him or how much he has become my everyday life. 

I know that it is really good and healthy for him to be in other people’s homes and interact with others throughout the day – he needs that.  But being away this week (and I have one more day to sub next Thursday) only confirmed to me that I made the right choice last year when I resigned from my job.  A good-paying job with amazing benefits.

You know, in the middle of a recession. 

I told Chris last spring when we were talking and praying about me quitting that emotionally I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle leaving Luke everyday.  Plus, I wasn’t crazy about my job to begin with.  It was a good one, as far as jobs go, but I wasn’t giddy to go to work every day or anything. 

So I quit.  And I’m thrilled with my choice. 

However, I have to say that I have been kinda shocked at some of the reactions I’ve gotten when people find out that I’m a stay-at-home-mom.  Things like, “Oh, must be nice……” or “You’re sooooo lucky.” 

As if I sit at home all day while my nanny watches my son so I can get my nails done and get ready for my husband to whisk me away to Maui for the weekend. 

When the reality is that we go on dates very rarely, I use coupons like there is no tomorrow, we don’t have a lot of luxuries, we pray ALL THE TIME about money, and we’re probably considered poor by American standards of wealth. 

It’s the choice we made, and neither of us regret it.  It just bothers me when others assume they know what my life is like.   There are some days I literally cry because Luke has been so tough or draining.  It’s stressful sometimes that I never leave my job behind – my job is my life and I just can’t escape come 5:00.  There are plenty of things I’d like to buy or home improvements  I’d like to make or places I’d like to go with Chris – but that’s just not possible right now.   And yes, sometimes I cry when we don’t have money in the budget that week to do something I want, even something simple like order pizza when I’m too tired to make dinner (totally mature, I know).

I still wouldn’t trade this life for an instant, though.  Thankfully, most people that know me think staying at home is great, and I have been encouraged by many wonderful men and women.  I am thankful for a husband who supports me and isn’t afraid of being poor to let me have the one job that I want – the one that unfortunately doesn’t pay.  I am thrilled that I get to wake up and “live my dream” as my friend Amy wrote on FB a week or so ago. 

I wrote all of this because I’m very curious. 

For all of you reading this who are mothers (if you aren’t a mother yet, please still feel free to share!), have you encountered rude comments or stereotypes? Working moms, have you been told you should be at home with your kids?  SAHMs, has it been implied that you’re lazy or rich?  If you SAH, do you wish you were working, or vice versa?  I’ve noticed that a lot of girls follow in what their mom did – so if your mom worked, you work, and if she stayed at home, you do, too.  Both of our moms stayed at home with us, which is probably why it seemed so natural for me to do so, too.  Do you follow that pattern? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject – it has been talked about on a few other blogs (that I honestly cannot remember right now, I’m so sorry if it was yours!) – and I wanted to know what all of you think. 

{Comments that belittle moms on either “side” will be deleted.}

The Girl Creative


  1. Yes I absolutely have had {a few} negative responses. Mostly ppl that say, 'oh aren't you lucky!' But the funny thing is, those comments almost always come from someone who has a MUCH bigger house than I and who likes to spend their money on things like Coach bags and such.

    Now that's fine and all, it's their preference. But we live in a small house and if I want a purse I get it from walmart or goodwill or with a really big sale, not from Coach! So like you, we have made many sacrifices in order for me to be home.

    We still go on trips, we still shop, we still make improvements to our home. But these are all things we have to save for and do low budget. We also make a ton of sacrifices and don't do a lot of things b/c we simply can't.

    But like you said, it's so worth it. I will live in this small house forever if it means I can be home with my girls!

    Blessings to you today Jess! You made an awesome choice! ~~Kathy

  2. Hello, Im Patti and new to reading your blog. I am a grandmother but wanted to comment about this topic. I made the decision years ago when I was expecting our first child that I would be a SAHM. I have never regreted that decision! Yes, we had to do without some things, and we didnt get to take many family vacations but it was worth it. Instead we went to the park and had lots of picnics!

  3. following from new freind friday - i'm a full time working mommy who would love to be a stay at home mommy or at least a part time working mommy. to me you are "lucky" to stay at home, we are not able to do this as my husband is home with illness and my children still need to go to daycare. he is not able to watch them, so we need some money coming in. we're trying to get disability for him and maybe then i can stay home part time, but not now. we still use coupons like crazy and shop at walmart. :)

    my mom was a sahm until we were in school, then she worked. I would love, love to stay at home more
    but yes, some people don't think before they speak.


  4. Anne, I'm so sorry for your husband's illness! You sound like an amazing mother!

  5. I've encountered this soooo many times. I'm a SAHM to 2 boys, 2.5 and almost 5. They were both born in Germany (hubby was in the military) and we spent four years over there after we got married. I think we had a total of 3 dates in the 4.5 years living there?! With no family around, and him working alot, we just got by. But I wouldn't trade any of it. So many ladies would say things like, "well we HAVE to have the extra money, and plus I can't stand being at home all day", or things like you said "Must be nice to be home all day, you have time to get things done.." Ugh. Well days are so incredibly busy, and some days I cannot get everything done! Now with doing preschool at home with my oldest (almost done, yay :) ) it takes up a big chunk of my time in the mornings, and I'm rushing to get everything else done! But, again, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm so glad I get to see all of my kids firsts, and strive to be the Mommy to them that God wants me to be.

    Ok that was a book, sorry!

  6. I told you I'd stop by! I love your stuff. :) My oldest is 18, and I've been at home for most of his life (I took a preschool teaching job for a little while when boys were in school). I completely understand everything you are saying. It's hard to not be able to "clock out". We were broke for SO LONG (and still on and off today), but it was the choice we made. Keep up the good work, and don't let the negative comments get to you. :)

  7. Most of the people I've encountered have been positive about my being a stay-at-home mom. Then again, many of my friends are in the same position!

    However, I don't think some people understand the sacrifices my husband and I chose to make - even before we had children - to be able to survive on one income. Materially speaking, we continue to choose not to purchase certain things and to live with less in order that I may be at home with our children. We are thrilled with our decisions, but it certainly is not always easy!

  8. Anne - just wanted to say that I appreciate the sacrifice that many ppl like yourself make. One of my best friend's works outside the home because she has to, not b/c she wants to or b/c she wants to have more money or nicer things.

    So I fully understand that some ppl have to work outside the home. I hope my comments did not seem arrogant or insensitive to those who have no choice in this.

    Through talking a lot with my friend I have seen how much guilt she carries over the fact that she can't stay home when she wants to. So again, I see what a great sacrifice she and you are making for your families.

    I apologize if I came across as insensitive. Many blessings to you!

  9. Kathy,

    No need to apologize, that's just the way things are for us right now. there's always a reason things are the way they are. At least I try to believe that. :)

  10. I am a SAHM. Most days I love it. No, actually, given the choice I would choose it every day. Some days I would like to get dressed up and use the education I paid for. I would like to get the respect "professionals" get. But every time my husband offers to switch places with me and let me work, I immediately remember why I stay home. I LOVE it! I want to raise my baby girl.
    We make sacrifices, but I don't consider them that. To me, it would be a sacrifice to leave her every day.
    I do feel like I get the "you're so lucky" comment a lot. It's a choice, not luck.
    One thing that is hard for me is the lack of socialization. I don't have many SAHM friends, so my days get lonely sometimes.
    I have a friend that works that told me she couldn't stay home all day with her kid. Sometimes that comment makes me feel like I am...I don't know...weird or something.
    Anyway...those are my thoughts. This is on my mind constantly, so I'm really glad you shared it. I may write my own post one of these days on the same topic! :)

  11. I like how you said we can't clock out from our lives at 5pm. I think that's the part that bothers me the most when people make those comments like "You're so lucky"... blah blah blah. Even though I can choose what I do in a day (and that's the freedom I love about being a SAHM - well around school & activity schedules) we are available to our children's each and every single need alllll day long. I have 3 kids so work a 13 hr shift for my 5 and 3 yr olds plus the odd thru the night wake up. Then for my newborn, I am on call 24 hrs. Man that's exhausting. So ya... when ppl say they envy me, it's like they think my world is easier. Easier not. But personally rewarding beyond measure. :o)

  12. Hey Lady you won an award!
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  13. i completely feel you! i think i could've written this post. people often look at us sahm's and think taking care of kids is a cinch. but, i've learned from talking to working mom's that the reason why (one of the reasons) they work is because they need a break from the kids. when you're a sahm they are no breaks! but, i am ever so thankful and thrilled to be the one to raise my kiddies - it's a blessing!

  14. I don't know why someone would stop following you over your post. Everyone makes a choice for their family as to staying home or not. I have done both and I did feel lucky when I did stay home. BUT people certainly judge you at times for staying home, I dreaded my husband's work parties and the question of "What do you do?" When my kids were little almost 20 years ago, I was really looked down on for staying home by these people. It's all a choice or family decision and we just have to feel confident in our decisions and not be jealous of those who do work and those who don't work or to make judgements about their decisions.

  15. Like you, I could not leave my kids everyday with someone else! It's heartbreaking to me that if I worked I would only see my kids for a few hours a day and miss all their developmental milestones. I also feel like as wonderful and caring as a great daycare provider can be, it's not the same as the care I would give my children. I sometimes think that because I feel this way, working moms think that I am attacking them and their choices. But it's really just the reasoning for the choice I made and they are free to make the choice that's right for them & their family.

  16. This is a great post! Yes, I think people think that SAHM sit around eating bon bons all day. My mom is a stay at home mom who homeschooled all 5 of us kids. Yes, I am following in her footsteps by being a stay at home mom to my little girl. I worked for awhile after my hubby and I got married, but it was so hard for me to keep up with my home and my husband. I am now working my "dream job" of being a stay at home mommy and wife. I believe it is God's calling on my life!

  17. I am a SAHM, who run my site {its my break through out the day} with 2 little boys. The thing that bothers me when people comment is that they think I have/they would have "all the time in the world" and your house would be perfect all the time because of that...umm, no! I am busier now more than ever! and my boys can make a mess faster than I can turn around! Its not easy. As moms I think we second guess and worry about everything, and our decision to stay home or work is just one more thing on our list. As long as you are happy with it, that is all that matters!
    Oh, P.S. Also from PA! :)

  18. It was a real blessing for me to read the feedback from all of you SAHMs out there. I am the mother of a 21 week old and I have to say, motherhood is absolutely awesome! I am blessed to have a wonderful church family who is very supportive of SAHMs. I do have to say that my husband and I were married for 8 years before we had our daughter, and I had 2 careers (elementary music teacher and college professor) before we started a family. So, I feel as though God really prepared my heart for my new role during the past 8 years.
    As for the financial impact the choice to stay at home has had on our family...honestly, it has been quite minimal. Staying at home has allowed me the time to search for bargains and use coupons. That is just something I simply did not have time to do when I was working full-time. Obviously, we are more aware of our spending habits, but we are not lacking anything. The Lord has truly provided for us financially.
    To those of you who have encountered rude comments or stereotypes, I will close with a quote from a little booklet I have been reading called, “Her Husband’s Crown” by Sara Leone.
    “In the midst of opposition or misunderstanding from others, or even our own feelings of personal inadequacy, God’s grace is sufficient for the task. He has promised that ‘as your days, so shall your strength be’ (Deut. 33:25). Be steadfast and persevere in sticking to your priorities. The Lord will help us and even use the peculiar challenges of motherhood for our own personal growth in grace.”

  19. Hi! I just found you through Harrington House, and I really love this post. I resigned from my teaching job 9 years ago when I had my first son. I encountered much the same reaction you did, and I still struggle with it sometimes! If there's one response that grates on my, it's the "Must be nice..." because often, people don't recognize the sacrifices made in order to make up for the loss of income. I am reading a great book now, which I wish I had access to earlier in my mothering career. It's "Living With Less So Your Family Has More," by Jill Savage and Mark Savage. Jill is the "Hearts at Home" founder, and that's a great organization and resource for moms like us. Just wanted to pass it along! It's been a great encouragement to me. God bless you.

  20. Thank you, Jeannine! I tried to access your blog, but it's private - I will definitely look into that book! :)

  21. I am glad to have found your blog. I am a stay-at-home mother to a 7-week-old little boy. I never dreamed that I would be where I am today. I always thought that I would be a working mother, but the Lord changed my heart quite a bit when I met my high-school sweetheart and now husband. I definitely relate to you in a number of ways and am curious to see what your other posts have to say.

  22. I'm a SAHM on a military base in Germany. I feel very blessed that we can afford for me to stay with my girl, and i'm expecting number 2 in January. But even though i'm happy for my situation, there are days that I get so depressed. I miss working simply for the break from motherhood for a while. Having an adult conversation every day, or being able to complete a task without having to stop every 2 minutes to 'watch this', or 'i'm thirsty', or "CRASH!... OOps". At this moment my child is twirling in her cinderella dress demanding that I stop every time she does it to look. I love her so much, and I love that I can give her so much attention, but it would be nice to have a break every day. My husband comes home from work around 5 on a regular work day, and he crashes on the couch and un-winds to a video game or somethign on t.v. while my day continues as I make dinner. Then he eats and relaxes some more, because hey.. his day done,right? Well now it's time for me to do the dishes, and then give my girl a bath. And then onto our much cherished bedtime ritual. Finally the little one is in bed, and I ahve time to myself.. right? Wrong. Hubby had a hard day and wants his feet rubbed, or a little more "attention". The only time I have to myself is when I can slink off to the bath. And then I feel guilty for staying in too long, because the hubby says he missed me all day and wants to spend time. Honestly, i'd love to have a part time job, just to have a break from my daily grind. Time for something is completlly selfish and all my own, something that make sme feel accomplished outside of my family. But for some reason I feel like i'm not allowed to want those things without feeling like i'm neglecting my duties as a mother and wife. i love my family life...but I miss my personal life. it's not there anymore.

  23. I found this website when I googled stereotypes because I am writing an essay on stereotypes for Working Mom's for my college writing class. I am a mom of three and have stayed at home and worked outside the home. I am currently attending college to pursue a career in counseling. It's sad becasue either way you go you get stereotyped. I included that in my essay as well . When I stayed at home some thought I was just "lazy" and had all the time in the world. When I worked I was looked down upon by some of my stay at home peers. Like there was something wrong with me for helping to earn a paycheck. I worked a different shift than my husband so it was only a few hours of having someone watch my kids. Now my children are all in school all day so I go to school when they are at school. The only problem I have is when I hear SAHM's introduce themselves as "full time" mom's . I am a "full time" mom too. I love my kids and I am there for them and I meet their needs and they feel very loved and secure. As I have been doing research on this subject it bothered me how some women wrote about how it's a mothers duty to stay at home until our kids are in college. Also, some stereotype working mom's as "selfish". That bothers me too because I don't have time to be even think about being selfish. I love being a mom and am blessed by the three wonderful children God has given me but I also feel called by God to a career in counseling. When I stayed at home I didn't feel content. I felt like there was more I should be doing. Now that I am doing it I feel content. The reality is my job doesn't end at a certain time either because once I am done at school( or when I worked )I am still a mom and a wife and have the same resposibilities I had when I SAH. For me though I function better that way. I am less isolated, have more motivation, and feel more patient with my husband and kids because I haven't been cooped up all day in the house. I have learned through all this that each mom has to do what is right for her family. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. For some that involves staying at home and for others that is working outside the home.

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