As you move through your thirties and forties, your female friends will split off into several types of lifestyles. You’ll have your high power corporate friends who own a lot of blazers and eat a lot of Hilton continental breakfasts. You’ll have your friends who chose the alternative route of starting their own business—one that may be flying or floundering. You may even have friends who stay at jobs that don’t mean much to them and don’t offer much by way of upwards movement, but they’re okay with that. Then you’ll have your stay-at-home-mom friends. Rather than contribute to the economy they’re contributing to humanity by dedicating their entire lives to the upbringing, care and guiding of their children. That is just as noble (if not nobler) of a job as all the others. But it’s a job that non-stay-at-home-moms, or simply women who aren’t even mothers, have a hard time relating to. Here are some insensitive things you might be saying to your stay-at-home-mom friends.
That’s so traditional of you
Your friend gets the subtext here; you’re calling her backward, retro and downright anti-feminist for being a stay at home mom. Does every decision a woman makes need to go under the critical eye of the feminist agenda? Your friend isn’t trying to go along with some societal expectation or defy one. She had far more important things on her mind when she made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom.
Now you don’t need to pay for a nanny
In other words, your stay-at-home mom friend is just a nanny? She is providing so much more for her children than a nanny ever could. She is going to ensure that the values she and her husband agreed they’d like to teach their children will actually be passed down to them. She’s going to help them feel bonded to their parents more, and feel like they stand on the slightly more stable ground than children who spend most of their time with their nannies. Being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t just save money; it can change the way children turn out.
You probably get to sleep in
While your friend may have been asleep at 9 am when you called, that’s probably because she was awake at 2 am when one child had a nightmare and woke her up, and 5 am when another decided she wanted her cheerios early. Maybe by 8 am, your friend got all of her kids to settle down into naps and she finally got to go back to bed for an hour. At least you get to decide when you sleep.
Can you watch my kids? You’re home anyways
Oh sure, because they’re like dogs, and once you’re feeding one it’s no trouble to just feed three, right? Yeah, right! Your friend is not a daycare service. If you drop your children off with her, you just took her stress level from a 10 to a 17. And that was on a scale from 1 to 10, by the way. If she ever had a chance of sitting down to eat for ten minutes without being disturbed, you just took that from her.
Let’s trade lives
Because your friend’s life is a walk in the park, right? Be careful what you wish for. If you traded lives with your friend, you may quickly miss things like going to the gym, watching something besides cartoons, using the bathroom by yourself, and interacting with grownups.
It must be nice to wear sweats all day
Actually, your stay-at-home-mom friend would really love the time and occasion to put on a cute outfit. It has been months since she was allowed the luxury of a little vanity. She feels guilty if she takes so much as five minutes to pluck her eyebrows because, during those five minutes, a kid could be getting into mischief. She wishes her husband could come home to a dolled up partner, but that’s just not the case.
Do you worry about being out of the workforce for so long?
Why yes, she does. So nice of you to bring that up. Do you really think your friend didn’t think about that before leaving work? She spent a long time thinking about the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home mom. She understood that, by leaving her industry for a while, she could fall behind, and not have the same opportunities when she returns as she would have if she’d kept working this whole time. But she decided that being a stay-at-home-mom was well worth the sacrifice.
How’d your husband trick you into that?
Right. Because he is somehow the one winning here. Your friend probably doesn’t love the implication that she is in a marriage full of trickery and deceit, where each person is constantly trying to get the other one to do things they won’t enjoy, against their will. Your friend and her partner are a team and they decided, together, that she would be the one to stay at home.
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