Yesterday I went to a birthday party for a little girl. Her mom is 8 1/2 months pregnant and happily snapping photos while the dad videoed everything and made sure the mom did not have to do much of anything.
I watched my kids play and eavesdropped on several conversations... it's what I do. There was the typical, "When I had my baby." story circle, the, "Oh he is so out of control!" complaints and the "What we did/ are doing for Spring Break." conversations. It was all very pleasant and nice.
But as I was walking my girls out to the car, I overheard a few of the moms sarcastically saying, "Yes, that is all I do honey! I sit on the couch and eat bon bon's all day!"
As I drove home, the chatter in the back seat focused on the goody bags and not on questioning me, I started to think about the value of stay at home moms today and the stereotypes that come with being one.
I think there is a blanket misconception of what we do during the day and how it adds an irreplaceable value to our children's lives, our spouses lives and to our lives. I, myself, have had to answer the listed questions of what I did and why I did this and why I didn't do this more than once. And not all of it is from my spouse, believe it or not. I find that I have to justify staying home with my kids more than I ever - EVER - imagined I would.
And it is no wonder. I would have to say that, at least from things that I have seen, society and the media are quick to devalue our rolls. In satire, in seriousness, from lack of experience and more. I have heard news reports basically say that if moms would get off the Internet, their kids would be better taken care of!
As if we all get up in the morning and 'play on the computer' all day while our kids run around in dirty diapers, hungry and with no imagination play. I, for one, understand the confusion. We do seem to be on here a lot. But please note... we have smart phones that can post to our multimedia instantly - we don't even have to sit. We have iPads, Kindles, tablets and more that keep us connected in, what truly can be, a very lonely job to have at times. Bloggers have the ability to schedule posts throughout the day, schedule messages on social networking and more.
Is there anyone that really thinks that our kids are going to let us sit on the computer all day, every day? My kids follow my every move and I am lucky if I can get 30 minutes with all of them busy long enough to post anything substantial! I work at night after everyone is in bed. It is my "me time" these days.
I love the comedians that talk about stay at home moms. Especially the male comedians. I heard one the other day complaining that his wife, a stay at home mom, could not even bend down to pick up his pants off the floor. "What is so hard about picking up my pants? You bend down... you pick them up! How hard is that?"
My answer to him would be, "Well, you can't seem to do it so..."
Didn't he have a mother? Who probably picked up his pants? Would he joke about her this way or is it only the woman who brought his children into the world that he sees fit to mock? Funny? Probably. Feeding into the downgrading of the importance of the job - even a little? - absolutely.
And then there are the generational pressures. The women who came before us - our mothers - who never had a dirty house, a load of laundry that was not folded and put away, a sock that did not have it's match. The ones that walk into our houses and immediately start inspecting, without probably even meaning to. I don't know how they did it, I'll be honest. I know they had to be just as busy as we are and under just as much pressure to be as perfect as we can be. I want to be that kind of mom, I do. But I have failed more often than I have succeeded and when I ask for advice, I get. "Well your just to busy with other things to worry about it."
I suppose, in the end, that the stereotypes will change as motherhood changes. And the girls we are raising now will come back and ask us how we did it. And there will always be studies and news reports telling us how what we are doing is so wrong based on information that is also, so wrong. And the jokes will change but the punchlines stay the same.
As for me, I will go on, working and striving to be the best mother I can. The best person to set an example for my children. The most honest one that shows them trust. The teacher of the importance of being taught. The arms that make it all better. The believer that they are my gifts from God. The sturdy back that holds them when they fall. The reason that they believe in themselves. The support that gives them confidence. The cheerleader that never misses a game. Their everything. Their Mother.
And everyone else can just keep thinking that today, I sat on the couch and ate Bon Bon's.