TWBP: Stay-at-Home Moms and Dads

by July 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm 1,461 0

From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]

"Borderstan Stay at Home Moms"

Baby dinning as moms and dads clean. (Leslie Jones)

I’m having trouble writing this week. I’m tired and Baby is teething. And the cat threw up three times last night and woke Baby up each time. I was supposed to take the cat to the vet today, but I was exhausted and getting Baby’s passport this morning messed up her morning nap — and pretty much just ruined the rest of the day.

I’ve had people tell me that being a stay-at home-mom “is the hardest job in the world.” I wouldn’t go that far. I imagine that digging ditches in sweltering heat all day is hard, being a pediatric oncologist has got to be pretty darn difficult and working overtime to meet unrealistic deadlines for a difficult boss is not fun, either.

I don’t feel the need to compete for the title. Maybe some moms (and dads) find being a stay-at-home parent easy and not like a “job” at all (though I have yet to actually meet one), but I feel like I work my butt off most days, and nights for that matter.

There have been several articles in the news in recent months that have gotten people talking, and taking sides, about motherhood and work. Is being a stay at home mom, or SAHM, a job?  And let’s not forget about those SAHDs out there.

How Do You Define a Job?

So define “job.” According to a job is:

  1. a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price
  2. anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility.

Raising my daughter is a piece of work, it is a specific task that I do as part of my routine and occupation. It is something I am expected and obliged to do. It is my duty and responsibility. I don’t get a paycheck, but my family saves the cost of having to pay a babysitter or for daycare, which in the District of Columbia can run about $22,000 a year.

I’m glad to have the option to stay home with Baby (some days more than others), but it’s not just the financially well off who decide to have a parent stay at home with the kids. It can cost more for childcare than one parent would make going back to work, especially if you have more than one child. And again, it isn’t always the moms; there are such things as stay at home dads.

I resent the insinuation that I sit at home and relax all day. Do I sometimes what tv during the day? Sure. Do people sometimes make personal phone calls or watch youtube at the office? But most jobs allow employees to pee pretty much whenever they need to, and they don’t have to keep someone from dumpster diving in the bathroom trashcan while they do it.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but try doing it EVERY TIME YOU HAVE TO PEE for a year and get back to me. It takes its toll, and sometimes that toll is the Today Show.

According to my very scientific calculations, it takes approximately three times as long to do the dishes while caring for an infant, five times as long to do the laundry, and eight times as long to take a shower. But I don’t have eight times longer, so I often just skip the whole thing. Kidding! I mean, I totally shower every day. Absolutely.

The Laughing Stork blog recently posted a list of the ten things never to say to a stay at home mom. It makes me giggle; here are some highlights:

  • Oh, so you don’t work?
  • Since you have extra time on your hands, could you whip up a few dozen brownies for the bake sale tomorrow?
  • Weird. I assumed your house would be super clean.

I don’t want or need anyone to pat me on the back for staying at home with my daughter. I just don’t want to be held responsible for the current backlash against women and women’s rights, or to be called anti-feminist, as one recent article basically did. I know I’m fortunate to have the choice to stay at home with my daughter. I also respect parents who work outside the home, and I know they have a tough job too. The only thing I ask is that society not stereotype me.

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