Is being a stay-at-home mom (or dad) a career? No. There are no promotions, no pay raises, no vacations, none of those career-y things. But, I would say it is a job. A very, very demanding and often isolating job with very few of the “perks” of a job, job. Yes, it is an incredible privilege to stay at home with my children during these early years. It is also much harder than I had imagined.
I’m not writing this to whine. In fact, this is something very different. It’s a response to a few articles that are making the rounds saying that being a stay-at-home parent is not a job nor a career, nor something anyone should complain about. There’s always one or two of these going around seeking to polarize parents—particularly moms. Parenting is not a contest. The one who makes the most sacrifices doesn’t win.
But I digress. There was one article I read last week in particular that came down pretty hard on the stay-at-home crowd for complaining about what they do. Yeah, it can get excessive in some instances. But, I need to ask a question: when’s the last time a day went by when you didn’t complain about going to work or something that’s happening there? We all do it. Stay-at-home moms included.
I think complaining seems so prevalent among the stay-at-home crowd because there are no divisions. There is no “home” and “work.” It’s all the same. And every day (and often night) is the same. It can be relentless. There’s no place to get away from the other. It’s that intensity and it’s also the inability to point to my day and say what I accomplished. Most of those things I do accomplish, sweeping the floors, cleaning the kitchen or doing the laundry for example, begin to unravel the second I finish them, and that simply exhausts me at times. There’s very little in my day that’s tangible—and I’m a results-oriented person.
Right now my actual career is on hold . . . or possibly slow motion. I’m still working as a freelancer, but certainly not gaining the experience and momentum that I would have if I were still at the job full-time. However, this mothering “job” is giving me some good skills that will benefit my future workplace:
- I know the value of time. What I can accomplish in the last five minutes of naptime is amazing.
- I can prioritize and stay on task, even when people are screaming at me (and flailing about on the floor).
- I know how to ask questions to get to the root of the problem. (Did you really lose the car, or do you just want to keep it away from your sister?)
- I understand the power of consistency and staying on-message. Two words: sleep training (and potty training).
- I can stay focused while those around me are convinced the world is coming a part at the seams (because S said “bacon” and we don’t HAVE any bacon, Mommy!!!).
- I know the power of stopping to take a few deep breaths.
- I’ve learned to appreciate small victories as we work toward big goals.
- I can make people feel like doing the hard stuff was their idea all along. (Let’s all sweep! Isn’t this fun?)
- I know that the person who makes the most noise may not be the one who needs me the most.
Now, if only I could put that on a resume.