I've seen this blog post / article by 'XO Jane' a couple times around the internet in the last few months. I didn't think too much of it initially, just another op-ed piece on the topic of stay at home moms. But for some reason the more I reread it, the more it seemed to be getting under my skin...
The author's opinion - after being a stay at home mom herself for five years - is that being a SAHM is not a job. She believes that SAHMs shouldn't call it that, and that it is a privilege instead. Now listen - I do understand it's a privilege to be able to stay at home with my children. Not everyone is in the position where it makes financial sense to do so. I also know plenty of people where working full time in their jobs would barely break even against the costs of full time childcare, and so made the decision to stay at home out of necessity. There are two sides to every coin, and rarely do we know the circumstances of other people. I even get that she wrote it out of frustration at the SAHMs she interacted with who seemingly spent all their time bemoaning the effort of their day-to-day.
Then I kept reading these sentences: "No, Stay-at-Home-Mothers, choosing to create your own little person upon whom you'll spend all your time and energy is a hobby...the fact remains that having someone else foot the bill for a lifestyle that only benefits you and your close family is by no means a "job." I wouldn't have thought that I'd take offense as I certainly don't say that doing this, staying at home and caring for my kiddos, is my job. When people ask if I work I just say that I left my job and now I care for my children at home. But here's the thing: if I was not a SAHM, I would have to hire someone - a nanny, or a daycare facility, someone who would mind my children full-time. And we don't question whether those roles are 'legitimate' jobs. The article left me feeling that the author would consider it more of a valid life choice if I worked full time even if it was solely to pay for someone else to mind my children for me - whether that was the intention or not.
Forget the housekeeping duties: I agree with the author's point about everyone having to do dishes, cook meals, clean, do laundry - whether they work or stay at home. That's not what I'd consider the work of being a SAHM. But the more I stew on the topic, the more I disagree that minding your children - so that others don't have to - is not the same as a job. It is most certainly work, and full time at that. I'd argue that many days this 'job' is a heck of a lot more difficult and frustrating than the senior role I held at my firm before I left...and that was HARD! I am indeed blessed that I get to be the one interacting with my kids every day and researching learning activities for us to do together (thank you, Pinterest!), rather than hearing about their day from someone else and discovering they've learned new words at daycare. But someone has to take care of my children. So is it any less of a job simply because I am not paid to do it, whereas a nanny or a daycare worker would be...?
Regardless, I don't take my situation for granted. I am lucky to be able to stay home with my children each day, and watch as they grow and change, especially as it happens so quickly in these early years. I am blessed that it works right now for our family, and that our move back to the US timed perfectly with me leaving my job in London. I am grateful for this time to teach my daughters, to hold them close every day, and to give myself time to figure out this parenting thing without any external work distractions.
What do you think about job vs hobby? (I promise, I still respect people whose opinions are different to mine!) ;)