Angry Housewife Strikes Back- The RANT

Warning- you might want to skip this one if you are currently having a good day.  Because I am not. 

Somebody the other day said to me that, "You don't know what it is like to work all day.  You are lucky to get to stay home with your kids.  You don't realize how privileged you are."

I actually thought that my head might explode, I was so incredibly angry.  First I have to say that YES I do know how incredibly lucky I am to stay home with my kids and be their primary care provider.  I am grateful that my family has wanted and been able to make this possible for our little circle of people.

What really got me about this statement was the part about me not knowing what it is like to "work all day."



I have got to tell you something ladies, I think a screw actually fell loose in my head.

Now I know what you are thinking.  A woman who gets this offended over somebody implying that she doesn't "work" because she stays at home with her kids, probably has her own insecurities.  And I would admit that you are right.

In fact, I am often very insecure about my worth as a human being when I am simply a housewife.  I don't think I am the only one.  It seems pretty obvious to me that despite the lip service given to the importance of mothering, it is just that- lip service.

Look around.  Who do we value in this country?  Celebrities?  CEOs?  Athletes?  In short, the wealthy.

Who do we NOT value?

My list of people that are often marginalized and undervalued includes: the elderly, children, the poor, and yes, non-wage earners such as housewives.  I don't think I am being paranoid either.  I think this is true. 

I don't really like to talk about what I do in a day.  In fact, I don't often even tell my husband.  I just seems a little...lame.  But for the sake of argument I want to run through a few things that I do regularly.

I take out the trash, clean the house, feed everybody three meals a day, most of them from scratch, 2-3 loads of laundry a day, scheduling, church responsibilities, caring for my four children, teaching birth classes, gardening, writing (on this here blog!  I am not sure that counts though), entertaining and providing learning experiences for the children, reading to them, making a conscious effort to instill good values into their lives, reaching out to others in my community, educating other birth educators, walking the dog (There is no such thing as a kid who has a dog.  You deserve to know this before getting a dog for your child.) and of course, I wash a huge amount of towels.

This week I also split wood, fixed up a dresser, re-hung curtains in my children's room, made numerous business contacts and survived a vacation with four children.  (Seriously WHAT IS UP with men always getting that Noble Peace Prize for discovering DNA and junk like that?  Shouldn't moms get that every once in a while for not freaking out when they have to scrub feces out of a new carpet?  Where is the humanity?!) 

Many days I get up around 6 am.  I run around trying to just keep my head above water.  My life does not often SHOW that I am doing anything.  Gratitude and raises, promotions, or recognition of any sort is rare or non-existent.  Around 8 pm the kids get in bed and I clean the house and then I do stuff for me.

I am not complaining.  I love my life.  I am grateful for it.

But if you think that doesn't sound like WORK then you are a freaking IDIOT and I think I hate you.

Moving on.

I was once talking about a woman I knew from church who I considered extremely talented.  She had seven children and hadn't worked outside of her home for many years.  I mentioned to somebody that she would be fabulous at marketing if she ever decided to enter the workforce again.  The guy I was talking to said that it was sad she was wasting herself by staying at home.

I didn't even have a response for that.

But I have one now.

This woman was raising seven kids.  And they were GOOD PEOPLE.  Honest, kind, and responsible people.  She ran a business from her home that her children participated in.  It helped them earn money and learn responsibility.  She was a pillar in her community and a huge strength to those she served in her church responsibilities.  She brought wisdom and faith and grace to a world that needs it so badly.

She was not wasting herself.  In fact I believe that MOTHERHOOD was a place and a job that helped her be a more fabulous person.  And I think that the calling of motherhood, even the DESIRE to be a mother for those who never get the chance, is purifying for any woman no matter if they work outside their home for pay or not.  This opportunity, the opportunity to be a mother is huge.  It changes you.  It matters.  I don't mean that in a patronizing, pat on the head, "great job chicka" kind of way.  I really does.

I have a college degree.  I am not stupid or uneducated.  But I can tell you that I have learned more since I became a mother than I have in any other period of my life.  It has pushed me harder and taught me more about myself and the world than the four years I spent at a university ever did.

I have learned a dozen skills and hundreds upon hundreds of things as a mother.  Not only can you continue to learn and grow in practical skills as a mother, but you can develop into a better person.  Nothing else has taught me my flaws, faults, strengths, weaknesses, and the commonality of the human experience like this has.  It pushes me harder than any other experience that life has given me.  My oldest is just seven, so I am sure there will be much more to learn and much more to enjoy along the way.

This job, this journey, it never ends.  I will be a mother in the eternities.  Once you have children they are yours- forever.  You never stop worrying or caring about them.  Even in my day to day life there is no end to my "shift".  I have been up almost every night at least once since I became pregnant with my first child.  I get up to nurse, or hold, or comfort somebody.  I clean vomit and change wet sheets and wipe tears.  This "non-job" of being a mother is never ending.  Breaks are few and far between and you are ALWAYS on call.  

Did I mention that this talk about how since I was a mom I didn't "work" ticked me off? 

Sometime today I realized something though.  (Pay attention, this is where Mr T comes into play.)  I realized that I shouldn't be angry at somebody who doesn't value motherhood or womanhood (and I know that this person does not value these things.  This wasn't just a slip of the tongue.)  Anger is my first response but I was wrong.  I was wrong to lose my temper.

In fact, I pity the fool who thinks that mothering doesn't matter.  I truly pity them.

A man or woman who puts no value on motherhood cannot truly appreciate the things that matter in life.  A person who thinks that being a mother doesn't matter will never appreciate their own mother.  That alone will leave a black mark on your life.  Even if your mother was awful you must know how big an impact an AWFUL mother has.  The woman who cares not for her role as a mother proves how important her role could have been with the damage her abuse or neglect or selfishness left on her children.

A person who doesn't respect motherhood will also never respect their partner or themselves (depending on if they are a man or a woman.)  I pity the wife of a man who sneers in the face of mothers.  She will never be valued in her own home.  I pity the woman who doesn't see the value of the work she does as a mother.  She will never know the joy that comes from realizing the greatness of her role.

Motherhood does matter.  It is work.  It is love in action.  Within it you will learn all of life's lesson's if you are willing.  It is service and dedication, selflessness and joy.  Motherhood is everything that you could ever want or need but didn't know you wanted or needed.  It is an amazing and complicated journey and we should all honor and respect it.  We are blessed to experience it if we work for pay or not.

May we all recognize the magnitude and beauty of what we do each day as mothers.   


Beth said…
Pitty the fool, but point it out, we can change the world by offering these words to educated mommas that chose to be home for their kids, that job is more important that any career, because close knit families are the building blocks of may society, and we are paying a high price for the lack of appreciation for it and so many women having to or chosing to leave this role and have their precious children raised by someone else.
Crafty Ali said…
Hell yeah! We do the hardest and most rewarding job in the world, and it's a damned hard one to do well all the time!!! And yet if you're at home raising your kids, others think you're just mucking around. Makes me angry too!!!
Allison said…
This was an awesome read for the end of my crappy mom day. Love your passion for this work!! Made me laugh out loud and smile again :)
@wolf_mommy said…
Yessssssss! Thanks you. I especially love what you had to say in the final few paragraphs.
Tipper said…
That could be read another way, with a bit more to the sentence - that you don't know what it is like to work away from your kids all day. The comment about privilege makes me think that was the intended meaning, although, obviously, the entire thing is taken out of context so I can't know either way. I will say, though, that as a mother who works outside the home, I often want to scold moms who complain about being stay-at-home moms. You are lucky and among the elite if you can afford to do that, and you *don't* know what it's like to have to be a worker first and parent second.
Emily said…
I agree with Tipper.
It sounds like you got all up in a rant over something that wasn't actually said.
"You don't know what it is like to work all day.  You are lucky to get to stay home with your kids.  You don't realize how privileged you are."
Nothing in their said staying home is not work or not challenging.
Most working moms I know would never interpret a statement the way you did.
You ARE privileged.
No need to be a martyr.
Anonymous said…
I agree eight the previous poster. As a teacher, I am home with my child in the summer and I know that it is not a break. However, I am not able to be at home with my child due to finances and it kills me. I teach other children wishing I could be reading to my own child. I think about how I am going to get lesson plans done, papers graded, laundry done, food cooked, baths given, and still find time for my child in the 4 hours we have together before bedtime. I know your job is not easy, but at least you don't have that job and another one too. Feel blessed!! :)
Anonymous said…
I think in the grand scheme of how society puts value on something by attaching a monetary value, this is how we've continued to devalue women's work. Because its free, and in many cases working women still have to come home and take care of their kids without pay, and even those who work domestically for their income are paid so little, and it's generally regarded for women of colour to work this as a career, people in the working world still regard it so low because women are not millionaires from staying at home and raising kids.
My mother in law left our home country and was separated from my husband for 10 years before she had saved enough money WORKING in someones home as a nanny and had legal right to bring him to Canada. It is work to be home with kids and raising and caring. I don't agree that it's completely a privilege as some other people have commented. Some people have no choice, in a soft economy with few jobs and the cost of daycare being so high. For others, it may just make sense for that family's finances. I've also seen women with degrees who stayed home to raise their children and also ran their own daycare at home and took on other children. They became entrepreneurs. Society needs to start thinking outside the box and see the value in things from different angles.
Sorry, that became my rant now!
Mama Birth said…
I must have written badly because this was NOT directed at working for pay moms. It was said to me by a man. It was taken out of context but I can assure you that the "you don't work" was what he was getting at. I tried to make it clear that I A) feel blessed and lucky to be able to do it B) I didn't think I was complaining about my job and C) that I wasn't directing this at work for pay mothers who in addition do other work.
For the record I DO work for pay but I do it within my home.
I don't consider myself a martyr and I didn't intend to offend. I hope you won't "scold" me because I wasn't "scolding" you for working outside of the home out of need OR desire. I get IT. I really do.
Holli said…
I really love this. I have been told by a couple people that all I do is sit on my butt and do nothing because I am a stay at home mom and I should be out working and being productive instead of forcing my husband to "do everything" for our family. What they don't know is that I work hard to not only be the best mom I can be, but I also make things like our soaps and laundry detergent and whatever else I can to save us money. I also spend hours making sure that I am getting the best prices for things I have to buy. I save us more by being home than I would make in the workforce, especially when you add the cost of daycare and fuel to the equation.
Thankfully, I am right where I am happy and my husband prefers me at home with our kids. I am not just privileged, I work hard to be able to be here and make what little money we have cover things.
Anonymous said…
I know you're not dissing working-out-of-the-home moms. I just wanted to say that as a person who has both been a FT-40hr+ paid working mom, a single mom and now a sahm, the job of a mom remained the same. I did everything as a 40hr working mom as I do as a sahm (except most meals from scratch, which I can do as a sahm). Being any kind of mom is hard - home or not. But honestly, juggling both work and home responsibilities was significantly harder. I am truly blessed to be a sahm now.
JuliPickle said…
To be completely honest I don't feel "lucky" to be a sahm. It's not something I "lucked" in to. We work dang hard to be able to afford to have me stay home. Often times our grocery budget is $20 a week, we rarely buy anything new, we scrimp and save to buy the things we do have (or just to, you know, pay the utility bill), we rarely eat out. We are not elite, or rich. Me being a sahm is a priority to myself and my husband and children... We choose to do this, we choose to make it work and we sacrifice a lot to make it happen, but it's so worth it. Yes I am blessed, and I recognize that, but this is not "luck" it's work and sacrifice that allows me to be a sahm.
Anonymous said…
Thanks so much for the rant. I'm a new mom and am struggling with the fact that I officially quit my 'job' to stay at home with my baby. When one of my friends (with no children) said, "oh, what are you going to do all day, catch up on movies?" I almost punched her. I'm right there with you...-jt
Ali said…
Ugh! People are completely missing the point and getting all huffy over nothing.

Basically, this dude was saying that the job of being a mother isn't valuable, isn't hard, and isn't work. I think we can ALL agree that motherhood is hard work, ladies, regardless of our situations. His comment was not about SAHM vs. Working Moms, it was about the fact that he thinks raising children isn't work. We all know its tiresome back breaking work, not to mention emotionally exhausting. (But it truly is the most rewarding!). His comment was borne out of plain ignorance, and sadly for him, he seems to only place value and importance on things that are attached to dollar signs.

Just to reiterate, Motherhood is HARD WORK, and this guy was saying that it isn't. That was the point of the post.

Mama Birth- Sorry this guy was so rude to you. I know it must have hurt your feelings to be thought so little of. Being a mother is the toughest job on the planet.
Mama Birth said…
Thank you- to me this had nothing to do with if you work outside the home for money or not. It was simply about somebody saying that the MOM part of my life didn't matter and was worthless.