When Luck is an Accusation
Well, I got called out on my last post. It was a very bitter response from me to somebody who implied that I don't work because I stay home with my kids. It didn't really occur to me that what I said would offend moms who work for pay. But it did.
First let me say that the statement was made by a man. I feel fine with myself getting livid with a dude over this. It was in no way directed at or a cap on women who by force or desire work for pay outside of their home. I apologize profusely if it came across that way.
Over and over the response I got (often from working mothers, who AGAIN I DIDN'T mean to offend!) is that I am "privileged and lucky" to be a stay at home mom. I have to tell you why this rubs me raw even though I know there is a lot of truth in it.
This commenter said it better than I can,
"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."But this commenter is right too,
"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."
I get the "luck" factor. But I have to say that still, my "lucky" life isn't always EASY. Guess what- NOBODIES "lucky" life is all daisies and pots of gold.
I think when we say to somebody that they are "lucky" we negate the difficulties that they may experience. We blow them off. We also negate the conscious choices and sacrifices that they may have been willing to make in order to have what made them so "lucky".
I have heard people tell my husband how "lucky" he is to be able to be a doctor and have the education he does. I can tell you that I was there when he got that education and "luck" had very little to do with it. There was lots of sacrifice and pain and difficulty to get there and he was willing to do it.
I have heard people tell women that they are "lucky" to have a healthy baby when they truly had a horrendous birth experience. YES- she is lucky to have a healthy baby. She is also allowed to grieve the things she didn't get.
This is like telling somebody who is single and desires marriage that they are "lucky" to be able to do all the things you can do when single. But if all you want is a family and a partner it doesn't feel that lucky.
Or telling somebody in a difficult marriage that they are "lucky" to have a family. Yes, they are lucky, but that doesn't mean it is easy and that it doesn't hurt sometimes. It doesn't mean having that family and keeping it together doesn't require sacrifice.
We could tell a woman who is in pain and vomiting daily that she is "lucky" to be pregnant. She is lucky to be pregnant. She still feels sick though. She still hurts.
I guess I could call all work for pay moms "lucky" but I utterly refuse to do that. I refuse because they make sacrifices to have their life too and I don't want to negate their work and their sacrifice because they have some blessings I don't. For one, every woman, every person, every mom still has trials. There are difficulties with being a stay at home mom. There are difficulties with being a working mom.
I think we all make sacrifices that others don't see and can't comprehend. I think we all are lucky in some ways and that we all suffer in other ways.
I had a friend with advanced degrees who was gifted in her field. She also had a few children (the same as me at the time). She traveled the world speaking and teaching. She interacted with people hungry to learn from her on a regular basis. She healed and helped many. Was she "lucky"? Well, yes, she was. She had a lot of wonderful things in her life, things that I don't have. But dismissing her sacrifice and her hard work and her pushing herself and her career and balancing her family the best she could with all of that by calling it "luck" really negates the very real and very hard work that she did.
I had another friend with advanced degrees and a great career who chose to stay home with her children. She made her own diapers and studied the best ways to be a great mother. She put time and energy into mothering but she was also able to afford to stay home with her kids and still have a very nice life. Was she "lucky"? Yes she was. But she also sacrificed things to have the life she did. She gave up things to be a stay at home mom. She had difficulties in her life too.
Nobody gets a free ride. It might seem like that from the outside but it is never really the case. I am kind of...sad, that my anger about being dismissed as somebody who "worked" turned into "working" vs "at home" moms. It reminds me how quick we as women are to jump on each other. I think we all matter. I think we all have struggles. I think we all have "luck" - good and bad. And I think that most of us keep our ugliest moments and our biggest fears and the worst parts of our lives buried deep inside. It is almost impossible to know WHY people make the choices they do and HOW they really feel about them.
I guess I could end this with some pretended wisdom that I have gathered in my 32 (ugh, I mean 28) years. I could talk about how we need each other. I could say we are all in this journey called motherhood together. I could say we all love our kids. But I have said it all before. And I am absolutely sure that I have seen other women and thought they were "lucky" and they should stop complaining. I probably will again. I don't have any wisdom or any way to spread it without being offensive.
I love my kids. I bet you do too. And sometimes, life is still rough, no matter how lucky we are.
May you find green clovers in you lawn and rainbows over your doorway.