I loathe the phrase "stay-at-home-mom" (and the acronym SAHM actually causes me to retch), but it is some of my current (retch) SAHM brethren that I feel compelled to write about today. Not all of them, just those who verbally stamp their feet begging for recognition and the corresponding verbal back-pats. I take exception to women who cry, stuffed full of righteousness and self-induced martyrdom, that they do work! They work at home! All day!
Ladies, you disgust me.
I am home with my fantastic son now. I am not working right now, period. I'm not even dabbling at freelancing or dribbling through any contracting. I am just home with my son. (Notice how I don't describe myself as a 'stay-at-home-mom'? As if that's all I am and all I do? But that's another topic...) He is an often-challenging toddler. And I would never, ever, unless you pulled at my ears and jabbed things into the soft flesh under my fingernails, describe what I do with him all day as "work".
"Work" is something you do because you have to. You do it because you need the money, you need the validation, you need to justify your student loan debt. "Work" is a somewhat unpleasant requirement that tends to get in the way of how you'd really like to be spending your time.
Being home with my son is not and never could be "work". Is it difficult? Yep. Is it rigorous? Sometimes. Do I occasionally fantasize about being on a no-children-allowed tropical island with unlimited umbrella drinks instead? Oh hell yeah. But that doesn't make it "work".
Spending my days and nights with my pint-sized tornado, my wee imp who can and does undo all the steps I've taken towards cleanliness with a mischievous grin, that's not work. Witnessing him learn to chase the dog, laughing gaily with unabridged mirth? Not work. Beckoning him to me enthusiastically as he took his first tentative, wobbly steps? Not work. Holding his chubby hand as he gingerly picks his way up the stairs, focusing intently on not falling? Not work. Sitting placidly as he screams his indignation at being confined to his high chair and not being permitted to play with the kitchen knives? Again, though not my favorite past-time, still not work.
Sharing my days, my nights, my life with my son is a privilege. It is an honor of the highest level. I can't imagine taking such a precious thing for granted by flippantly calling it "work".
My husband spends his days at actual "work", coming home weary but game shortly before our son's bedtime. He wears his heart on his sleeve, his love for his son painting his face with joy. Their time together is sweet but scarce. I can tell him about the first wobbly steps, about the first taste of crimson strawberries, about the new songs sung in the car. But he can't be here to see those small momentous occasions. That is the sacrifice he makes every day. That is work.
Raising and loving my child is not.