The other day, BlogHer featured a post called “6 Lies Stay-at-Home Moms Tell Themselves.” I’d been running around in the heat all morning, and I was enjoying a mental break and some lunch after finally wrangling Ellie into her bed for a nap. Since I am a SAHM now, I was curious. What lies am I telling myself? I was hoping for some encouragement, humor, or practical advice.
Sadly, what I found was a rather hoity-toity post passing universal judgment on what is or is not possible, stressful, or true for stay-at-home mothers everywhere. I don’t take the time to comment on blog posts as often as I’d like, but I took a few minutes for this one. And since I haven’t blogged much lately, I thought I’d repurpose my comment for a post. Therefore, here are some main ideas I gathered from the above post for stay-at-home moms:
– The author has an overarching concern for our bathing habits. Moms who say they don’t have time to shower are liars.
For a truly excellent laugh and a perfectly valid reason that some moms do have trouble showering regularly, I’d read “Why Moms Don’t Shower. “
As many commenters noted, sometimes new moms prefer sleep to a shower. Others may be at home with toddlers who can unlock doors, climb out of cribs, and create a poo-ocalypse in the amount of time it takes to rinse out the shampoo. For some moms, a shower (followed by blow-drying hair, applying makeup, etc.) seems ridiculous if you’re just headed to the Zoo in July.
Personally, after two years of parenting, I’ll admit that my showering habits are still, at times, irregular. And I’m okay with that. My primary challenge at the moment is that Ellie’s room shares a door with my bathroom. Having her so close was perfect when she was an infant waking up for nighttime feedings. Now….not so much. If I want to grab a shower before she wakes, during her nap, or after she goes to bed, I risk her waking. And dear Mamas, you know we do NOT take disturbing the nap lightly.
The point is, yes….bathing is important, but the author suggests we are ruining our children’s hygienic education (and our humanity) if we skip a shower now and then. Has she never heard of the baby-wipe bath? Those things aren’t just for the kiddos.
– As women, we should care about our looks. We can wear makeup and nice clothes to look feminine. Do NOT go to the grocery store in sweat pants. Our self-esteem will improve if we look better, and our husbands will have sex with us again.
Dang. And here I was thinking we were supposed to be teaching our kids that beauty is more than skin deep.
The author actually says, ” Too many times I have seen a frazzled looking mother at the grocery store, kids hanging all off of her, wearing a vomit stained shirt and holey sweat pants. Don’t be that mom.”
Too late. On more than one occasion, I’ve been that frazzled mom, kids hanging off of me, in yoga pants, and a vomit-stained shirt. And I’ll do it again. Maybe it was the stomach flu, Ellie up with the croup all night, or just a bad day, but I would hope that other moms who saw me would treat me with grace and understanding rather than the “holier-than-thou” judgement displayed in this unfortunate post.
And as for my looks affecting my marriage, I’d like to call your attention to a few words I shared about beauty earlier this year:
Beauty is fleeting. Bodies change. They have babies and get wrinkles and gain weight. They get sick or go through menopause or get otherwise scarred by life. And as Rachel writes, “…the suggestion that men are too weak to handle these realities is as emasculating as it is unbiblical….
I’d also like to point out …“letting oneself go” has nothing to do with being sexually available. “Letting go” implies relaxation, trust, and comfort. It means that we value and love one another beyond a need to maintain some facade. So Charlie lies around in his undershirt and a hideous denim/flannel-ish jacket while scratching this or that, and I rock my sweatpants, and it becomes our definition of hot.
Rachel writes, “Both husbands and wives bear the sweet responsibility of seeking beauty in one another at all stages of life. No one gets off the hook because the other is wearing sweat pants or going bald or carrying a child or battling cancer. Any pastor who claims the Bible says otherwise is lying. End of story.”
When you’re in love, even sweatpants can be super-sexy, y’all. We’ve come to a point in our marriage where pre-conceived notions about appearance have been successfully kicked to the curb. We accept that our lives have different phases, and we’re committed to finding the beauty in each stage.
– When we say we don’t have time for something, we actually do. Again, we’re big fat liars who don’t know our own schedules or capabilities. Because the author wasted 2-3 hours a day doing nothing, all mothers at home do the same, and if we turn down someone’s request for our time due to a full schedule, we’re full of crap.
The author did point out that she exempts the following:
“Moms with twins, triplets or more kids that are the same age — exempt. Moms with 4+ kids — partially exempt. Moms with special needs kids — exempt. Moms who homeschool — exempt. Y’all are more than pulling your share of stress and craziness, so my heart goes out to you all.”
Hmmm….I’m trying to figure out where I’m classified in this expertly created formula. Am I “partially exempt” since I technically have four kids, or do the guys not count? Do foster moms get special exemptions for factoring in the endless visits from social workers? Moms in grad school? House-building moms? I just want to know how much time I actually have.
I’ve found that since becoming a SAHM, there are people who think that if a woman is at home, her response to every request should be a loud and resounding, “Yes!” And certainly, being home has given me more freedom to be involved in church, community, and other activities. But I chose to be home with my daughter precisely so I could spend time with her. I want to have time to take her to the Zoo, the park, and the museum, and sometimes, that means I have to say “No” to things that would take too much away. Sure, I like a break now and then, and I make weekly use of KDO and hire babysitters occasionally, but I’m learning to develop discernment and the ability to value my time as mine without feeling guilty.
– Being a SAHM is NOT stressful. The author found being a working mom more stressful; therefore, the absolute truth for all mothers is that being at home is NOT ever stressful. It’s a “piece of cake” all the time. We have no right to complain and should be in constant thanks.
Don’t get me wrong. I am immensely thankful for the ability to stay home at this point in life, and I know it has allowed us to build our family in a way we couldn’t have managed had I been working. I try not to take it for granted.
That said, I firmly believe none of us has a right to judge what is or is not stressful for others. Each person has a different set of life circumstances and a different threshold for stress. I’ve taught in a public school in a tough area and worked 14-hour days teaching English to rival gang members. That was stressful. Now, I’m a SAHM to a toddler, two teenagers, and a young adult. Also stressful, but I wouldn’t quantify either experience as more or less. They’re just different. As mothers, we need to remember it’s not a competition. We need to support and uplift one another with love rather than attempting to create universal rules for what is stressful for all.
While the author did have some salient points about the importance of taking time for oneself now and then, I’m sad that her words will largely serve to tear down. So to the new mom with only one child (or four), sitting in the yoga pants from yesterday, I say,
“You rock, girl! It’s okay to be stressed. It’s okay if you skip the shower today. It’s okay if you don’t have time to volunteer at the church bake sale. This mama has your back, because we stinky, sometimes-stressed, sweatpants mamas have to stick together.”
Ladies, society and culture do a good enough job tearing us down. Let’s try to avoid doing it to one another. Working moms are AMAZING. Moms at home are FABULOUS. It doesn’t have to be a competition.
P.S. I wrote this on a day I did have some time. Sorta. 🙂 I skipped two loads of laundry, grad school research, and a shower. Wahoo!