Yeah, I’m JUST a Stay-at-home Mom!

My husband and I got into a minor tiff last night as we briefly discussed his upcoming work party. It started when I asked him if a particular family would be there. The reason I asked, was because they are good friends of ours and I was looking forward to hanging out with them. But I also wanted to know, and expressed out loud, that I didn’t really want to go to the party if they were not coming.

Before you think I’m one of “those” people… you know, the kind who pick and choose where they go based on who will be there, let me explain. I am an extrovert by nature. I generally like meeting new people. In fact, if there is a party to attend, I am usually the one bugging my husband to go, not the other way around.

My barrage of “who, what, when, and where,” probably threw my husband off a bit, and would explain the (what I perceived to be) persnickety response he gave to my innocent inquiries. I am sure he was at a complete loss as to the motive of my “interrogation.”

Why was I acting so out of character? It stems back from an awkward encounter that I had at my husbands’ last work party. Chad is a Physician Assistant. He works with a surgical group at the University of Minnesota. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that he has a great job and works with some wonderful people.

The party that we had attended was a Christmas party held at the home of one of the surgeons he works with. It was actually a lot of fun! At least it was until I got into a conversation with a surgeon from another department within the Hospital. This woman was very kind at first. She actually engaged me in conversation and we were chatting quite nicely until she found out that I was a stay- at- home mom. Suddenly the conversation stalled and she quickly excused herself and made her way back to the work crowd she had left behind. Maybe there was a different reason why she excused herself so quickly, but I couldn’t help but feel like it had something to do with my “less than impressive” occupation.

To be fair, this kind of stuff happened to me occasionally when I was a youth pastor and my job would come up. I actually had some funny encounters where people would apologize for something they had just said, for fear they had offended the “woman of God.” Sometimes it bugged me that people treated me a little different because I was “religious,” but I never felt belittled or demeaned for my occupational choice.

That has not always been the case when it comes to my decision to stay home with my kids.

I distinctly remember the day that I announced to some fellow youth pastors that I was going to be stepping down from my ministry job of eight years. We were at a network meeting within our conference. I was excited for a new chapter in my life, but was going to miss the monthly get-togethers and the comrade that had developed over the years with this group of pastors.

After my announcement, one of the guys said to me: “So are you just going to be staying home then?” I must have given him a look because he immediately starting back-pedaling, and muttered: “I didn’t mean just…”

Yes he did. And the truth is, sometimes I feel the same way. I’ve even said it myself. I JUST stay home.

Why is it in our American culture today, that we (men and women alike) feel the need to belittle this choice? As if helping to bring up and shape little lives isn’t good enough?! If I don’t have a title behind my name or an organization or corporation that I’m affiliated with, does that mean that I’m not interesting enough to talk to or am not contributing enough to society?

Just over 20 years ago, Hillary Clinton, who at the time was the First lady of the United States, created quite a stir when she made the comment: “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.” (FYI – I have been home for three years and have yet to bake cookies with my kids… whoops!)

The belief that the only thing a stay at home mom does is “bake cookies and attend teas” is obviously ridiculous and could be genuinely perceived as offensive. But the sad thing is that this type of perception persists today, years since the original comment was first made!

I think it’s wonderful that Mrs. Clinton had the freedom to pursue her career, just as I know that I am extremely blessed to have the choice to stay home. Not every woman has a choice to really do what they want to do – whether it’s to pursue a particular career path or stay home with their kids. I know lots of moms who wish they could stay home and can’t for financial reasons. And I am pretty sure, that at some point in the not so distant future, I will pursue a career outside of my home again.

I just wish we could all be a little kinder and have a little more respect for one another – regardless of what we have chosen or maybe haven’t had the opportunity to choose when it comes to this issue. It would be so refreshing if we could celebrate and encourage and support one another no matter what!

As I consider my past, my current circumstances and what the future might hold, the age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” keeps popping into my head. Here I am, (eh hem) firmly grounded in my 30’s and I don’t have a definite answer to this question.

Maybe I have been wrestling with it more than I realized and this is why I was a little defensive as I considered my husband’s upcoming party and the small talk that was sure to unfold. Inevitably the question of what I do is bound to come up. And maybe I don’t want to deal with the reactions that I know may come.

I might be overreacting, but I guess I’m just irritated that what should be a non-issue is apparently a really big deal to some people. And if I’m honest, is sometimes a big deal to me. Our society seems to have rolled up a person’s worth and their occupation into one nice little package. And sometimes, even I buy into that lie.

Sadly, people often put more thought and energy into what they want to be when they grow up, than WHO they want to be. Personal character takes a back seat to job titles.

When it comes right down to it, my value as a person is not determined by my job.  So when I start feeling pressure (from myself or others) or I hear that nagging little voice in my mind that tells me that what I’m doing is not good, interesting or significant enough…. I’m going to look at myself in the mirror and declare: “Yeah, I’m JUST a stay at home mom!   And I ROCK IT!”   Because I may not know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I know WHO I AM! I know the kind of person that I am striving to be. And In my book, that is significantly more important!

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6 thoughts on “Yeah, I’m JUST a Stay-at-home Mom!

  1. I struggle on the other side of this. I chose to go back to work after I had my daughter, and after “only” 8 weeks off after her birth. I work in a male-dominated industry where I’ve never really faced discrimination except in this area. I got lots of “well, wait until you see that little baby, you’ll change your mind” and “I didn’t let my wife go back to work until our kids were in school” or similar.

    I love my daughter with every fiber of my being, but I’m not someone who could stay at home. I know how I am – I am wired to work. I need to have something that I produce that’s very tangible each day. Sure, I work in a service industry so it’s not quite as obvious as if I were making widgets on an assembly line but I can usually point to a conversation or a decision or an email where I added something of value during the day. With my daughter, it’s not so easy to codify. (I also can’t stand being home all the time – I go stir crazy. Even if I did all sorts of outings and was in play groups and what not, I’d go nuts!).

    It’s a choice every family and every woman needs to make for herself, after thinking about the financial and emotional aspects of it all. And we need to be supportive – individually and as a culture – with whatever each family chooses to do.

    • Thanks for sharing Angela. I’m sorry you’ve faced discrimination for your choice to go back to work. I have many friends who have made that same choice and for many of the same reasons. When my middle son goes to school, I will probably throw my hat back in the ring myself. Blessings on your job and family! You’ve got my support! 🙂

  2. Christy, I am so happy to have found your blog! I love your writing and feel so affirmed and validated by all that you have written here. This is a conversation I have wanted to have…I am an at-home-mom, but never planned to be one. I am surprised by the responses I get and lots of questions wondering “when I’ll go back to work.” I’m excited to keep reading, so keep writing.
    Joyfully,
    Becca

    • Becca, thank you so much for your kind words. I didn’t plan to be a stay-at-home mom either! Funny how those things happen. I’m glad that you were encouraged by my words. I will definitely keep writing, and hope you’ll keep reading! Blessings to you and yours. 🙂

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