I remember when I told my dad that I landed my first full-time job as a designer. It paid about $30k a year, but it was in my field of study and it was salaried. I’ve never seen him so proud. Then, a year and a half later, after we moved to Seattle for my husband’s career, I told Dad that I was staying at home to focus on our family. He was much less proud.
I love my dad, and I understand his concern. He didn’t want to see my hard work through college go to waste. Unfortunately, Dad wasn’t the only person unimpressed with my choice. Since becoming stay-at-home mom, my lack of professional ambition has become the subject of polite, “understanding” nods and downright awkward silences.
Society understandably loves the working woman. Unfortunately, respect for the homemaker has declined.
No matter how many hours we put in, no matter how hard we work, society no longer sees our job as a respectable venture.
Do any of these questions sound familiar?
“Don’t give up on your dreams.”
“But what about you?”
“What do you do all day?”
“When are you going to start working again?”
“You’re a housewife?”
“I wish I could stay at home all day.” (My husband has jokingly said this…I wanted to gouge his eyeballs out.)
“Do you work or do you just stay at home?”
Then, there’s the ultimate question. The first question new acquaintances always ask. The question that makes you square your shoulders, swallow your pride, and prepare for the worst.
“What do you do?”
I hate this question. You hate this question. Why? The answer is makes you completely vulnerable to some of the meanest criticisms in America. Not only that, but it surfaces our own insecurities about no longer being a member of the work force. This is the ugly face of stay-at-home mom guilt.
I have one goal for this post: to help you answer this question without shame, without any extra explanations, and with full confidence. By the end of this post, I want to help you conquer stay-at-home mom guilt.
First, Get Rid of the Shame
Do you ever feel guilty because your husband works all day and you get to stay at home?
Sometimes the worst perpetrator of stay-at-home mom guilt is yourself. For whatever reason, the fact that stay-at-home moms don’t bring a paycheck to the bank account, devalues their service.
Tell me, why did you become a stay-at-home mom? Was it because you felt that staying at home was the healthiest choice? Or could you not stand the thought of someone else caring for your baby? What about childcare? Is it more cost-effective for you to stay at home? Or maybe, God forbid, becoming a stay-at-home mom was your ultimate dream. Whatever your reason, I’m willing to bet it’s not because you woke up one morning and said, “Hmm, I’m tired of working. I think I’m just going to stay at home and wipe up poop all day instead.”
Giving up your day job was a sacrifice.
You gave up a piece of your independence, your identity, and a huge component of your acceptance in society’s eyes for a thankless job. You’re the chef, day care specialist, accountant, maid, taxi, and mom all in one package. And the kicker is, you never clock out. You may not be providing a written paycheck, but never doubt that you are a huge contributor to your family’s finances.
Realize That Stay-at-Home-Mom Guilt is Cultural
Have you ever thought about how odd it is that an au pair, nanny, or teacher is considered a reputable profession, but a stay-at-home mom isn’t? The heck is up with that? Well, Mama, that’s because stay-at-home mom guilt syndrome is influenced by our cultural heritage.
It’s just not America’s thing. 23 percent of children live in single-parent households where the mother is the bread-winner. Already, these women don’t even have the option of staying at home with the kids. Out of the rest of the nation, Pew’s Research Center found that most households with stay-at-home moms were minority groups, such as Hispanic and Asians.
Let’s talk other countries. Only one-third of German mothers choose to return to work in the first three years of their child’s life. Three years. I knew a chic that went back to work the day after she gave birth! In the UK, moms actually get up to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave! In Switzerland, only 16 percent of women work full-time (Unfortunately, it’s working moms that have it bad in Switzerland).
What’s the point of all these statistics? The value on stay-at-home moms is very cultural. If you are a black or white stay-at-home in the U.S., you’re much more likely to suffer from stay-at-home-mom guilt, and worse, stay-at-home mom depression.
You Were Literally Born for This
So many moms lose their sense of purpose when they leave the workforce. There’s still the very real concern that, while you’re providing an amazing household for your family, you’re not doing what you should or that you’re not living up to your full potential.
Let me speak some truth to you, Mama. You, out of everyone else in the world, were chosen for a very special purpose. Imagine you’re at a job interview for a prominent job. You’re clutching your resume. That paper contains your college education, work achievements, and specializations. Everything that makes you qualified for that job. You go into the interview and nail it. Now, you still have a lot to learn about your new position, but wouldn’t you feel just a little honored—that out of all the candidates—you were chosen for that job?
Mama, God is your boss and those babies represent the biggest, most prestigious job you could ever land. Out of everybody in the world, you were chosen to watch over these precious souls. God entrusted you their hearts, education, physical needs, morality—everything. Being a mother hasn’t negated your past history, life experience, or strengths. It’s just the opposite. Consider the fact that God chose you to parent these beautiful children because of these things! He chose the unique person that you are.
Do you need more biblical truth to conquer your stay-at-home mom guilt? Check it out:
- Proverbs 31: 10-31
- 1 Timothy 2:15
- Proverbs 11:16
- Galatians 6:9
- Proverbs 1:8-9
- Matthew 20:26-28
Related Post: How to Introduce Your Baby to Jesus From Day One
Use an Official Title
All of this talk about being proud of what you do and standing up for yourself is great…except self-love and acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. I’m two and a half years into staying at home and I still have stay-at-home mom guilt syndrome.
If you giving yourself an official title helps you squash stay-at-home mom guilt, then freaking do it. Do you work on crafts at home? Create art? Cook? Volunteer? Write? Stamp a title on it.
Here are some epic titles for you to use:
• Freelance writer
• Home Manager
• Operations Manager
• Private Assistant
• Child Care Specialist
• Private Chef
• Household Adminstrator
• Child Development and Humanities Researcher
• Assistant Butt-Wiper 😉
These titles can also be great for official purposes, such as getting your driver’s license (like in this woman’s story) or doing your taxes!
Become a WAHM
One of the most depressing aspects of becoming a stay-home-mom is feeling like you’re never going to be able to pursue the things that are you. That’s just not true. Being a parent changes how you react to the world around you, but you’re still you. You can still pursue your passions and even a career.
Honestly, I’m a career woman at heart. If I’m not pursuing some sort of business venture, I get angsty. Freelance writing helps me pursue my passion and satisfy my ambition, while never sacrificing a single second with my daughter. Becoming a stay-at-home mom isn’t an all-or-nothing kind of deal. There are tons of career paths you can pursue that actually pay well and are completely home-based. If you don’t believe me, check out my Work From Home board on Pinterest. It’ll blow your mind.
Haters Gonna Hate
When people ask, “What do you do?” It’s important to realize that 90% of the time, they aren’t purposefully being hurtful. They’re just being polite or trying to get to know you. Think back to when you worked outside the home. Didn’t you assume everyone else did too?
Having said that, there are some people that genuinely have issues. Some women get all of their self-worth from working; stay-at-home-moms are easy targets for belittlement. That’s their deal, not yours. You could be the CEO of Amazon and this person would still say, “Pfft, I could have done that too. Whatever.” You’ll never win, so don’t get pulled into their drama. It’s not worth the associated stay-at-home mom depression. Instead, practice a little grace and be confident in your place.
The One Sentence to Conquer Stay-At-Home Mom Guilt
There’s one sure-fire way to end your guilt and the stay-at-home mom depression that comes with it. What if, “What do you do?” was just a question, and your answer was equally simplistic. You realize that your worth does not lie in other people’s opinions or the monetary value of your job. You understand that being a stay-at-home mom is a prominent position in many other cultures, despite our own misgivings. And you realize that spiritually, being a mother is the highest honor a woman can hold.
Here’s the ultimate cure for stay-at-home mom guilt. Are you ready for it?
The next time you’re asked what you do, remember your worth, be proud of it, and just admit it. Don’t say, “I’m just a mom.” Get rid of the stay-at-home mom guilt. Just smile, and without thinking twice about it, say, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.”