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Yes SAHMs work!

39 Comments 10 August 2010

As promised here is my worst experience with the notion of a stay at home mom. I know it is not an intentional offense on the part of the other person. But none the less it is was one of the first times it became abundantly clear to me what my career is. And it is one that will stick in my memory for a long time.

I dropped off the taxes last year, on extension of course. The longest extension allowable under the law. But, that is the short version of the story.

The long version includes trying to squeeze an hour drive, each way, into a day of naps and feeding schedules for a two year old and infant twins. All of whom had to be loaded into the car at the precise moment their tummies were full, their diapers changed and their moods content.

By the time we arrived the twins were asleep. And I was cringing at the thought of having to load them into their double snap n go. Which would inevitably shake them from their dozing bliss and inspire screaming fits.

But by nothing short of a miracle, I was lucky enough to find a parking spot right in front of the door to the small office. I bribed convinced my two year old if he stayed quiet we’d get an ice cream cone at the drive thru after I dropped off the papers.

The second he agreed I ran around the front of the car and pulled the door open without stepping inside. The CPA’s assistant was on the other side of the office, so I flagged her down with the oversized envelope containing our financial saga for the year. All the while being very careful to keep enough of my body outside of the door that my toddler would not erupt into a (mom is abandoning me and my siblings forever) panic.

The assistant approached with a confused look on her face as I continued to alternate my eye contact between her and the car. For the sake of simplicity I motion towards the car and tell I have three kids sleeping in the car. And with an endearing smile she grabs the envelope and unceremoniously rifles through the contents.

Just as I’m about to ask if I’m free to go, she turns to me with my husband’s W2 in her hand and asks,”You don’t work?”

I was at a loss. I hadn’t had time to take a shower. I wasn’t sure if I had brushed my teeth. I had spent all morning trying to prepare and pack for this escapade. Did I really look like I sat around on the couch eating bonbons?

I looked back out at the car imagining everyone was screaming by now. And was faced with an hour drive home before I could nurse the twins again. I turned back to her with my most pleasantly pissed off voice and said, “Yes I have three full time jobs and hopefully they are not all awake by now. Is that everything you need?”

“Well of course but you don’t have a W2?”

“No.”

She was just doing her job. But in my sleep deprived and over worked state it was grating on my every nerve. And the desire to throw something at her head was getting stronger. But fortunately, my five hundred pound diaper bag was safely stowed in the back of the car. So, I just waited for her to check the rest of the papers and left.

Have you ever had to deal with the perceptions of other people that don’t match the reality of your life? Share your story with us. Or link a post you have already written! I’d love to have the company.

Your Comments

39 Comments so far

  1. Oh, I so know where you’re coming from on this! So many people think being a SAHM equals not working!

    I am linking a post – it’s not exactly on the same wavelength, but it’s about a misunderstanding when it comes to taking care of my child, I hope it’s ok. Feel free to remove it if it doesn’t fit!

    Oh, and I love your blog – bookmarked :)

  2. Kelly says:

    I just sent you a link to an old I wrote last summer. It reminded me of being a SAHM and all the “stigma” we face with any business!

  3. Jamee says:

    I linked a post that I posted on my blog last week regarding perceptions of health based on appearance – you know the “but you don’t look sick” line. I’m not a SAHM but I will never say that SAHM don’t work! It is hard work!

  4. Kerri says:

    This post is so easy to relate to and its sad how what someone says can make us go through a mental checklist of everything we do/ have done and we feel like we have to explain ourselves and that’s exactly what it does. Yes she was doing her job but she was careless with her words anyone with children knows how much work it is. My new rule is not to explain myself : )

    K
    NewParent.com

  5. I worked full time with my first and am now part-time so while I’ve never actually been a SAHM, I totally don’t get why people don’t think you don’t WORK! I work harder on the two days with my kids than I do on the three days I work!

    I can see how that comment burned you up! Plus, it’s obvious– I mean would you really turn in tax forms and FORGET you had a W-2? Doubt it!

  6. Cori Padgett says:

    It’s sad how “stay at home” equates to sitting on your arse doing a whole lotta nothing. lol I work from home, plus raise two kids… but because I’m home most folks think I’m just chillin’, watching t.v. all day or something. VERY frustrating. Great post!

  7. Jessica says:

    It’s sad that most people assume that sahms do not work, or that their work is not valuable. Having once been a full time sahm, I know how frustrating and hurtful it is to be judged as “less than” because you don’t receive performance reviews, w2s, or lunch breaks! Great post!
    -Jessica

  8. I SO get this. I had NO idea how hard it was to be a SAHM until I was one. Holy. Hell. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jessica says:

    Hi Andrea,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the kind words. Here is the link to my story: http://mommyhoodnextright.blogspot.com/2010/08/such-is-life-of-working-mother.html

    As some context, I recently returned to work from an extended maternity leave. In my post, I talk about how challenging the new work schedule has been. My journey to this point is also covered on my blog, so feel free to check that out as well!

    Enjoy!
    -Jessica

  10. Mommy Spirit says:

    Oh, I love this post because it is soo true. Some people just don’t get it. I love my friend to death, but she’s not married and doesn’t have any little ones. When she found out I resigned from my full-time job, she questioned, “So what do you do all day?” She’s obviously never been privy to overexhaustion, repeated poopy diaper changes, nursing, and colic. I don’t know how you do it with three little ones, but you now have yourself a new fan/admirer.

  11. I’d like to take this post and stuff it into the gaping mouth of the swollen head of my mortgage broker from this spring. He can take my lack of W2 and shove it where the sun don’t shine. I should follow it up with a dirty dipaer chaser.

  12. I was laughing through this entire thing because I KNOW what you mean. I leave the kids in the car briefly for stuff like that, too, and I’m always worried someone it going to say something. Great job, and I linked up and will tweet this out.

  13. Since becoming a stay at home mom, I’ve had people go both ways. some feel that since you are at home all day, you have all this free time on your hands.. and then there are those who truly appreciate what a “job” it really is. I’ve always said that I work harder being a SAHM than I ever did working in an office!

  14. Emily says:

    When one of my husband’s friends (granted an older gentleman of another generation …) heard that my girls were in preschool two 1/2 days a week, he asked “what do you do with all that time?!” and yes, he was serious. Ugh!

  15. I don’t blame you for wanting to throw something at her. SAHMs are the hardest working women I know. In fact, there was a point in my life where I was tired of hearing my friends who were SAHMs say, “I’m just a mom.” Just? I told them they had the hardest job in the world, and to say there where moms with pride.

  16. I always say that SAHM have a really tough job, and would never diminish that b/c I work out of home. However, I want you to know that the prejudice goes both ways. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten sneers and remarks about how I’m not home with my children, and allowing another person/school etc raise my children. If I had my choice I wouldn’t work, but I have to financially. Please know I know how hard you work.

  17. Sarafree says:

    Well done! I like the “three full time jobs” comment. So true! I think I’m my own worst enemy in this department. I tend to down play what I do (staying home with the kids). Not sure why, because maybe I worry people think I’m not using my brain like they are in their high power jobs. I need to get over it! Yes I do! I need to devise a better response to “And what do you do?”

  18. andie says:

    You are absolutely right. People’s perceptions get in the way of reality for all kinds of moms.

  19. andie says:

    Isn’t it great when people really appreciate it! I want to take one of those people around with me all day long just to keep morale up!

  20. andie says:

    Thank you thank you thank you

  21. andie says:

    Ask her if she wants to bbsit while you get away for a weekend. My aunt did this when my brother’s and sister’s were young. And she says it kept her from having kids for another five years! %)

  22. andie says:

    And it is a great story I must add. All moms should read it!

  23. Maryline says:

    I am so with you! I work outside the home, but to be frank I could not do the working with my kid gig – with 3? I would have to hire an assistant!
    And you are nursing your twins? Good for you! My best friend is going through this right now, one day at a time she says. Her girls were born 3 weeks ago… It is so hard.
    And no, you don’t get a W2. Nor a raise when you do a good job… Life sucks at time!

  24. This was a great story, so well written, funny, and honest! I know what you mean. I feel like I always have to qualify myself..”yes I stay home with the kids…for now…I do plan on going back…soon”. But I’ve finally embraced my SAHMness and I don’t feel I should have to justify it to anyone.

    Oh, I really love your answer…”yes I have 3 full time jobs”! The best way to sum it up and what a come back:)

  25. Kim says:

    I’m not a SAHM mom but I know how hard you work. I have been one in the past and it’s a tough, thankless job 99.9% of the time. People just don’t get it sometimes.

  26. It’s funny, but my accountant made me feel the same way last year. It was the first time I had ever been referred to as a homemaker (I was only 4 months into SAHM-doom at this point). Not only did he call me a homemake, but “just” a homemaker. And then tried to back peddle so it didn’t seem so bad. It made me cringe.

  27. Candace says:

    I definitely relate, and then some…being a blended family, we not only get the sideward glances, but then when people ask us our story they really give the up and down look when I tell them I left a full-time teaching career to be home. It’s hard to explain, and continue to explain, that I am finally in a place in my life where I am comfortable letting my man bring home the bacon! That doesn’t go over so well, especially with other women. It’s one of the hardest choices I had to make, but it is an amazing feeling when 4 kids come bouncing in and can’t wait to share their day at school with me, knowing they have the simple security of my presence.

  28. Holly says:

    If anyone else had said that to you, I’d think that was terrible. But it honestly sounds like her question was more technical than critical: she’s doing your taxes, so she needs to know if you’re working or not. Otherwise, she’s going to see one set of tax papers and wonder where the other half is. And then have to make a phone call to confirm what’s up.

    On the other hand, I think the work SAHMoms do is the most important work there is, not to mention the hardest. And that’s coming from someone with no kids.

    So, power to you! Happy weekend!

  29. Kait says:

    I honestly hate that question. Or the runner up to that question…when are you going back to work.
    I’m not going back.
    I am blessed to have a husband that provides enough so that I don’t have to work. Sure, I don’t dress like I’m a million bucks, or have my abs back. (Hello 17 y/o me…stop complaining,..) But I have the most precious son in the world.

    Even when he is on his napping strike, being with him is better than being at work…I might change my mind when he is two…haha just kidding.

  30. What can I say? I know just what you mean and although this is just the second post of yours that I’ve ever read, I want you to know I’m so proud of you for keeping those three full time jobs going! It is work. We work hard. *Pats on the back for you Mama. Keep up the good WORK!

  31. Ashley says:

    Yeeeeaaaaaaaaargh…. That is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. I only have one but we just moved and I had to try to explain to someone that it’s almost impossible to spend every day attempting to keep my kid alive/fed/happy, unpack boxes and get the house into some semblance of order. Add to that the fact that my hubby is an airline pilot, therefore gone for 3-4 days at a time and it is like, single parent land over here during that time… And we don’t get sick days! And in don’t get to go home at the end of the day! Much harder than work.

    But so much better! :)

  32. Anayah says:

    Whoa. I only have one little baby, so I can only imagine what kind of magic you have to work to handle twins and a toddler while trying to remain sane. I find myself having to explain to people all the time why I wasn’t able to respond to this or that need of theirs and hadn’t eaten anything all day. And forget about sleep!

    It’s not to complain, although I do that, too. It’s just that many people don’t fully comprehend how much work it is to raise your own child(ren). I should’ve realized that was the case when I taught high school, though. (Team Dory/tribe)

  33. Heidi D. says:

    I work (with the twins) AND work at home. And, I can confirm that BOTH are full time jobs. Enough said.

  34. Steph says:

    I feel your pain! I’m also a working from home mom. But I can only maintain 2 full time jobs at the moment as I need to spend time taking care of my 2 kids too. I wonder how you were able to do 3 full time jobs. You’re simply an AMAZING MOM!

  35. You told the story really well – I felt like I was there. Of course, that is probably because I have been there in my own SAHM world. I worked for pay for over 15 years before staying at home with a 3-year old and soon to be discovered special needs 6 -year old. I was asked by more than one person after my change of status if I was enjoying retirement. Personally, I have never worked harder in my life. And if this is retirement, I can’t wait to go back to work! Good luck with your 4 beautiful children. I am the youngest of 4 and the only girl :-)

  36. Oh – and happy SITS day!!!

  37. Grrrrr, it’s so annoying! I always “knew” SAHM’s worked their asses off, but once I became one, it took on a whole new meaning. One of my husbands friends once jokingly said all I do is drive around listening to music all day, and watch soaps at home. Nevermind that there aren’t even many soaps ON anymore, but screw him! He was kidding, but he hasn’t “joked” with me like that since! Great post! I’m a new follower from Twitter, thanks for the follow! Love your blog, I will keep coming back!
    Kim
    My Twintastic Life
    Congrats on your beautiful kiddos! Twins Rock!!!

  38. Matilda says:

    Carioca, o Baiano do RJ não mandou mais nenhum vídeo não? Só tem antigos. Tem o contato dele? Podia pedir pra mandar mais. Tesão o car&8#a230;


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. "Working" mom chatter - 05. Feb, 2012

    […] the stay-at-home mom front, Andrea over at Multiple Mama wrote an excellent post called “Yes SAHMS Work!”  In the post, she names her “worst experience” in having to deal with an […]

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