It dawned on me yesterday that stay-at-home moms have two reputations. There are those in our society that realize that the hardest job in the world is to be a mother and then there are those that are critical of stay-at-home moms for not “working” or contributing to society.
I wonder how many people feel both ways…
Being a mother is one of the most appreciated yet under-appreciated jobs, it seems. I believe the modern stay-at-home mom stigma has to do with the history of woman. According to an essay written in 1990, “just a few months before Pearl Harbor, more than 80 percent of American men and women declared that it was wrong for wives to work outside the home if their husbands were employed.”
As the essay by William H. Chafe goes on to explain, after World War II, the identity of women changed. It used to be that if a woman were married, staying home meant her husband was a great provider. Women didn’t work after getting married, and “women who wished to pursue careers ordinarily faced the necessity of foregoing marriage, since the majority of people saw the two as incompatible.” But, since woman had to do the jobs of men so the men would go to war, World War II marked the beginning of the shift from homemaker to career woman.
That was the 1940s.
Now, women have more rights and, because we have more options and choices, society doesn’t expect us to be homemakers. In fact, it expects the opposite. Every little girl is taught that they can be anything they want to be. We are expected to want to go to college and get a degree so we can get a better paying job. Plus, in the current state of our economy, it’s no longer financially possible for many families to afford to live on the income of one.
Given all of that, of course we’re going to feel less of ourselves for choosing the stay-at-home mom route, especially if we have an education beyond our high school diploma. For many of us, our whole lives have shaped us to believe that we’ll be successful if we go that route. If we don’t, suddenly we’re not successful.
That’s so far from the truth.
“Real” Jobs Don’t Exist
Society doesn’t seem to appreciate many other jobs, not just moms who stay home. And I think you know which ones I’m referring to: creative jobs.
- Fashion designers.
- Make-up artists.
- Song writers.
- Graphic designers.
The list is quite long.
People who pursue these types of careers are often misunderstood. Outsiders judge them for not having “real” jobs. But who’s to say they aren’t working “real” jobs?
Imagine a life without music and dance.
Without patterns and colors.
I don’t know about you, but that life sounds very dull and boring to me.
A creative job is just as real a job as every other job – just like being a mom is a “real” job. Jobs aren’t real or fake. Every job is a job and every job is important.
What Real Moms Do
No matter what your work situation is, as a mother, you nurture, encourage, and protect your children. You help teach them about the world around us. They learn to speak our language because you speak to them. They watch you and copy you. They look to you for comfort when they are hurt.
Your job in your child’s life is the most important one. To them, you are the most trustworthy person they can rely on. You hold all the answers. You are the equivalent to the CEO of a major corporation. You make the rules for them to follow. You set the tone and atmosphere in your home. Everything you do trickles down and effects them.
You might not get paid with dollars and cents for your hard work and you don’t really have a way to measure how good a job you are doing, but in what other profession do you get the chance to raise a human being from birth through adulthood? In what other job do you get to witness the fruits of your labor 18, 25, 40 years after you started your job?
I like to think of raising kids as the snowball effect – they start small and then grow big and once that snowball starts rolling, it can’t be stopped. Getting to witness the type of people your children grow up to be and knowing that your job as mom helped get them their (no matter if you stayed home or not) is the ultimate creative job. You mold them from scratch. You help shape them into loving, respectable citizens. You created them, inside and out.
Being a mom is the “realist” creative job on this planet. Don’t let others (or yourself) tell you otherwise.