It’s the first Thursday of the month, and that means it’s time for another round of “What not to say…” This time we’re looking at stay-at-home moms. And since I have no expertise in that area, I turned to my friend Jennifer Hale to give us some pointers.
Stay-at-home moms (henceforth referred to as SAHMs) are a unique bunch. We’re a sisterhood. Although we don’t have traveling pants, most of us do travel. A lot.
We travel from one activity to another with rarely any downtime.
We’re busy. We’re often tired. We’re sometimes covered in mystery substances and are seen quite often in exercise clothes when we’re out in public, even though we haven’t found the time in the day to exercise.
Many SAHMs appear that way. But there exists a small slice, myself included, who try to overcome the “stigma” of the haphazard, thrown together SAHM by appearing in public with makeup and combed hair. (Shocking, I know.) We expect our children to be well-behaved, we don’t complain (too much) about lack of sleep, and we don’t break down in tears whenever someone asks how we are.
For the most part, SAHMs are a strong bunch. We’re calm. We’re determined. We’re organized and intelligent. We have to be.
And yet, we are often misunderstood. And just like any situation where misunderstanding can present its ugly head, sometimes folks just needs a little help in knowing what to say.
In an effort to provide that help, here’s a list of questions NOT to ask SAHMs, at least, not without putting a little thoughtfulness behind them.
1. Don’t you get bored?
It always blows my mind when someone asks me this question. My go-to response is, “I don’t have time to be bored.” Of course, then I get the raised eyebrow and the unspoken “What do you do all day?” stare. So I hit my list: breakfast, dressing the kids, dressing myself, grocery shopping, trips to the library, doctor’s appointments, haircuts, couponing & planning menus, lunch, clean kitchen, laundry, fold laundry, clean house (pick up clutter, heavy cleaning of kitchen & bathrooms, vacuum, clean up clutter, windows, etc.), part-time online job, help kids with homework, volunteer responsibilities, church responsibilities, after-school activities for each child, cook dinner, clean kitchen, time for my relationship with my husband, and occasionally, if I have time, I squeeze in Bible reading, exercise, writing time, pleasure reading, and TV. IF I have time. And never all of those extras in the same day. So no, I don’t get bored. Seriously. I don’t have time to be bored.
2. You homeschool, right?
No. Not all SAHMs homeschool. Some do. Some are called to it and are wonderful at it. Others don’t have that calling (like me) and are perfectly okay with sending their kids to classrooms with other kids and a teacher.
3. Could you please ____________? (Fill in the blank with any and all volunteer needs.)
Just because a woman is a SAHM doesn’t mean that she has tons of extra time (see #1!). But for some reason, people think, She’s at home. She’ll have time to do this. And then they proceed to ask the SAHMs to do too much—at church, at the kids’ school, at clubs and organizations. People—don’t assume that SAHMs have the time. SAHMs—learn to say no.
4. Don’t you want to go back to work?
For many women, the answer to this question is YES! And then they go back to work. This breaks my heart, honestly. Being a SAHM is such a blessing. But to do it well, it is a calling, and like any calling, if you don’t think God is leading you to it, it’s not the place for you.
For other women, the answer is a resounding NO. Who can blame them? At home, you are your own boss.
For me, the answer to this question is a mix. Yes, I want to go back to work—someday. But I’m not going to rush it. I want to be at home with my kids for as long as I possibly can. I love what I’m doing, I feel called to it, and I’m blessed to be here. I loved my career as a teacher, too, and Lord willing, I’ll return to the classroom someday.
Awesome stuff, right? Jennifer’s got more to say on this subject, so check back on Tuesday to read the rest. In the meantime, what do you think? Have you ever said any of these to a SAHM? If you’re a SAHM, what have you heard?
Jennifer K. Hale is a Southern Belle, stay-at-home mom to two precious and precocious boys, a writer, and a former high school History teacher who is also married to a teacher. She happily suffers from addictions to current events, world religions, history, and dark chocolate.